Farming at the Ag center for the 2017 crop year:
We will participate with The Mill in the SUSTAIN program which is a schedule to follow best practices, combined with a type of marketing/branding program in cooperation with food processors like General Mills, Kellogg, Land o’ Lakes. They will have a logo/symbol on the food packaging, which are from farms that use the SUSTAIN best practices.
There may be a premium for farm crops from farms enrolled in the SUSTAIN program. We will use the Cuba/Shawan road corner plot for this program and will have signage explaining it along with a couple of education programs during the year.
The Mill will donate seed for a “semi-permanent” pollinator plot at Shawan Road on the south east corner. We hope to have education programs and signage with that too. The plants will mainly be red clover and white clover with some annual wild flower mixes for year one because the clover won’t fill in until year two.
We will plant two fields of Pick Your Own sunflowers, the big beautiful ones.
And lastly, we will plant the “Plenish” soy beans which are the hi oleic soybeans in the remaining three front plots and in the big field up back. Signs will extol the health benefits of the “good oil” beans.
We will have two corn fields, including a maze and a pumpkin field for Farmer Stan and the many kids who come to his program.
In the fall a smoky haze rises from the fields as the combines churn through the fields harvesting crops planted at 1114 Shawan Road in Cockeysville, renewed planting since the 1950’s. Never in the history of the farm had such machinery rolled through its fields. For the majority of its existence, all crops grown were harvested by hand. The hand-harvesting of crops, especially corn continued through the first half of the 20th century.
Gail Ensor, on the MARC Board, remembers helping out her grandfather with the corn harvest. First the stalks were cut down – one at a time. They were then stacked up like teepees called shocks to dry. After the stalks had dried, they were loaded onto wagons and taken to the farmstead. There they were shucked (the husks removed from the ear) by hand or by machine. Some farmers hand-shucked the corn right there in the fields – throwing the ears directly into the truck-bed. The ears were typically stored in a corn crib (there is a restored corn crib you can visit at the farm park). Yet, there was work still to be done. The final step was the removal of the kernels – a process called shelling which was done using hand-cranked or gas-powered shellers.
Humans are always looking for labor-saving opportunities. I imagine that a tired farmer said enough. There has to be a better way – and created the combine – a machine that combines the tasks of harvesting, threshing and cleaning grain crops all into one machine as the machine makes one pass through a field. The man credited with creating the first combine is Hiram Moore from Michigan in 1834 (drawn by horses). The technology wasn’t fully embraced until the turn of the century. In fact, the combine helped to usher in the modern agricultural era.
Let’s take a closer look at a combine. The picture below shows two combines side by side. The red combine is a Case machine, the green one, a John Deere. These particular models are 35 feet wide. There are 13 snouts – the cylindrical protrusions – which are positioned to cut 12 rows of corn at one time. Once the corn goes into the snout, the stalk is cut and fed into the mouth of the machine located under the cab. The ears are then removed from the stalk. The stalk is then ushered to a cutting apparatus, where it is chopped and deposited back onto the ground. The ears are rolled to extract the kernels which take an escalator ride one way to the bin on top of the combine – while the empty cobs are chopped up and put back onto the fields. NOTE: the stalks and cobs act as ground cover – reducing erosion and aiding in water absorption. Once the bin is full, the kernels are pumped out a long pipe into either a buggy wagon and then a truck or directly into a truck. A buggy wagon is able to better navigate steeper or rougher terrain than a storage truck. Once on the truck, the kernels are taken to a silo for storage. Using the combines, it took only a few hours to harvest the 40 acres. WOW!
None of this would have been possible without the Lippy Brothers Inc. donation of machinery and manpower. All of the revenue derived from the sale of these crops will be used to fuel MARC’s ever-growing suite of agricultural education initiatives.