Slacking doesn’t even begin to describe my lack of posting this year. I just quit. Needed a break. Needed to tend to life offline. But certain topics require attention on the blog, like popcorn. When I posted the “old-fashioned order form” last night (as described by the farm princess), I was asked if I’d be blogging about this year’s popcorn adventures. My response, “Will I ever get a paycheck for online administration of this little business venture?”
“No! You are our mom.” So, there’s that. The bosses have spoken.
The 2017 Bubba-Bug Popcorn crop went in the ground May 13. If you remember, last year we tried planting with our actual planter. That didn’t work, which prompted the purchase of a vegetable seeder. Why did we not do this five years ago?!
The kids also moved their patch, which also means it grew by some feet and two rows. I’m not really sure how much they’re planting now. My Farmer shrugs and says, “Tenth of an acre.” Lord have mercy on the day they answer this question with, “An acre, Mom.”
With seeds in the ground, we left their fate in Mother Nature’s hands. Thankfully, the growing season was fairly decent. Rain when needed, sun when necessary, but the heat hit right towards the end of pollination. And it showed, in that many of our ears didn’t pollinate fully, leaving the very tip with new kernels. But we can’t complain too loud. Compared to last year’s almost non-existent harvest, this year’s crop is BIG!
The farm princess and I started picking rainbow and strawberry popcorn on October 17. We spent an hour or more after school chit-chatting, picking, shucking and admiring how pretty the kernel colors were. One day down the road, I hope she’ll remember our popcorn picking escapades as fondly as I know I will. Growing Bubba-Bug Popcorn is certainly an experiment that is more than cultivating a crop. We’re cultivating a family out here and I’m fully aware that I’m being schooled as much as the kids.
Each year, we have a hitch in our plans. Five years in, we still haven’t figured ‘it’ all out. Because the first part of fall was so cool, there was no heat (or wind) to serve as Mother Nature’s blow dryer to dry down the corn in the field. Popcorn needs to be dry to pop well. We strive for 13% moisture content. Each week, the farm boy would shell a few ears and test. “Still 18 percent,” he’d report.
So, we left the stalks standing, hoping for a wave of fall heat and wind to bring that moisture level down. Never happened.
Finally, we knew the crop had to come out. Of course, that was the week the temperature tanked and it rained, misted, spit and blew all day and all night. The only good thing about harvesting a crop by hand is we can pick in any weather. On November 5, four and half hours into the afternoon, we snapped our first family selfie with the last stalk of popcorn.
Now the slow process of shelling, cleaning, drying and cleaning again is underway. The kids called on their Uncle Brian who raised hops this summer. (I know. Should have been posting about that. So interesting! Promise to do that next season.) To dry down his hops, Uncle Brian built a box on which he placed an old window screen. He cut a hole in one side of the box, mounted a simple box fan to it and viola! a hops dryer. For our purposes, it has become a corn dryer and is quite effective.
Before we post our order form, we pop each variety of corn just to make sure. Not that I doubt my kids’ ability to raise quality popcorn, but I do exhale when we get results like this:
So, popcorn is for sale. While we wait for our official online store to open, we’ll use our old order form, found here: http://tinyurl.com/bubbabug17. As always, thank you for supporting the farm boy and farm princess in their venture, whether by purchasing or with a good thought.