A Dirty Thankless Job

21 Nov

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN
By: Tom Heck
A Dirty Thankless Job
Every year in the fall we have our neighbors, Howard and his son Bob, come and combine our corn. As one of them drives their large machine down the rows of corn, it snaps the ears from the stalks. Then it takes the ears into the heart of the machine where it shells the kernels off of the cobs and augers them up into the grain tank. From there, it gets loaded onto a truck and hauled into my farmyard here where we run it through a roller mill. The mill breaks up the kernels and blows them up into our silo. By processing our corn this way, it makes it highly digestible for our cattle. With our small silo full of corn, we have enough grain to feed our cattle for another year.
But, harvest isn’t over yet. The grain is off, but the rest of the corn plant is still in the field. This also is very valuable to us. We use this to bedden our cattle with over the long cold winter months. It is very soft, absorbent and helps to keep our cattle warm and comfortable. We call it, “cornstalk bedding”.
So, after the corn is combined, I take a tractor and flail chopper out to the field and run the cornstalks through the chopper. It cuts the stalks, leaves and husks into small pieces and blows them back onto the ground. This is necessary, because the stalks have a lot of juice in them. By doing this, it helps them to dry out. If cornstalks get put up with too much moisture in them they will mold and possibly catch on fire. After we have them chopped, we leave them lay for a few days to dry.
Then it’s time to harvest them. I rake them into large rolls with our rotary rake. Then I take the tractor with the same flail chopper back to the field, this time though, I have a large chopper box hooked behind it. I head the chopper down the large roll chopping it into the chopper box. Because the cornstalks are dry and since the rake put a little bit of dry soil in with them, my flail chopper puts up a large cloud of dust. It’s unavoidable.
Once I have the chopper box full, I take it home and unload it into an elevator that takes it up into the barn where we store it. Unloading the bedding into the elevator is also a very dirty, dusty job. Joanne, Catherine and Joshua are in the mow moving all this and packing it away while I’m unloading it. By the end of the day, we all look like we’ve been in a terrible dust storm! We all wear glasses and masks to keep the dirt out of our eyes and noses. It usually takes us a full week to put our bedding all up.
I remember one day after I had unloaded several loads of very dusty bedding and was in the process of finishing up another one, a lady walked up behind me. Since I was almost done, I finished unloading it while she stood about fifty feet away. When I got done, I walked over to see what she wanted. The first words out of her mouth were, “That’s sure a dirty thankless job.” Then she went on to tell me that in her previous marriage she had helped her husband put up cornstalk bedding. She had hated it because of how dirty it was.
I was shocked at her comments and attitude. While it is a very dirty job, the four of us here have always enjoyed doing it. It’s very rewarding seeing the barn full of soft fluffy bedding at the end of the harvest season. We use this bedding every day throughout the next year for our cattle. The cattle sure appreciate it and do well on it. When we see our cattle lying in it very contentedly and even mooing occasionally; we know they appreciate it, even if they can’t say it in English! A dirty thankless job – we don’t think so. A dirty job, yes; a thankless job, no!
It is so important for a person in their work to keep a good attitude. If you keep a good attitude, your work will be much more enjoyable and rewarding. If you don’t, your work will be miserable and the hours will just drag by. The same can be said for marriage, family and so many other things too.
I know there are many people that do ordinary jobs where they receive very little thanks or appreciation. Sometimes they wonder if it’s really worth it. Let me tell you something, if you are doing a service to others and blessing them, it most certainly is worth it. The Bible says in Gal. 6:9, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”
I’ve never heard my bossie cows say, “Thank you” in English yet, but I know they sure appreciate us putting up all that dry fluffy cornstalk bedding. It’s too bad that lady didn’t hear her cows saying, “Thank you” years before. If she would have, I’m sure she would have enjoyed her work much more and found it rewarding. I know we do here.

Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI. Contact Tom at: lifeonthefamilyfarm@gmail.com To view Tom’s past articles go to: tomheckfarm.com Copyright © 2013 by Tom Heck. All rights reserved.

Photo caption: Tom chopping cornstalk bedding.

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