Love Among the Corn Rows

corn_wampum1Saturday is the day I pamper the corn – not just any corn – but Wampum corn, which produces multi-colored corncobs most people classify as ornamental. But after grinding some Wampum corn into meal and enjoying the most blissful cornmeal pancakes, our family enjoyed a day with the energy and strength of a thousand well-fed men. We realized there’s some good stuff in colored corn you just can’t get from a box of Jiffy mix. Science backs me up on this.


Unfortunately, the Tropical Homestead’s latitude and climate does not lend itself to peak production on corn; between the rains, oppressive heat, humidity and bugs we’re lucky if we get a few misshapen cobs for one superhero breakfast.

fawlarvThat’s why Saturday is Spa Day for Wampum. Today I declared war on the Fall Armyworm.  A pest of luxury, it chooses to winter in southern climes and returns, refreshed, in plague-like waves to the grain belt in the summer. It burrows in the whorl of young corn and makes an unholy mess of the corn plant.

My weapon – a two-pronged pine needle I use as both chopstick and rapier, plucking them out of the furled leaves and runnin’ them through in pirate fashion. Arrgh!

corn eatenAfter about a half hour of stooping, scooping and smooshing, I reached the most beautiful corn plant we have ever grown. Tall, dark and handsome, thick leaves with no telltale infestation holes. But – Alas! I spy a dark shadow in the center of the corn. I set my jaw and prepare to deal with the interloper with extreme prejudice. Instead I find this little guy, a wee froggie. He found the frog cornperfect place, a cozy home that drains the dew like a funnel, and all he has to do is wait for the bugs to come to him. He is my new found love; an adorable security guard for our corn.

This sight reminds me that we have been homesteading for three years. We have learned just a fraction of what we would need to become self-sufficient. Our failures outnumber our successes four-to-one. My own confidence gets shaken regularly but my confidence in nature grows stronger by the day. Life will find a way – to not only survive, but thrive. Sometimes all we have to do is leave it alone.

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