|Un-Shucked Corn, Shooting Houses, Tempting Tomatoes and Fly in the Eye|
"Poverty was the greatest motivating factor in my life." — Jimmy Dean
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people who were born into poverty, but worked their way into prosperity. One such man was my father-in-law, Grover Whaley, who passed away last March. He was the son of sharecroppers, but he wanted more. America, and more specifically Alabama in the 1950s, was ripe for success for anyone willing to work hard to get ahead.
Working hard on the sports field made him realize he could leave the sharecropping fields and head for the football fields in Tuscaloosa playing for the University of Alabama. After graduating college, he spent his life working with kids as a high school football coach and spent the last half of his career as a high school principal in various schools across the state.
The path of least resistance would have been to stay in poverty and eventually allow the government to be his handout source. Fortunately, he took the road that was harder to climb, but paid off in the form of a college education and a lifetime of helping others in the field of education. No one wishes to be born into poverty, but it’s where you go from there that matters. He didn’t wait on the government to take care of him; he pushed government out of his way and cut a new path.
Aw Shucks, Good for the Corn
This summer when you admire your fine stand of corn growing in the family garden, don’t forget to put up a few ears in the shuck. Once you’ve picked the corn, cut off the ends of the ear and peel off a couple of layers of outer shuck revealing the lighter colored shuck. Once you make sure the corn is free from any worms or bugs, place the ears in freezer bags and put in the freezer. Corn will stay fresh for up to a year frozen with this method.
This method of freezing uncooked corn does take up extra freezer space, but if you are on a campout or in the backyard grilling, there’s nothing better than roasting the corn still in the shuck. If you are using a campfire, place the ears of corn around the flames and cook until the shucks turn dark brown. Rotate the ears until both sides are darkly browned. Finally, remove the corn from the shucks, salt and butter, and enjoy fresh-tasting roasted corn.
Shooting House Hints
June is an ideal time to construct a shooting house on your property because it gives wildlife a chance to get used to seeing the structure before hunting season. A shooting house is ideal for shooting wildlife with cameras as well. When you are building the structure, make sure it is no higher than the ladder you will be using.
Plan ahead to make sure you will be able to access all areas of the shooting house with your ladder before you begin construction. This will help make the construction process go safely, even when you are completing the roof. A shooting house only needs to be high enough off the ground to see over forage like corn, sorghum or sunflowers.
Soil Testing Savvy
June is an ideal time to soil test your pastures and food plots. In most parts of Alabama, the soil test recommendations will call for lime to neutralize the pH of the soil. Don’t worry if you put out too much lime, it’s the lack of lime that causes soil nutrients to stay locked up in soil particles unavailable to the plant roots.
By soil testing in June, you will have time to get the results back from the lab, plow in or sow the needed nutrients, and have the soil reacting to the amendments by the time you do your fall planting. When you take a soil test, make sure the ground is clear of any grass or thatch, dig down to a depth of four inches taking a cross section of the soil. This is the depth where roots absorb nutrients, and it is about the depth most disc harrows will plow. Finally, mix the soil from different subsamples in a clean, plastic bucket and send the soil samples to the lab in the provided box.
One of the most common reasons tomatoes don’t flourish is that they are planted too shallow. If you have a few tomato plants to set out, try using a post hole digger. The post hole digger will allow you to create a clean, deep hole for the tomato plants.
Once you’ve dug the hole, place a double-handful of lime and handful of fertilizer down in the hole. Cover the fertilizer and lime with some dirt; then place the tomato plant in the hole. Finally, making sure the root ball is deep in the hole, cover with soil and water regularly.
Gnats and other small insect scourges can be a problem in June. They are especially aggravating when they fly into your eye. In addition, baling hay seems to always result in getting a piece of trash in the eye. Save yourself some discomfort by carrying a small, flat mirror in your wallet or pocket to be able to remove insects or any other debris that might get trapped in your eyes.
If you consider yourself in poverty now, don’t give up or give in to a government check if you can avoid it. If you’ve known poverty before and now you are out of it, be thankful for where you are.
John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.