(see Farming also for much more)
Even though the Census tabulates that only 5% of Americans live in a rural environment and only 2% are actual farmers,
agriculture dominates in every direction in southern Illinois.
Few things are more beautiful than a "forest" of corn. Gets "as high as an elephant's eye".
And the American psyche revels in our agrarian roots in spite of the fact that entire cohorts of people never even walk on grass.
Corn comes from the frozen food section. Animals are not killed to make sausage.
(There was a Sausage Tree in Jamaica. Do they come from there?)
This romanticism also misses what incredibly hard work it is as well as the incredibly large capital investment.
A 13-row corn head (combine) costs as much as a good-sized yacht ($350,000+ sometimes)
Imagine having a yacht that expensive and using it a week per year.
And you are not sunning yourself on deck with bathing beauties navigating the Caribbean Isles.
You are going twenty hours per day to get that crop in.
And when everyone does well, everyone does poorly because prices fall.
And remember, there is only two cents of wheat in a loaf of bread. The bag costs more.
Not so nearly as romantic as it sounds.
But there is no substitute.
When the ground is broken come Spring the air smells like ....well, dirt.
It is a special smell. We know what is. If we could distill it and wear it as aftershave, we would.
All them corn-fed little heifers'd be asnugglin' up to us...

This author's family has farmed for eleven generations continuously since Jamestown.
Likely, they farmed in England before that.
This author's father became a school teacher because a quarter-section couldn't be split between brothers and support anyone.
He could still harness a team of mules and plow a furrow.
When he was a boy in Oklahoma, he had a mare and his job was to carry canvas waterbags to threshing crews in the field.
Then the Dustbowl blew it all away.
They moved to Illinois in 1938. Couldn't get over how green it was.
Had a leased farm down in Jefferson County.
One hundred sixty acres with a tricycle Allis-Chalmers and a tricycle Case. Two-row cornhead, no sheller.
This author farms with enough traditional agriculture to pay the property taxes.
The balance sports 2000 Walnut trees, 500 Pecan, 1000 various Oak and 10,000 Cypress.
All planted by hand by the author.
These are twenty-year-old trees of five-inch caliper and no yield.
Probably will yield the last years of his life. Won't be able to bend over to pick up the nuts if the squirrels don't get them first.
In the meantime, they supply an excellent roost for birds to pass Honeysuckle and Russian Olive seeds.
These in term germinate and must be eradicated before they destroy the nascent forest.
The Cypress are sufficiently large and yield seed which the author suppllies to the Ministry of Forests
in Vietnam for reforestation after the Agent Orange debacle nearly fifty years on.
Kinda like war reparations.

That said, Agriculture requires every degree of attention we can offer it.
Technology, research, best practices, finance, crop and market protection and development of new markets.
Also, mindless affronts to customers such as Mexico which send them scurrying off to Brazil for corn supplies are dumb to say the laeast.

Return to Home.