Posted by: David | August 28, 2011

Come on Irene

While the power is still on and the internet is still connected, sitting here on this stormy and gray Sunday morning, my wife on her laptop and me on mine, pets sleeping on chair and floor, waiting for hurricane Irene to get to New Hampshire, there is time to write another scintillating post …

Last week was another crazy busy week at work, and this week will be even more so, culminating Friday, when our newest, largest-ever class of first-year students move in. They have next weekend filled with all sorts of fun orientation activities, and then the returning students arrive next Monday. Classes will begin on Tuesday the 6th.

Baby girl and Oliver last weekend.

Last weekend was corn time. The corn matured quickly this year, and did pretty well. There was a little more lost to critters than last  year, a couple dozen ears munched by deer or whatever. This year I snipped off the cornstalks at ground level, leaving the roots in place and letting more light in to the squash and pumpkin vines as requested by my wife. Filled the large wheelbarrow and set about shucking.

We traded a bushel of corn for some Vermont honey.

The shucking, blanching, cooling, stripping, bagging and freezing process took all day, as expected. Yield  was 17 quart freezer bags. We still had 2 bags left from last year, which according the dates on the bags, came in a little over a week earlier this year.

The corn stripper does a fairly good job.

As you may remember, last year was the first time I determined to do something “green” with all the cornstalks. Well even if the chopping cornstalks one by one method was insane, the jump in the earthworm population this year and general improved soil quality was pretty convincing. So I started to do the same chopping this year, but the insane tedium forced the brain to try to think of some more efficient method. Et voilà!  The brain came through. With 2 bungee cords I was able to modify the lawn mower to this task. OSHA would not approve …

The ‘tricked out’ lawn mower grinds cornstalks like crazy!

Wasn’t too sure this was going to work, but the amount of effort invested was trivial, and it ended up working brilliantly. I was way too proud of myself, which pride was only tempered by the fact that I’d failed to think of this last year and spent a solid 10 hours (over a few days) chopping with the hatchet.

Hatchet-chopped cornstalks.

Mower-ground cornstalks. The cobs (critter munched) don’t get chopped up that well.

One row of stalks left standing for possible ornamental usage as Fall arrives. Now the squash vines have some room and light.

The aftermath of this process was a little messy, but nothing that the garden hose couldn’t clean off the mower. This was a great timesaver and the shredded stalks should work back into the soil more quickly than the chopped bits. Then there was this intriguing little sight behind the barn, under the shed roof. The sandy ground was peppered with these odd little conical holes …

What the heck are these? Assume that some insects are involved.

In preparation for the great hurricane we gathered in the onions and tomatoes as well as the few peppers left to us by the deer. The onions had been curing on top of the woodpile after the garlic got done.

Two of the shorter beds (#2 & #3) yielded 3.5 bushels of beautiful onions.

Though I haven’t been out for a bike ride in a couple of weeks, there is still plenty of autumn riding left to look forward to, I tell myself. In a few short weeks the Fall 2011 semester will be well underway and a few short weeks after that the students’ faces will begin growing longer as their workloads increase. For now, the wind is picking up, the lights have blinked a few times, and we spend this stormy Sunday waiting for Irene to pass.

One evening last week the sunset painted our yard all Maxfield Parrish like …


  1. The pits are traps made and used by the larval stage of antlions. In sandy or very loose soil ant that get in the trap have a hard time getting out, especially when the antlion starts flicking the sand.

    Wow Mike, thanks a bunch for that information. I had no idea what those were and Googling antlions yielded some startling images. What hideous looking larvae they are. I poked around at a couple of the pits with a little piece of straw and I watched them for a couple of minutes, but nothing happened. I’m so glad to know what creatures are living behind the barn.

  2. Antlions! Yes, that’s it. I couldn’t remember the name, but I used to watch them a lot when I was a kid.

    That corn has me drooling. I love fresh corn on the cob. I’ve been buying a lot of it here lately. At 4 ears for $1, who can resist? Rolling it In my corncob-shaped dishes, swimming in melted butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. And yes, the garlic makes all the difference. I’d used fresh garlic, but haven’t figured a good way to “apply” it. Now that I can use those microwave cooking bags to steam it, cooking it has become super fast and easy (even though I miss out on my grandmother’s trick of adding sugar to the pot of boiling water). Grilled, of course, is the best way to fix it, but I don’t have a grill.

    I know! I’ve never heard of antlions in my entire 55 year life. If I wasn’t so amazed I’d feel stupid.

    Garlic on corn? BRILLIANT! I have both of those ingredients! Thanks for that great idea.

  3. Oops. I really do know how to spell sugar …

    Of course you do. I fixed it. I made a “feature request” to WordPress some time ago to allow commenters to edit their comments. Guess they haven’t done that yet. Maybe I’ll request it again.

  4. As bizarre as the antlion larva looks, it’s what they grow to look like that amazes me. Nowhere near as bizarre looking, but knowing what they used to look like is the amazing part:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cones in one location.

    Nice work on the cornstalks. Very crafty, but is that a gas powered mowers? Say it ain’t so, David. Say it ain’t so.

    Beautiful haul on the ground grown grub. That yard of yours is quite the view as well.

    Yeah Peter, aren’t they something? I’ll have to take another look at those antlions as soon as this dumb hurricane is over.

    Thanks for the cornstalk compliment. And yes, I have way too much lawn to mow by hand. My carbon footprint is definitely too large. Like clown shoe large. 😦

    We miss our cabbage this year. Waaaah.

  5. Lame joke title since it’s actually “Come on Eileen.” I heard a National announcer say “Come on Irene” but once and he never said it again. BTW, Mum’s name is Irene.

    Nice legs there mate!

    Cool snap of the surface of the moon.

    Looks like your mower hurls chunks as well.

    Is it lame if it was intentional. You’re disqualified from answering since it’s your mum’s name.

    Thanks for noticing. Many chickens have looked down their beaks in jealousy at my legs.

    I thought it looked lunar too.

    Yes, my mower hurled chunks. Right at my face. You shoulda seen my spectacles after this ordeal.

    • …and I hate putting up corn which is why I don’t anymore and just buy it at the supermarket like most other sane people. (Sane being the operative word here.)

      Looks like the old Oliver dog is into the French way of kissing! Ooo la la!

      I’m not a big fan of the corn process either. And sanity was never my strong suit.

      Yes, Oliver is all tongue. Maybe we’ll teach the baby to say ooo la la!

  6. Stunning harvest Farmer Dave! I’ve never seen a corn cutter like that one either. Mine sits and you run the cob over its blade and try not to trim your fingers. You did beautifully with the onions too. I have some about ready to dig. And potatoes, just a few and for the first time. They are so hidden. I like to think about them, how large and numerous they are, but I am almost afraid to look. Perhaps it’s too late and some antelephant or antrhino bug has eaten them. Hope all is well with the storm. NICE Maxfield Parrishness.

    Thanks linniew! Been using that corn cutter for years. The onions are my wife’s project, though I did some weeding and watering. Advice on the spuds: when the plants die back don’t wait too long or they can get too big and get bad spots inside. Or the moles & mice start eating them. Nice thing about spuds is that they’re good no matter what size they are.

  7. Those little holes in the sand could be owned by what in German would be called sand lions. It is a little beetle that sits down there in its hole waiting for an ant to fall in. And when the ant falls in, it cannot get back out, because it must climb up on sand that keeps rolling down.

    Yes, the first commenter pointed that out. I went back to look at them a little more closely. I teased them with a little piece of straw again and some of them did the little sand-kicking act. One of them came out so I could get a look at it. Ugly little suckers.

  8. Watching terrible flooding damage in Vermont. Hope NH is faring better. Stay safe.

    Yes, Vermont took a terrible beating from Irene. We fared better here, definitely. Thanks for asking.

  9. That last photograph is beautiful

    Thank you nursemyra. Glad my wife encouraged me to look out the window.

  10. Of note in the photos: 1 – can we have some of those beautiful looking onions? 2 – that’s our garlic on the left!

    1- Sure! 2- How can you tell that?

  11. Love the bicycle shirt (life is good?, questioning the shirt, not actually if life is good). I’m curious what is says beneath the bicycle.

    Good eye Allison. Yup, it’s a Life is Good t-shirt. A present from my daughter.

  12. I am always a sucker for dog and baby pictures. Cute, cute, cute!

    Hi Girl, thanks for visiting. I’m glad you liked the pix. It’s sort of amazing how un-psychotic the dog looks in still photos.

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