"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Acres and Acres of CORN - Did you Know...

Everywhere, USA

Well, just about everywhere.  We noticed for the past month while we were in Indiana and Illinois that you see cornfields everywhere.  LOTS of cornfields. It got me thinking about all things corn and I did a little research.  
So this post is all about the corn.
The word “corn” is an English word used to describe a type of grain. “Maize” is an indigenous Taino word meaning “sacred mother,” or “giver of life.”

Corn was first domesticated by the native people of Mexico about 10,000 years ago.

The total production of corn in the world surpasses that of wheat or rice. In addition to being consumed directly by humans, maize is also used for corn ethanolanimal feed and other maize products, such as corn starch and corn syrup.

It was a common peasant food in Southwestern Europe, including Portugal, Spain, southern France, and Italy. By the 18th century, it was the chief food of the southern French and Italian peasantry, especially in the form of polenta in Italy.

Corn is the most widely grown grain crop throughout the Americas, with 361 million metric tons.

The US is by far the largest producer and exporter, averaging about half of the global maize trade.

The three states that produce the most corn in the United States are:

1. Iowa
2. Illinois
3. Nebraska

Types of Corn
The seven major types of corn are popcorn, pod corn, dent cornflint corn, sweet corn, waxy corn and flour corn.

Fossil evidence from Peru suggests that corn was popped as early as 4700 BC.  Corn used for popcorn production is specifically planted for this purpose.  Most is grown in Nebraska and tops the country with growing 25% of all corn produced in the USA.

Pod Corn
Pod corn forms leaves around each kernel.  It is not grown commercially and has religious significance to Native Americans.
Dent Corn
Its name comes from the small indentation, or "dent", at the crown of each kernel.  It is a fast-growing corn.  Most of the corn grown in the United States today is yellow dent corn or a closely related variety derived from it. Dent corn is the variety used in food manufacturing as the base ingredient for cornmeal flourcorn chipstortillas, and taco shells. Starch derived from this high-starch content variety is turned into plastics, as well as fructose which is used as a sweetener (high-fructose corn syrup) in many processed foods and soft drinks.  It's also used in animal feed. Let’s not forget our favorite distilled spirits and beer!
Flint Corn
This is the colorful, ornamental corn and sometimes used in making hominy.
Sweet Corn
Sweet corn stores poorly and must be eaten fresh, canned, or frozen, before the kernels become tough and starchy.

Waxy Corn
This is used mostly for food products and animal feeds.

Flour Corn
This variety is widely grown in the drier parts of the United States and used in corn flour.
Sugar-rich varieties called sweet corn are usually grown for human consumption as kernels, while field corn varieties are used for animal feed, various corn-based human food uses (including grinding into cornmeal or masa, pressing into corn oil, and fermentation and distillation into alcoholic beverages like bourbon whiskey), and as chemical feedstocks. Maize is also used in making ethanol and other biofuels.

Uses of Corn
40% used to for biofuels/ethanol, which serves as a renewable fuel additive to gasoline.
30% is used for animal feed.
20% is exported.
10% is actually used for human consumption.

You see these grain silos everywhere!  Each small town seems to have one.  The surrounding farms will store their grains here in co-op style. They are usually right along the railways for easy transporting.


Lesser Known Uses
It may surprise you that the majority of corn grown these days does not go to food production. It is used to make ethanol gas, batteries, plastics, crayons, whiskey, glue, and cough drops.
Corn Starch can be found in hygiene products, matchsticks, and many medications and vitamins. It is used as a thickening agent in liquids and substituted for talc in powders. What is corn used for in medications? Often, the vegetable is used in the form of cornstarch to bind medication and helps pills hold their form. It also helps tablets disintegrate after they are ingested. Finally, corn is rich in vitamin C. Many vitamin C supplements are made from corn.

Interesting Corn Facts
- An ear commonly holds 800 kernels in 16 rows.
- Corn is produced on every continent except Antarctica.
- Corn is made up of about 62% starch, 3.8% oil, 15% moisture, and 19.2% protein and fiber.
- It takes 91 gallons of water to produce one pound of corn.
- One acre of corn eliminates 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

- The world record for corn eating is 33 and a half ears in 12 minutes.

- Fresh corn on the cob will lose approximately 40% of its sugar in only 6 hours at room temperature storage.
- The Largest Corn Maze was 60 acres in Dixon CA.
Children of the Corn? (Thanks Dave of The Wandering Camels for the picture!)
Curt, Faye, Steve, Debbie, Glenda & Dave

Movies with Cornfields

   Children of the Corn
Field of Dreams
Blind Fury
Planet of the Apes
Wizard of Oz
  Night of the Scarecrow

Corny Jokes

Q: Why didn't anyone laugh at the gardener's jokes?    A: Because they were too corny! 
Q: How did the tomato court the corn?   A: He whispered sweet nothings into her ear.
Q: What did the corn say when he got complimented?    A: Aww, shucks

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Small Town Indiana - Bridges, Windmills and a BIG RV Repair!

Cicero, Indiana
White River County Park 

Driving north we leave Kentucky and arrive in Indiana.  We stopped in for a couple of days on our way to Goshen.  This is a nice county park along the White River.  
The sites were spread out with lots of grass and some large trees for shade which was nice since it was still very hot and humid and we only had 30amp.
W/30/Dump, $25 #78.  They do have FHUs for $30.

There are walking, biking and kayaking opportunities within the park and connecting to Strawtown Koteewi Park across the street.  The rains have continued so rivers are still flooded and it was stormy most of the time.

The community building which was used for meetings, ceremonies and storytelling.

An example of what could be found in the excavation sites.

Lots of wildflowers.  I didn't notice the ugly beetles until I blew the picture up later.
Part of the stockade wall.

This barn across the street has been in the family for over 100 years.


This Triple Intersection Warren Truss Bridge was built in 1898.  It was moved over to this location.
I was happy to hear that one of our RV friends, Mark and Karen. of Our Future in an RV, had just stayed at this park and they gave us a great write up with some ideas of things to do and an excellent place to get some smoked pork chops.  They were great!  We could've split just one so we saved the other for leftovers.  We used all our farmer market finds for dinner.

Goshen, Indiana
Elkhart County Fairgrounds
W/E/Dump, $29, 115.
We've stayed here before in 2014 for an RV Dreams Seminar.  We're here to have a check up and some repair work done on the trailer.  We have heard great things about Affinity RV Group from many different groups and they work very closely with Keystone, Lippertt and others.  We had an appointment to bring the trailer over for an initial evaluation and estimate. 
We had a week before the work would be finished so we did some day trips around the area.  The Mennonite population out here is big.  They have large farms and businesses and the horse and buggies are all over.  They even have their own buggy parking spaces.

We found a great Farmers Market and grabbed some amazing tomatoes, veggies, goat milk soap and a couple baked goods.
A must-do is a visit to the Heritage Ridge Creamery.  They have amazing cheeses which you can watch being made.
Not sure what this building was but it's sure cute.  It was built in 1897.
We visited the Mid-American Windmill Museum in Kendallville.  It was $8 or free if you just wanted to walk around on your own.  It was surprisingly interesting.

Flour Grinding Windmill

Of course since it was invented by a Wheeler, it was my favorite.  I actually liked the old wooden windmills the best.

After the windmills we drove through the quaint town of La Grange.  This mural was so beautiful.  The detail was incredible!
I also loved that the roads in town were all brick.
There were some colorful murals.  This is dairy country out here.

The city courthouse.
There are so many farms and barns out here.  This round barn was one of my favorites.
Lots and lots of buggies.  Some parked in the yard, some on the street.  I think these two were drag racing!

Loved passing these young boys on their own training buggy.  Just adorable!
We finished our day trip with a geocache that was at the border of Indiana and Michigan.  We were only a few miles away.  Another bad storm was moving in so we were keeping a close eye on it.
Ok.  Time to get back home.  Tornado warnings are back up with heavy rain on the way.
And BAM.  Just as we were driving back, the rains hit.  In the above picture the line of the storm made the trees hard to see.  Within seconds it was all around us.  It passed so quickly we were out of the worst of it within minutes as it kept moving northeast.

An interesting bit of history was this police booth at the corner of the courthouse in Goshen.  It was built in 1938 and built out of limestone and bulletproof glass.  

There were no shots fired at, or from, the Booth.  Those slots at the very top are not for machine guns, they were for ventilation.
The courthouse had more beautiful architecture, grounds and a fountain out front.

There are many walking trails on each sides of the river that we walked.  This is where the St. Joseph River meets the Elkhart River.
You can see the division in the rivers.  One is more clear and one was more muddy.  They meet and mix here at the Island Park.
Steve found Indiana's first geocache near the river.

Now that our parts are in it's time for some maintenance and repairs done on the trailer at  Affinity RV Group.  Of all the groups we belong to and follow, you'll get nothing but amazing reviews on them.  Their shop is located next to Keystone and Lippertt.  We had gone over a list of issues ahead of time and they gave us a very ballpark estimate.  Now it's time to open it up and get a better idea.
We really wanted them to give it an overall check up too.  We had several items that we figured were all connected to the frame.  Frame Flex has been a problem on many frames from different manufacturers.  Some are minor, some more serious.  We spent the night at their shop so they could get an early start the next day.  We once again went over our concerns in an in-person walk through and they got right to work.  The next 2 nights we spent in a nearby hotel.  We had hoped that we just had some broken welds rather than a broken frame.  Luckily, that turned out to be the case.  They took the front cap off, the bedroom slide out and the back cap off.  
As they looked it over and could see behind the skin in some areas and the roof, we were happy to hear they found no water damage or leaks.  They were able to carefully remove a small piece of skin and reuse it saving quite a bit of time and money.
The rear window had to come out before the cap could come off.  The broken welds in the front were re-welded and reinforced with additional bracing.  A shield of thin metal was tacked on for extra strength.  We had 3 areas of broken welds right where they usually find them.  They were only under the bedroom slide and to the left side, towards the cap.  The rest of the trailer was fine and there were no cracks in the skin. More reinforcing was done around the bedroom slide/floor area and in the rear of the trailer.  They put all new trim on, recaulked much of the trailer and reinforced a section of the front of the basement where a bad tank caused some sagging.  All that pretty, new trim really makes the trailer look newer.  I was very happy about the trim!  We needed the slide topper material replaced.  One set of hardware had gone bad just the week before so they replaced that as well.  It was difficult for them to find white as most trailers have gone to black in the past few years.   Many calls were made and one set was finally found at an RV salvage yard.  The kitchen slide was readjusted and all rubber D seals around the slides were replaced.  The bedroom motor and cables are in great shape. The 2 large hydraulic slide systems and gears are also in great shape. When everything was done we walked through it all again. They cleaned everything up and I was surprised to see they made the bed back up and put all my decorator pillows back where they were.  We are very happy with the work and all the folks from the office to the repair techs.  We'd definitely recommend them if you need work done.
We spotted this on another trailer waiting for some work.  Steve really liked it.
Now that the trailer is almost as good as new, we're off for some fun with friends in Illinois.