February 5th………“WHAT IS A DELICIOUS MEMORY YOU HAVE ABOUT GROWING, EATING AND STORING SWEET CORN ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?
EXPLOSIONS of sweet-corn ambrosia flooded my young farmer boy’s mouth as my juvenile incisors ripped mouthful after mouthful of golden delight from each corn cob. Ooozing, sweet, creamery butter, that was soaked into that sweet-corn, would glide happily over my chin in a glissando of gluttony and boyhood joy. You’ve maybe heard of having a “square meal”? When it came to my collegiate corn crunching credentials, my end product culminated in a completely square corn cob devoid of kernels and residual juices. My square corncob had been literally vacuumed dry by my mouth, in latitudinal rows, till there wasn’t even a trace left of those tantalizing morsels.
In the Spring of that year, our parents had the grand idea to provide sweet-corn, not only for our family’s delight, but to bless the whole clan of our relatives that lived in the southern Minnesota and northern Iowa area. In the past, there was a time in the life of our farm, as a side form of income, that our father, Russell, used to sell seed corn to other area farmers. I’m wondering if he might have been able to secure a bag or two of actual sweet-corn seed from the company he represented? However he procured it, there was enough seed for one or two full rows of our sweet-corn delight. When it came to the major usage of our farm acreage, the dominant type of corn that Dad planted on our farm was what’s called, field corn. It’s the type that matures to a hard, dry kernel and is then shelled, ground and would provide feed to our animals, especially during the cold Winter months. On this occasion though, our dear daddy loaded up one or two seed canisters on the right side of our corn planter with those yummy kernels of sweet-corn seed. As his Farmall H tractor pulled the corn planter down near our alfalfa field, Dad dropped the planter into that luscious black soil and saw to it that those two sweet-corn rows went into the ground right next to the edge of the alfalfa field. This way, when it was time to harvest, later in the Summer, all we’d have to do is drive our pickup truck alongside that first row or two of sweet-corn and start picking. That way, we didn’t disturb the rest of his acreage of field corn.
During the remainder of that Spring and early Summer, while enjoying family visits and telephone calls, Mom let it be known that this particular Summer was going to be “extra sweet”, in a way. When our corn harvest day finally arrived, grand-looking family “chariots” started to roll into our U-shaped farm driveways. There were Chevrolet Bel-Airs, Buick Electras, Plymouths, Fords and even our grandparent’s 1949 Mercury Monterey came to an elegant stop at our farm as they parked their cars in the wide expanse of our graveled farmyard. After initial hugs and greetings among the family, out came the work gloves and a garrulous gaggle of loving laborers clambered aboard our 1950 Ford F-100 pickup truck for the ride out to the alfalfa field and our two rows of adjacent sweet-corn.
With a twist and a downward snap, off popped each full ear of sweet-corn still in its husk (outer green wrapping). Each ear then was gently placed into our pickup truck bed……we didn’t want to damage those tasty kernels inside. Even with sideboards on the truck, our happy pickers just about filled that truck bed to the hilt with a mountain of sweet-corn grown to perfection.
Under the lush, cool canopy of shade trees, back at our farmyard, came the next stop in this green adventure that yielded yellow treasures for all. Out came the tables, sharpened knives and any other utensils necessary to begin to prepare this mountain of sweet-corn for our families to take home. Dad carefully backed up our Ford pickup under those shade trees so that we could stay cool in this grand process of food production. Nearby Meadowlarks and Red-winged Blackbirds were the perfect musical symphony to accompany our army of corn cob cutters.
Cooling, brisk prairie winds coursed through our shaded reverie as an assembly line of love saw corn cut off of uncountable cobs and fall to the trays or cake bowls below. Nimble fingers popped open a myriad of freezer boxes from their flattened shipping containers. With freezer boxes lined up like soldiers in a row, hard working hands moved mounds of golden sweet-corn from the slicing area and hand-packed it into those freezer boxes. Not only do “many hands make light work”, but also there were the joys of families fellow-shipping the day away as those full freezer boxes of corn were stacked higher and higher. “Naked” corn cob and husk piles grew higher and higher, too. We had some mighty happy pigs that evening, as, what seemed to be, “tons” of empty corn cobs and husks were thrown over the fence into their exercise area near our hog house. They were deliriously giddy with porcine prancing as they feasted on their own version of corn.
After all that work of loading freezer boxes for the families, it was now time to have a feast on the some of the biggest and best fresh sweet corn that was harvested that day. Boiling pots were kept busy preparing each batch of gold delights. Needless to say, there was an endless supply of that golden enjoyment, smothered in real creamery butter from our own local Kiester Co-op Creamery Association. Plastic corn cob trays and skewers were put to good use as we all ate and ate and ate till we about burst from the delicious joy of it all.
As the sun winked goodbye to us over the cloud-banked horizon that evening, our beloved families rolled out of our farm’s U-shaped driveways. Some honked goodbye as they rolled northwards out of that driveway and some honked and waved as they rolled out the south driveway. Everyone went home with having had a fun time, good memories and enough sweet corn to carry them through the coming Winter and into next year. It was a delightfully tasty day to be a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.