Since corn is one of Weldon's favorite topics and an area of his expertise, he has taught me quite a bit about it since I came to the farm. Years ago he showed me corn that looked even worse than depicted in the following two photos.
Yes, this is corn. But you don't see a lovely cob, do you? What you're seeing is smut. Here is the definition of smut from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: any of various destructive diseases especially of cereal grasses caused by parasitic basidiomycetous fungi (order Ustilaginales) and marked by transformation of plant parts into dark masses of spores; also : a fungus causing a smut.
So, imagine my horror when just last week Weldon was telling me about some visitors who came to the farm to see if he had any corn for sale. He explained that the garden corn was all gone, but there was still lots of field corn. They walked into the fields to check it out and, when they saw the smut on some ears, they were ecstatic. "This is a delicacy in Mexico. Is it for sale?" Weldon told them they could have the smutty corn.
I still get shivers up and down my spine when I picture the black, rotten, moldy stuff. But it turns out that the "delicacy" is only a delicacy before it hits the rotting stage. When it's "good" to eat (I use the term loosely), it looks like this:
We call it smut, but it's also known as Mexican Truffles or Corn Truffles ... or Raven Scat. It's similar to mushrooms, and they're not so bad, are they? I took a tiny little piece of the corn truffle, and it tasted a little like corn. Weldon sampled more than I did, but an itty-bitty nibble was enough for me. You can discover more fun facts about smut on the website Eat the Weeds. There are even a few recipes for the brave of heart.
Next: yesterday's discovery. I was coming in from feeding the cats and kittens and saw a strange blob, seemingly hanging on the side of the house. I didn't stop to investigate, but hurried in to get my camera. I went back outside and approached the wall very cautiously. What the heck? At first I thought it was a baby snake ... hanging by a "thread" along the bricks?? Can't be. But what?
Eeuuww. Gross. Two slugs getting it on. That's just disgusting. (Sorry, God.)
And then they slithered contentedly up the wall. I have no idea where they went or where he or she or they will have their darling little slugs. I suppose I'll meet them in the garden next spring.
Welcome to my world. Eeesh. I've got shivers.