In an effort to live a “greener” life, in my family, we try to use, reuse and recycle just about everything. The Farm Markets around us are full of great seasonal produce. Walking around the Market, talking to the local farmer, asking where the produce is grown and which variety it is that I am purchasing, is how I like to shop. I feed not only my family with this produce, but also my chickens.
Corn, seems like such an innocent word. The grain is a staple in many homes as well as feed stores. Who knew it came with its own controversy. GMO (genetically modified), Non-GMO, and Organic… All these labels for corn but what does that mean? GMO Corn is genetically modified to resist herbicides and pesticides. This is usually seen in field corn while it has made its way into practice with sweet corn. Field Corn is grown as a large commodity crop. It is ground into flour and corn meals, fed to livestock and also finds its way into processed foods that sit on the grocery store shelf. This is not the corn that I buy. In my effort to use all that I can from things that we purchase, field corn is not what I buy simply because it is not what I feed my family therefore it limits my ability to get more than one use out of the product. Ways to avoid GMO corn for the most part come down to purchasing from organic products. Mother Earth News has a great guide that I have used to help me when making purchasing decisions.
Ever have left over corn or bought too much and want to save some for later? Freezing it can be a great way to do this. Corn on the Cob is great to freeze, but you can also freeze the cobs once your loved ones have eaten their fill from them. These are two ways that I preserve the harvest for my chickens. As the winter winds blow and snow covers their run, they can ease some boredom with pecking away at corn on the cob instead of each other.
Freezing whole corn on the cob:
1. Bring a pot of water to boil
2. Blanch your raw corn 3 minutes
3. Cool in an ice bath
4. Pat each ear dry
5. pack into freezer bags and freeze until ready to use.
Note: If you are freezing corn that is left over from dinner, omit steps 1-3. To serve to your chickens on a cold day, reheat in boiling water. Serve to them slightly warm as a treat.
Staying with our theme of recycle, reuse or compost another part of the corn that we use is just the cob. There are some good bits left. Sure, it can add some nutrients to your compost bin, but your chickens will appreciate the treat when they are cooped up on a rainy day or in the middle of winter.
1. Pat your corn cobs dry
2. Place in freezer bags
3. Freeze until ready to use
Note: To serve the cobs, I do not reheat them, simply set them out so that they come up to room temperature. The milky parts of the cob will rinse out if you boil these cobs and your chickens will appreciate the milky part as well as the left over kernels.
Corn, while it is not my choice for a sole feed for chickens, makes a nice treat. I use these treats in the winter when snow is heavy and time outside is light. My little backyard flock of chickens do not like to venture out into the snow. The whole corn on the cob and just the leftover cobs, give them a break in the nonentity of being cooped up and helps to alleviate boredom.
September brings us a new variety of things to preserve for the winter. There will be fruits like apples and pears as well as squash and pumpkins.