Last spring, we plowed and tilled a forty by eighty foot section of our land for an idea: to grow gourmet popcorn and donate the profits to Tiggy’s House. If that didn’t work, we figured we could always sell it as ornamental corn. And whatever didn’t sell, we would throw in our stove.
We couldn’t lose.
So we spread manure, planted corn and waited. Under a blistering sun, the first sprouts came up. Without rain, they started to grow. But they were planted too thickly. Something had gone wrong with the seeder and I had a solid wall of corn coming up. So I started taking thinnings and almost every day, the cattle got a bundle of corn grass added to their hay feeder in the pasture.
Every mouthful of corn grass was a mouthful of my pasture saved and I was thankful for the surplus. But the rains never came and the temperatures never dropped. With record breaking heat and a furnace-like wind, the corn tried to set its pollen.
We got only three ears of corn from the whole field.
Three beautiful ears that I really didn’t know what to do with so I fed them to the cattle.
But now hay is at a premium and I don’t have time to think about the crop that failed. I need this space to grow something. Anything that will help ease the pressure on my hay stores. So we spent two days cutting and stacking the corn stover to supplement the cattle with while they are on pasture.
Because every mouthful of corn stover they eat is a mouthful of pasture that is saved.
And I seeded the entire area with turnips.
I’ve never even eaten turnips. I don’t know how to cook them or what to serve them with. But that’s OK. Because while I’m sure we’ll try a few if they come up, this patch of ground is really for the cattle. First the thinnings, then the greens. Then, once winter strikes, I’ll start harvesting the turnips. Half a row a day should keep our two heifers and our little minihorse supplied with nutritious snacks through January.
If the turnips come up. And every mouthful of turnips will be a mouthful of hay saved.