Monday, July 30, 2012

sweet corn harvest

The last couple of days, Ed's been snooping around my corn patch.  I went outside the other morning, and there he was, at the edge of the patch, bad hip and all, leaning into the patch, hand on his hip, eyeballing my ripening ears of sweet corn.  He wants "two or three" ears.  He's repeated this several times in the last two days.  If you don't know how to tell if your sweet corn is ripe, watch for your experienced old neighbor to come snooping around your corn.  That'll be one sure indicator.  Old guys who grew up around farms and farmers tend to know when a sweet thing is ripe.  Here are the ears I cut today.  I just kind of chucked them over the railing of the porch, and they made a pleasing and light thud thud thud when they landed. 




About eighty-some days ago I popped some hard corn kernels into the ground, and now, this very afternoon, I'm sitting in the shade of my side porch, sipping on a beer after harvesting, shucking, blanching, shocking, cutting, milking and bagging my first ever ears of ripe, sweet corn—Peaches and Cream variety for those of you who are interested.  There are many more ears still on the plants, but today I put up three bags.  And that's organic corn, mind you.  It would cost about $4 per bag at the co-op.  Here's the cost break-out, roughly:

Seeds..............................................................................................$3.00
Organic fertilizer................................................................................$3.00
Ice (for shocking)................................................................................$2.00
Water (for ice water)......................................................................negligible 
Natural gas (for boiling)....................................................slightly less negligible
Freezer bags.....................................................................about 15 cents/bag 




That cost break-out obviously doesn't include my time, nor does it include the rent I pay, but just as equally one cannot account for personal satisfaction, nor put a price tag on quality of life, nor is it so easy to measure the untold amount of happiness countless neighbors have received merely from strolling by my front yard and watching my corn plants progress from seedlings to maturity.  If we're going to do a cost accounting and be very profit-centric Americans, we'd also do well to take into account those things that frequently do not show up on balance sheets and metrics: joy, pleasure, happiness, neighborliness, personal satisfaction, taste, and, if I may be so bold, LOVE.    Money might make the world go round, but LOVE keeps it from being a dizzy and pointless affair.  Enough of my babbling.  The soap box beneath me is starting to wobble anyhow.  


I suppose I forgot to include one cheap-o plastic garbage bag that I could have done without.  I cut the bag along one side and the bottom seam to line my sink, mainly to keep my precious sweet corn free from sink nastiness, a pure and superstitious move my rational brain knew was completely unnecessary.  I mean, it's funny that I trusted a plastic garbage bag over my own kitchen sink.  Anyhow, we live in a world of plastic, and plastic does have its uses.  This sweet corn will ultimately sleep, swaddled in a zip-lock blanket, for who knows how long, until the winter afternoon when I decide that I want corn chowder.  Oh, and by the way, after you boil your ears of corn for about four minutes, you want to shock them (to stop them cooking) in ice water for another four minutes.  Then, when they are cool, you strip the cobs of their kernels, from tip to bottom, with easy downward strokes from your sharpest knife. 




Eight-some unsure and unsteady American dollars divided by three little bags of corn rings each of these babies in at $2.81 dollars a bag, a per-bag cost will continue to drop as I harvest, process, eat and share the ears that are still remaining on the plants.  I am certainly not going to become rich in this manner.  We all know that.  Nobody ever said, That Jono, he's bound for riches, but this is obviously more about stuffing my freezer than it is about stuffing my bank account.  Speaking of bank accounts, I'm heading back to Stan Crawford's farm in Dixon, New Mexico once again this fall, and me and Oil Changes are planning some interesting fund-raising events that might include a Route 47 dance party and a fresh tomato juice, Bloody March brunch.  It will be great to have you along again as I go.              


3 comments:

Zelda Pinwheel said...

Your corns look very happy and loved in their little ice bathtub. They are lucky to be cultivated and harvested by such a caring farmer and documentarian such as yourself.

Your blog makes me so happy! I found it last week and read the whole dang thing. You rock.

Anonymous said...

"That Jono, he's bound for riches"
There -- I said it

Dr. Crowbar said...

I hope you swing by southern Indiana on your way out. Theo and I would love to see you.