Green pants, center pivots, and happy corn

21 Jun

Ok, quiz time. What do the following three things have in common?

  1. The Sahara Desert
  2. Our corn fields
  3. My mouth when I watch a Ryan Gosling movie

That’s right, my friends, all of these items are very dry.

Much to the Dairy Man’s relief, this post will not be about Ry-guy-McHotpants. Perhaps another time. For today, we’re going to focus on the corn.

With the exception of a brief, violent thunderstorm that sent our terrified puppy under the coffee table, the past few weeks in Michigan have been bone dry and oppressively hot. Our grass is brown and our corn is thirsty.

But fortunately for this year, a few of our newly-acquired fields came with some new toys: center pivot irrigators.

Up until this point, my only experience with these spindly metallic creatures was through a car window. They are both idyllically American and inexplicably alien. If  a spider and a caterpillar had a baby, it would look like this. Center pivots also give  free car washes if placed too close to the road.

This is the first year we’ve used center pivots to water our leafy green stuff. We’re using them because they came with the fields, but they also provide the extra water that the sandy soil needs to spawn healthy corn.

Naturally I had to experience the man-made phenoms for myself. So, one night the family (furry members included) took a drive.

The Dairy Man even found time to conduct some business while I took pictures of the machinery. Modern farming, I tell ya.

A center pivot irrigation system uses overhead sprinklers to water the crops. The machinery is made up of several segments of pipe joined together and supported by trusses mounted on wheeled towers.

In addition to their function, the towers also make excellent climbing trees.

The whole business is fed water from the central pivot point.

Water flows through the segments of pipes to the drop hoses (aka sprinklers) and the apparatus rotates in a circular pattern through the field around the pivot point.

There’s even an “end gun” sprinkler firing off at the very end of the center pivot, just to get  that last 75 feet of corn.

It’s all very complicated.

Conceptually, a center pivot isn’t that different from a lawn sprinkler. Not that I would know from personal experience. I kill plants. I hate yard work and fear dirt and bugs. I’m what the Dairy Man kindly refers to as an “indoor kid.” Last summer, he and I spent an entire day landscaping around our house and most of the plants have since died. Whoops. A certain farm wife forgot to water … and weed.

But if you are the kind of person who actually remembers to turn the sprinkler on for your poor baby plants, you’ll understand our irrigator.

The Dairy Man runs the center pivots at dusk to avoid any unnecessary evaporation during the hot parts of the day. If all goes well, the irrigation system will provide a half inch of water every 24 hours. This is accomplished over the course of 1-2 days per pivot.

Michigan corn can typically survive on rain alone, but the center pivots give our sandy fields an extra boost.

And even a green-pants-wearing farm wife can get excited about new toys.


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5 Responses to “Green pants, center pivots, and happy corn”

  1. Holly Moon 06/24/2012 at 8:27 pm #

    The neighbors who travel the road next to the Dairy Man’s newly acquired irrigation system appreciate his expertise in targeting the water on the corn in the field and his excellent timing at dusk. Saves bike riders from getting a bath…hahaha!!!

    • the Modern Farm Wife 07/12/2012 at 8:58 am #

      Ha, true that, Holly! He has an alarm on his phone to make sure he checks on them at the right time each night!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. When cows get hot and bothered. « Modern Farm Wife - 07/13/2012

    […] The corn gets irrigated. […]

  2. The Calm Before the (Corn) Storm | Modern Farm Wife - 09/12/2013

    […] wet spring, our corn was planted with intention and care. Dairy Man spent half his life checking pivots and making sure the babies were getting enough water. The leafy green stuff has survived dry weeks, […]

  3. When I Don’t Accept Farm Life With Grace. | Modern Farm Wife - 09/26/2013

    […] corn, harvested multiple cuttings of hay, built a barn, dug a five-million gallon manure pit, irrigated our corn (thanks to a lack of rain), and tried to plan out the future of this dairy. All of these things have […]

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