“Amber waves of grain” is a familiar phrase from the patriotic song, America, the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates. It makes a poetic sound to the hearer. But how many non-farm folk have really experienced such a sight?
Wheat, oats and other grains grow up in fields across our land. As the wind rushes through, the jostling plants resemble the motion of waves in a body of water. As the grain ripens it turns from shades of green to golden or amber.
Oats are grown on our farm as a cover-crop. The oats and alfafa are sown together on the freshly tilled earth. The oats grow quickly while the alfalfa grows more slowly. The oat blades act as a protection for the young alfalfa. By the end of July, they are generally ripe and ready for the harvest.
The oat crop is mowed down. It is left to dry in the sun for a few days and then the combine removes the oats from the straw and collects the grain. The straw is left in the field for the baler.
We store the oats in a grainery on our farm. We use them for grinding into feed for our cattle. The baled straw is stored in the barn and used for bedding for the animals.
Since the alfalfa was also in the crop, was that cut down too? Yes. But once the straw is cut, its growing is over. When the alfalfa is cut, it grows back and supplies a new field of hay.