Back in the ’20’s and 30’s, a cob basket or cob box would usually be seen in a corner of the farm kitchen. These containers would hold both dirty and clean corn cobs to be used as fuel in the farm kitchen ranges. With corncobs available, the farmer had no need to chop wood.
The ways of life and farming have made a giant leap since the ’20’s and 30’s. Hogs have always had corn on their menu but in those early days the farmer just tossed the whole corn ears into the hog pen and let the pigs clean the corn off the cob. Many of these bare corn cobs would often be trampled in the mud and waste that covered the ground. When the sunshine had dried them out, it was at this point these corncobs were ready for the farm kitchen range.
The youngsters in the family had the assigned task of keeping the cob box filled. Out they would go into the hog pen with the cob basket and gather these cobs by hand.
These corncobs produced good heat when burned in the range. The farm wife soon discovered how many corncobs to add to get the right temperature for her different kinds of baking.
Today this reusing of cobs from the corn ear would be referred to as “recycling”. In those days it was just being practical, and using what was available. Many senior citizens today can remember the days of picking cobs in their father or grandfather’s pig yard.
By Doris Stensland, October 2013