how not to store sunflowers

We know better than to store food — for human or animal consumption — and then fail to keep tabs on it.  Nevertheless, we put several hundred large black-oil sunflowers in a corner of the barn, fenced it off with pallets and covered it with light-weight row cover against visiting birds, and left it to fend for itself.  Two weeks later, moving in the shocked Country Gentleman field corn, we found it slumped, damp and mouldy.  The hens and pigs still consider it worth picking over, but as long-storage high-energy food for the chickens it has failed.  We think now we should have cut the heads off the stalks, tied them in bundles, and hung them up to dry.  Live and learn.  The four bushels of japanese hulless popcorn on the front porch will be shucked and tied today — we hope — and hung up to avoid a similar fate.  And the bags of unshelled pinto in the basement must be shelled soon, and given three days in the freezer to kill any insect eggs that might be there.

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