At the Farm GateCorn Engrained in Lifestyle
We named our puppy Maizey, playing on the corn phrase “maize.” The name seemed fitting for a yellow-colored Labrador and a tribute to the crop at the root of our livelihoods. We also thought the name was unique until we learned the farmer two miles south calls his dog the same.
Farmers throughout Illinois share a connection to corn. We grow it, talk about it, and drive around just to look at it. We monitor its stages of development, the rain it receives, and its health in our own fields, as well as around the county, state, and Midwest. We invest in the technology to plant it at consistent depths and precise distances to resemble picket fences at emergence. Tech-driven applications of fertilizer and herbicides help achieve the overall industry goal of more grain with less environmental impact. By mid-summer, farmers marvel at tassels and worry when forecasted storms with high winds could topple the crop under their care before harvesting it.
Corn helps pay the bills for Illinois’ more than 72,000 farms, most of which grow field corn, a grain used for food, feed, and fuel. The Illinois Corn Growers Association reports that the crop adds $17.5 billion annually to the state’s economy. Illinois’ top crop also impacts every American who buys fuel, eats food, or uses everyday items that contain corn, like batteries, toothpaste, and diapers.
Our household enjoys all types of corn, which includes eating popcorn and sweet corn, planted in time to harvest for my husband’s August birthday. Even beyond the growing season, corn maintains a presence in our home. At Christmas, I decorate a farm-themed tree with a string of corn lights. A space atop our kitchen cabinets holds ears of corn for display, and the custom-made handrails that flank our porch steps feature steel silhouettes of young corn plants. The blacksmith even added ears of corn at the mounting plates.
Our daughter last fall made some extra income weighing trucks of corn during harvest at the family grain storage facility. For a computer science class last year, our son illustrated a combine harvesting corn for his animated transition slides. We’re a little crazy about corn, and Maizey provides some evidence.
About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle, and backyard chickens in West-Central Illinois.