Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aw Shucks

10:02 - Wifey just put down Harry Potter 6 and turned off the light. Munchkin is teething (we think), but asleep for the moment. Hopefully she has a repeat sleeping pattern and sleeps in until 9:00 tomorrow morning. Not that it really matters to me, as I will be working, but it is always nice to have a happy camper to greet you when you come home from work. Then again, it is also nice when Munchkin doesn't feel so great and wants to snuggle too...

Yesterday we went to my parent's house for dinner. We had a ham, grandma potatoes (you might know them better as funeral potatoes), green salad, and fresh corn on the cob. For dessert, Wifey brought a pink lemonade ice cream pie that she found online the other day. Needless to say, we were all stuffed after dinner.

There was still work to be done though.

While Wifey was taking care of the dishes for Mom (we usually do them together, but I wanted to get started on my job), I went out on the front lawn to begin. I brought the wheelbarrow from around the side of the house, careful not to be hit by the sprinklers that were on the lawn for the day, and parked it right at the fence. The grain field had been cut within the past week, so the golden chaff was beaming as the rays of the descending sun beat down on it. There was a cool breeze, and just a hint of the crispness of fall in the air. The breeze pushed the hawks, along with their sharp cries, through the air on their hunt for mice. While it was nice to look over the field, I had a job to do--shucking the corn.

We decided to freeze some corn this year. I had grown up helping out, and knew my job well. I was always amazed as Dad could shuck the corn in two quick swipes, revealing the slightly over-ripe kernels of corn. As hard as I tried, I never was able to shuck corn as fast as Dad.

I also worried about getting all the silk off the cobs. Mom had to wash it off once it was in the house, or else we would have to eat it when the bags of frozen corn appeared on the table to be eaten. I don't like corn between my teeth, and I really don't like flossing, so the thought of strings of corn between my teeth was just no good. While I contemplated that and tried to remove every last silk thread, Dad would bring me back to reality with a, "Quit your homesteadding," accompanied by a stern brow beating while his hands never stopped shucking.

For those who don't know, homesteadding is the term Dad used as a synonym of procrastinating. You weren't going as fast as you could, or you were deliberately being slow so that you didn't have to pull your weight.

I wasn't homesteading--just trying to save Mom some time from having to wash the corn a lot, but more importantly, getting rid of all those threads that would end up between my teeth.

After a while, my job title would change to Chief Transporter. With Dad and two brothers shucking, and Mom and two sisters getting the corn into bags or bottles, we had to make sure that the girls had all the corn they needed, and that the sawed-off cobs got brought back outside and dumped over the fence to the cows. I liked the job of Chief Transporter better, because I could occasionally sneak a drink or take a quick respite without a comment about homesteadding.

This time, I had my title of Chief Transporter, but I also had the title of Chief Shucker. I picked up my first cob and started to peel back the husk, smirking as I peeled off all the husk in two quick motions. It used to be so hard, but was now easy. It must be a superpower imbued on dads. Munchkin came out with Grandma for a while to sit and watch the barn swallows carve circles in the sky or the leaves rustle in the breeze. I never thought that you could get a ten-month-old to sit still for a half an hour, but Munchkin will if she has enough lilting leaves and swooping swallows. She gets a bit of an Elvis snarl on her face, but for her, that is a good thing.

After all the corn was shucked, I brought it in to Wifey who started the carving process. Mom had a great knife (which had sliced off part of her knuckle earlier that day) which made the corn seem like softened butter, and it quickly fell off the cob. We put it all in 27 pint freezer bags which were squeezed carefully into oven pans and promptly put into the freezer. It took us a while, but now we have some corn for the winter.

I'm quite proud of Wifey. She canned 31 pints of beans this year (which Munchkin could easily devour by herself in a short sitting), and now we have 27 pints of frozen corn. While I don't particularly crave either of these vegetables, it feels good to know that we have some food squirreled away that would save on a grocery bill if I can't find work for the three months I have to take off from work. Silly federal laws that get in the way of working.

Hopefully I will hear back from a potential employer this week (with an invitation to interview, of course) and not have to worry about being a contingency contractor any more. That would be quite nice, making me feel more like a dad with useful superpowers (like providing for my family) than corn shucking.


Lana said...

I really enjoy your blog. Keep writing, it inspires me. I liked your description of the crisp air and the hawks - it reminded me of "Word Painting. " I also enjoyed the memory of freezing corn and saw it from a different perspective as I was never part of the two swiped shucking method. Instead I always had juicy corn juice dripping down my arms while I worried about adding the correct amount of kernels to each bag. I have however been accused on more than one occasion of being a homesteader on projects like that :o)

Anonymous said...

I dunno; I think cornshucking is a pretty darn useful superpower. :)