Okay, to continue my story. If you missed the first part, you can go back and read that HERE.
Oh yes, we were all sitting around outside the Summer Kitchen, peeling potatoes and talking…
My sister and I were picking the other women’s brains about everything we could imagine, from gardening to raising children.
Mrs. Clint shared with us a little more about the corn frolic. Not only were they going to be picking the corn, but they were also going to be grinding it to make cornmeal.
She showed me three different types of corn grinders that they would be using, all from different eras. Two were hand crank type grinders, and one was a huge, tractor operated grinder.
he told us that the tractor grinder was actually really rare. The cornmeal is mostly used to make corn bread.
As Mrs. Clint was telling us about her corn, she also explained to us that there are two kinds of plants: “open-pollinated” and “hybrid”, the first of which is what she and Mrs. Addy use in their gardens. I’ll explain the difference:
“Open-pollinated” means that the plants cross naturally; it’s pollen is carried by the wind, bees, and other natural ways. When the seeds of these plants are saved and replanted, the next generation will look just like the first.
These plants may not produce fruits that are perfect in shape or color, but the taste is true, and far superior to any other. The seeds can be passed down for generations.
“Hybrid” plants are artificially pollinated. They are genetically modified to produce certain characteristics such as uniform shape and size, and increased productivity.
In the quest for the seemingly perfect cross of plants, much of the flavor is sacrificed in the process.
The seeds from these plants are sterile, or will grow a plant which produces no fruit, so you cannot keep the seeds; you’ll have to keep buying more.
The seeds that you buy in pretty little packages at the store are hybrids.
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, and have been passed down for a hundred or more years, from generation to generation. They produce the most flavorful, and beautifully unique fruits.
Since they originated before the advent of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, they respond better to more organic farming methods, such as compost and manure.
These are the kinds of seeds that Mrs. Clint uses in her garden, and I have ordered for my own. You can buy them from catalogs or online, or you may be lucky enough to find a distributor in your area.
I ordered my seeds from Heirloom Acres. I haven’t received them yet, so I don’t know how good they are, but Mrs. Clint told me that she has ordered from them before, and was happy with their products.
I had no idea about any of this. I’ve tried saving seeds from produce that I had bought at the store, thinking that I could just plant them in my garden, whenever I started one. I had no idea that had I planted those seeds, it would have all been for nothing!
We also learned about having a milking cow. See, I thought that a milking cow always gave milk, that’s just what she’s for. Well, it’s a little more involved than that.
To get a female to be a milk cow, you have to breed her. The cow needs to have recently had a calf, or been continuously nursed (or milked) to keep producing milk.
The animal is “fresh” when she is able to be milked. But gradually, she will dry up, and you will need to breed her again. (I need to find out just how long you can milk a cow before she dries up.)
Addy told me that a cow is like a nursing mother- supply and demand. The more you milk her, the more she’ll produce.
So, she will be able to nurse the calf, and still provide enough milk for your family as well. You just have to make sure that the calf gets the colostrum (the first milk), or it won’t survive.
While we were sitting, talking, a few more people arrived. I got to meet another young couple about my age, who also have two small children. They, too, are on their way to self-sufficient living; far further along than I am though.
They moved here from out of state, with Degrees in Organic Farming. They also beekeep. They were very nice people. I’d actually love to get to know them better too! I’m sure I could really learn a lot from them.
Our conversation soon went towards the upcoming winter, and our thoughts on how bad or mild it might be.
Addy told us of an old Folklore: if you crack open a Persimmons seed, the shape of the inside will tell you what the winter’s weather will be.
If it’s shaped like a spoon, it’s like you’ll be shoveling snow, and it will be a heavy winter.
If it’s shaped like a fork, the snow will be very light, like a dusting. And if it’s shaped like a knife, it will just be cutting cold. I guess it’s really hard to crack one open though!
I thought this was pretty interesting, and it got me wondering about other ways of watching nature to predict the weather (that will be a whole other post!)
When we finished preparing the food, Mrs. Clint had her daughter round up two large goats, and hook them up to a little carriage that they had fashioned for the children to ride in.
Each child got to take a ride in the little two seater, as the goats carried them down the gravel driveway and back.
Mrs. Clint’s daughter walked alongside the goats, keeping them on course. I rode along with little Titus, holding him tightly as I was pretty unsure of the safety of the whole contraption!
Jada had a great time riding along with another little girl. I’d say that whole thing probably wasn’t the safest idea, but I just kept my fingers crossed and the kids really enjoyed it!
All too quickly my sister and I had to be on our way. We were supposed to be home, cooking dinner for our hard working husbands.
Mrs. Clint and Addy were disappointed that we didn’t get to stay and actually watch the whole “frolic”.
We rounded up our filthy, happy children and said our goodbye’s. Just before we left, Mrs. Clint brought me a huge bundle of dried, colorful corn tied to a long string.
She said she gives one to everyone who helps at the frolic. She told me that I could grind it to make cornmeal, or I could pop the kernels off and plant them for my own corn next season. Cool!
Me and “sis” talked all the way home about all that we had learned. We wanted so badly to be able to stay longer. Hopefully next year I’ll be invited again, and will be able to stay the whole time.
I truly value the time spent that day, and all of the new things learned. It’s so neat to be in the midst of people who have so much for you to learn from.
I feel very blessed to have come into acquaintance with such awesome people, and such different lifestyles.