A typical stalk of field corn yields just one ear.
"Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can get two," said Brent Barbee, a sixth-generation farmer on his family's 80-acre homestead in Concord.
Even if he doesn't reap that golden second ear this season, Barbee plans for the cornfield to produce a second time.
That's because once the last cobs of sweet and field corn were pulled from the 50 acres dedicated to the grain, Barbee watched his dad, Tommy, disappear into the rural husk jungle with a lawn mower and create more than 2,400 feet of trail for the farm's first corn maze, which is open to the public.
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"He just went in there one Sunday morning and mowed it all out," said Barbee, of the path, which includes 90-degree turns, eight intersections and over 1,200 feet of dead ends.
It was an idea the younger Barbee had pitched to his dad.
A growing number of small farms are opening their barn doors to visitors, giving people who would normally not find themselves on a farm the opportunity to pick apples, ride horses, buy local produce, or like the Barbee Farm, get lost in a cornfield.
It's called agritourism, and it's another effort to offset the costs of running a small farm in today's economic climate.
The time of year when farms transition from summer to winter crops can be slow on profits.
"It's a hard time to try to keep everyone on the payroll and keep all the bills paid," said Barbee, who employs anywhere from four to seven workers full time, depending on the season.
"You've got to be thinking outside the box in everything you do."
Trying new ideas has always been the norm on the family farm, which has existed for more than 100 years.
His father slopped pigs and grew mostly field crops, used for animal feed. Before that, his grandfather primarily kept dairy cattle.
Young Barbee has focused much on agritourism, increasing the farm's presence at Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties farmer's markets.
They've gone from one table at one market to at least five markets a week, not including the one they run on the farm.
Some new ideas have worked, like the notion to plant head lettuce.
"We used to not grow a lot of head lettuce. Now what we grow is mostly head lettuce," said Barbee.
Others, like strawberries in the greenhouse, have not ripened fully yet.
And like an onion still in the earth, what his latest idea produces remains yet to be seen.
But Barbee is betting that folks will come to the maze to spend a carefree afternoon crunching through the acres of tall golden corn stalks, where the occasional black bird picks at the last of the season's dried kernels along the path.
The cell tower peaking up in the far distance remains the only reminder of their everyday grind.
Barbee is the first of the last three generations to depend fully on the farm for a living.
His father worked at Phillip Morris while he farmed.
His grandfather, at Cannon Mills.
Each day of the week, he rises at 5:30 in the morning and works until 8:30 that evening, determined to keep the farm running well for the generations to come.
"We're still trying to figure out how to make this farm completely self-sustaining," he said.
Trying new ways has always been a big part of the process.