Sept. 27 2017 07:00 AM

‘Tis the season for sleepless nights, stress, and quality corn silage.

I think every farmer has a love-hate relationship with corn harvest time. I am being completely serious when I say that if Yankee Candle made a scent called ‘Corn Silage,’ I’d buy one for every farmer I know. I love the smell of freshly chopped corn, but maybe I love it because it only lasts for two weeks a year?

Corn season truly is a stressful time, especially for dairy farmers. Depending on the size of the farm you either need to hire extra help, hire a custom harvester, or you simply run yourself ragged until it’s done.

That’s all, right?

I don’t know how your farm handles it, but on our farm, it turns everything upside down. One or two of us are often left to handle the daily chores, which take hours longer, while the others spend 20 hours a day in a tractor or dump truck. Even lunches change! It becomes all about what’s portable or easy to keep warm while being delivered to the field.

It’s all worth it in the end, though. Knowing that our girls will have good, quality feed for the next year makes it possible to go to sleep after midnight every night and be back up at 6 a.m. to get daily chores done before the chopper starts rolling again.

This time of year is such a big deal for farmers, but my non-farm friends always had trouble understanding why. So, a few years ago, I came up with a little poem to help them. A fun, silly way to show why the next two weeks of our lives will be two of the most stressful, tiring weeks of the year. Enjoy! And happy chopping, friends!

‘Twas the night before corn chopping and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, well maybe a mouse.

The tractors were greased and the forage wagons prepped,

And the people were sleeping with long days to expect!

The farmers’ lay restlessly in their beds,

With thoughts of high yields dancing in their heads.

The next few weeks will dictate the next year’s feed supply.

We’re all really hoping it hasn’t gotten too dry!

With stress levels high and fuses too short,

If you make a smart comment expect a rude retort.

The guys are preparing, the haul can be hard on their backs.

The rest of us are too, we’ll have to pick up the slack.

Some nights they’ll go until one, some nights maybe four.

But somehow we’ll pull through like each year before.

So, sleep when you can and eat on the go,

And as for our grain corn, grow baby grow!

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.