Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

What was I doing on those 100 degree days?

Building a corn crib! Or, should I say, rebuilding one that Kims father (Dale Ratts) and I took apart and moved here. I honestly don't know what was more of a pain in the ass, taking it down which involved grinding all of the nuts off of the two main seams with a cutting wheel on a grinder (which proceeded to give me an sinus infection which put me down for a week in the spring) and driving it home on a trailer that was two sizes too small, or putting it back up, realizing how little leway there was for rebuilding it given it wasn't built quite straight in the first place and was bowed from being unlevel. It was one thing to get the walls up, quite another to make the roof work just right while also smoldering in the oven that is the walls of this behemouth on a one hundred degree plus couple of days! Either way, I have a corn crib, and if your going to be a corn breeder or a sustainable turkey farmer/breeder you have to have one! I should easily be able to accomidate 500 bushel here.

I've also been spending a lot of time hand harvesting the Tuxpeno/Southern Dent component of the new Amanda Palmer synthetic/composite/landrace corn(s). Last Friday I hand harvested close to an acre of this valuable new genepoos which will undoubtably give rise to several new, interesting, and useful lines, both for human and animal consumption. The tuxpeno components matured and dried down the quickest of all with lots and lots of genetic diversity including tuxpeno, semi-dent, semi-flint, dent, and flint variations and lots of colors.

Harvesting and shucking by hand as I walk down the rows is quite an experience, the knowledge gained cannot be underestimated even given the heat and humidity. Doing this work by hand puts me back in touch with the earth and gives me a whole new respect for the entity that is corn and the uniqe symbosis that exists between corn and humans and the role that corn and other grains have played in our 10,000 years of agricultural civilization. This also gives me an opporotunity to test every plant in the plot for agronomic traits I might miss by using a corn picker or having my crop combined. I litterally touched and tested and observed every plant in the field and every kernal on the cobs, looking for those traits which would lend it most easily to self sustainable organic agriculture; drought tolerance, standability, production, and more. The seed was planted exceptionally early this year on April 5'th in cold and wet conditions, the stands were full giving me access to a plethora of traits for cool/wet soil germination and tolerance, it also survived at least two frosts early in the season. This also gives the opporotunity to eliminate any molds or fungus from the corn crib prior to it's introduction to that important cache of feed and seed. It would be my guess that the value of the gnosis (knowledge) gained in this intensive environment would have to be equal to 10 years of harvesting and open pollinated corn by way of a picker (and making mass selection from a corn crib) or a lifetime of growing F1 hybrids or gmo's and harvesting via combine. Did I mention we also hand planted it and hand side dressed it with turkey compost which we hand turned on the farm? It doesn't get any more intensive or sustainable than that! The seed that doesn't make the cut now becomes animal feed and the cobs become bedding for the turkey coops. There are still two acres of corn left to harvest. Those ears in the floor of the corn crib are secondary yellow ears of Astronomy Domine as I have not yet got a picture up of the first haul of "feed" corn that is currently drying in the crib, those hung on the wall are "Amanda Palmer" seed donors which meet my expectations, mind you, only from one of the three interbreeding plots.

Next year we will persue both seed to row breeding plots and further mass selection, some of the flint derrivitives will be frozen for future research into sustainable flint lines.

I personally feel that the genetics preserved in these stocks are more than adequate to develop germplasm adaptable to global warming (whether man made or natural) or global cooling. As well we will be making selection based on taste in polenta, grits, flour, parching and more but the ultimate use of this corn as an adaptavar feed for our turkeys.

This particular genepool is made up of a number of corn parents, mostly southern dents and northeastern flints but also a very valuable day length neutral lowlan tuxpeno variety. Bloody Butcher, Reids Yellow Dent, Lancaster Surecrop, Cherokee White Eagle, Daemon Morgans Butcher, Boone County White, Johnson County White, Hickory King Yellow, and UK Tuxpeno make up the majority of the pollen contributions.

Seed will be available this fall via the Face Of The Earth Seed CSA and we will update photos and info as we continue to harvest into the fall.

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