It’s autumn! Granted, we’re a month past peak leaf-peeping season, but winter is still more than a month away. Happily, I didn’t let peak season slip past; I spent several hours across many days capturing autumn scenes in Pennsylvania farm country. The collection here represents my neighborhood at its best: rolling farmland that blends with undeveloped countryside.
A clump of trees along Route 15, Lewisburg’s “major” highway, burned every shade from yellow to red, and caught the last rays of sunlight on a gorgeous evening in late October.
I favor evening light for landscape photography mostly because I’ve become a night owl going to bed just a few hours before sunrise. A scene as basic as a view across a farm field gone wild dances with light, shadow, and textures in the reddened sunlight near dusk.
Pretty sure the field in this photo holds corn stubble. The farmer harvested mature corn plants when leaves were green and ears were beginning to dry. The harvesting machine chopped up the plants, and the farmer stored the resulting mulch-like material either in a silo, or in a heap on the ground. Cows love corn plants and are happy to eat them fresh, or fermented — and fermentation is a key factor in making silage. Just as we might ferment vegetables to preserve them for storage (think sauerkraut which is fermented cabbage), fermenting shredded corn plants preserves them so they’ll last through the winter. Silage exposed to air spoils, so a farmer must draw off the top three or four inches each day and feed it to livestock.
An overgrown gravel drive leads into a stand of trees surrounded by a field of corn. This is feed corn. The farmer leaves it to dry until the kernels are hard — just like the corn seed you plant in your garden. Machines can harvest and shuck the ears, or they can harvest, shuck, and remove the corn from the cobs. Cows, horses, and other farm animals are happy to eat the dried corn – with or without the cobs.
Most farms in central Pennsylvania began as family homesteads. Each is within reasonable walking distance of neighboring farms, so from high ground you can see dozens of barns and farm houses scattered across the landscape.
In direct, late afternoon autumn sun, a hedgerow pops behind a farmer’s feed corn crop.
You can find a slideshow that includes these images and more at Your Small Kitchen Garden blog. Follow this link.