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Pulling Fodder and Cutting Tops

Updated on June 19, 2017

Corn shocks

Corn crib similar to the one on my property. I tore it down some years ago.

Cutting tops and Pulling Fodder

I grew up here in WNC and the article I am writing is about a farming practice that I observed and saw my Grandfather and my dad do. Every year my Grandfather grew several acres of corn to feed his livestock. He also grew sweet corn that would be consumed during the summer months by the family. Corn was an important crop and great care and hard work was required. Planting, hoeing and plowing during the early growing period kept the weeds down and what fertilizer and side dressing were place around the corn growing was best utilized when the corn plant only could absorb the nutrients in fertilizer to make it grow.

I have spent many hours hoeing and plowing my dad's corn fields. In fact one of my favorite chores was to plow corn. Seeing and smelling the mountain soil was as natural as breathing to me. The rewards were crops that grew uninhibited to maturity and by the time the corn was almost knee high to a 13 year old boy it was laid by with a final plowing and side dressed with "bull soda."

My grandfather made full use of his corn crops. Each year the top of the corn were cut just above the ears of corn and tied into shocks. A practice many know nothing about today with the exception of corn shocks now used as decorative ornaments at Halloween or Thanksgiving. The remaining foliage, fodder was then pulled and tied into bundles and fed to the livestock.

Cutting tops and pulling fodder was hard work and I recall my grandfather "hoping" his neighbor Fred cut his tops and "hope" him tie up his fodder. The work he gave would be reciprocated in kind and both farms would have an ample supply of feed for their livestock.

The corn was then harvested and put into their respective corn cribs. Most years grandpa had some to sell to other folks who didn't grow their own corn or needed corn to take to the local millery to have ground into cornmeal.

I would not take anything for those memories of the 1950's helping in these farm chores and fresh ground cornmeal that I had helped to shell sure tasted good in a bowl of buttermilk.

The practice of pulling fodder and cutting tops has disappeared into the annals of history although is some parts of the country especially among the Amish some of the early farming practices can still be found. I could not find any photos of fodder as I knew it where the foliage of corn was pulled and tied.

Harvest corn with a horse

Amish Harveting

Old corn crib


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    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 weeks ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Well thank you!! Come out like a burp. It rained here today so I had some time to write a few lines. It is always nice to see where you have read and commented on something I have written. May the Lord bless you and all yours.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 8 weeks ago from USA

      I like reading about your farm memories. Keep sharing them.