Sunday, August 21, 2011

Freezing Sweet Corn is Sweet Work!

This week a wind storm blew down three rows of our neighbor’s sweet corn. Luckily, the corn was ready to be picked. Now to be perfectly honest, picking sweet corn is hot work, especially in Iowa when the temps are in the 90’s and the humidity is in the 70’s. But here is what we have found to make the harvest enjoyable:
Do it with friends: Many hands make light work – as well as good conversation while doing the work.
Share a meal: We picked the corn at the farm, and then had a nice meal with FRESH (picked off the stalk less than an hour before eating) corn, with a home raised chicken, warm bread, great cheese and wine. And oh yes, a good desert before we started the shucking, cleaning, blanching, cooling, cutting and bagging of the corn.
Divide and conquer: It is just the way it works, but while the guys are shucking, the girls are cleaning, blanching and cooling the corn. By the time the guys get done shucking, it is time to start cutting the corn off the cob. When is it all cut, we bag it up for the freezer, teaming together, getting it done.
Share the profits: Now we didn’t make money by freezing corn, but we all saved money by having corn in our freezer to eat later. We shared what we harvested with those that helped and with our family and friend.
Make it festive: Making an evening event around the activity, such as sharing a meal and drink, adds to the camaraderie. Productive activity with others makes the “work” fun and leaves you feeling well and good.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Where to Invest in Turbulent Times

The Dow Jones industrials dropped 634 points Monday. Gold is at a record high. Farm land prices are high. There is uncertainty in the housing markets, stock markets, bond markets, international government debt, and the world-wide economy. The big question--where to invest? When the markets are so volatile, let it ride out and instead turn to make investments in what you can control: your time.

Now is the time to invest in yourself and time with your family and friends. It is time to reassess your skills, abilities, and how you spend your time. It is time to become more self-sufficient. Some ideas of self-investing in turbulent times:

• Grow a garden or visit farmer markets; can or freeze fresh vegetables for the winter months. Nothing tastes better than corn chowder or lasagna on a winter day made with fresh frozen sweet corn or tomatoes that you grew.

• Cut firewood. If you have a wood burning fireplace or wood stove, cut and stock up on wood for the winter. This can be a family event and as they say, the wood will heat you when you cut it, split it, stack it, and finally burn it! This can also cut down on your winter heating bills and provide hours of family time watching the fire burn.

• Take a class to improve your skills or learn a trade. The more you know the further you will go. Maybe you want to learn about auto repairs, plumbing or other trade. This can help you save money by doing your own repairs. Perhaps you need to improve your computer skills, cooking skills, or writing skills, take a class at your local college or community center. This can make you more marketable and you may unleash one of your passions.

• Invest in your family and relationships. Nothing has a higher return and lasting benefit than great relationships. Invite family or friends to join you on the above adventures. Turn off the television, computer, and phones and have a night of playing cards or board games. Join or start a book club. Engage in conversation, really get to know other people, and build lasting relationships.

The markets will go up and down. Money will come and go. Your true happiness will be determined by the friends and relationship you have and the difference you make in the lives of those around you. So in these turbulent times, invest in you, your community, and in family and friends.