RicelandMeadows


Autumn Views
October 19, 2020, 10:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
Hank getting used to his harness

October 19, 2020

October is fading fast. We keep working through the jobs at hand, but every now and then we pause to look at the beauty around us. The corn harvest is almost complete. The leaves are in peak color. The young horses continue to grow and learn. It is good to enjoy the sights along the way.

The emerging speltz looks pretty good.

Our recent rain is helping the landscape too. The pastures have greened up. The speltz crop is growing well and I think even the trees appreciate the moisture.

Beautiful

As we wrap up the farm work leading into winter, it is with a blessed spirit that I say thank you! We have had an awesome year for crops and animals. The work is slowing down and I see some rest and relaxation in our future.

I will work with the young stallion, “Hank” and get him started in harness. I plan some time in the forge shop to make a few items and of course some home butchering is in the future, but for now, I will take some time to just enjoy the view!



Corn Harvest 2020
Abby, Amee and me

October 10, 2020

The corn harvest is going very well so far this fall. The ground is dry instead of our usual mud at harvest time. The Suffolk horses are doing a great job and the corn is husking fairly easy.

I added a nose guard on Amee. Its a wire basket that keeps her from eating corn the whole time we are working. I wouldn’t mind if she grabs a leaf or stalk once in a while, but she is a hog! The worst thing is, she gets her head into the next row, then when I ask them to move up, she heads down the wrong row! This did not please me at all!

The wire basket cured her bad behavior. She now walks and stops just as expected with no unexpected movement of the wagon as I walk alongside. They have settled in and are doing great.

We pick 8 to 12 rows a day. My cousin has been helping me do it. We share laughs and chuckles along the way. We also enjoy finding the different colored or very large ears. It has been a wonderful season so far!

Time for a late lunch



Open Pollinated Corn Harvest
A few random ears

October 7, 2020

I have begun picking our 2020 ear corn crop. I am picking an open pollinated variety called “Dublin” from Green Haven seed company in New York.

I have planted open pollinated corn many times in the past, but I have finally found one that is very well suited to our micro-climate here in the snowbelt of lake Erie.

Some of it is quite tall. The ears are large. A few require me to reach up to pick! It is fun husking these whoppers. The horses walk beside the rows as I pick and toss the big ears into the wagon. The ground is still dry, even with the recent rains. So far, this has been a wonderful harvest.

A few ears selected for nest year’s seed

I am saving some nice ears for next year’s seed. It is fun to choose. The small ears are nine inches long. Many ears are a foot long and every now and then we get a Whopper that measures fourteen inches and more!

I have a couple weeks to go before I will be finished, but this job, so far, has been nothing but fun.

Hank, our young stallion just turned 17 months old. He is growing well and will soon join the mares as we pick corn. Currently, he waits in the barn with our filly Bree, but his training is progressing and it’s almost time to accompany our main team. He won’t have to work. He will just walk along, starting , stopping and standing, as I pick. It teaches patience.

Hank October 3, 2020



30 Days Hath September
September 30, 2020, 12:55 pm
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , ,
September sunset

September 30, 2020

What a crazy, full month it has been! Plenty of work got done and as always plenty remains, as we wrap things up before the winter snow flies. Our baby horse has now been weaned. She had a few unhappy days, but now has adjusted to the absence of milk. Her appetite has always been good, so switching to a diet without mom’s milk, still has her in good flesh

We got our speltz crop all planted. Soil prep and planting went well, but the ground was very dry. Last night we got 3/4 inch of needed rain. The pastures and the newly planted speltz all benefited from the moisture. Now, it is time to focus on picking our ear corn for the animals.

I attended a draft horse, mule and pony fun day in southern Ohio last week. The crowd and participants were condensed due to Covid, but it was still a beautiful time to be outside and around horses. This little team pulled a small wagon, giving children rides. They made me smile.

September closes today, as we look towards the corn harvest and the butchering days of fall. A nip is in the air on this cloudy afternoon. The corn field has been opened up so as to make turning the team and wagon much easier. The main harvest will happen in these next few weeks of October. The horses and I are ready. The corn just needs to dry down a little more so it will “keep” in our crib without spoiling. So, goodbye September, thank you for the nice weather, the final garden harvest and the memories made with family.



Working in the Tree Tops
September 10, 2020, 10:05 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , ,
One of three large piles.

September 10, 2020

Many people think that working in the tree tops requires a person to be up in the air, at the top of a tree. I am working in the tree tops that are laying on the ground from my recent tree harvest. I am salvaging firewood to be used to boil maple sap, to make maple syrup.

I am cutting everything three inches or larger, that didn’t make lumber logs and hauling them out to be cut to length and split. The brush and smaller limbs are being left for homes for small woodland creatures and to rot to enrich the forest floor.

Our harvest consisted of about 60 mature trees. The trees were removed to allow the growth of many smaller trees, predominantly maple, both hard and soft varieties. The trees removed, also allow for mature maples to have more open canopy for crown growth. It also lets in light and air to the forest floor. I can direct some water puddles towards the nearby stream, allowing the water to runoff through the existing leaf litter. This drys the forest, but assures that water quality is improved by the filtering effects of the leaf litter.

Bree is learning lessons as we work towards her weaning. She is not always happy with me. Here she learns patience. I tied her to a fence post far from mom. She did not like it, but soon realized that she would have to wait on me. This was a short lesson of about 35 minutes. It was good for her. She can be strong willed, but yields fairly quickly. Her training continues.

The garden harvest continues. Our animal corn harvest is starting, as I build shocks. Hand picking will begin soon. I picked a few random ears last night. I am happy with what I see so far.

The crop should fill my crib.

A busy time is coming, but we look forward to the dash to winter!



Woodshed 2020
September 2, 2020, 9:17 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Ateamwood2020

September 2, 2020

On the last day of August, We finished filling the woodshed. The wood will now have many months to dry and cure. The fire will burn hot under the boiling maple sap next spring.

woodshed2020

This is a great job to have behind us. Corn harvest will start soon, along with getting the soil ready for our fall planted crop of speltz. I will also continue to work on firewood during the autumn season. I hope to be a year ahead by late winter.

I have started to shock corn. These small shocks I made in the garden from our sweet corn. I will open my animal corn field in the coming days, by making shocks down the center. The shocks make good feed and protect the corn just like a dry crib. The best thing is, shocking the corn divides my field into two small rectangles instead of one big square. It makes harvesting more efficient. I don’t spend a lot of time driving around the ends of the field this way.

shock2020

We hope to wrap up the tomato season in the next two weeks. The potatoes are wonderful this year too. We have been enjoying all of our garden produce. It has been a good year for gardens and gardeners.

Late summer jobs and early fall work is commencing nicely. The horses are working well. The young stock is growing on the good pastures. Our stallion is learning manners and how to be a work horse. Our young filly is about to be weaned from her momma. Hank, our young stallion, will accompany our mares as we harvest the corn crop. He will mostly just walk along learning to behave and work. I like him very much. Here he is looking over the fence at us last Sunday morning.

hanklisa



Time to Harvest

ralphtulip2020

August 23, 2020

Recently, I was involved in a tree harvest in a woodlot that I had thinned and improved over ten years ago. The light and space created by my thinning and removing undesirable trees, allowed many trees to grow like mad. This Tulip Poplar that I am standing in front of, was only 18 to 20 inches in diameter ten years ago. It is a beautiful timber tree and has reached its time for cutting.

ralphtulip20202

It is a very sound and healthy tree. One of the main reasons for harvesting this tree was due to a recent clear cutting on the next door neighbor’s property. The absence of trees next door, caused these beauties to start blowing over. The selection method we used this time, was to take down the tallest, most vulnerable trees that were prone to blow over.

ralphtulip20203

This was a very tall tree. In her understory were several nice hard maple saplings. The next harvest in this woodlot will be that of mostly hard maple. In the meantime, the land owner can tap those trees for maple syrup. This sort of planning, preparing and good stewardship, will make a pay day several times before the next trees need harvested.

As sad as it was to see these giants come down, the promise of sweet things to come made it worth it. Horses pulled the logs out of the woods. Directional felling protected the growing young trees and good environmental stewardship protected the streams and wetlands found in the woodlot.

I am pleased to have been part of this harvest, but even more delighted to see my earlier efforts have such a positive effect on this forest. Now, I will guide the landowner in matters of maple syrup. What a wonderful life!



Man, How They Grow!
August 11, 2020, 10:54 am
Filed under: August 2020 | Tags: ,

bree4month

August 11, 2020

Summer continues to fly by. Work here continues, but the pressure is off. We are making great progress in all areas. The young horses are learning and growing very well. In the photo above, Bree is just short of four months old. She is a very smart animal.

hank15month

Hank, our young stallion, is also growing well. Here at fifteen months old, he is fifteen hands tall (five feet at his withers). He too is learning fast and continues to be a gentleman, with very little correction needed. This breed continues to amaze me and to make me like them even more.

a&abeautifulmower

Our team of mares is powering the farm very well. Heavy jobs are coming like fall plowing , some logging and the spreading of our compost. I am sure they will handle it well. They have done every farm job that I have asked them to do with ease. They are fun to work, making my farm jobs nothing but fun.



Garden Rewards
August 4, 2020, 1:44 pm
Filed under: August 2020 | Tags: , , , , ,

mekcorn2020

August 4, 2020

We have gotten some much needed rain. The crops are showing their gratitude! The pastures are green and growing. The corn is amazing…or perhaps “a-maize-ing”  :o)

The hay fields are growing steadily, making growth for yet another cutting. The gardens too are growing great and vegetables are ripening quickly.

squash2020

These summer squashes made it into the freezer today. I like them in vegetable soup, especially on a cold winter day. The taste of summer lasts all year that way.

Today marks the usual start of our county fair. Wet weather has been a long standing addition to the fair activities. This year, much of the fair has been cancelled due to Covid-19. I guess someone forgot to tell the weatherman. I won’t complain, we needed this recent rain.

From the look of my picture, I think it is time for me to eat more squash and less potatoes! All garden rewards should not go to waste…in my case, should not go to “waist”!



Training and Working

Bree1haircut

August 1, 2020

Bree, our young filly got her first haircut with the noisy clippers. She is just over 3 months old. She was not impressed by the noise, but in just a couple of minutes, she let me trim her bridle path, without even flinching. I ran the clippers all over her body so she could hear the noise and feel the vibration. I talked to her the whole time in a calm voice. She took it all in stride, knowing that no harm was in store.

mheath1

Last week I spent time in a woods that I had worked in ten years ago. I did a timber stand improvement project using a worst first, crop tree release approach. This current harvest is a selective cut. We are removing large trees crowding the under story of growing trees, mostly hard maples. These bigger trees are mature and now prone to blowing over due to the next door neighbor clear cutting his forest.

mheath2

We are using logging carts and even a winch cart in this open woodlot. The winch cart handles heavy, long logs with ease.

mheath3

The horses enjoyed the cooler temperatures, worked steady and made it look easy!

I was very pleased to see the progression of the forest. This harvest is a big one, but in 15 years this woodlot will be ready to harvest again. Sustainable, restorative logging is the way to go. This woodlot owner also has the potential to become an Ohio maple syrup producer. He will have an outstanding sugarbush in 2 to 3 years. Just the right time frame to tap a few trees and work out the growing pains of the industry. In no time this woodlot will contain 500 plus maple taps with more coming into production every year.

If it turns out that maple syrup isn’t his, “thing”, then the hard maple lumber harvest in his future is promising too. All of the standing trees will have some clear, very desirable furniture grade lumber in them. In the meantime, he can enjoy nature, birdsong and the peace found in a woodland holding. I know I sure do!