Sunday, September 11, 2011

Red Corn Resolution

  Let's see, this is supposed to be a beverage blog, so how to be on topic..... got it. Bourbon is made from corn. It's corn whiskey. There, it's all connected now. The corn below however, is not whiskey corn. Whiskey corn is the same corn they feed to cattle and hogs.

  Some time back I wrote about planting our friends' red New Mexico corn they grew a long time ago down on the Verde. Well, it came up and grew with great gusto. Some of the stalks were close to 15 feet tall. People driving by slowed down to gawk at it. One guy even pulled over.

  "Hey what kinda corn izzat innyhow?"
  "It's red grinding corn".
  "Izzit sweet?"
  "Well then what's it taste like innyhow 'fit ain't sweet?"
  " tastes like corn."
  "Oh, well innyhow it shore is purty!! You gonna feed it to them goats?"
  "No. I'm going to grind it and make cornbread"
  "Ooooh Corrrrrnnnnnbreeeuuud, now I like me sum cornbread!"

  Just having it out there made us feel good whether it actually made any corn or not.  The picture above is from earlier in the summer when it was only about 7 or 8 feet tall and hadn't begun to tassle yet. Here's another picture of it standing tall behind the bantam sweet corn I planted just a few weeks ago as an experiment. I took that shot just a few days ago. It was finished at that point, dried silks and leaves beginning to dry.

  This wasn't a big plot of corn mind you. We planted 200 seeds in a plot about 12 or 14 x 25 or so. Yesterday Josh came down from NAU and we harvested it. I wasn't planning to pick it so soon but after picking a few test ears I could see it was ready and I was worried about mildew with the high humidity we've had and are still having, so down it came.
  I'm pleased to report that it produced splendidly. We had ZERO worm damage. It's nicely productive and most plants produced two ears with many reaching full maturity. We haven't counted, but we picked I'm sure well over 200 ears. It's drying inside now on a really inconvenient rack in the living room, until I can figure out some raccoon proof place to keep it. Last year's puny blue corn harvest provided the party snacks for a club of raccoons that invaded our neighbor's barn where it was drying. Not going to happen this year no. 
  Truth be told though, it's not red corn anymore. John and Susun grew a variety of grinding corns that summer back in 91, and it appears they all got together and pollinated each other! We can see traces of the Hopi White, Yellow and Chin Stripe corn that were neighbors to the Red. We don't care really and aren't terribly anal about seed purity, although we know we probably should be. Heck, every year I can't resist planting more than one variety of heirloom squash and then save the seeds. Sometimes the next year's plantings are edible and sometimes they're not. I think that old monk Gregor Mendel would have loved to see the outcome this year. Much more interesting than the silly Sweet Peas or whatever it was he was experimenting with. 
This one is worth clicking on for the larger version
  This picture is of some of the exemplary ears we saved to look at for a while before they're ground. Now Kate has to take it all up to Moencopi when it's dry and run it through the sheller and grind it and we'll be baking cornbread for John and Susun's return in November. 
  There is the barest hint of fall in the air. The morning light is softer, the air the tiniest bit crisp. When the sun gets up a bit higher it doesn't slap you in the face. The does have begun their morning fights, pushing and shoving and bloodying each other in the annual fall ritual of pecking order determination for the boyfriend who this fall won't appear. The poor girls are gonna be date-less all winter.It's been hideously hot this summer and unbearably humid. For once I'm kinda looking forward to fall, if not winter.