I work across a wide swath of central and northwestern Ohio. Our group is specifically active in four counties: Henry and Sandusky in the northwest and north central respectively; and Champaign and Madison in the central part of the state. We also collaborate with other soybean scientists throughout the North American soy belt, but that involvement goes beyond what I want to share today.
So back here in Ohio we travel from our base in Union County to the various research plots on a regular basis. To get to Henry and Sandusky counties we travel through Hardin county and an area containing a fair concentration of Amish farmers. The Amish are an interesting folk. Known widely for their simple approach to life, the few who understand the hard work it takes to farm as they do might disagree with ‘simple’ as an apt descriptor. Working with horses makes some of the labor intensive work appear less onerous than doing everything by hand. And there is a serious benefit from the help of the beast. But working horses is still more effort than climbing aboard a tractor, turning the key, and pointing the metal beast in the right direction. Horses have a mind of their own. Watching a skilled farmer ‘work’ a team is a beautiful sight – and the most skilled make it look far simpler than it really is.
Harvest is upon us now and most of our Amish neighbors are shocking corn. Not too difficult – you take your Taser to the field and let ‘em have it. No? Well, you’re right…it is more work than that. And not just the physical labor to cut all those stalks, bundle them and tie them up. To be good at shocking you arrange all the shocks in neat rows as well. And why not? Tidiness is next to godliness.
On our last trip back from Henry County the other day we passed a corn field that had just been shocked. I was going to admit I knew all summer that this was an Amish corn field. And I was on the lookout for the corn harvest to commence… but I didn’t say anything earlier because I didn’t want to be accused of stalking. (Sorry, the Bucket made me do that – I lost a bet.)
If you want to know more about shocking corn (no Taser needed) you can check out this publication from U. Kentucky Extension: