with great appreciation to Sam Russell, who told me what to do; and Cornell University’s 1909 Circular No. 6, for explaining how.
I hustled to plant my colored corn at an auspicious time, just before a rainy spell around Memorial Day. It sprouted right on schedule, but on the very day I admired rows of shoots gleaming in the morning sun, I came home in the evening to find fallen ranks of crow-plucked corn. From fifteen long rows, I found less than fifteen survivors. Livid and blue were the words of my mouth, yessir they were.
What to do? I can’t just shoot the crows, tempted though I was. For one thing, crows (and their Corvidae kin, bluejays and ravens) are smart and interesting birds. For another, this is crow-rich territory: if I shoot one crow, there will be two more applying for the vacancy.
Good advice from my dear friend Sam, and some facts pulled from Google’s stasis-box, convinced me to replant my corn…with a few changes, this time around.
I’ve planted twice as many rows: 32 rows in a 15 x 70 foot patch.
I’ve sowed more seeds per foot.
I’ve summoned the reserves.
And I’ve booby-trapped the seed corn, based on a hundred-year-old circular from Cornell University’s Plant Physiology department. It explained how to do what my dear friend Sam Russell told me his old-time farmers used to do years ago in Massachusetts: coat the seeds with noxious-tasting tar.
I did as the circular directed: I poured water over my corn, then added a spoonful of pine tar, and stirred till “practically every grain is covered.”
If “properly spread on a dry floor” the seeds would have dried less sticky, but I opted for the other method, and dusted the corn with wood ashes so it could be “used immediately without serious inconvenience.” I do despise serious inconvenience.
When I filled the planter’s hopper, I spread some treated corn at the edge of the patch. According to Cornell, this invites the crows to catch on ahead of time that the corn tastes terrible.
Into the ground it went. Now, after a day of soaking rain and three consecutive days of Juneglorious sun, the corn is once again at the vulnerable stage.
One of the survivors of the first Blitzcaw:
Painted Mountain corn is bred to be dry on the stalk at about 85 days, so I am optimistic this planting will mature before the worst of autumn frosts.