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Feeding field corn and stalks saves money; and sheep love it. (Feeds & feeding).

In Wisconsin last May and June, as we were trying to plant our corn, we had massive amounts of rain from several storms. The plantings were late, on land that was worked too early, resulting in a poor stand of corn on some of our land. We were fortunate enough to have had a fair amount of our corn planted and growing before the rains came and overall we had a good crop harvested in spite of a cool summer, although it was late and not as dry as we wanted. Anyway, on the headlands of one of the wettest fields nearest the barns the corn was only two-to-four feet tall in early August. I knew it would never mature in time before the frost. Since it had not rained much in summer and the pastures PASTURES, pastures. The land on which beasts are fed; and by a grant of pastures the land itself passes. 1 Thorn. Co, Litt. 202.  were doing the usual late summer browning, I decided to feed the cornstalks to the sheep, saving my hay for winter. This would maximize the yield from the acreage using the whole stalk stalk (stawk) an elongated anatomical structure resembling the stem of a plant.

allantoic stalk
 instead of waiting for a dubious harvest of stunted stunt 1  
tr.v. stunt·ed, stunt·ing, stunts
To check the growth or development of.

1. One that stunts.

2. One that is stunted.

 ears or maybe nothing at all.

Efficient feed

I used a lopping lop 1  
tr.v. lopped, lop·ping, lops
1. To cut off (a part), especially from a tree or shrub: lopped off the dead branches.

 shears shears

cutting instruments for the removal of wool—sheep shears, or for trimming the hooves of sheep and goats—hoof shears.

hoof shears
a rugged pair of shears like secateurs but with sharp-pointed blades.
, cutting each stalk several inches from the ground. I threw them in to the sheep, having no idea how much of the stalk they would eat. They ate every inch of those stalks--not a bit left. You would never find any leaves or tassels or anything left. No waste at all. That is what I call efficient use of feed. Each sheep seemed to like a different part. Some went directly for the ear with the corn juice dripping dripping

1. continuous discharge of an exudate or secretion.

2. rendered beef fat.
 from their mouths as they munched. Some of the larger sheep preferred the stalks; the lambs liked the tender leaves.

Consider the total weight of feedstuff feedstuff

see feed.
 involved here. When I was cutting, I could only carry maybe 20 or so stalks at a time even though they were short. Field corn is taller than sweet corn, reaching 8-10 feet in a normal year, so they are very heavy. With more animals, a cart or wheelbarrow would be handy for transporting larger amounts or several days worth at a time. Corn around here has a plant population average of about 20-25,000 per acre in 30" rows. That adds up to about 20-30 or more tons of feed per acre, as farmers figure it, chopped into the silo. That is when the plants have dried down a little, later in September. A corn plant has a great deal of moisture in it.

Feeding stalks added a few minutes to my chores each day but I enjoyed going out and cutting every morning, and with the dew still on the plant, they did not seem to lose much moisture even by the next day. I experimented and found that I could cut enough for three days without losing an appreciable ap·pre·cia·ble  
Possible to estimate, measure, or perceive: appreciable changes in temperature. See Synonyms at perceptible.
 amount of moisture from the corn. If it's piled too thickly and left too long it will start to heat and decay, of course. I also noticed how much less water the sheep drank because of the moisture provided by the corn.

As the weeks went by, I kept cutting but the field never seemed to get much emptier. It was like the oil in the jar; I kept using it and it never ran out! Thinking again about the 20-25,000 plants per acre you can see what I mean. I cut stalks for my 30 sheep until it was combined in November. Even when the corn looked dried and brown they still loved it and only at the very end did they leave maybe the bottom foot or so of the thickest stalks.

Too much grain

Then I bought portable electric fencing fencing, sport of dueling with foil, épée, and saber. Modern Fencing

The weapons and rules of modern fencing evolved from combat weapons and their usage.
 and let them into the fields to graze the fallen leaves and corn that the combine had missed. One caution here, they can find and eat a lot of stray corn kernels Corn kernels are readily available in bulk throughout maize producing areas. The price as of 2005 is only about $1.80 per bushel in the U.S. This makes it the most inexpensive of all pelletized fuels. Pelletized fuels are used for corn and pellet stoves and furnaces.  in a small amount of time. The first day I let them in there less than an hour. They had noticeably runny run·ny  
adj. run·ni·er, run·ni·est
Inclined to run or flow: runny icing; a runny nose.


[-nier, -niest
 stools the next day from too much grain. Now I know better.

This would work great for flushing your animals if your breeding time coincides with the harvest, although many people breed earlier than that. I just hate to think of all the corn that ends up on the ground even with the most careful combining. We take pails into the fields and pick up corn and dump it into the pickup.

For those who have never picked corn by hand, this is not as overwhelming a chore as it may seem. When I was a kid, in the '70s, we had a few early winters and there was too much snow to get the tractor in with the picker. (We always had older machinery, nothing big and fancy.) Since it was the two low fields near the swamp that usually filled with snow first and they were only about two acres each, it wasn't so much to do. We went out every night after school until it was dark and with the whole family of seven, we could get a pickup box full every night using five-gallon pails, trudging through the snow. What great exercise! We sometimes complained but mostly I remember the teamwork because we had designated "runners" who carried pails so the "pickers" could keep going. Each night we had a different job. Some nights your legs were tired, the next your hands were sore. We made it a game, having races to finish a row, counting pails picked, etc. Sometimes we sang. Mom would remind us that hard work builds character.

Even if you don't Even If You Don't is a single released by the band Ween in 2000 on Mushroom Records. Formats
Enhanced CD single
Includes the quicktime video of "Even If You Don't" directed by Matt Stone & Trey Parker of "South Park".
 have room to plant any corn of your own, you could ask to glean glean  
v. gleaned, glean·ing, gleans

To gather grain left behind by reapers.
1. To gather (grain) left behind by reapers.

 a farmer's fields. There is a great deal of corn waiting to be picked up. Remember to thank the farmer in some way so he remembers you next year when you want to come. Ask farmers near you if they chop corn into the silo. Many times the outside rows get run down when the chopper goes through the first time around, and this way the corn wouldn't be wasted. Or, agree to buy a certain number of outside rows or a small fraction of a field.

Low-tech equipment

You really don't need much in the way of equipment to get started. Once the land is worked, planting can be accomplished either with a hoe hoe, usually a flat blade, variously shaped, set in a long wooden handle and used primarily for weeding and for loosening the soil. It was the first distinctly agricultural implement. The earliest hoes were forked sticks. , by a two-row, hand-push planter planter, farm or garden implement that places propagating material such as seeds or seedlings into the ground, usually in rows. Broadcasting, i.e., scattering seed in all directions, by hand followed by harrowing (see harrow) to cover the seed with soil was an early  or a two- or four-row corn planter. There are many older planters Planters is an American snack food company under Kraft Foods manufacturing, best known for its nuts and the Mr. Peanut icon that symbolizes them.

Started by Italian immigrants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1906, it was incorporated in 1908
 around if you are inclined to fix one up, or ask a neighbor farmer. One man near us has a 12-row planter with sides that fold up. It barely fits on the road but, boy, would that plant our 40 acres fast! We have an older four-row planter that works great and was dirt cheap Adj. 1. dirt cheap - very cheap; "a dirt cheap property"
cheap, inexpensive - relatively low in price or charging low prices; "it would have been cheap at twice the price"; "inexpensive family restaurants"
. One-row, handpush planters are available through some of the "general store" type catalogs and are a good investment.

"Knee high by the 4th of July"

Don't plant corn too early or it will sit in the ground and not germinate. Your expensive seed will rot rot (rot)
1. decay.

2. a disease of sheep, and sometimes of humans, due to Fasciola hepatica.


 or the insects will get it. Here in Wisconsin I would say our corn is usually planted just before most of the gardens in the area go in. We try for mid-May but it can be as late as June 15th. In order for it to mature before frost the saying here is, it's got to be "knee high by the 4th of July," but even if it's late, hot weather in August can help it catch up.

Once it is four inches tall, you can begin cultivation if there are weeds. Again, this can be done mechanically or the traditional way with a hoe, walking the rows. If you plan ahead and plant in rows that you can get a tiller through, you can do a shallow tilling, but wait until the corn is taller so the roots are deeper and the dirt doesn't knock over the corn plants. A few weeds are not too serious, and if the corn gets a good start, pretty soon it will shade Will Shade (February 5, 1898 – September 18, 1966) was an African-American Memphis blues musician best known for his membership in the Memphis Jug Band. Shade was commonly called Son Brimmer  out many of the weeds. If your patch isn't too big you could consider mulching it with chopped straw or grass clippings, which is a great way to add organic matter to the soil as well.

A small plot of corn can go a long way. Start with a quarter or half acre or more and share the work with friends. A $50 investment in seed corn will plant almost three acres, having about 80,000 seeds per 50 lb. bag. If you don't use it all, store it in a cool, dry place and it will be fine for next year. Always read and follow directions for safe handling of seed since seed corn is treated (it's pink!).

So, go ahead, try it--plant some corn for your animals. They will love you for it!
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Author:Thimmig, Kimberly
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 2002
Previous Article:In praise of the lowly corn cob: corn cobs are great for animal bedding, heating homes, and don't forget jelly. (Feeds & feeding).
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