Corn Maze, planting the field part 6


August 20

Since the fall harvest season makes up a huge part of who we are and what we do we spend some time talking about it. People ask us many questions about how we create some the designs. From a produce market and pumpkin patch with a corn maze we have grown into a winery and now a craft brewery. This summer’s weather has been very challenging. In fact we got about another 2-3 inches of rain again last night.

Sweet Corn field

Sweet Corn field

This blog post about our Ohio Corn Maze shows how we actually plant the corn. We are “old school” by modern agriculture standards in the sense our planter is about twenty years old but it gets the job done.

John Deere 7200 Corn Planter

John Deere 7200 Corn Planter

The corn planter plants six rows at a time each row is 30 inches apart. Our planter can plant No-Till or conventional where you till or work the soil from plow to field cultivator as discussed in past posts. Click here for tillage information Our planter is a vacuum planter.

Seed box for an individual row

Seed box for an individual row

What that means is we use the tractors hydraulic pump to run a air vacuum pump like on a floor sweeper that draws the individual seeds against a depression with a small hole in it positioned around the rim of a circular planter “plate”.

Seed box removed, black disk top of photo is the plate.

Seed box removed, black disk top of photo is the plate.

One bag of seed plants about 3 acres.

Bag of seed corn

Bag of seed corn

Seed corn in planter seed box. We “drop” or plant, between 24,000 to 35,000 seeds per acre (an acre is approximately the area of a football field) depending upon the type of corn, and the end use. For corn mazes I shoot for the low end because we plant the field twice at a right angles to each pass.

Seed corn in planter seed box

Seed corn in planter seed box

A individual planter “Plate”. Plates come in different sizes depending upon crop and seed size to be planted. The larger the seed the larger the “cup” in the plate, you also adjust your vacuum if the seed is heavier to hold it in place as it travels around the until it is dislodged by the brush.

Planter plate below seed box

Planter plate below seed box

A chain drive turns the plate and as it rotates once a revolution it comes in contact with a brush that pushes it away from the plate.

Chain drive

Chain drive

The seed travels down a tube and into the soil where another part of the planter creates a trench and then closes it after the seed is deposited. Row wipes lead the way directly in front of the seed disk openers. Which are located under the above mentioned planter boxes.

Row wipes are mostly used for No Till planting

Row wipes are mostly used for No Till planting

A Fertilizer Disk opener is positioned two inches to the side of the seed opener and a depth of two inches below the seed. “2 Down and 2 Over it is called. This helps to ensure the fertilizer is where the plant needs it when it needs it and is not wasted.

Fertilizer Disk opener

Fertilizer Disk opener

A closing wheel travels last closing the seed trench to ensure good soil to seed contact.

Closing wheel

Closing wheel

When planting you try a drive as straight as possible, it is a matter of pride and it also helps to maximize field area and yield. Our planter uses old style row markers. An arm extends from the side of the planter towards the side of the field yet to be planted. At the end of the arm is a disk that leaves a small trench that you line up the center of the tractor on. Today’s modern planters use a Global positioning satellite system to do this. Many tractors have this tied into their steering systems such that the computer/satellite actually drives the tractor.

Row marker trench you follow

Row marker trench you follow

The difference when you plant a corn maze field vs. a normal field is you make a second pass at a 90 degree angle to your first pass thereby creating a grid. This makes for a denser field of corn with great vegetation coverage which makes for a better corn maze experience.

View looking back toward planter from tractor seat.

View looking back toward planter from tractor seat.

If you have good weather and soil temperatures are good your corn should emerge in about seven to ten days.

Corn coming up in rows!

Corn coming up in rows!

We wait now about five to six weeks to start the maze carving process where we carve the corn maze design into the field from a solid field of corn. We like to have the corn be large enough a mower will kill the majority of it but not too tall to make cutting difficult.

Cutting the paths that make up a corn maze design

Cutting the paths that make up a corn maze design

Coming soon the “nuts and bolts” of how we create those crazy Maize Valley Ohio Corn Maze designs!

Ohio Corn maze building part 5 seedbed preparation


June 2

Seedbed, maybe you never thought of it that way but but making a nice cozy place for a seed to germinate is very important. Keep in mind planting corn for a corn maze is different that planting corn just to raise to harvest to sell. We spend a bit more time and money getting this field prepared than a “normal farmer” would.

Planting Corn Maze "No-Till"

Planting Corn Maze "No-Till"

In past years we planted the field “No-Till”, that is we would just plant into the field as we left it after harvest the previous fall. The planter has what are called “Row Wipes” that push aside the “Trash” (leftover organic matter and other plant material) left from last year and the row unit has steel disks that open up the soil, place the seed and close the seed trench. It worked fine but we wanted to start using cow manure as fertilizer and we needed to work it into the soil. This required we go “old school” and back the the moldboard plow.

Four bottom Moldboard Plow

Four bottom Moldboard Plow

At one point in time the Moldboard plow and it evolution through the 1800′s was as technologically advanced as Global Positioning Satellite systems are today. Click HERE to read it’s history. Advancements in design and materials changed the face of agriculture and thereby our country.

Disk

A picture of a "Disk" field working tool

After we plow the corn maze field we follow with what is called a “Disk”. Timing can depend on soil moisture, time of year or equipment availability. It has a series of disk shaped blades mounted on a shaft or an arbor. They are positioned at a slight angle to the direction of travel and to each other. There are usually four arbors with disks mounted on them. This is called a gang that is mounted to a frame via roller bearings that allow the disks to rotate as the tool is pulled across the field.

Field Cultivator

Field Cultivator

Again as I’ve mentioned building a Corn Maze in Ohio and planting the corn for a corn maze we do things a bit different than we would just planting a “regular” corn field. This corn has to not only yield but also be part of an experience for our guests. After the disk we work the ground with a field cultivator. It has small shovel-like tools mounted on a spring loaded arm and steel bar that runs from one side of the tool to the other. The purpose of this tool is to level the soil bed. It fills in ruts left by the disk and knocks down high spots as well.

Cultipacker

Cultipacker

The last pass across the field before planting we use a cultipacker to further level the soil and also break up some of the dirt clods some more. We want to provide a firm but not overly packed soil bed for the seed. You want the soil fine enough to get optimal seed to soil contact without packing the soil and compacting it to the point it can crust if and when you get a rain. It is a judgement call. You can plant right into disked ground but again for purposes of the corn maze we do things a bit different.

Corn Planter

Corn Planter

In out next post about planting a Corn Maze we will talk about the planter itself and how we actually place the seed in the soil.

Corn Maze (part 4) or Grapes the right type and timing of fertilizer counts!


May 15

At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN! Special events are a big part of that. This blog post number four in a series of blog posts about how we build a corn maze. In part three we talked about weathering, freezing and thawing, applying cow manure and plowing. This time we talk about putting down some fertilizer to help the plants that make up the Corn Maze grow best.

Hoopes Fertilizer Plant in Alliance Ohio

Hoopes Fertilizer Plant in Alliance Ohio

As mentioned in an earlier blog post we test the soil to determine the needs for next years crop. We also know a great deal about what is needed by the yield of the previous years crop. If you remove so much material it also removed known amounts of nutrients. We begin our manure applications based upon that number and supplement with other fertilizer to fill in the gaps to our best approximation based upon soil test report. I say “best approximation” because weather ultimately determines the crops potential.

Loading a blend of Ammonium Sulfate and Pelletized Lime

Loading a blend of Ammonium Sulfate and Pelletized Lime

I like to use Ammonium Sulfate and here is why. Ammonium nitrogen (NH4+) carries a positive charge and is adsorbed onto soil particles. In this chemical form, leaching of nitrogen does not occur; however, NH4+ is changed to the NO3- form by bacteria. This process occurs rapidly (beginning within 2 to 3 days) as the soil temperature climbs above 50°F. Complete conversion from NH4+ to NO3- occurs within about a month of application. source We will plow this field before it reaches 50 degrees, thereby trapping the nitrogen underground until the plant needs it. Sulfur in necessary in the manufacture of proteins in the plant and you need as much of it as Phosphorus.

Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium Sulfate

This information is to let you know that before we started planting corn mazes we used to farm a fairly large number of acres. In fact we used to farm over 3,000 acres before we evolved into the winery and soon brewery aspect of agriculture. I also blend in an equal amount of pelletized lime. Pelletized lime is made by granulating finely ground agricultural (ag) lime. It may be dolomitic or calcitic depending on the nature of the original limestone. Some questions have been raised about recommended rates of this material and the speed at which it reacts compared to standard ag lime. Source

Pelletized Lime

Pelletized Lime

I blend in the lime as both a calcium source and to help balance the the acid formed when the Nitrogen breaks down into Ammounium Nitrate. One disadvantage of Ammounium Sulfate is it can lower your soil pH below optimal levels if not accounted for.

Spreading the blend on the field.

Spreading the blend on the field.

We apply the blend at a rate of 400 pounds per acre, (43,560 ft. sq.) or approximately the area of a football field. That may sound like a lot but consider that half of that is pelletized lime, and the ammonium sulfate is only 21% nitrogen. This works out to only 42 pounds of actual nitrogen evenly distributed over and entire area the size of a football field. Picture the volume of a large bag of dogfood and try to imagine how thinly spread that is. Still this one load cost over $500.00 so we are very careful how we use it and do not use too much.

White pellets are fertilizer granuals

White pellets are fertilizer granuals

The while pellets are the fertilizer granules. The brown lime pellets have already dissolved into the soil. The fertilizer will do the same and attache to the soil particles since the fertilizer has a positive charge and the clay particles in the soil have a negative charge. When temperatures warm and bacteria become active Denitrification will begin. Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction (performed by a large group of heterotrophic facultative anaerobic bacteria) that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products. This makes the nitrogen available to the plant. Source . All forms of nitrogen both commercial fertilizers or natural or “organic” sources undergo this process. Plants don’t really care the source is as long as the soil is healthy and in balance.

Corn coming up in rows

Corn coming up in rows

So way before we get this, there is a lot of preparation to do to bring a corn maze to life. Stay tuned next time we will talk a bit about how and why we prepare the soil the way we do.

And Now a word FOR our PINK Party sponsors!


April 29

Well I’m not sure “sponsors” is the right word, Maybe supporters or just friends trying to help us make a big difference. A lot of hard word goes into doing charity fundraisers. We have participated, hosted, organized and created many of them for a variety of causes over the past years. Some have been for Veterans, some for Developmentally and mentally delayed individuals and this one for Breast Cancer. One thing I have learned they would not be possible or what you could consider successful as in actually raise money if not for the generosity of people willing to help in the form of donated, time, money or “grease”. The kind of grease that gets the ball rolling and others motivated to be multipliers.

Big ones like Bank of America

Big ones like Bank of America

You have “BIG” sponsors you see like Bank of America which is a National Sponsor for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day. I use them as an example. They help bring the “Big Show” to the road. What I’m talking about for this blog post is those special folks who step forward and help us reach our goals both monetary and awareness, by helping to get the event “greased”. And Boy do we have some really cool grease.

Sawovski Crystals and jewelry are in the well stocked list.

Sawovski Crystals and jewelry are in the well stocked list.

Ok ladies I hear these are really cool?! See I’m a “typical guy”, I understand parts that make my motorcycle go faster or my Jeep climb higher. I call items in the picture “fishing lures” as I’ve noticed they have the same effect on the ladies and a really good shinny fishing lure does on a fish! But the same can be said for the guys if the jewels get the ladies noticed. All kidding aside Sawarovski jewelry is the bomb and we have some wonderful connections true to our cause that see fit we have several items with the Sawarovski name on them in our Auction.

I dream of Genie!

I dream of Genie!

Now you are talking something I understand! So if your lady is decked out in that fine Swarovski jewelry she doesn’t want to have to get off the motorcycle to open the garage door for you does she? Well heck no so all you have to do is be the high bidder and…..Problem solved! Well maybe one of them?

Pro Football Hall of Fame Passes WITH a personal guided tour PLUS some HOF-SWAG!

Pro Football Hall of Fame Passes WITH a personal guided tour PLUS some HOF-SWAG!

Among the many friends and “family” Maize Valley has our lots of local folks who work with really cool places like the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ann Wood lives just up the street and works at the Hall of Fame and put together a truly special one of a kind package. Gary and Francis Jervis have donated a complete Fine China set NEVER out of the box! I don’t have a picture of it because the box is over three feet tall and full of packing peanuts and shipping container packaging.

A Personal Trainer Makeover

A Personal Trainer Makeover

My wife Michelle (pictured on left) and I are the reason for this party, we are raising the funds for the Susan G. Komen walk but Michelle’s Mom Donna is also a Breast Cancer survivor. After her surgery and treatment, exercise was prescribed and that brought her to Joyce her personal trainer. That was over 5 years ago and Donna still works out and Joyce is here to help in a different way by donating her services as well as that of some of her colleagues and friends also. Donna was always fit, lugging milk to the calves at the dairy farm but at 75+ years young Joyce has been a great help in keeping a healthy body and mind going forward.

Oh, did I mention there were more Fishing lures! ;-)

Oh, did I mention there were more Fishing lures! ;-)

Well, I wish I wrote better when it comes to English and grammar. Sorry but I crank these posts out in between managing our family farm businesses social media marketing efforts and fixing truck beds and driving tractors. (See my last two posts about this event here and here.) But the key is family, we work together here at Maize Valley. We do things like corn mazes, wagon rides, pumpking picking, wine tastings, and soon to be a brewery. But we couldn’t do it by ourselves, we need and appreciate the help of others. So on that note, Please join us for the PINK Party on May 7th if you can. Thank you our sponsors for all you do, because everyone deserves a lifetime!

A Farmer’s Promise


April 23

This time of year we talk a lot about our Bra-Vo Bra Decorating Contest and our PINK Party both designed to raise funds for Breast Cancer Charities. In our case we focus on the Susan G. Komen 3 day, and here is why. This is a follow up to the last blog post about what the PINK Party was about.

3 Day opening ceremonies

3 Day opening ceremonies

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has raised more money for breast cancer research than any other single charity. They have had some setbacks the past couple years I will agree, they probably have not made the best decisions in all instances, maybe they got too big, I don’t know. What I do know is I have witnessed at many levels the 3 Day 60 mile walk do so much more than raise, spend or do whatever with simply money. It is also about “The Promise”, I’ll get to that later.

Just a "Civilian Cheerleader" along the route, you never knew the stories behind "why...."

Just a "Civilian Cheerleader" along the route, you never knew the stories behind "why...."

I have seen it change lives, personally I have had it change my life such that I have been a motivated to become a “multiplier” for the cause within and separate from the SGK 3 Day. What is that worth? Again I don’t know nor does anyone else. The SGK 3 Day “rolls large” it moves people physically, mentally and spiritually. Let me say I mean no disparagement to any other event or charity in saying these comments I am simply stating what I’ve experienced and why we support the SGK 3 Day. It is a unique event when you string 3 days together over 60 miles it moves people beyond their comfort zones, it requires a big commitment in many ways not just the few days of the event. This really makes it “Special” to me.

Michelle in front of the Pink tent city her first year the walkers and crew

Michelle in front of the Pink tent city her first year the walkers and crew

It takes an army of “crew” to support these walkers, it isn’t cheap. As a farmer I know how to move large things, deal with weather and understand logistics a bit, this is a big deal to pull off. They provide medical care, they feed them well, the AWESOME porta-jons, actually pretty nice showers, and safety is quite a play to orchestrate.

Portable shower rigs, boy they feel good at the end of 20 mile walk on a 90 degree day!

Portable shower rigs, boy they feel good at the end of 20 mile walk on a 90 degree day!

I think for the outcome they do a great job. As a farmer I know when I grow a crop some weeds are going to grow too. I just have to do my best to minimize that part and drive the positive aspects to the top. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop farming because some weeds will grow if I do. I’ve got a job to do, as do the folks of all motivations that volunteer and make a career out of running charities. We are better off with their efforts than without. That is why we walk the 3 Day, also because it’s HARD!

I was a member of "Route Safety" Crew in 2011 "The Pirates"

I was a member of "Route Safety" Crew in 2011 "The Pirates"

Our motley crew on motorcycles and bicycles watched out for walkers safety in multiple ways. We were there to watch for medical conditions and get help if noted. We kept people off their phones when walking, we escorted the walkers at “tough” intersections within traffic laws, we told really bad jokes when people needed a smile. After a while only so many things rhyme with ARrrrrrgH!

Promise Me

Promise Me

Again I keep coming back to what is motivating me to write this. It’s the “Anti’s” as they are called now, those who can find fault in practically anything for whatever reason good or bad. But it is easy to throw stones at a glass house after someone built it. When “The Promise” was made we didn’t talk openly about breasts, make jokes about boobs or practically even acknowledge this “thing” existed. I promised my wife I would always be there for her in this journey, it was a small promise compared to one promise a sister made to another back in 1977.

Nancy and Susan

Nancy and Susan

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.
I promise, Suzy. . . . Even if it takes the rest of my life.

Me and my Survivor

Me and my Survivor

So this the “why” we are grunts in the fight against Breast Cancer and why we have chosen the Susan G. Komen 3 Day as our path. We ask for your support at the PINK Party or anyway possible. If you can’t help there we encourage you to look around for other opportunities that also exist with other groups that are also in the fight because everyone deserves a lifetime!

Looks like we will walking the streets and paths of Michigan in 2014!  Zero to 60 in 3 Days...We got that!

Looks like we will walking the streets and paths of Michigan in 2014! Zero to 60 in 3 Days...We got that!

“PINK Party” A night out with “The Girls”…and those who love them.


April 16

How the “PINK Party” came to be.

It was a busy, August day, I had just gotten back from a fast trip over to Western New York State wine/grape country from some juice when my phone rang. I was tired I had left about 4:00am, by 3:00 in the afternoon the day was getting long especially in the heat. My wife Michelle had gone to the Doctor to get some test results, her voice on the phone was weak and tearful, “I’ve got cancer”. I dropped to my knees on the back dock of our winery. I had not gone with her, the general consensus was they were just calcium deposits….we were wrong. The 20 minute drive she had back from town seemed liked an eternity.

My Girls

My Girls, my wife Michelle with our daughters Cara and Breanne

Were my daughters going to lose their Mother? I didn’t know how to react really. I mean I didn’t know enough about anything to be afraid or confident, angry or stoic. My brother had lost his wife the prior year after a long battle. Was this our future? My wife’s Mother was winning her battle, was this our future? My wife’s Grandmother on her Father’s side died from it in the 1940′s. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.

Almost five years later, she survived!

Almost five years later, she survived!

This post is not “About Us”, we survived. It is about what we…..mostly “she” did to fight back. The December after that August my wife Michelle had a double mastectomy. We were lucky no Kemo, no Radiation. The following spring then June final reconstructive surgery. In July she walked 60 miles in Cleveland in three days raising over $4,000.00. She has done that every year since in one city or another. I have helped by supporting her, being a Susan G. Komen crew member and last year for my first time I walked along side my survivor in the 100 degree heat of the Twin Cities as a walker myself. That is what the PINK Party is about and so much more.

Pink Party 2013

Pink Party 2013

One thing I learned about the Susan G. Komen walk was it was about so much more than just money. When you spend three days together with about a thousand of your closest friends on street corners, sidewalks, parking lots, parks, tents, portable showers, tents and porta jons volumes can be spoken with just eye contact. Yea, you raised a pretty good chunk of change to get there but it isn’t really about the money, it is about the journey. And the PINK Party is part of that journey for us.

Auction items

Auction items

For me the raising money sorta sucks, but it taught me a lesson. It is good to be humble and ask for help if it causes someone to think about something they would rather not think about and maybe it saves their life. My wife was lucky, early detection at least saved her from a much more gruesome path we saw others take, maybe it saved her life? So while the party is about raising money, the cliche’ of raising awareness is even more important because in this case that awareness is personal. If we touch one person that night, if one person is moved to action we truly have already taken our first steps, the following sixty miles are easy.

Pink Party ladies

Pink Party ladies

It’s harder to hate someone if you know them, it is harder to be afraid of something if you are smiling. We are serious about this fight but it doesn’t mean we don’t laugh along the way, we use it as a weapon in our arsenal. The PINK Party is about serious business, it is about doing our part to save lives but we also try and have a good laugh along the way. Laughter rejuvenates, laughter makes you stronger, laughter helps you fight.

Willie on the "hands down"

Willie on the "hands down"

We play games like “Hands up” / “Hands Down”. You pay to play but if you are the last one standing you go home with a Big Screen T.V.

Prizes and so much more!

Prizes and so much more!

The Big Screen T.V. was purchased and donated by Maize Valley staff member and good friend Scott Mann. Scott and Michelle hatched the idea for the “PINK Party” event over the previous winter. Many great people came together to make the evening greater than the sum of its parts.

Scott Mann, a Man of many talents

Scott Mann, a Man of many talents

A great number of local area businesses also stepped up to help out. Doreen Leaf Designs and Bridal Bouquet donated Tuxes for the guys to wear that evening and countless others donated door prizes, massages, and makeovers. We even had a belly dancer out demonstrate her trade and how it applied to art and fitness.

Joe, Ryan and Todd sporting Doreen Leaf Designs apparel

Joe, Ryan and Todd sporting Doreen Leaf Designs apparel

In the end they even managed to make this farmer look pretty good and that is a hard thing to do standing next to this lady, my survivor Michelle.

Me and my Survivor

Me and my Survivor

As I mentioned it took me a while to really understand the impact a night like this could have on people. Our actions that evening while focused on the obvious purpose of raising money also moved people to be multipliers and that was our real accomplishment. We raised over $7,000.00 that night all told. We thank all the participants, guests and friends who came out to make that possible. We took that money and some more and donated it to the Susan G. Komen foundation and participated in the 3 Day for the cure walk in the Twin Cities. We also mention we paid our travel expenses, hotel and meals while on the trip out of our own pocket, not as a badge of honor but just so folks know we tried to put all their donations toward the “main thing”.

At the end of Day # 2 with 40 miles behind us

At the end of Day # 2 with 40 miles behind us

Along the walk we met many friends, and heard many stories of personal loss and triumph. With your help we may again do it again in 2014, thank you for your time spent here reading this and hope to see you at the “PINK Party“!

Chelle in the middle of the pic at closing ceremonies

Chelle in the middle of the pic at closing ceremonies

Thanks again, next post I will talk a little bit more about the walk itself, what happens and why we have chosen this particular charity. Take care, BB

Corn Maze, What’s next when building one…. part 3


April 8

Oh poo, well more like manure that is. In order for any crop to grow well a lot of things need to happen. In the first blog post we talked about harvesting the crop at the end of the growing season. In the last one we discussed taking a soil sample. Over the winter months not much happens in the field but “weathering” does occur. Weathering is a natural process where the weather works on the soil. Do you remember science class and what happens to water when it freezes?

Rock cracked by water freezing inside of it.

Rock cracked by water freezing inside of it.

While things appear “solid” to us not many things really are. Practically everything has small spaces or pores within it. Rocks are no different, they have little spaces inside of them and depending upon the type of rock some are larger than others. Water finds its way into these little spaces and when it gets cold and freezes (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit) it expands. It is an enormously powerful force, strong enough to lift buildings, crack metal or rocks.

Copper pipes that cracked because of water that froze and expanded

Copper pipes that cracked because of water that froze and expanded

The same weathering forces act upon the soil in the fields. In fact we like it to happen especially in corn maze fields. All those foot falls of people walking across the field pack the soil down and freezing and thawing really help break it up. Over winter the snow and rain falls on the field and finds its way into the soil.

Rain water seeps into cracks in the soil

Rain water seeps into cracks in the soil

Soil is about 50% air and water and about 50% mineral and organic compounds portions are called soil colloids . It is the water in these spaces that freezes and thaws over the winter months that push the soil particles apart allowing for air and water to move between them more easily that we get the benefits of this process. When the soil “heaves” (not good for alfalfa fields, but that is another story) the soil loosens, actual cracks get formed which allow for later rainfall and other nutrients to find their way into the soil where plants can use them.

japanese bettle life cycle

japanese bettle life cycle

Another upside to a good long hard freeze is it kills a lot of critters living underground. Some actually have a form of anti-freeze in their blood but a good freeze still gets a lot of them.

liquid manure after application before plowdown

liquid manure after application before plowdown

We also can use this time of year to apply fertilizer both animal manure based as well as other forms. We like to put a small amount of pellitized lime and ammounium sulfate.

Lime Truck spreading lime

Lime Truck spreading lime

You try and catch the ground when it just a has bit of frost on top that holds you up but not frozen so much you have a hard time plowing it. And frozen is no substitute for proper moisture. We don’t plow when it is too wet! This is sort of a delicate balance and not always easy to hit.

Plowing maze immediately after manure is applied.

Plowing maze immediately after manure is applied.

Well this post about our Corn Maze has gotten a bit long! Time to go, we started to talk about plowing and preparing the soil for planting. Next time we will talk a bit more about how we approach overall fertility.

Who’s da Hare?? Breakfast with the Easter Bunny April 19th 2014.


April 1

You know it must be spring when you see the bunnies start hopping around the farm! And boy do we have a BIG bunny that pays us a visit every year! Yes we have the one, the only, Easter Bunny! She lives on the farm year round. For “rent”, we ask that she help us out this one special day and hang out with our little peeps!

The one, the only....Easter Bunny!

The one, the only....Easter Bunny!

Yep, fresh down from the cotton trail the Big E.B. loves to stop and visit with our families at Maize Valley. This year due to a record demand we have just added a second seating. Click here for event details and reservation information.

Wide open egg hunt if weather permits

Wide open egg hunt if weather permits

If the weather lets us we go out behind the market and winery on the hill out back and look for all the eggs the E.B. has scattered around. If it is not such a nice day out we ask E.B. to just leave them in the pavilion and we make do. Whatever the case we get it done.

Indoor "hunting" if need be.

Indoor "hunting" if need be.

This event is a similar style event to our Breakfast with Santa – you will have a reserved table with your paid reservation and it will be your table for the duration of the event. If you would like to sit with another party, please let us know at the time of your reservation and we will make every attempt to accommodate your request.

Please let us know when making reservations if there is another group you would like to sit with

Please let us know when making reservations if there is another group you would like to sit with

The buffet style breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, juice & coffee. There is also a cookie decorating station where the kids can decorate and take a a large egg shaped cookie home.

Reserved tables are numbered for easy locating

Reserved tables are numbered for easy locating

Like breakfast with Santa this event sells out. In order to keep it a well run and organized event we require a pre-paid reservation to hold your spot. Every child gets a chance to visit with the Easter Bunny and there are lots of great photo opportunities (so bring your camera).

The Bunny doesn't really say much but you are welcome to sit and visit.

The Bunny doesn't really say much but you are welcome to sit and visit.

At Maize Valley we do many different special events that cover a wide range of age groups and interests. We really try to have a “Vintage for all the Seasons of your life”. Breakfast with the Bunny is sort of that kick off event to our outside activity season.

Cookie Decorating out in the Pavilion

Cookie Decorating out in the Pavilion

Last year we moved the Cookie Decorating out into the pavilion so there was more room inside to be able to sit and enjoy breakfast while hanging out with the hare.

Corn Maze…part 2, Harvest is done, time to get a soil sample


March 25

Farming is science, pure and simple. Agronomy is the term used; Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science.

The science of food

The science of food

My background includes a degree from “Thee (LoL) Ohio State University” in Agricultural education. I was set to teach vocational agriculture to high school students when my wife’s father in law offered us a job on the family farm. My wife and I decided being farmers was our best option. Over the years I’ve added various continuing education credits along those lines.

New and Old School

New and Old School

When in comes to raising crops you have got to know science, and you have got to know and understand the chemistry of what your soils have going on. After you know that you can apply the “art” part. We use a blend of Old School things for nutrients like cow manure, crop rotations, and lime. We also use some of the latest technology available to us. You need both.

Robotic soil sampler

Robotic soil sampler

The Rubber-tracked Autoprobe, Left, Pulls Soil Samples On-the-go At The Rate Of 20 Cores Per Minute And Is Aimed At Large Input Dealers.

Soil sample tools

Soil sample tools

For sake of this blog post on how we take soil samples in our corn maze we will keep it simple. The tools in the picture above are similar to what I use when pulling core samples. When you pull a sample you go out to a field and remove actual samples of soil from around the field.

Soil sample farm layout

Field Sampling. Sketch your fields before sampling to reflect known differences in soils. In our case the corn maze is in one specific field but the field does have two very distinct soil types and I sample those separately just like they are two different fields.

Soil sample grid pattern

Soil sample grid pattern

Usually, it is recommended that a single soil sample should be collected for any given field or management unit. However, a single soil sample should consist of at least 25 individual cores collected from representative areas of the field or management unit, which are then mixed together into a common “composite” soil sample.

It is best to pull soil samples in the fall when soil is dry

It is best to pull soil samples in the fall when soil is dry

How much of this sample to send into the soil testing lab will depend on the analyses to be performed and the specific lab, but usually about 20-30 ounces (volume) are required.

Soil sample report

Soil sample report

Therefore, of the 25 or more soil cores which are collected from a field, management unit or problem area, only the amount needed to fill an appropriate soil sample container is actually collected from the composite sample and sent into the lab.

Soil sample bags

Soil sample bags, after you pull the sample be sure to use a plastic bucket or other non-ferrous container. For instance if you use a metal bucket you can pick up Iron from it.

Depth of sampling is usually at least six inches, but may extend to 12 inches or more, depending on the situation.

Soil sample potassium levels

Soil sample potassium levels

Sampling technique (depth and placement) may also depend on whether the field is irrigated, bedded or flat, and also on what is needed from the analysis such as nitrate-nitrogen (NO3–N), sulfate-sulfur (SO42–S), phosphate-phosphorus (PO43–P), sodium (Na) or total salt concentration, etc.. In reference to sample frequency, depth, amounts of soil needed, and tests to run; this will all depend to some extent on the nature and intent of the sampling process as to whether it involves routine management or diagnosis of problem areas in a field.

Soil sample core depth

Soil sample core depth

At the core of creating a great corn maze……..Ok, a little agronomy humor….. is getting all of this done timely and correctly. You do not want to sample soil when it is wet for instance. Doing so can affect the results you get back reflecting inaccurate Potassium levels which are a huge part of the equation. We sampled our corn maze right after harvest and are waiting on the Lab report to make fertility recommendations and applications. Based upon crop removal data we know a bit of the story already and will apply liquid manure and then balance the rest of the needs at planting time if need be.

Technology tools in the form of handheld and tractor mounted GPS systems are commonplace today.

Technology tools in the form of handheld and tractor mounted GPS systems are commonplace today.

We
Tools like the GPS are used in the actual design of the corn maze and when we go into the field to cut the design paths which I will touch upon in a upcoming blog post.

Winery Open house and Anniversary!


March 20

Newest winery construction summer 2012

Newest winery construction summer 2012

Well nine years in the wine business has flown by oh so fast! Thank you to everyone who has visited with us in person or who has supported us by picking up our some of our wine at your local wine store. The winery may have just saved our family farm market, it sure has at least changed it a great deal.

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

In 2012 we built the biggest addition yet pictured above. To that point we had been “re-purposing” other old buildings or “farmer building” structures. We originally began producing wine in a renovated “potting shed”. That was the small poll barn we had attached to the greenhouse that we originally used to pot plants and baskets for the greenhouse business.

Original Potting shed

Original Potting shed

As we grew we built an addition off the East side of the Potting shed or “Head House”. We built this ourselves on a shoe string budget and it came out okay but didn’t last us too long.

Farmer pole barn addition

Farmer pole barn addition

A lot changed since we opened the winery in 2005. There were about 75 wineries in the state of Ohio that year. This year there are over 200 Ohio Wineries currently in operation. They range from growers/farmer style wineries that grow large quantities of grapes, to what are known as “kit wineries” that focus on just the wine making process separate from growing fruit. We are somewhere in the middle. We farm about 700-800 acres of cropland a year. We grow about 40-50 different types of crops from garlic to grapes, peppers to pumpkins.

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

We have a wide variety of soil types on the farm, and we are on the Southern edge of the Hartville Swamps a very special and unique growing area and soil.

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

The latest building will open. It will help us open the next chapter in Maize Valley’s history. It will house the new expansion of the brewery.

Newest outdoor patio seating area

Newest outdoor patio seating area

But don’t think we have just built a bunch of buildings. NEW this year we have expanded our outdoor seating area behind the “Gateway Pavilion” which is directly attached to the back of the winery/market building. The new area should seat between 40-60 people and we have also built some gentle walkways that take you up the hill to the Hill top party barn.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

So soon the snow will stop falling and the sun will shine! This hill has a South face and we will put seating along the paths, a perfect place to relax with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the Ohio summer that is in store. Check out this link for details on our web page.


 
 

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