The abysmal weather affecting the effectiveness of herbicide and nitrogen applications and commodity prices have caused us to make a decision to go to Semi-Old School Farming this year.
Old School Farming
Rather than using a second round of weed spray on the corn, which would cost thousands of dollars for a crop that may not break even, we are going to use our 1980 John Deere 4440 tractor to pull our 1993 Hiniker 5000 cultivator to root out weeds in between the corn rows.
This method is something organic farmers do. It’s tedious and must be timed perfectly. The corn must be just the right height and there can’t be heavy rains in the forecast. The timing is right for us. We will save thousands. Thousands that we can’t afford to spend right now on a crop that is iffy at best. According to MacroTrends corn prices are comparable to 2014, though the inputs (land cost, fertilizer, seed and fuel) have risen. So you figure out how to make the multiple variables of farming work within the conditions you face each season. We haven’t cultivated this much for ten years!
Remember when we had such a hard time planting corn? The growing season so far has been just as difficult!
Sometimes there’s No School Like Old School!
Cultivation is tedious work, and with this machinery, we have can only cultivate around twenty to thirty acres per day. It will take about ten to thirteen days of well-timed cultivation to pull out the weeds in the corn rows. Cultivation also loosens the soil that has been beaten by the relentless rains we’ve experienced early this spring. Cultivation also helps to incorporate more oxygen to the plant.
So why don’t more farmers practice this as a cost-saving measure? They might have sold off this ancient piece of equipment. It takes time to go back and pull weeds like this. If you are farming thousands of acres, it’s just not as cost-effective. We are a small family farm and can make changes more quickly. This year calls for a radical change. And so we will change. Radically. To Old School.
Hopefully, the clouds will part, and the sun will come out and create that well known Iowa humidity to grow the corn quickly to put the rows in shadow and eliminate any more weeds after our Old School Cultivation.
At least this tractor has a cab and a radio!
After you’ve ridden a tractor all day, turning sideways, looking down at a sea of corn, making sure you stay within the corn row, you should have a snack. These Gingersnaps have such a nice flavor, you will think of your grandmother or great- grandmother when you bite in! Unlike the hard gingersnaps available in bags at the grocery store, that you couldn’t talk anyone into eating, these cookies are soft! You will also notice there is less sugar than most cookies.
Tools you will need:
Wooden Spoon or an electric mixer
2 1/2 Cups Flour
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
½ Cup Butter (Back in the day lard was used)
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
½ Cup Molasses
2 teaspoons Baking Soda, dissolved in 2 teaspoons Hot Water
Cream the sugar, egg and butter together. Add remaining ingredients. (I always sift the flour, cinnamon and ginger together). Refrigerate the dough for an hour before baking.
Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Press the cookie down with a small cup dipped in water after every press. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes. (I check after 10 minutes.) Make sure the cookies are soft in the center and brown on the edges.