Our goal this year was to grow some sweet corn to sell. We were only wanting to do around 3/4 of an acre. We didn’t want to grow just any corn, but “organic” corn; i.e. no artificial fertilizer nor herbicide. We worked the ground this spring. It seemed like it took a million trips over the ground to get all of the grass gone. In fact, we never did get rid of all the grass with my small disc, and it wasn’t the smoothest either. Like all farmers, I just need more equipment to do the job I need, at least that is what I tell Amanda!! I was majorly impressed with my wife one day who helped me shovel chicken poop into a spreader which was used as our fertilizer. I borrowed a two-row planter from a brother at church that was fairly close. His uncle had been using it to plant some corn. Unbeknownst to us, the planter had in bean plates rather than corn plates; which meant it planted way more seeds per foot than needed. The corn came up well, but was much too thick. But it wasn’t the only thing that was thick! The weeds were coming on strong. I was given an old two row cultivator, but it needed some repair and adjustments. I was busy at the time and struggled to get these done. A good friend and metal worker was able to fix it up for me and adjust it to 30 inch spacing. But by this time the weeds were getting a good start. I finally did get to plow some of it, but the plow chisels are not made for small plants, as they dig down and throw too much dirt.
Then it rained and we had a couple of weeks of tragedy, which kept any work from being done on the corn crop. Now it was first to middle of June and the corn and weeds were both really tall. I was able to get through one patch with the cultivator, but the other patch was too big. The field looked terrible. You struggled to be able to see any corn at all in the field. We knew we would not be selling any corn, we were just hoping for some corn to eat!
In the last couple of weeks, the corn ripened and surprisingly we were able to get some nice ears of corn. Some were really big and full. The overwhelming majority did not do much, but what did tasted great. I picked about 60 nice ears that we ate for a week. Then all of the family spent an afternoon picking the entire field. We would pick the outside four rows, then I would bush hog them down, We would pick 4 more, and repeat. We got a pickup truck load full of corn. Many of the ears were too small and went to feed the pigs, but most made it to our freezer or bellies.
As the season progressed, and the corn crop appeared more and more of a failure, I was somewhat disappointed and ashamed. I realized the difficulty in organic farming and the challenge of small farming with limited equipment. I wished I would not have wasted the time, energy, and seed money on the crop. But as the corn crop ended, I changed and saw the blessing in the experience. I believe that I paid a good tuition in seed and time costs, but the experience and knowledge gained was worth it. I think we can continue to make changes and eventually be successful a producing some corn for the kids to sell. The harvesting of the corn all together as a family was a wonderful experience with the kids learning about hard work, getting dirty, and catching baby rabbits. We all set around and shucked the corn on a following night. It was a great family project and endeavor in the end.
So I failed, but I succeeded! I may just have needed to fail, in order to succeed. We will see, but either way my family will be eating some good organic corn all year long, even if it did cost way more than what I would have paid for it.