As much as the rain caused a slowdown in the planting season, it did come just in time for the corn that had already been planted – at least for us. We had gotten some rain right after planting, and then some sunshine with no more rain. When this happens, the soil can start to get a little hard on the surface – sort of crusted. This causes the corn plants trying to emerge from the soil to have a lot of problems getting out of the ground. Corn plants that can’t push through the soil are unable to grow, and end up dying underground. This reduces our overall crop stand or population, which leads to reduced yields. It is very important in the spring, after planting, to get regular rains to keep the soil soft enough for little corn plants to push through.

This last rain did just that. We have corn up already, which always makes a farmer happy. Robb will be checking the fields now to see if the populations are good and all the corn emerged well. It seems amazing to me that you can plant millions of corn seeds, and almost all of them seem to germinate and emerge from the ground, to grow into big corn plants. I don’t always get germination that good in my little vegetable garden.

Now, we’ve moved on to planting soybeans. Those should go in quickly so that we can move on to other things. The hay is already starting to look like it needs to be mowed. No rest for the farmers! Robb has been busy with bale wrapping already. He’s wrapping big round bales for other farmers who want to protect their hay from the elements, or want to make silage bales for feed this winter.

At our house, the latest and greatest project has been getting livestock for my little 4-H’er to show at the county fair this summer. He has decided that since this is his first year in 4-H, he wants to show a goat at the fair. This should be interesting. He couldn’t pick one of the animals we actually own, could he? But, the goats have been obtained, and the pen for the goats is being constructed, and the animals are registered with 4-H for the show. I guess we’re now in the goat business. Good grief!

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I do love 4-H for its ability to teach kids responsibility, goal setting and confidence. This program is great for kids of all ages, and all interests. You don’t have to show an animal at the fair – you can do so many other things, including sewing, crafts, welding, machinery, woodworking, public speaking, and so much more. Robb was very involved in 4-H when he was younger, and now I think he’s starting to relive his childhood through the boys. It’s kind of funny.

My youngest is still too young to be a 4-H member, which seems to be making him frustrated. We told him that we think he can show in the fair in the open class, so we will have to figure that out. I hope I’m not wrong — this 4-H stuff is all new to me, having never been in 4-H myself. Where and when I grew up, it was just for farm kids. It’s now a very different program.

I hope your spring is going well so far, and that your lawn is not growing quite as fast as mine. Perhaps your garden is growing and you already have a crop of peas or radishes. I know that I have already enjoyed rhubarb from friends. Spring is such a great season!

Jennifer Ewoldt, DVM, and her husband, Robb, are farmers in the Quad-Cities. Her column about life on the farm is published every other Monday.

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