Farm Collector Blogs > First Things

All I Really Need to Know I Learned While Husking Corn

by Leslie McManus

Tags: ,


In the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that the above headline is not totally true, in that I have never actually made an attempt at husking corn. But if you can connect a few dots, you can learn a lot. For instance, you don’t have to jump off a cliff to know that results of such action will be unpleasant.

My reintroduction to the topic of corn husking comes courtesy of an article in this issue of Farm Collector, National Cornhusking Contest Keeps Traditions Alive. When writer Jerry Schleicher dropped in on the 2011 National Cornhusking Contest, he stepped back in time by 70 years or more. His article is a lively, colorful report on the event and the contestants, who share the kind of wisdom that would make Ben Franklin nod appreciatively. To wit:

Always be looking ahead for the next ear. Concentrate on the next ear and keep moving. Rest on your laurels and you’ll be resting for a long time. Stare at your own feet and you won’t get very far. The guy who’s always looking down the road is the one who avoids pitfalls, anticipates challenges and sees opportunity.

Pick clean: Missed ears count against the total. It’s not the fastest husker who wins, but the one who’s the most efficient. This falls into the category of “do it right the first time” and “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” It speaks to self-discipline and pride in one’s work. Drill really deep, and “pick clean” edges close to personal integrity.

You can’t pick 100 bushels without working dawn to dusk. If it was easy, everybody would do it. As the commercial says, when you’re chasing your dream, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves. Put on a pot of coffee; prepare to put in some late nights.

Today of course corn husking is but a quaint exercise in nostalgia. If our lives depended on our prowess in the cornfield, many of us would either starve to death or succumb to exposure. But when it comes to life lessons with enduring value, you could do worse than the wisdom of farm country. FC