Gene Logsdon and Friends

Corn Lover Delights

In Gene's Weekly Posts on March 25, 2015 at 9:45 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

I get carried away sometimes with my misgivings about corn farming, so I have to balance that out occasionally with praise for one of my favorite foods. A reader, I think it was Ken, recently asked me to write about our experiences with cornbread and so I will, although I know many of you could do it better.

Daughter Jenny provided the photo of me and the corn.  The ear is 14 inches long with 22 rows of kernels if I remember correctly. I don’t see any practical reason to try to grow big ears of corn except for the fun of it, although with ears like this it would not take an impossible number of stalks per acre to make a record breaking yield. The corn is open pollinated Reid’s Yellow Dent, which I grew for about 35 years and quit only last year when the deer started eating every bit of it. I hope to be able to grow a bit of it in the garden now. Friends and family who have used it for cornbread always come back for more. I have a hunch that if our corn does taste better it is because it is fresher than store-bought meal.  As any food ages, it loses taste. We use new corn every year. The trick is to store it on the cob in a dry cool place, shelling only as needed. Leave the corn out in the field in the fall as long you can. When I bring it in, I tie the ears we want to save for cornmeal by the husks to wires in our airy garage with metal disks at both ends of the wire so mice can’t get to the corn. Looks sort of like clothes on the line. Carol also stores ears of corn in the freezer after they are dry. This is a good thing to do if you are having problems with weevils. More…

Village Farming

In Gene's Weekly Posts on March 18, 2015 at 10:17 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

A lot of attention is being given to urban farming and that is certainly good. But there is a somewhat broader view emerging under the impetus of garden farming. I call it the ascendancy of  village farming. As far as I can find in history and archeology, as the hunting and gathering age gradually evolved into settled communities, farming was very much a village affair, not an individual family undertaking.  People congregated into groups for mutual protection and for sharing the work load. Their garden farms were clustered around the outskirts of their villages. Among the many advantages, there were plenty of children and dogs running around, scaring wild animals away from the crops. Traditionally in Europe and especially Asia where even today the average size of farms is under five acres in some areas, farmers lived in villages and went out to their acres during the day.  Immigrants who lived this integrated village farming life in Austria have told me how much more comfortable and enjoyable life was compared to what they found in America. In their homeland, farmers often worked in groups in the fields and then returned to town in the evenings, to community, and on porches, street corners,  and in taverns, they talked to each other, shared ideas and events, tended to see both farm field and urban shop as one community united in work and play. In America they felt lonely on American farms.

But even here, there were close connections between farmers and villagers as I grew up. More…

Same Land, Same Crops For 2000 Years

In Gene's Weekly Posts on March 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

I think this will blow your mind as much as it did mine. A book I am working on prompted me to wonder who all farmed my land before me. So I looked into the history. The first pioneer I can verify was a rancher, R.N. Taylor, who ran sheep and cattle over his extensive acreage, mostly to keep down brush while the tree stumps were being cleared. Then my great grandfather Charles Rall came from Germany and went to work for Mr. Taylor. The Ralls prospered and eventually purchased most of R.N.’s land and more, turning their holdings into small grain and livestock farms operated by the third and fourth generations.

But what about before that?  Right next to my place is a large Indian mound, or so it has always been considered. Looks like one even though it is not marked on the old archeological map that shows three other small mounds about a mile away. At any rate this was definitely land occupied by the ancient mound-building cultures and plenty of mound-builder artifacts have been found in the area. The mounds, reason archeologists, indicate a stable agriculture because it would take a settled and relatively large population to build the magnificent mounds found all over the eastern half of the U.S.  Evidence indicates that the basis of that agriculture was the “Three Sisters”— corn, beans and squash grown together, a type of farming at least as old as the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America, no doubt brought north as humans migrated. I like to fancy that the mound builders were growing their Three Sisters right on my property.   More…