What a silly unit of measurement.
I often picture a weathered old farmer using this adage while wagging his finger at me: “Well, when I was knee high to a grasshopper, we had to walk uphill to school both ways in blinding snowstorms.”
The longer I’m around farmers and farming, the more I realize that many of our great adages can be tied back to farming. For example:
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Don’t cast your pearls before swine
Make hay while the sun shines
Don’t let the foxes guard the henhouse
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink
Trying to find a needle in a haystack
And of course, my personal favorite: let’s party till the cows come home.
Seriously. Farmers must be the smartest people in the world to be responsible for all of that wisdom! At least that’s what the Dairy Man tells me.
A few weeks ago, I added another adage to my holster.
This spring was less than ideal for planting corn. It rained and rained and rained. The fields were wet and muddy. But despite a rain-soaked spring, my Dairy Man managed to get his corn seed into the ground before it was too late. Corn harvest will take place sometime in September, but until then, we have a handy little saying to tell us if the yellow stuff is doing ok.
I give you: knee high by the fourth of July.
Sure, this post is just a teensy bit past the fourth of July, but this saying is worth talking about. A few weeks ago it was flying around the farming community with reckless abandon. If your corn is “knee high by the fourth of July,” all is well and you’ll be able to harvest on time.
Naturally, my knees and I had to see things for ourselves.
So the Dairy Man and I took an evening stroll to check on our corn.
From my vantage point, things were looking good. Leafy. Green. You know, Cornish.
But then it was time for the test. Was our corn tall enough? I should mention that, at 5’4’’, I’m probably not the ideal person to be testing your corn. My knees are just a little low to the ground. Nonetheless, I surveyed the situation.
The verdict? We are right on track. Though, the green stuff actually surpassed the needed knee high. You could say it was “thigh high by the fourth of July.” It’s got a nice ring to it, though I’d rather talk about my knees.
Research completed, the Dairy Man and I started our trek home back through the fields. The fireflies were just starting to appear as the sun slowly sank into the horizon (or, in our case, into the orchard across the street). Beautiful, quiet moments like this make the craziness of farming seem just a little more bearable.
Plus, the corn is doing great.