Posted in Farming

The Great Corn Experiment Results (and enemies of the root cellar)

Drum roll, please!  The results are in for the Great Corn Experiment! (click title to see original post)


About a month after drying the corn, I pulled off the kernels with the side of a knife from one of the cobs and placed them in the air popper.  It took a long time but some of the kernels turned into tiny popcorn.  Most of the kernels had too much moisture content and after awhile I decided not to set the popcorn maker on fire.  The popcorn that did pop was nutty, satisfying, delicious.  I was excited to see what would happen when all the corn was sufficiently dried.


I began to notice lines of corn kernels missing.  I was worried that the kernels were be so dry they are falling off the cob through the slats of the open container that held them and into the oblivion of the root cellar.  I moved the crate on top of the box of onions so that the kernels could fall into the box.


Remember the cartoons where, I believe it was Mickey Mouse, would eat corn like a typewriter?  One row. Ding!  Next row.  Ding!  It looked like Mickey Mouse was in the root cellar.  I did not think that mice would eat such perfect rows before moving to the next row.  Then Eliza Doolittle caught a mouse.

This year the mouse population has exploded.  We have (surprisingly) not had many mice before now here.  First I noticed they had taken up residence in the garage and the chicken coop.  Then the front porch near the bird feeders.

At least one out of the eight cats considers herself a mouser.  Eliza is a beautiful lynx point Siamese, calico mix.  She is the youngest (5 years old) and quite lithe.  She went running by with a mouse and Shyanne hot on her heels.  It really doesn’t help me to have even one mouser when I have St. Francis living over here.  Shyanne rescued the mouse from Eliza’s grasp.  “It’s a baby!” she cooed.  She walked it around the house in her hands comforting and loving it.  Then put it outside.  Where I have no doubts it found it’s way back towards the root cellar!


We didn’t see any mouse droppings so we brought the corn into the kitchen and decided last night test it out.  The mice had only eaten the heirloom sweet(ish) corn and had left the old varieties of Indian corn alone.  I used a lightly wet paper towel and wiped down one of the cobs and tried a knife to release the kernels.  They began to fly everywhere upon release.  Emily came and twisted one of the cobs.  Tons of beautiful multi-colored kernels showered down.  Then we smelled it.

If you have ever lived in a house that mice love, you will know just what I am talking about.  Mouse urine.  Pungent.  Doug couldn’t smell it.  But it was enough for Emily and I to abandon our project.  The chickens will love their new treat.

I know that the kernels would have made fulfilling, nutty morsels of popcorn and delicious hand ground cornmeal, but we will have to test this theory at the end of this year.

Let’s see $9 for the heirloom seeds.  Approximately four and a half months of daily watering, tending, weeding, and harvesting.  Shucking, drying, waiting.  All gone.

Being a farmer guarantees a certain amount of crop loss, however.  Sometimes while in storage!


Katie Lynn Sanders is the author of seven books, has been a speaker on sustainable living, and loves all things wine, regenerative agriculture, homesteading, travel, food, arts, crafts, books, and finding enchantment and inspiration in the smallest things. She lives on a one acre farm and vineyard, Pumpkin Hollow Farm, with her husband, fourteen chickens, three ducks, a giant Pyrenees, two goats, five cats, and visiting children and grandchildren in southern Colorado.

9 thoughts on “The Great Corn Experiment Results (and enemies of the root cellar)

  1. haha. i didn’t get any of the corn I tried to grow this year… some insane creature took out every single stalk I had planted…. I would have taken your loss because I would have actually had some. Tis the tale of farming/gardening and growing crops…

  2. Sorry to hear about the loss of your corn. I have to say though, just reading about mice gives me the heeby jeeby’s. I know they are part of farm life and they are the part I don’t look forward to. So I wonder, how many cats does one need to keep the mice away? Although I do have two Keeshond and historically a Keeshond’s job was riding on the Dutch barges and warning the sailors of strangers by barking. They were also good at watching over children, herding livestock, killing rats and other vermin. So maybe my two furry babies will take care of any mice for me. Come to think of it, I haven’t had a mouse in my house since bringing by first Keeshond home 🙂 Problem solved?!!!! Only time will tell.

    1. Sorry Debbie, cats nor dogs can drag mice from the walls! We don’t have a huge problem as of yet. We need to be more diligent on keeping food out of their path and letting the cats downstairs. I screamed if one ran by (in our old house) but they really are very cute. Just not at my house.

  3. Ugg. Sorry this happened to y’all. Mice have been a problem here too. Eating our sweet potatoes in the basement, chewing into our bags of feed and seed in the barn, and generally making themselves unwelcome. We set traps but that doesn’t get them all. Our son and his family took in a feral cat that never adapted to inside life, so we just brought him home be our new barn-cat mouser. Unfortunately, it’s bitter cold now so we’re letting him transition inside. Hopefully Mr. Fabulous (as our daughter in law named him) will help with our problem. As much as we hate using poisons just last week I set out some D-Con in the room where we store feed. I haven’t been able to figure out any better way to keep the mice out of it.

    We lost our entire crop of sweet corn last summer to raccoons. We’re scaling it back this year (replacing it with more okra) but we may try to grow some corn for corn meal. When I was a kid after it had dried we shucked it by twisting the cobs and thus roughing out the kernels with our hands. Sometimes it was necessary to rub two ears together first to get the kernels loose.

    Hoping you have a great popcorn year in 2014!

  4. So sorry..I plan on doing popcorn next year as well. We always have a mice problem so we use metal barrels to keep goodies in. I have found them in my chicken grain bin before too. They will eat through plastic too! Sometimes farming sucks lol.

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