Tuesday, June 23, 2009

North to Onalaska!

The corn lady called yesterday early and let Annie know that it was time. So as soon as I got finished cleaning the kitchen, I drove to her house, and we embarked on our corn conquest.

Actually, before we left, she drove me around to the back of her house to show me the new chicken tractor one of her sons had built her. It houses her new flock of Buff Orpingtons in style and comfort. Among its amenities is an insulated roof.

The miles flew by as we discussed farm stuff. I found out that Annie has been longing for bees for several years. I told her about another type of hive that I read about on Acres USA, called a top-bar hive. This discussion flowed seamlessly into the subject of finding good milk cows. Emma wants her own little Jersey, but Herb is discouraging it, causing Emma to declare that she has the "milk cow blues". Annie gave me the low-down on milk cow shopping: cows that won't breed, cows that like to kick, etc. We talked about keeping a calf on the cow so that you don't have to milk twice a day.

Then we took off into the woods to pick up another friend, Donna. The talk turned back to cows, and Donna suggested that a couple of the free classified ad-papers from that area might have some good cows listed for sale. I had forgotten all about it by the time we got to Livingston, but all of a sudden Annie whipped into a doughnut shop parking lot, hopped out, and retrieved two such papers.

She warned me that I couldn't stop visiting to read them, so I tried my best to do both. Luckily, I found an ad that needed to be read aloud to be appreciated. Someone was looking for a woman to be a "roommate and travel companion". I commented that it didn't say whether the advertiser was a man or a woman. "You know it's a man!" Annie and Donna assured me, laughing. Country women are so wise!

Then we let Donna out at the Livingston Wal-Mart to make a mango run. For some reason that Wal-Mart had been selling them really cheap. When Donna returned, I told her and Annie about an ad for u-pick, thornless blackberries, $15 a gallon, that I was interested in. This reminded Donna about some grapes that she likes to make into jelly. They are a very acidic grape, called a Mustang. Annie said that you have to wear gloves to handle them, because they make your hands burn. I had never heard of them.

Turning my attention again to the ads, I did find one for a 2-year-old Jersey heifer for $400. I called about it, but the man told me that it was already sold and that he had had so many calls on it, he thought that he could have sold it ten times over.

By then we were turning into the corn lady's driveway. I began to grow alarmed when I saw the huge net sacks full of corn. "How many of those am I getting? I wondered to myself. We started helping the corn lady heft these big sacks into the back of Annie's van. They were heavy and awkward. I felt like a member of the corn mafia, disposing of bodies. Each bag held about 50 large ears. The corn lady and her husband had gone out to the field at the crack of dawn to pick it all. Much as I love country life, I did not want the corn lady's job, at least not at $3 a dozen.

I had planned on canning some of the corn, but by the time I got home, I didn't have time to do anything but minimal processing. I cut the stalk ends off and started filling gallon size freezer bags with four ears each. When I had two grocery bags full of these packages, I took them to my deep freezer, where I discovered that I had practically no available room to store them. After two trips out there, I had wedged corn into every available nook and cranny. That's when I eagerly divided up what was left and gave it away to friends and neighbors.

If I calculated up the time I spent, the gas money, and the actual amount of corn I got in my freezer, I'm afraid the cost was significantly more than $3 a dozen. But the value of a half day's companionship of two wise country women?



Emily G. said...

Sounds like a fun adventure! I know it's too late now, but when I was a kid we blanched or corn and cut it off the cob before freezing. It takes up a lot less space that way!

I raised milk goats for about 10 years. As with a cow, the important thing is that you have to realise the commitment you are making. You have to be there when they cow needs to be milked, and you don't get off days. Sickness, rain, snow, extracurricular activities...they all take backseat to a full udder.

Wendy Haught said...

Yes, cutting it off the cob would have saved a lot of space. Next time I will check the freezer space before I make plans! I'm always going off half-shucked.