Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Corn for our seeds

     In today’s Common Prayer – February 22 – we read this prayer:
“Lord God, extend our faith so that even when we fail to see the fruit of our planted seeds, we may have the assurance that every inch of soil overturned will lead to a harvest some day.”

     Last summer our organic farmer friends gave Anita bag of seed corn that was a year old. Joe and Becca said plant however much you want, we can’t risk low germination from old sweet corn seeds. They also generously gave her space for six 100 foot rows. It has always been her dream to grow enough sweet corn for eating delicious golden kernels all winter. The thing is, you might have a good harvest off the ten to twelve corn plants you put in your small urban garden, but that’s still only three ears per corn plant? Three dozen ears altogether? Unless you have room for a lot, it’s a waste of time and space. So the possibilities of corn through the roof had her hungry-eyed.

     This is what happened. We had so much corn we could have begun a factory farm of feeder hogs. We raved over the sweet, tender ears, we ate them like chainsaws – sawdust flying, protective goggles over our eyes.

     It had reproduced itself five hundred fold with wild energy. We ended up freezing 46 quarts and giving away at least 20 dozen ears. For the first harvest we picked three or four wheel barrels full and pushed it up to the yard where we set up a little canning factory. Anita picked, Denis shucked, I cut the kernels off the cob, and together we heated it to boiling point on a camping stove and then put it all in zip lock bags. Tato, the dog ate cobs as he could and all the leftover greens and cobs were dumped over the fence to the chickens and pigs. And that was just the first picking. It’s almost March and we still have plenty of corn to eat.

     thought a lot about that harvest and everything that had to coalesce under sunny days and warm nights to make it so darn good. This rarely happens in life. Sometimes. But rarely. You invest and invest and once in a blue moon you get to see where that seed went and what it did. The prayer above is mostly how it is. Maybe years later you get a facebook message thanking you for all the pizza you served the youth group and how they’ll never forget listening to Purple Rain and thinking about Ferris Buellers Day Off in your living room. We need to keep stumbling down the row year after year because you never know when the corn will come home. But even if it doesn’t, we are assured by God that he grows a great harvest that will overflow all our wheel barrels and burst our freezers. 

Anita and I picked the first load.

Denis did the shucking while I began cutting it off the cobs.

Anita took a turn with the knife while I began blanching the corn.

The Chickens feasted on all the leftovers.

We made a huge pot of corn chowder on the camp stove in the yard and ate it with Joe & Becca and all the interns. All fresh - even the milk came out of the Jersey cow that morning.


Susan said...

Love it! We read that too, but you had a real demonstration of that principle to go with the prayer this morning.

Jake Meador said...

There's a lot I enjoy about this post, but I think the best part is the picture of Denis in a baseball cap.

ceresa said...


ceresa said...


steve said...

Great post Margie, The chainsaws and sawdust flying reminded me of our childhood around the big kitchen table, the 8 of us and corn on the cob being the main course! Even with a few teeth missing Roxie managed to have the biggest pile of cobs in the end :>)! Enjoyed seeing you last week! Love you sister! Jan

Margie Haack said...

Jake, I know! A rare bird.
Jan, so love you, too. Yes, Roxanne was a real raccoon. What a mess when we were done!

Roger Smith said...

Margie, I love your post. I am glad you got to have this experience. I usually put up between 300-400 ears of sweet corn each summer. It is easier with good helpers and more fun. Notes from Toad Hall was a "delite" today as always. Praise God for your book deal. I adore your style.


Hannah said...

I made chile corn chowder today after reading this. What a beautiful story as winter stretches on. Alas, I am thankful to the people in California or Washington (the corn) and New Mexico (the Hatch chiles) who grew the stuff for our lunch.