Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Laid Plans......

I've talked about this before, but I have to go there again:  All plans in a farmwife's life are subject to change at any given moment!

Way back in early June, I had a feeling that the girls and I would be ready for a bit of pampering after completing our projects and competing in the Cattle Show, so I booked them manis, me a pedi, and both the girls a hair trim for yesterday, Wednesday, July 30, 2014........All was going well until I took a little stroll across the road to check on the sweet corn....

See, we have been checking it for the last two weeks. We thought it would be ready about the time we had to go to the fair, but Mother Nature, in true form from the weather we have seen all year, threw us a curve and cooled the temps down around here.  That slowed the corn's ability to fill out its ears with that precious sweet golden corn.

It was ready Wednesday.

Go figure!

I didn't even think about checking in until about 9:30 a.m.. When I saw that the ears were perfect, I made a quick call to Mom and Dad, and started the "All Hands on Deck Scramble" to start the corn freezing process.  Tall Guy headed to the store to buy some ice, the girls started cleaning up the house (and I helped with the kitchen), then I went out to start picking ears.

Corn is a bit like have to pick a lot to get what you want.  About the time I finished picking, with a bit of help from the girls, and Tall Guy came back with ice and an extra table, Mom and Dad pulled in, and we commenced to shucking.

While we all were shucking, TG was back in the garage heating up two pans on two outdoor burners, much like what you would use to deep fry a turkey, and create an ice cold water bath in one of our coolers.  We do it 8 minutes in the hot, boiling water, then plop! they go in the ice bath.  (BTW, There are about a million different ways to freeze corn.)

We also cut off the corn from the cob in the garage.  It cuts down on all the sticky corn on my floors and walls. Yes, it can go everywhere!  These naughty kitties were holding down the fort between shifts.

We all scattered at 2:30 to get to our respective appointments:

Two manis and a pedi.....

and two trims that turned into a lesson in how to French braid hair.

Tink's "waterfall" braid,

and Bear's ballerina look.

Because we are country girls, and this is how we roll, we rushed back to the second round of corn freezing

and then we had to rush Tink to her first soccer practice!

The bagging team...

Mom is sitting down because she is still getting her knees back into shape after double knee replacement surgery earlier this spring.  She was hoping to gain a bit of height, but she is still my mom who stands a proud 4'9 1/2".  NEVER forget that half!

Fresh off the cob!

In the end, it was all worth the time and trouble because we will have sweet corn that tastes like it's right off the cob all the way to next July!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whew! We Survived the Benton County 4-H Fair!


I think I may have to finally stop throwing away my AARP card applications and acknowledge the fact that I am not 27 any more!  Whew! So glad to have the fair behind me!

In all honesty, we had great weather for our fair, and the girls did a great job with all their projects, but I was very happy to see the Battle of the Barns, signifying that the fair was over.

Tall Guy and I really enjoyed hanging out in the Beef Barn when we weren't wearing our Indiana Farm Bureau shirts and making popcorn plus ice cream.  Our fair is a county fair in its true meaning.  There aren't big flashy rides, but you get to sit down with an old classmate or friend and catch up on all the news.  Our girls roam at will; there is no worry about where they are or who they are with.  It's like the bar at Cheers; everyone knows your name.

Don't look for any pictures of the girls actually showing their cows; I have to get them from someone else.  I found that I was way too nervous to focus the camera on them while they were out there!

The last activity of our fair is the Livestock Auction.  This year we did a neat thing for a great 4-H family in our community.  The mother of three 10 year members and two more who will finish in the next three years has terminal cancer.  Our 4-H members put up a steer and a lamb for auction. All of the proceeds from the steer (bids) and the entire amount for the lamb( lamb + bids) were given to this family to help with medical expenses.  So far, our little county of 8500 has raised over $9000.00 for this family!  LOVE our 4-H and rural community!  It was an opportunity for everyone in the community to show their love and support for this family.  It still brings tears to my eyes.

And so now, our fair is over.  The heifers went back to their owner to start breeding calves, and one steer came back to grow and fatten up a bit more.  The other steer, well he went on to fulfill his destiny as a feeder steer. Tall Guy tucked all the show tools, tack, and "stuff" up in the loft to get out of our way when harvest starts.  The girls will file their work and ribbons and get ready to hit the books when school starts.  It has been a great 4-H experience.  In some places we excelled, and in others we need to grow and learn.  That's what it is all about!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Do You Wear When Going Out to Work Livestock and Fair Update

After Tink came out to the barn wearing striped and very colorful leggings with her 4-H shirt to work the calves, we got to thinking, What do YOU grab and put on when you go out to feed/work your calves? I asked for her permission to use this picture before adding it.  Without it, there could be a terrible rift in our mother/daughter relationship! I also told her I would throw myself under the fashion bus and share my post on this outfit with you from a few winters ago.

Fair Update:  Whew!  We turned in all projects....2 scrapbooks, 2 posters on shooting sports, 2 baskets, 1 latch hook rug, one geology project, and one photography poster...., and the girls earned some very pretty blue, lavender, and purple ribbons.  We are totally IN. LOVE. with the Cricut Explore Electronic Cutting Machine with Cricut Design Space Free Online Software that I broke down and ordered.  It will pay for itself in no time just by creating titles for projects.  No more half used letter packages because we ran out of a's or e's or n's.  You just can't buy a vowel or letter like the Wheel of Fortune peeps!  I'm sure there will be many more posts coming once I start trying a few of the DIY projects this machine can do!

With fair projects all judged, we get to turn our full attention on the 4 calves that go in on Wednesday. We have learned a lot from last year's experience and are a bit more comfortable with the calves.  Bear's steer and heifer are more "spunky" that Tink's, so we are trying to help them learn proper holds and techniques for stopping and leading them.  Honestly, the best trick is to keep working with them: walk them, feed them, brush them. wash them, blow dry them, and give them a good pat and encouraging words.  No, I'm not saying calves understand English, but I do believe they pick up on fear and uncertainty.  Talking to them in a firm but positive manner can't hurt.

Ok, it's off to the big town to pick up last minute supplies AND school shoes....There is always something coming up right after a big event!  TTFN!  (Tigger-speak:  Ta Ta For Now!)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Mystery of Corn

I really wish I could find the inspirational drawing for this blog post, but my feeble mind cannot remember with such exactness any more.  I can, however, describe it for you.

I saw a picture of a corn stalk, and at every leaf joint, the artist/cartoonist/whoever, chose to put a golden ear of corn!  There were like EIGHT ears on a stalk!  I'm not making this up!

Here's a question for you dear readers:  How many ears of corn does one corn stalk produce?  One?  Two? Three?  Eight?  Ten?

Here is the answer I found when I googled this question: ( Click here for the link back to the original page)

Ear number and size can vary greatly from cultivar to cultivar. Most sweet corn varieties will have one to two ears per plant because they are mature rapidly and are generally short statured plants.

* Early maturing sweet corn will have one ear while those that mature later have two harvestable ears. Commercial corn growers only harvest the first ear because the size and quality of the second ear is inferior. Ear quality (size, flavor, tip fill) depends on temperature during pollination, plant nutrition and water availability during ear growth.
* Field corn, which is used for corn oil, silage and corn flakes to name a few, generally has from one to two ears. Field corn contains high amounts of starch and low sugars so fresh eating quality is poor. Field corn can cross with sweet corn, making some of the sweet corn kernels starchy and flavorless. Ear size is larger than sweet corn since field corn grows taller and for a longer time.
* There are specific selections of field corn that produce six to ten ears per plant. These varieties were selected specifically for the production of baby corn which is used in stirfry and salad bars. Baby corn is harvested from regular corn plants when the ears are very immature. The ears are harvested one to three days after the silks emerge. At this early stage, yields are very low. Growers of baby corn use varieties that produce many ears or plant at very high numbers of plants. Since production costs are so high, very little baby corn is grown in the United States.
Posted on 16 Aug 1999

Dan Drost
Vegetable Specialist

NO!  We don't grow those baby ears of corn....  Do you like them?  Every time I see one, I think of Tom Hanks:

Ok, back to the number of ears on one corn stock.....One or two ears!  Let's see what happens when I Google cartoon images of corn stalks:

This one is interesting.....the number is within the answer of one or two, but it does not grow out of the top of the stalk!

Hmmm.....This one has the ears kind of in the right place on the stalk, but the top most ear is too high.  The stalk would probably blow over if it existed around these parts!

This artist has one too high and a fourth ear coming out of the leaf?

And again, an over-optimistic four ears......

And this one belongs in a fairy tale!

Our corn usually has two ears on each, but there is usually one dominant ear and one lesser ear.

See?  There isn't an ear of corn shooting out from the top of our corn plants.  This is the tassel, full of pollen that will fall onto the silks of the ears and pollinate them so the ears will grow.

And you might be able to tell that there are TWO different kinds of corn planted and growing in this picture.

Any guesses as to what kind of corn the shorter plants are? 

You are soooo awesome!  Of course it's Indiana Sweet Corn!  And as usual, it looks to be heading to full buttery delight about the time our fair starts!  Looks like we will be quite busy one day about a week from now!  

Shoot!  This was going to be a post with more pictures than words, but I feel a lesson coming on.....

Honestly, it's quite busy around here every day at the farm.  This past week we have cut, raked, and baled grass from our waterways and hauled them home. (This is about a three-day process if the rain clouds are "forever in your favor!") The wheat was cut, straw baled and stored from part of the 19 acres we had.  The other part received a healthy dose of "fertilizer" compliments of the cows on our lots. 4-H cows walked for two hours each morning for three mornings then walked, washed, brushed, fed and watered by the girls all of us. 4-H projects due this next Saturday were closer to completion and record sheets are filling up.

One last little funny from the farm...... One of the highly valued young men who came out to help work the straw racks asked Tall Guy what he did at his other job.....  Several farmers do have other jobs to help with insurance and money for years when the crops do not produce their best.....  Tall Guy told him that his job around the farm fills his days and could take about every hour in some parts of the calendar.  

His innocent question was a good one, and it also inspired this blog post because farmers and what we produce seem to fall under several misconceptions.  If YOU have any questions about what we do on the farm and/or how we do it, please ask them!  That's kind of what this whole blog centers around.  

This is also the season of county fairs, and I hope you are able to go out and visit the hard working kids and their exhibits at these fairs.  Kids and their families put a crazy amount of hours in to most of the projects you see.  We are getting ready for ours.  Projects are due the 19th, and the fair kicks off on the 23rd.  If you don't hear from me for a little while, I promise you I am knee to neck deep in 4-H projects.  Hope to see you at our fair or hear that you went to your county's fair!