RicelandMeadows


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!



Dump Wagon Complete
February 16, 2019, 5:45 pm
Filed under: February 2019 | Tags: , ,

KMHybrid4

February 16, 2019

The dump wagon project has been completed. This little work saver will be pulled with my horses behind a forecart. The gooseneck design will allow me to turn very sharp, almost in its own footprint.

The manual lift to raise and lower the bed, is easy to operate. It goes up very quickly and comes down smooth. The bed measures six feet by eight feet, with one foot sides. I am excited to use it on firewood and all sorts of hauling jobs around the farm.

Hats off to E Miller Repair in Burton Ohio for the fabrication and build. I will be doing a detailed article for Rural Heritage magazine in an upcoming issue.



Little Wagon Project
February 5, 2019, 4:28 pm
Filed under: February 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

KMHybrid3

February 5, 2019

I am working on a project. I am replacing my big old style hay wagon, with a small more versatile one. This one will be pulled by horses with one of my forecarts. It is small enough to be able to get into small areas, including using my sap roads in the woods. I will use it not only for hay, but for all sorts of things including firewood.

The little wagon will also be a dump wagon. A cylinder will be activated by a hand pump.  I can move dirt, gravel compost and a host of other things. Then once I get to the place I want them, I just raise the bed and dump the material. This will save me time and effort.

My old hay wagon is very high off the ground, getting on and off, is a problem. A step will make it possible to simply climb up on this one with ease. It will be pulled by cart and horses, so I will have a seat. The dump handle will be in easy reach from the seat. Stake pockets will allow for any arrangement of sides.

I am even working out a design for the tailgate to have a small door like on a semi trailer. The little door will come in handy when I am hauling ear corn or grain. I can back up to the elevator and control the load that I am dumping. This is a fun project, nearing completion. I am very excited. Finished pictures coming soon.

KMHybrid1



February Warm Up
February 2, 2019, 4:25 pm
Filed under: February 2019 | Tags: , , ,

woodshedselfie2019

February 2, 2019

The groundhog didn’t see his shadow, so he predicts an early spring. It is warming up after some very cold days. One of the days last week our high was -4 degrees F. Today, here at the farm the sun is shining bright and the temperature is on the rise. Soon we will be tapping maple trees for syrup. Days like this make me very anxious.

Our woodshed is full and we are ready for the season to start. Experience has taught me that starting too early, using the old time methods we use, makes for a big headache. Our buckets and bags freeze quickly when the trees just drip a little. The containers are soon a frozen block of ice…then a big sap run comes along and we lose all that sap. Patience is our best friend. The guys with tubing can get away with starting a little early, but I’m sure that ice can be a big problem for them too.

Another thing that happens when you tap early, is that the tap holes dry out. You see the tap hole is a small wound in the tree. The tree sends sap to heal itself. The spile keeps the hole open, but mother nature is a wonderful thing and will heal the tree in spite of the spile. The hole dries out, no sap runs. So, as you race against time and weather, you battle mother nature too.

I will continue to prepare and try to relax. Once the time is right, we will pounce. It is a big job, but to me, worth the sweet rewards. The aroma of boiling maple sap will soon fill the air. The golden maple syrup will fill our jugs and the memories from days gone by will fill my mind and heart.