News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 29, 2009

The Off Season: Prospecting in the fields of gold

Every few days I stand at the base of one of our front yard maples and push a fresh ear of field corn onto a squirrel feeder my friend Joe made for me a few years back.

For some reason, we don’t have many squirrels around our place, but we’re in no short supply of jabbering blue jays and territorial woodpeckers and space-sharing cardinals, and they thoroughly enjoy the bounty that we leave for them a few feet from our watchful eyes.

Our ear corn habit is supported not by runs into town to the local feed store or farm supply shop but from gleaning the fields near our home. My wife and I know we must look strange to passers-by as they blast past us in their cars and trucks, perhaps even appearing a little needy as we stoop and kneel in our old blue jeans and muddy boots to get our free harvest.

But where there’s corn, there’s a way, and we are determined to pick it up before the cold and the rain either ruin it or the marauding bands of itinerant deer that take over the fields at night gobble it up.

The rolling acreage near our home is farmed by a friend, Artie Yeargin. My wife and I have taught his children at the local schools, and my grandparents even worked for his grandparents when they were needed during the potato and strawberry seasons years and years ago. He is a good steward of his land, and I admire the way he mows along the roads that border his fields and how he works hard to prevent erosion and waste. I am also more than happy that he doesn’t care a bit that we walk his fields to kick up and pick up the corn for our feeders.

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