Sweet Corn is all you need

Yeah, I know Lennon would have disagreed, but this time of year, sweet corn IS love–buttery, salty-sweet love-on-a-cob.

Big bucket o' ears

We knew our farm neighbor’s corn was ready via a circuitous route–I was checking my USD e-mail after a forty-or-so-hour hiatus from the internets (See?  See what happens if you get offline even for a day?), and the English Department secretary had written to say Gladys (not her real name) had called the office twice looking for me.

Deb also noted that she had learned quite a bit about Gladys in the process of those two conversations–that Gladys is 85 years old, has been on her farm for over sixty years, and thinks I’m wonderful :-).

Having been in conversations with our neighbor before, I’m pretty sure Deb learned a lot more than that–which might have accounted for what I interpreted as a slightly frazzled tone in Deb’s message and the all-caps subject line: PLEASE CALL GLADYS!!!

Well, I didn’t call her that night (having just got back from an intensive trip), but I did stop by the next day, after harvesting in my own gardens (the haul–30+ cukes, plus some tomatoes, squash, and a few beans), and she told me to pick as much as I wanted–it won’t last much longer.

M was with me, and at first he didn’t want to pick the corn (he’s eight now, which often seems to mean that he doesn’t want to do or try anything he hasn’t done or tried before).

But then I showed him how to pull it down and twist it off, and he found his first fat ear, and we ended up walking out of that field with our arms full several times before the tub was full practically to overflowing.

And then, of course, M wanted to know why I don’t plant sweet corn (space limitations and raccoons, respectively), so he could help me harvest it.  We’ll see if he wants to help me shuck…

Dinner wasn’t much more than as many steaming hot ears as we could eat–rubbed with butter and sprinkled with salt.  I sliced up a couple of cukes as well–mostly because there’s about dozen more cukes left in the bucket that couldn’t fit in the crisper drawer.

M didn’t want to eat those either–not remembering that he has tried them and liked them in the past.  I gave him some slices just plain, and H and I ate the tangy rice vinegar-drizzled ones.

The rest of the corn I decided to can.  I’ve been freezing it for the last several years, but corn was the first thing I used my pressure canner to preserve–back when I first bought the thing and was afraid of it.

A canner-load of corn

It took a tractor scoop of sweet corn from a neighboring farmer and the previous summer’s realization that it’s hard to transport large amounts of frozen food long distances to get me over that fear.  (We were teaching on the Rosebud Reservation during the school year and house-sitting and growing huge amounts of food near Wakonda in the summer.)

Because I’ve applied for a job in southwest Minnesota, I am planning for the possibility that I’ll be moving some of my food stores if I (hope-pray-fingers-crossed-excited!) get it.  I’ll still have lots of frozen meat and other good things to clear out of my big freezer, but the less perishable stuff I’ve got to transport, the better.

Is this normal?  Do people usually move food?  Well, I do.  And it’s a lot easier (albeit heavier) to move cases of canned goods than frozen goods.  Heck, I could even pressure can some of that frozen meat–though I don’t know if that’s a project I want to undertake in a season when there’s so much else to put up.

Speaking of–it’s getting toward my birthday, and traditionally, I can some sort of tomato project on that day–sauce or salsa or the like.  The tomatoes are starting to come on, but as wet as it has been, I’ve had a lot of damaged fruits and slow ripening–I don’t think I’ll be able to do a big project if I tackle one then.

The tomatoes-sprawling-on-landscape-fabric idea seemed a good one–and it might be in a normal year, but I’m not sure there is a normal anymore.  We are not supposed to have six-inch storms in July (um, or ever, really?)–nor are we supposed to have one or two or three inches of rain every other day besides.

The night before I left for my Minnesota trip, I tried to get out to harvest the gardens during a break in the rain at about 3pm.  I pulled in the farm road and realized if I went any farther, it was unlikely that I could extract myself.

To ford? Or not to ford?

I tried again about a hour after the rain stopped, and it was still pretty dicey getting in and out–even with parking in the middle of a part of the road that didn’t have a river of water gushing across it.  Water was pooling up around and pouring into the barn, running down the hillside, looking for the already-swollen river.

River by the gardens

For all the water we’ve had, the gardens have been doing pretty well–there hasn’t been a lot of standing water or erosion thanks to our good organic matter-rich soils.  While other parts of the farm stink like a swamp, the gardens have drained out fairly quickly.

But you can’t get that much water without some effects–the eggplant are slower than molasses to form fruits, and the cherry toms have some leaf spot issues.  Almost every vegetable coming out of there is muddy–even where there’s mulch.

Flooding at the gate

Still, I think this season can be called a success–even if there’s not enough tomatoes (and I do think there will be–in dribs and drabs), there’s lots of other good stuff coming out that can be put up.  The pickle crock is very slowly filling; there’s 8 jars of corn, and the freezer is nowhere near empty.

Hmm…eight jars isn’t very many, is it?  Maybe it’s time to visit Gladys again.


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