Monday, September 29, 2008

The Halloween Barn

Our barn looks like a corn field, upside down. The stalks are hung on every available nail hammered into the cross beams for the hayloft. Not sure why there are so many nails, but I suspect I am not the first one to dry crops here. The stalk bunches block the light downstairs and any manageable path to the stalls. It's kind of a pain. In the end, it looks more like we are planning a Halloween party than putting away grain for the winter.

While this is the most recent attempt, we have tried to dry our corn for the past three years with little success. The first year I pulled off the ears and shucked them all, setting them on drying racks in the barn. What the rats didn't eat, the mildew destroyed. The next year, I tried drying the ears with the husk on and ended up with black corn again, irritated with the hours it had taken to pick the corn and lay it in rows.

Last year, we brought trays of shucked corn into our house, thinking some heat might do the trick. It worked, after a fashion, but our neighbors laughed at us for the racks of corn stacked in the living room when we hosted them for dinners. I don't know what is so funny. I've seen Karen's guest room, the bed absolutely covered with tomatoes she is encouraging to ripen.

The corn dried after a fashion, but wasn't nearly as pretty as midwest corn that dries in the field and ends up in the 50 lb bags I continue to buy from the feed store, double in price from a year ago. Also, the mice liked having food so available in our house and it doesn't appear from the mess they made that our cats ever caught on.

I hope this year we will be more successful, for success' sake as well as cost savings. However, we have one more problem to solve that we never even considered. Tater has perfected his giraffe pose by practicing on the apples in our orchard. The first day our corn was hung to dry he reached through the window above the manger and grab down stalks of corn by the bunch. By the time I came out to feed, there was corn everywhere. So, the horse loves fresh corn! He also figured out one night how to open the only unlocked door into the barn and let himself in for a feast. I'm still not sure how he did this. Thankfully the horse has a constitution of steel or we might have been calling the vet.

Suffice it to say, we have about a third less corn than we cut from the garden, but the drying process is currently proceeding unhindered by dampness or horses. I think Tater has moved his interests back to the apple crop and, while the nights are getting colder, the sunshine adds warmth and light to the barn, which I will relish until the rains come for good. We still look like a Halloween barn and pretty soon, once our pumpkins have served their purpose near the front door, the animals will enjoy a feast of pumpkin flesh...and then it really will be a Halloween party!

Photo: Pretty self-explanatory!

Copyright 2008 Scottie Jones. All Rights Reserved.

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