Local News

Cutting corn into family fun sites is an 'amazing' job

Posted August 22, 2019 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2019 12:53 p.m. EDT

— Farming is tough. It's a hot, hard job. That's why Wayne Batten isn't a farmer. It's his job mow down some of the crops to make way for adventure.

“I cut corn mazes,” Batten says, “It's ... It's different.”

Batten designs the pattern, then transfers it to his GPS computer. The computer is mounted on a Husqvarna mower, Batten mows as the GPS steers. A right turn here, a left turn there, but still, it's not an exact science. Batten will go over the same cut two or three times, mowing lower and lower to the ground.

“It's fun, it's challenging, and it's a dirty job some days. I've gotten lost in my own corn mazes before,” he admits.

“I grew up on a farm,” Batten says on a recent 90+-degree day, “And I've always said it's the craziest thing in the world that somebody will pay money to go out and walk in a hot cornfield.”

Timing is everything when it comes to trimming. Cut the corn too soon, and it will just grow back. Wait too long to cut, and the mower can't handle it.

A visit to a corn maze "may be the first time a lot of the people ever stepped foot on the farm,” Batten says. “They can learn a lot about the things they eat and the things we use in everyday life and where they came from.”

Farmer Lee Perry is having Batten mow a maze into his cornfield near Wake Forest. The corn is specifically planted – think and close together – to accommodate the maze. Planted like this, the crop will yield fewer ears per acre, and the mowing will eliminate 10% of the crop as well.

For Perry, this crop isn't about the harvest, it's about the community,

“Kids, you know, they're around on their cell phones a lot, watching too much TV and so forth. But they can come out and have a good time,” he says.

He also believes most people could use the distraction. “In these days you need to stop and have a little fun from time to time, I guess,” he says.

It takes Batten about 10 hours over a couple of days to carve a maze into the field. It may sound corny, but Batten says he's just glad to be part of the fun.

“When I get through, and I look at it, you smile and say 'WOW!' It makes me feel good,” he says.