Thursday, August 22, 2013

Children of the Corn: His and Hers

So first let me say, my mom came up with the idea for this entry, and Seth came up with the title.

I am having a baby this fall. Seth is also having a baby this fall. The baby I'm carrying is human. The baby Seth is having is growing in fields all over Fulton and Pulaski county.  Because every human in the world likes to speculate and predict what to expect, we both have been doing some pretty intense math formulas to predict our "babies'" birth weights.  

So lets all review what we learned in 5th grade math, order of operations. Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and...Subtraction? I don't remember all I remember is being taught, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally"to remember them.  My sister, Michelle (who we fondly call Aunt Shelly) is a math teacher and of course got Eli a onsie that said "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" except she crossed out Sally and wrote in a Sharpie "Shelly." It's the one and only time I've ever seen math be cute.

So here we go folks, the HIS and HER edition of the Farmer's wife.


It all started on Monday when Seth got home from work to do yield checks on some of the farms.  My dad came up to pick up his trailer, and got wrangled into helping Seth with the task.  I think Seth often gets chosen for this job because he has this amazing ability to walk into a corn field and easily be a half mile in before any normal person would be 5 rows in. He must be part deer. Have you ever tried walking through a field of corn? Not easy at all, and Seth could do the 100 meter dash in a field of corn and make Olympians look slow.  Anyway, in farming there is a LOT of math involved. Anyone who knows me is well aware that math is definitely not my strong suit at all.  Thankfully Seth and Dad both just love math and talk about how wonderful it is because "it's always right" or "it's true" and all of that sounds good and well but to me math is a way to torture people.  Anyway, at this time of the growing season, many farmers like to predict what their yields will be to get an idea of what to expect come harvest. This is achieved by the following formula:

 "A"(# of ears in 1/1000th acre) x "B"(average # of rows per ear) x "C"(average # of kernels per row) x "D"(average value for seed weight)

number of ears in 1/1000th acre: For 30 inch rows (how far apart the corn rows are), 17 feet 5 inches is equal to 1/1000th of an acre.

(and this is where Seth got annoyed with me asking questions as he actually is doing work for his company right now, so he took over typing while I ate a fudgesicle!)

"A"So to calculate this, you lay down a tape measure 17' 5" and count the number of ears on each stalk per that distance.  Avoid counting the real small ears.  They just mess up the formula.  

"B" To do part B, all you do is count how many rows of kernels are around the ear of corn.  This will usually be an even number from 12-24.  They say to take at 3 ears at random when doing this.  

"C" To do part C, all you do is count the number of kernels per row.  Avoid counting the very top kernels that look to be very small or not developed.  Again, do this for the same 3 ears you picked on step "B".

"D" Comes from a chart.  If the corn has been under irrigation and the kernels are very dense and heavy, .013 is used for this value.  An average number to use is .01116.  If it has been very dry and the kernel is light, then use .009.  (Rain makes corn, Corn makes whiskey....)

Lets say you walk your field and for 17'5" you count 31 ears of corn.  Your average number of rows is 16 and your average number of kernels per row is 32 on normal conditions, no irrigation, so...
31*16*32*.01116= 177.13 bushels per acre. 

OMG! You are all going to run out into the nearest corn field and do this now, aren't you!?! Haha, just teasing! The only two people probably interested in that will be my sister and my dad.  The point is, farming is HARD. Not just the physical work, but the mental work too.  When I talked to my dad later on, he was pretty impressed by all of it....but not as impressed as Seth's corn field walking ability.

Eli helping Seth


So, I'm in the final weeks of my second pregnancy and starting to get antsy. Antsy is a nice way of saying I'm getting really impatient, uncomfortable, and excited for this baby to arrive.  I always think its fun to hear what people predict as your due date or when/how you will go into labor, what the baby will look like, how big he will be, etc.  Eli was a good sized baby (8 lb 3 oz) and I loved that he was an eight pounder.  I was starting to get curious on how big this little guy in my belly was going to be this time, so I did some research on if there is a way to predict this.  I was expecting my research to lead me to some old wives tale like "If you belly button has popped out, your baby will be under 7 lbs" or "If you stand on your head and pull on your left ear, the weight will magically be written in stretch marks across your belly." But, I actually did find a reputable equation, formulated by doctors and math nerds and its proven to be within 15% of the actual birth weight.  It doesn't actually predict what your baby's birth weight will be, but it can tell you what your baby weighs at that moment of your pregnancy.  Close enough for me! (Disclaimer: this formula won't work until you are at least 26 weeks along and isn't accurate for women with high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.) 

Birth weight (g) = gestational age (days) x (9.38 + 0.264 x fetal sex + 0.000233 x maternal height [cm] x maternal weight at 26.0 weeks [kg] + 4.62 x 3rd-trimester maternal weight gain rate [kg/d]] x [number of previous births + 1]). Then another paragraph of information on what the numbers mean.

Yes, I also nearly threw the computer across the living room when I read all of that ridiculousness above. What the heck HARVARD, you expect ME to do that kind of math? After another fudgesicle and digging out Seth's fancy TI-83, I sat down with a pad of paper and simplified it to this to make it easier for anyone out there who is pregnant in their last trimester and curious what their baby weighs. Sorry this is really long, skip to the bottom if you don't care and just wanna see an adorable photo of Eli!

Step 1:

If baby is a boy then A = 0.264

If baby is a girl then A = -0.264

If you don't know the gender then A = 0

Step 2: 
B = 0.000233 x (maternal height in cms) x (maternal weight at 26.0 weeks in kgs)
for those of you who don't do metric: Divide your weight in lbs by 2.2 to get it in kgs, to figure out your height in cm, google it :)

Step 3:
C = 3rd-trimester maternal weight gain rate = (# of kilograms you've gained since you hit 26 weeks) divided by (# days since you hit 26 weeks).  So say you are 38 weeks 2 days (268 days pregnant) and have gained 12 pounds since 26 weeks (182 days pregnant).  So you would convert your 12 lbs to kg, and then divide it by 86 days (268 days-182 days)

Step 4:
D = C x 4.62 x (number of previous births + 1)

Step 5:
E = A + B + D + 9.38

Step 6:
F = E x (gestational age in days)

Remember F is in grams, so this number will be ginormous! At first I thought "oh my gosh my baby is going to weigh 3,505 pounds!?!!" Oops! Just move your decimal up three spaces (so mine was 3.505752) then multiply that by 2.2 to get it in lbs. So my baby is predicted to weigh at this time of my pregnancy 7.7 lbs! Pretty cool right!

Eli and I comparing our bellies!

Phew! I dunno about you, but I'm worn out from all this math! Time for bed and dreaming of big chubby baby cheeks and big yields in the fields this fall!

Farmer's gotta make sure everyone gets fed!


  1. Okay, I'm not even as scared of math as you are and even I was ready to heave my computer (except I kept getting mesmerized by your trippy background) and now I have to find my wt in my chart tomorrow at the doctor. Let's see if I can actually make this happen. Also, was talking to your Dad about the field surveys and he was in awe of Seth's ability to retain numbers. I thought it was cute!

    1. Haha! Yes Seth literally never looks up a contact in his phone, he just dials the number. He even remembers numbers to pizza places we went to at Purdue and stuff like his liscense number and it sorta scares me! Yay try it out and see!