RicelandMeadows


Snowvember 2021
November 30, 2021, 11:13 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

November 30, 2021

It has been another moist month! Rain and drizzle fell until the middle of the month, when the precipitation turned to sleet and snow. The moisture has made things difficult for most farming operations. Thankfully our harvest is done. We just struggle with wet pastures.

The cattle are in their winter pasture, complete with a shed and added feed. I just don’t like it that they are making too many hoofprints. The good news is that our number of steers is down. The animals are young so they are small and weigh less than the ones headed to freezer camp. Those are on the feedlot concrete.

The horses too have been only let out on their pasture sparingly. I work them for exercise. The young horses have box stalls and all get daily turnout on a portion of the concrete feedlot. I am keeping them up out of the mud not only to give our pastures a break, but to keep them healthy too.

They get to munch hay and wander around as they like. Hank gets scolded a little as he “checks” the girls. They are both in foal and do not want any of his nonsense. They lay their ears back and squeal. He is smart enough to walk away and just munch hay. He is a good boy.

A couple mornings in a row we had frozen ground for a couple of hours. I let all the horses out to really run, romp and roll. I think they enjoy those times, or perhaps they just enjoy the added brushing it takes to get them clean.

We continue to train the young horses like Hank. It is a bit of a challenge due to the wet fields. We stay on the long drive and lane way. It works ok, but I would like to get to some other jobs such as hauling logs and firewood. Exposure to work, noise and different things is vital when teaching the youngsters.

One thing about the snow….it sure makes things pretty!



Thank Full !!
November 26, 2021, 11:50 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

November 26, 2021

What a wonderful day yesterday was. Plenty of great tasting food, some family , some friends and a good day to pause and reflect.

Our hogs are ready for freezer camp. They have grown nicely and are now eating only our farm raised ear corn. The weather is switching to the favored cooler weather that makes home butchering possible. Now, its just making the plans to get this job done. The pigs are happy, warm and comfortable. They have no stress. One day soon they will be humanely dispatched.

They will be turned into chops, sausage, hams and bacons. They will strengthen us and keep us fed in the coming months. Their cycle comes to an end. I will thank them for their meat, their manure and for helping to complete the farm cycle that makes our farm viable.

You see they provide us with needed protein while suppling us with manure for the compost used to grow the crops they consume. It works very well for us.

They stay clean in the speltz straw grown here too. The straw makes our compost balance very well. It provides the carbon source to hold nutrients and rot down to feed the growing crop plants. Pigs truly are the “mortgage lifter” as in the days of old. They and chickens are the perfect animal mix for a small farm or homestead. We are so thankful!



Corn Crop Seed for 2022 , Saved!

November 12, 2021

One of the things that I wrap up before the bad weather comes, is to set my next year’s seed corn in a cool dry place. It will dry down more. Then one winter day I will shell the ends off of the ears, followed by shelling the entire ear. The ends will go for animal feed. The rest of the ear will be shelled into a paper sack and kept until spring. This keeps the seed viable until it can be planted next year.

I like the color that comes naturally in this corn. It makes hand husking fun. I save seed from the biggest ears, picked from stalks that are standing up well. Many ears are over a foot long. I saved the seed that grew this corn last year. As I select the corn for seed, my crop follows that direction. There are about 50% yellow ears and 50% of ears of color. The animals don’t care, they eat it all. I just like to make picking fun.

I describe shelling the ends of the ears off. This is just so that the seed planted is from the “flats” they go through the seed plates easier and are more uniform size. I don’t have to worry about this anymore as I now have a plateless planter. It allows me to plant seeds of all different sizes including the small round seeds found at the ends of the ears. So, I guess its just an old habit slow to die for me. If folks are planting using a planter with seed plates, they may want to stick with the way I describe to get the more uniform flat seeds from the middle part of the ear. The plants themselves don’t care. The seed will all sprout and grow, producing a regular looking ear, no matter if it was a flat seed or a round seed that was planted.

I keep a close eye on these saved cobs of corn. I don’t want mice or birds getting to them. I think it could be said that I almost baby them. I check on them often and protect them. Once the seed has been removed from the cob and stored in a paper bag, I guard that pretty close too. This seed will continue to adapt to our climate. It will grow much in the way that I select the seed. Large ears from stalks that stand up and color just to make this farmer smile.

The big ears will continue to get larger. The stalks will have to get a little bigger or stronger to hold the large ears. It is a sort of circle. If the big ears have fallen over, even though they are large, they are no good for seed, because the stalk couldn’t hold them up. Like livestock, seed must be culled hard as you save only the best. A good farmer will have to make some tough choices at times. His culls will be better stock than other guys even possess. As tough as it is, that is a very good problem to have

This was a sunrise the other morning. It tells me that foul weather is coming. I know that a storm or at least more rain is headed our way, but it sure is a pretty way to let me know. Before the weather turns rough, I hope to have much of the outside work completed. The corn crop all harvested, seed saved and set aside, now its on the the last of the firewood needing to be gathered. The small farm can present plenty to do, but with amazing sunrises and sunsets to start and end the days, its fine with me.



2021 Corn Harvest Complete

November 8, 2021

We finished picking our corn last Saturday. Pictured above is one of our wagon loads. It was a fair harvest, but the good thing is, we got enough! There will be plenty to feed out until next year’s crop has been picked. This labor of love I do by hand. The multicolored ears make it an interesting job. The old guys liked to find a red ear, because doing so meant they got to kiss a girl…My heart is full and my lips are chapped. My wife doesn’t even like to see me coming towards the house these days.

We had to wait for almost a week due to heavy rains. The husking got delayed. The horses got plenty of rest and the raccoons had a hay day in the standing corn. Once the weather broke we got right back at it. I picked 2 rows at a time so that the wagon moved over its width every time we made a round. We didn’t leave many tracks. The horses pulling the wagon leave much less impact than the tractor does.

The tractor tracks that you can see in this photo were made by me brush hogging the whole field upon completion of the husking job. It is my hope that the crop residue will make a winter cover for the soil, but still allow for drying out come early spring. This field will be plowed next spring to prepare for a crop of oats and hay. The cycle continues.

I am very glad to have the harvest season completed. The last real job for this year is to finish filling the maple syrup woodshed. It is just about full. Winter is coming fast so I must push to get this job done. When cold weather gets here it will be time to butcher for the season. Then a few weeks of rest as we wait for the maple syrup season in 2022…ahhh the life on a small farm! I love it!!



Signal of the Coming Months
November 6, 2021, 9:15 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , ,

November 6, 2021

We have had a couple mornings of cool temperatures with frost on the rooftops and even one morning with a skiff of snow. Today was different. The water puddles were frozen over and the whole scene was white. The killing frost that signals the end of the growing season is here.

After a six day stretch of rainy weather, where the rainfall total was over five inches, we are finally enjoying some dry weather. The harvest is continuing. The fields are saturated making it difficult for large machinery. I am getting along slow but steady using the horses. They are making some deep hoofprints, but the wagon ruts are minimal. I am husking 2 rows at a time. This lets me move over a wagon width each time I make a round. I am keeping the loads light which also helps to make less impact on the field.

If everything goes well, we should finish picking the corn by supper time tonight. We used one of the young horses yesterday as part of her education. There is a lot of starting and stopping during this job, making it a good teaching opportunity. The youngster did well and we kept her lesson short. She will make a work horse very soon.

The growing speltz looks sleepy covered in this frosty blanket. The leaves are falling quickly and the deer breeding season is in full swing. This tells me to get my butt moving because winter will soon be upon us. I have just a little more wood to cut and split for next years maple syrup season. I think I will finish just in time. One thing for sure, Mother Nature is showing her signs and signals. I just need to pay attention! Oh yeah, and the clocks turn back an hour tonight too.



Spooky How It All Started
October 31, 2021, 9:04 pm
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

October 31, 2021

In the photo above, Hank my 30 month old Suffolk stallion stands with the couple who sold him to me. The Pidcock’s from Nelsonville, Ohio sold me Hank as a weanling over 2 years ago. It plunged me headlong into loving this rare breed of horse. It’s almost spooky how it all started and how things continue to fall into place.

As October comes to an end ad winter looms, I am busy wrapping up projects. It seems that I have too many left over from summer! This past week we got almost 5 inches of rain. The ground is way beyond soggy! The corn harvest is on hold for a little while.

Next week looks much better. I hope to be able to finish the job of hand picking our field corn for the animals. The only other job pushing me hard is the job to finish filling the woodshed. In a mere two full days I can have that done too. I am mostly pleased with my progress but there is always room for improvement!

It will soon be time to start our fall butchering for our family. I like this time of year. Once the work is wrapped up, then rest and fun begins. It is getting hard for me to tell work from fun. Each day has a horse and something I like to do in it. Who could ask for anything more?



Introductions, never too soon!
October 25, 2021, 10:31 am
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , ,

October 25, 2021

We were able to introduce our newest great grandson to our farm and horses. Here Owen got to meet Hank our budding stallion. You could almost hear the thoughts they shared.

Owen wasn’t quite big enough to help with chores, but he made no protest as we walked from pen to pen and animal to animal introducing him to everyone. This type of introduction can never come too soon. The mind processes things early. No fear, just kindness and calmness shared… it is a beautiful thing!

The dynamics in this photo are many. A young stallion meets a baby boy, held by his momma, while grandpa takes the picture. I as great grandpa, get to watch the scene unfold. It is a crazy quick life that we get to enjoy. It is moments like this that make me smile.



Community Outreach

October 25, 2021

Ambassadors Amee and Abby, helped me share our farm with a group of school children last Friday. The little ones learned about farming, animal husbandry and the power and grace of the Suffolk horse. They fed the hogs and chicken, raced and chased, squealed and shrieked as they scrambled from one pen to another.

I talked to them about safety and caring. They were impressed by the large horses, smitten by a crazy cat and amazed at the oinking hogs. The children had a wonderful day and managed to stay dry between rain storms.

We all got real cozy as we squeezed onto my wagon for a horse drawn hayride. Abby and Amee took it all in stride. The noise from the excited kids, the urging from other horses in the pasture didn’t bother them at all. We made several trips around the farm lane. I discovered this was the easiest way to keep them engaged, contained and happy. A few little ones got to “drive” the horses as they pulled the wagon around the farm.

I don’t know if any of these young people will go into a vocation in agriculture, but they had a great experience. They made a few memories and they had a good time. We are blessed to be able to share. I have been given a gift to talk with kids and help them understand the farming cycle. They may never do it themselves, but they will have a little more understanding for those of us who farm. This outreach makes me happy because I believe, with understanding comes tolerance. Hopefully, these youngsters will be patient when they have to follow a combine or slow tractor on the road. They will remember that their food comes from farms and somewhere behind the scenes, there is a farmer just trying to do the right thing.



Stallion Training Day

October 13, 2021

Yesterday was a very good day. We worked with Hank, our young Suffolk Punch stallion. He just turned 2 last April. We were pulling an old tire around the field for awhile. He has done this job before, but yesterday his brain “clicked”. He figured out how to start the load, but also how to enjoy a break. You can see a little sweat coming from under his harness. That sweat along with breaks at the right time, lead to just standing still, minding your own business and listening for me to give direction. He is getting it. I am very happy with his progress.

I won’t push the young guy too hard. He only gets light loads for now. We are more training his mind than his body. He likes the ladies, so we need to make him understand that life has other things in it too. Some of you may notice the “jockey stick” running from his halter to his partner Abby’s harness ring. This spacer keeps him from trying to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. He stays in his place and she is not bothered by his nonsense this way. Abby is a wonderful partner. She moves and stops when I ask. She teaches him stuff by just being there and she is one big anchor if I need one!

I snapped this picture of the growing speltz yesterday. I am pleased with these results so far. The crop should be well rooted before winter sets in and freezes the ground.

All I can say is that it was a very good day!



Computer Trouble / Farm Success

October 10, 2021

We have been fighting with our computer for almost a month! Finally we have been repaired. We didn’t lose anything and I am back to communicating and blogging.

In the photo above, Abby , Amee and I were plowing at Lake Farm Park. The park is located in a neighboring county. They host a horsepower weekend. Old tractors and of course, real horsepower are showcased. We had a fun time visiting and plowing. The event was well attended by other teams of horses and the public. We struggled a bit with old vegetation plugging the plow, but we did make some loose dirt.

This is a picture of my old Oliver plow. I haven’t used it for years. My knees got too sore to use it. I got them replaced and decided that I wanted to try plowing this way again. The horses had not done this ever in their lives either. We worked on it for a few evenings before we went out in public. I am not the plowman that I once was, but we got it done.

There is a lot to this job. Once things are all set up and understood, it is a joy to plow this way. We are not there yet! I managed to drag along the ground a few times as The horses learned where to walk and I learned to pick my feet up higher. It was still fun. I will plow like this a few times each year just to keep my memories alive. This old plow belonged to a mentor of mine…I think he would be pleased too.

Over the last month, we continued to work with Hank, our two-year old Suffolk Punch stallion. He is doing good, but the training will continue for the coming months, even years. He is growing fast and well. He is pictured with our 7 year old mare Abby in the photo below.

It is my hope to have Hank plowing in a three-horse hitch before the snow flies this fall. He is not shy about pulling and keeps his mind on his work. I will call that a success!

The speltz have been planted. This horse grain is up and looking good. I have opened the corn field by picking two rows closest to the fence and down the middle. The main harvest will commence as I begin hand picking the dry ears in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me in my absence. Its good to be back sharing our success with all of you. There is much to catch up on, so ride along with me as I bring you a glimpse of our small farming life.