The Richmond Register

August 13, 2013

Sweet corn is abundant this year, and the black birds are loving it

Ike Adams
Columnist

PAINT LICK — For decades, my wife has been telling people that she has been getting stuff out of “her garden.”

“Her” tomatoes are getting ripe, “she” has an abundance of cucumbers and zucchini and yellow crook-neck squash and “her” peppers and eggplant are all coming in all at once.

“What on earth do you do with all that stuff,” she inquired of colleagues, friends and neighbors.

The truth of the matter is that after seeing a little garter snake there among the bean vines many years ago, Loretta did not set foot in “her” garden, unless it was to pick a big tomato where the vine had inadvertently fallen onto mown grass and the fruit was lying there like a big, lost, red, croquet ball there on the edge of the lawn. And sometimes, when the vines got away from me, she might find a Straight-8 cucumber in her parking spot there at the end of the drive.

Twenty years ago, when we were living in a big rented house up on Hwy. 52 that had the best, big, vegetable garden spot I’ve ever seen or ever will, unless I get to heaven and St. Peter is passing out garden plots and all the seeds and stuff you have to have to grow one.

But this year has been remarkably different. Because of my ongoing disagreement with Mr. Parkinson and the residual effects of a stroke more than a year ago, Loretta came to realize that “her garden” was not going to happen unless she got right out there with me in the dirt and clay we call a garden.

I should have taken pictures, because we seeded the garden together and have hobbled through it with Ralph’s Miracle Hoe and sort of kept the weeds down.  

So, we’ve had a ton of veggies throughout the spring and early summer and Loretta can give stuff to all her family and buddies and legitimately claim that it came from “our garden.”  

And then, two weeks ago, the two, 100-foot rows of Bodacious sweet-corn commenced getting full, the silks were dropping off and the kernels started bursting to roasting and boiling perfection. We had corn on the cob three nights in a row, and the ears were more than 18 inches long and bigger around than my wrist, because wet weather agrees with sweet corn.

Almost every stalk had one huge and one smaller ear on it, and we were bragging and sharing with everybody we knew for three or four days when the black winged devils discovered what Loretta can truly call “her” corn patch because she planted every hill.

The winged vermin moved in at dawn on Thursday, a nasty, allied drove of evil, feathered bodies, consisting of starlings, grackles, regular old black birds and common cowbirds, all bent on destruction.

By Saturday morning, half of our, (and Loretta can legit it call “her”) sweet corn crop was destroyed. So, we picked it and commenced hauling it by the dozen-ears or more to our friends and loved ones. But there was a big bunch still left in the garden, and Loretta maintains that she put up enough last year to last for several and that it’ll keep for years, so we might as well give this crop away cause we sure can’t eat it.

So one of my cousins told us to hang old aluminum pie plates or old computer CDs in the garden where they would twist around and reflect light and that would scare the black-winged vermin away. And I had a big stack of old, blank, slow-speed CDs laying around, cause I didn’t know how to recycle them.  

So I spent two hours with an old spool of fishing line, making big loops through the middle holes of the CDs. And I hung more than a dozen of these reflectors off the stiff tassels of my sweet corn so that they would twist and turn and shoot rays of multicolored light and scare off birds.

Sunday morning I looked out, and the black birds had discovered that my CD’s made excellent mirrors and they were sitting in the tassels, using their reflection, to see how to pick the sweet corn out of their teeth.