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CUTTING CORN Caring for Dad’s Cows
stalks, we’d eat some of the raw corn. One day my granddaddy came to help, and we introduced him to the raw corn. Granddaddy loved it so much that when we delivered the stalks to the cows, he was out there fighting the cows for the corn! I literally saw him push a cow out of the way in order to grab a stalk. That is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Here’s the crazy part: As much as we hated cutting corn, my brother and I agree that we would give anything to be out there cutting corn with Dad again. I hated it in the moment, but when we were done and the cows were all gathered around the trailer, I knew it wasn’t that bad. And Dad was so proud of his cows. Eating those corn stalks made them fat and healthy. When the first calves started coming along, he was so happy. Having us help cut the corn meant a lot to him. In hindsight, it was also pretty good for us. It taught us lessons about work ethic, the value of labor, and caring for animals and livestock. Plus, it was time we spent with our dad. You can’t put a price on that.
What it actually meant was that we would go out there with machetes and hack down rows of stalks almost every week through the growing season. We were basically clearing this guy’s land for free! It was pretty intense physical labor. We’d cut down stalks, make a big pile, bring the pile to the trailer, and repeat until all 15 feet of the trailer was full of corn stalks. This was an all-day thing. When we were finally done, we brought the stalks to the field where the cows were. They were so excited to see us coming. The cows chased the trailer across the field like it was an ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood. Dad’s cows loved those corn stalks. At one point, another U-pick farm reached out and told my dad that he could have their corn stalks too. My dad never turned down free stuff. For a while, it felt like we were always cutting down corn. There was one day when I got out of high school baseball practice and I saw my dad out in the parking lot with the trailer attached to the back of his car. I spent all afternoon cutting corn in baseball pants. Cutting the corn was rough, but there were some bright spots. For example, have you ever eaten raw corn? It’s surprisingly good. While cutting the
I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad. He passed away a number of years ago, so around Father’s Day, I always find myself reliving some of the memories I have of him. One of those memories involve cows and corn. Dad grew up on a farm in Ohio. All through my childhood, he would talk about wanting to get cows again. Unfortunately, we never had space for them. Then my mom started working at this place with a lot of land, and they told my dad that if he wanted to get some cows, he could put them on the company land. Dad took that offer in a heartbeat. At one point, my dad’s herd had almost 50 cows. And, of course, we kids were out there helping with the cows. We’d feed them, make sure they got their shots, and tag the new calves. As a whole, the experience was pretty cool, but there was one part I absolutely hated: cutting corn. Somehow, my dad got connected with this guy who ran a U-pick farm. He grew corn and tomatoes, and folks would go out there every week to pick their own produce. This guy made a deal with my dad where he could go out there and take the corn stalks that had already been picked over and feed them to his cows for free. Sounds generous, right?
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