Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Rock Crop

It was another plentiful year for the rock crop. We pick the rocks in the corn fields every year, and every year there is always wagon loads of rocks that are harvested.  I have to admit that picking rocks is one of my least favorite things to do on the farm. Over the years I have put in time walking up and down the field hunting for rocks, but in recent years I been staying home with the younger kids and sending the older kids out to pick rocks with dad. Some may say that it is unkind to send the kids out to do manual labor. I see that the children learn from this experience how to work at something and see progress and accomplishment in a job well done.
   Picking rocks is one of few jobs on the farm that is still very labor intensive and has changed very little over the years. Some farmers utilize migrant workers to help collect the rocks in their fields. We choose to pick the rocks ourselves and it takes us about 5-7 good days of walking the fields to get all the rocks. 
    You might wonder why we put so much time and energy into ridding our fields of rocks and why there are so many year after year. The reason we pick rocks is prevent damage to the combine in the fall by having a rock go through it. A combine is a very expensive piece of machinery and during harvest the combine head rides low to the ground and could pick up a rock. Another reason is to remove any rocks that could be hindering a corn plant from growing. The rocks each year are push up to the surface by the freezing and thawing of the soil.  The fall and spring tillage bring the rocks to the top. 
    While out picking rocks I have imagined machines or contraptions that could pick the rocks for us or dissolve the rocks on the field. The truth is that rock picking is going to be done the same way it has been done for many years to come. Picking rocks may not be fun but it is part of caring for the land we are using to grow food on. We need to take care of the land the best we can to enable it to be its most productive.

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  1. My Husband grew up picking rocks too. I'm from south central NE and had never heard of such a thing until I went to college in South Dakota. J and I did a little rock picking earlier this spring on a field we planted to grass/alfalfa.

    Growing up we cut cedar trees as they can take over a destroy a pasture. We also cut thickets and pulled tow line to irrigate alfalfa.

    I find that even the not so fun jobs can go good with the right attitude!

  2. So true Robyn. I think the moral of the story is that farmers everywhere have to work hard keeping their land in top production. Here's to all those hard working farmers.

  3. Rocks are our fourth crop too (after corn, beans, and wheat)! And yes, they range from pebbles to combine stoppers to the boulders around our house. I think here in northwest Indiana, some of the great glaciers tapered off here and left a good part of the rocks it gathered here. We also don't poke at rocks just emerging if this happens in our yard.....you just never know if it is a hand's width stone or the tip of the iceberg!

  4. I so remember picking up rocks as a kid, but ours weren't pretty and round. They were rough limestone and you had to be careful that a snake wasn't hiding under one.

    Thanks for linking up to the Country Fair Blog Party!

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