Grit Blogs > There and Back Again

Things I Didn't Know About Farming

More things I didn’t know about the farm. You realize this could be an endless list, but I’ll start with just a few things:

  • Straw. I had no idea where straw comes from. None what-so-ever. Then, my husband said something about “wheat straw” and the light came on over my head. For some reason, I knew that corn stalks were ground for insulage, but I just never thought about straw.
  • I couldn’t figure out why when they sprayed the soy-beans that they didn’t die along with the weeds. Then, he said the phrase “Round-Up Ready soy beans” and once again, the light dawned.
  • I keep calling the steers cows. Now to me, all of those bovine things are cows. Just one stinking cow after another. (Cows and I are not friends - more on that later.) We are selling shares of the critters for slaughter and I told him that I was talking to people about the cows. “Steers” he corrected me. “I have to get you to stop that, people will be thinking only of hamburger.” (Apparently, cows are mainly good for hamburger, while the steers are for the better cuts of meat.) I thought of the city people I’m dealing with, and I’ll bet they have no idea, either, between cows and steers. But I promised to do better.
  • I was fortunate in that I knew how to can such things as jelly and salsa. But what surprised me was the volume of work from gardens. I’ve had a small garden, or would go and pick a few fruits from the farms pick-your-own farms in New Jersey. But my husband comes home with tubs of beets or dozens of sweet corn from family members. Or last year, for example, we had buckets of sour cherries that had to be dealt with immediately. The work was a bit overwhelming, and I discovered things like you really can’t double a recipe for canning cherry jam. I ended up with many, many jars of unset cherry jam when I didn’t boil it long enough, out of sheer exhaustion. But, I’m making a virtue out of necessity, and using the semi-solid jelly for pancake syrup. I should claim that I did it on purpose.