Dad’s John Deere 999 corn planter was designed so that the valves could be locked open and the planter could be used as a drill. With this configuration, seeds were planted at regular intervals. The spacing of the hills was determined by the chosen seed plate and the variable drive gears. Thus, the check wire was no longer needed.
My older brother Ed learned about the latest farm techniques in his agriculture classes at Seneca High School. All four Scheckel boys took ag classes and belonged to the FFA (Future Farmers of America). All five Scheckel girls took Home Economics, or Home Ec. No sexism here, that’s just the way it was.
Ed convinced Dad to abandon the up-and-down hill planting, and encouraged him to plow around the hills. When I was about ten years old, a team from an agricultural agency in Prairie du Chien, possibly the Soil Conservation Service, came out to the farm with tripods and transits. They pounded in stakes at periodic intervals, indicating where the plow furrows should be. From then on, we plowed around the hills rather than up and down them.
Ten days or so after the corn was planted, tiny green leaves emerged from the ground. Several days later, a line of green stalks appeared, then one row of corn grew to several. Weeks later, the brown-black soil transformed to an ocean of green.
Of course, we did not welcome every plant showing its brilliant color. When I was little, Dad drove a corn cultivator pulled by Dolly and Prince. He sat on that cultivator seat, straw hat, horse reins tied together and thrown over his back. At the end of each row, Dad had to manually raise the cultivators so that the horses and rig could be turned around and start down a new row.