Decades ago, say, five or six decades ago, "Knee high by the 4th" was a good thing. A very good thing.

These days "Knee high by the 4th" would be a bad thing. A very bad thing.

Things have changed down on the farm.

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For those of us who grew up on the farm back there in what the young whipper-snappers call the old days, if that cornfield was knee high by the 4th of July, that meant the corn crop was in good shape. Fine shape as a matter of fact. If the farmers could get that just right amount of rain, and keep the hail off, this was gong to be a good year and maybe a bumper crop year. Heck, it could mean a hundred bushels an acre, and that would be dandy!

Well, things have changed.

Thanks in part to things like improved seed genetics and a lot more, hopefully corn is waist high, shoulder high or even above head high by the 4th. One of my favorite websites,, gives a lot more details on it.

But one thing's for sure: Knee high by the 4th is a long-ago phrase that's in the dust bin of history along with the village smithy and the B Farmall pulling a scoop shovel around in the snow with a little kid on it. And that's OK.  That's progress.


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