RicelandMeadows


April Showers 2019
April 15, 2019, 10:28 am
Filed under: April 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

aprilshower2019

April 15, 2019

We have gotten some rainy weather. The severe weather stayed south of us so far. The spring rain has sure made the grass turn green. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. The horses are shedding gobs of hair, as their winter coats come off. Spring has sprung!

kah20196

We have had some very nice spring days. We continue to make progress on this years plowing. As I write, the fields are too wet for field work. We will work on other projects, but first, I will brush the horses and try to get more of the shedding hair off of them.

April showers do bring May flowers, but also growing pastures, green hay fields and emerging leaves on the trees. What a wonderful time of year. I am thankful to enjoy another season as the Earth wakes up from its winter sleep.



Turning Over the Sod
April 9, 2019, 9:58 am
Filed under: April 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

KAHplowing2019

April 9, 2019

Yesterday, with the help of my friend Marvin, I got started with my 2019 plowing job. It was a little wet, but this is the day we could make it happen. I wanted the help just in case Abby decided that she didn’t like the job. No worries, she did perfect. I still very much appreciated the help.

Sod is very forgiving. Also, I’m pretty sure that we will still get some cold nights below freezing. The freeze and thaw will break up any ground that was plowed too wet. The horses and I will work on this plot a little each day along with other work. This was their very first time plowing together and Abby’s fourth time working in a three-horse-hitch. I am pleased with how it all turned out.

Springplowing2019

I took this photo while I was standing in the wettest part, but the intent was to show that we got a good, straight start. This is very much due in part to planning and the help of my friend. I paced the field off to layout the back furrows and dead furrows. Now, to just keep it straight as we go.

I hope to plant corn here for the animals. The long rows will be cultivated with the horses in the same manner of old farmers long ago. I hope to do them proud. The weather and time push a guy on that job. It will also be time for cutting hay when the corn will need weeding, so balance and time management become a huge issue.

The stress of haying season can wait for now. I will sit on the plow seat and listen to the birds sing, the horse’s harness rattle and creak, while the harness bells chime a spring melody. This music cheers my spirit and warms my heart. Spring has sprung!



March..ing On

KAH2019

March 30, 2019

Our 2019 maple syrup season has come to a close. We had a cold start to the season and a warm end. It was almost hot (51 F) on the last day we gathered sap. I put our filly Abby in to help the geldings. The sled pulled hard on the dry ground, but three horses pulled it easily.

KAH20192

Abby did a wonderful job. This was her second time hitched in a 3-horse hitch, where we actually did some work. She was alert, attentive, calm and willing. The plastic sap bags, shiny and fluttering caused her no issue at all. The banging of sled, tank and bucket didn’t shake her at all. She knew that as long as the boys and I were there, everything would be okay. She preformed like a champ. Her training and my invested time with her paid off in a big way.

KAH20193

The season was much like this hitch, a tough job, made easy by friends and family. More than once I realized, just as Abby had, that everything would be okay as long as “they” were all there. So, thank you to everyone for the help, the company, the meals…some very late at night, as we harvested the season’s maple crop.

Evap#3

Now, the big job of clean up begins. It takes awhile, but well worth the effort. The woodshed will need re-filled, all tanks and such will get pressure washed and put away. Then in late winter, just before the next season, the clean up gets repeated as we get ready for the 2020 season.

Next however, will be the fun, satisfying job of spring plowing. Abby and the boys will get a work out, as we head towards summer and the work that farming brings. I love this farming life. I see God in the new born babies, the emerging crops and in the sweet, golden, reward that is maple syrup. I am thankful for the knowledge and where with all to make it happen. I am thankful for folks teaching and sharing with me like my grandparents and others who saw in me a light…I hope it shines for the world to see.

100_0312



A Wonderful Time of Year

KH&Jake2019

March 14, 2019

Here we go, a very cold, late winter is giving way to a warm spring! We are getting help from family and friends to keep up with the running maple sap. It is a great time of year and the rewards are SWEET!

Firstrun2019

The boiling is going well. It takes awhile because we do it the old-fashioned way. We don’t take out water by reverse osmosis, we collect in bags, not tubing stretched all over the woods, we boil over a wood fire…all these factors (in my opinion) enhance the final product with an extra flavor molecule…. In the way of my grandpa, I continue..I think it’s worth it.

firstrun20192

 



Its Done…Toys for Boys
March 12, 2019, 10:45 am
Filed under: March 2019 | Tags: , , ,

tw8

March 12, 2019

After many years of monkey business, my parade/tank wagon project has been completed! This is an old fuel delivery tank, mounted on an Oliver running gear. The tank is circa 1900-1910, the running gear dates from the late 1940’s. I mated them together with the help of a couple friends who are true craftsmen.

This tank will never again haul liquids. It is simply a play toy for this old boy. I wanted a parade wagon a little different than everybody else’s. This old three-compartment wagon, sure fits the bill.

tw9

The nozzles for dispensing fuel can be seen under the cabinet. The cabinet once held three fuel cans of different sizes. The wagon driver would have dispensed fuel in one, three or five gallon cans, based on the needs of the home owner. He also carried three different types of fuel in the compartments.

I hope this wagon is a tribute to the men and horses who made our country run, back in the day when they did it with horses! The hardware on the cabinet came with the old rusty tank when I bought it. There was just enough rotted wood to make a pattern for the new cabinet. I thought it was a good idea to use the old hardware, some of which was hand wrought.

tw6

We worked in my buddy’s warm shop. This was another great project to complete. I am very happy with it. You’ll be able to read the complete story about the wagon and all my crazy attempts to restore it in an upcoming issue of Rural Heritage magazine.

Once the weather breaks and warm sunny days are upon us, watch for us on the roads near the farm. The project is complete and this old boy is very happy with his new toy!



Watching and Learning
March 5, 2019, 11:41 am
Filed under: March 2019 | Tags: , , , , ,

Samgate

March 5, 2019

Sam, our Border Collie pup, is learning very well. He is having to learn patience. Patience and Border Collies are not always friends! Often times, he wants to be patient, but just wiggles all over from anticipation. Here, he is learning to take the horses to the gate, but then sit watch and wait, until I close the gate. Oh yeah, and no chasing beyond the gate!

I have been hanging out at my Amish buddy’s repair shop. We have been working on another project of mine. That project is almost done too. I, just like Sam, have been having to be patient as the project nears completion. Also , just like Sam, I am almost wiggling with excitement. Photos and a post coming soon about this new project.

In my waiting and watching in the repair shop, I have learned a few new things. I am amazed at how the entire shop runs from a line shaft. This old method of powering machinery is a lost art among us “Yankee” folks, but is alive and well among my Amish friends. A motor turns a series of pulleys. The pulleys, once engaged, turn shafts that operate machinery like lathes, end mills, hacksaws and drill presses.

I watch with my head almost on a swivel, as belts change directions and are slowed or sped up by gear reduction. Small magnetic switches engage small clutches to turn a machine on or off. I am blessed, to not only be able to watch these machines work, but also to be able to ask questions about how they work. My friend will take a few minutes to explain things to me.

Much can be learned by watching, keeping quiet and just observing. I have to keep the “wiggling” down to a minimum as the excitement and questions want to gush forth. Just like Sam in the photo above, I keep my ears perked, my eyes open and patiently wait. Anyone who knows me, will understand just how tough that is for me 🙂

Our weather is unseasonably cold. The cold and freezing temperatures have delayed the maple syrup season. I am using the time to complete items on my “bucket list”. The things getting checked off the list, make waiting easier. The recently completed dump wagon was one of these projects. The good thing is that I can learn something new while I wait.



Maple Season 2019

maple20193

February 27, 2019

What a cold, ice filled, crazy season it has been so far! A nice run came in the midst of some very high winds. The high winds prompted the temperature dropping into the 20 degree F range. We scrambled to get everything gathered, but the high winds prevented us from entering the woods.

The next day, bags were frozen. We had to break the ice with a quick chop of our fists to the corner of the bag. Then we could dump the sap out. The ice was then crushed and dumped onto the ground. The temperature stayed cold, so any moving of maple sap meant ice and slippery conditions, frozen pipes and much frustration.

Finally, last night, after a day filled with a few more problems, we got things thawed and flowing. We lit the first fire of the season in the maple arch and boiled way into the night. At 2:30 am this morning, I closed the door to the sugarhouse, made my way to a warm home, hot shower and a warm bed.

maple2019

We filled the cold room with steam in no time. Even after several hours of boiling, we could still see our breath inside the sugarhouse. These are much colder conditions than normal.

maple20191

Even the floodlights had a rough time shining through the steam.

maple20192

The good news is that the boiling went well. The pans are sweet, having reduced the sweet, tree given, confection closer to the 66.5 brix needed to become maple syrup.

The weatherman, hopeful for spring, rushed us a bit, thinking that warmer weather was upon us. Alas, we got caught in the cold. A slight warm-up may be coming for late this week, but more very cold weather is to follow. The rise and fall of the spring thermometer indicates the sap flow as the trees prepare for spring. We will deal with the season as always, but will enjoy a return to “normal”, whatever that means!