Grandpa began planning for the spring work the previous fall when he picked his corn by hand. There were no DeKalb and Pioneer seed corn companies in his day so in the fall he chose the nicest ears to be saved as seed corn for the next spring. In the fall he would hang these ears up in the alley of his corn crib to dry and during the winter he shelled the kernels off the cobs by hand. They were ready when spring planting time came. In April, with live horsepower, he prepared the fields so that on May 5th or 6th when the swallows returned, he could get the kernels into the ground. The swallows’ arrival was his planting to-go sign. Grandpa didn’t plant corn as they do today. He had a single-row planter with an attached wire with knots in it which he stretched across his field. This would make the kernels drop in exact spaces when he crossed the field. Later when the green corn plants came up, there would be a crisscross design in his field which he could cultivate and keep clean by plowing in both directions. Today seed corn isn’t checked when planted. Now it is thickly sown in rows that are close together. Today we don’t get to see the beautiful cornfields with the artistic checkerboard design that resulted in Grandpa’s corn-planting days.
By Doris Stensland – in Our Words are Blossoms, Second Edition