When it came time to harvest the corn crop, there were several different methods that could be used. Probably the most common in our area was to cut each stalk near the ground and put these stalks in a shock that was made up of 100 hills. It was advisable to get the cutting done before the first frost because if you didn’t, the edges of the frosted leaves would cut your face and neck to shreds, as you were gathering an arm load of stalks.
Another method that was commonly used, was to husk the ears from the standing stalks and throw them into a wagon box that was being pulled along beside you by a very obedient team of horses. A modification of this method was, to first top the standing stalks, that is, cut the stalks off, just above the ears and shock these tops. The tops would be used for various things, around the farm, such as stock bedding or insulation around the house foundation. The corn that was left standing would then be husked the same as with the previous method.
The system that seemed to be the most commonly used, in our area, was to cut and shock the stalks, as previously described, and then let them remain in the field until you felt like husking them. Sometimes it would be well into the winter before the corn was all husked and put into the crib. Strange as it may seem, husking corn out of the shock on a cold winter day was not as disagreeable a job as you might think. The first thing that you did was to tip the shock over in a direction that would allow you to get down among the stalks, out of the wind and then go to it. Between the corn husking, the wood cutting, doing chores, telling lies with the neighbors and rabbit hunting, a farmer could use up most of the winter.
A few farmers would shred their corn. That was done with a shredder that operated the same as the present day corn picker except that it was stationary and the corn was brought to it. It shredded the stalk as well as husking the ears. The stalks were fed into the machine, butt first, and it would snap the ears off, husk them and deliver them, by conveyor, to a wagon box or into the corn crib. The shredded stalks were usually blown into a mow, in the barn. Some corn was chopped and blown into a silo to be used for cattle feed, during the winter, but this was done, earlier in the fall, before the kernels matured.
The help for the silo filling and the shredding was handled the same as it was with the thrashing of the small grain, everyone helped everyone else.
There was still another method of harvesting corn and that was the simplest and the easiest of all. That was to just turn the hogs into the field and let them eat all that they wanted. After all, they were going to get the most of it anyway.