Autumn Corn

corn field in the fall

A faint breeze rolls the scent of dry corn around me as I walk.  I always wish I had better words, especially in autumn.  The scent of dying leaves is familiar to most but the lucky people who get to smell sweet, ripe, dry corn are especially fortunate.

One year our family decided to make all our Christmas gifts.  I chose to make wreaths for all the women in the family out of corn husks.  I’ll never forget gathering the dried ones that were left behind in the golden field after corn harvest.  Wind was gusty out in the middle of the empty corn field as I picked up ruffled husks with the intention to create what I thought would be a thing of rustic beauty to gift my girls.  That was a memorable Christmas and some of those wreaths are still around.

The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Maggie

Maggie at the school desk

Maggie with puppyHow to describe Maggie? Born happy? I guess this picture says it all. Bubbly and with a joy in her when she was little that just had to give voice. When in restaurants she let out her shrieks of excitement (can’t they control that child?) Her happy, unorthodox squeal in restaurants when she was a toddler should have alerted us to the fact that she would always choose her own way and be true to her beliefs. She is one of our city girls, highly intelligent, conversely bubbly while inwardly deeply introspective and sensitive. She has a great sense of adventure and is devotedly religious. Though still in college, she has been to France twice and plans to travel there again when she graduates and possibly make it her home.

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

A Man Named Truck

Truck has to be one of the nicest men who has ever worked on our farm. He has come every other Wednesday for years to manicure our cows’ hooves.

Does it look like this cow is enjoying her pedicure?

 

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Sorry, Bessie, it’s for your own good!

I’ve had a couple pedicures and felt much more relaxed than she seems to be, but then I wasn’t put in a contraption that tipped me on my side and held me immobile during the procedure. To keep them still and prevent injuries, cattle are run into an upright stanchion and then tipped so the procedure goes smoothly. Hooves are trimmed and buffed as a preventative measure that helps prevent sore feet and foot rot.

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We all love Truck, even if the cows aren’t so sure.

Also, since cows spend lots of time on concrete, they can develop a condition known as sled foot which is when the hoof continues to grow out making it hard for them to walk. While cattle are immobile, their ear tags are washed and they are checked for any other irregularities or possible health problems. Truck does approximately 25 head (or 100 hooves!) each week he’s here. Cattle are rotated on a continuous basis so that each one is checked regularly for problems.

Salmon

Last winter we took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina and stayed in a bed and breakfast, The Meeting Street Inn, in the heart of the city. Instead of the sunny southern weather we were looking forward to we ran into snow storms on the way south and cold rain in Charleston. Even with bad weather Charleston was still a charming historic city and we had a good time and great food. The Inn had snacks for the guests every afternoon and the following dish was served to us as a dip for crackers. I asked for the recipe and instead of serving it with crackers on this hot night we had it with a cool and refreshing salad.

salmon in salad

Salmon Salad/Spread

1 can salmon
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 ½ Tbls. liquid smoke flavoring
1 ½ Tbls. grated onion
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Combine first four ingredients. Add mayo and fold gently leaving it chunky. It should not be mushy.

Payton

PaytonSomeday when Jeff retires, the legacy of our farm will belong to Payton. What a bundle of energy he has been since he came out of the womb!  Of course, keeping up with his older cousins added to any incentive he had to excel, though he would have regardless.  He was a standout in high school and gave us one of the most exciting moments of our lives when he won first place in the state wrestling competition in the Schottenstein Center at OSU.

Payton has excelled in everything he has put his mind to and is now learning the ropes of our operation from the ground up.  Jeff is not playing favorites and has him in the milking parlor six days a week for many hours and is teaching him aspects of the record-keeping we do on cattle.  Payton has also spent many hours fence walking.  We Payton fishinghave well over ten miles of electric fence on our farms.  In summertime tall grass and weeds can short out fences and cattle learn quickly that they can escape.  Somebody has to walk those fences with a weed whip and cut down the offending grass and weeds.  Of course, it’s always a hot summer day when the job needs done, but when it is done we can keep our cattle captured in the paradise of luscious legumes where they live.

Fish Fry

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” –Doug Larson

fish copyFor years and years we held a fish fry at Jamie’s once every summer. Once she moved to another town, we stopped the tradition, but this picture was taken at the last one we had.

The guys fish our farm ponds for bass and bluegills all day and clean their catch for the girls to fry. It seems like it’s always been blistering hot but they fished and fried anyway. There was only one year we had to have hot dogs because the fish weren’t biting.

This year we are reviving the fish fry and the family is coming here! The fresh fish are so good and Sonia always brings her “best grits I’ve ever eaten.” I asked her the secret once and she said, “Easy, I just put in a stick of butter.” No wonder they are delicious! We have other picnic staples, of course: baked beans, potato salad and many miscellaneous dishes. The one thing we have to have, and have at most family gatherings, is Jamie’s scandalous BTS cake. Try it just once and I bet it will be one of your family’s favorites. If you want to you can change the name to something more proper like just plain “chocolate cake!”

Jamie’s Better Than Sex Cake

Better Than Sex Cake

Bake a chocolate cake. A mix is just fine. When it is done baking and still a little warm poke holes in it with the end of a wooden spoon. Pour one can sweetened condensed milk over the top and also a jar of caramel topping. Cool. Top with whipped cream and chocolate toffee bits from a broken up candy bar.

Baking it the night before or a few hours ahead of a meal lets the moisture of the milk and caramel seep throughout the cake making each bite more scrumptious than the last.