RicelandMeadows


A Day for Me
October 16, 2018, 11:50 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

knifeblankheat

October 7, 2018

I think it is very good for us as humans, to take some time out to do what pleases us. We need to take care of responsibilities first of course, but some time to relax is a necessity. I am guilty of working too much in the past. Life is short. There is no way to go back and spend time with people, see an event or watch a sunset from a comfortable chair. Those days are behind me and I have regrets for sure. I will try harder to spend more time on the things that really matter…and one of those things is just some time for me.

It is no secret that I have found a great hobby with forging. I like to heat the steel and make it move in my hands. I like to create. I like the solitude and alone time. I read somewhere, that men and steel get second chances. Its true. The metal can change, reshape, bend and harden. Men are the same way…it just takes guidance from a master to make it happen. Choose your master well…don’t choose money, work or pleasing others. Stay true to self and go forward following your heart.

I have been making blades from old files and rasps. The hardened steel has to go through fire before it can be made into a knife. They are very hard as tools. The fire restores flexible steel, reducing the hardened tools to malleable steel once again. They make fine blades with hardness restored in their cutting edges, while leaving the rest of the knife flexible enough to bend when put to a test.

Men too, sometimes need to go through a “fire”, for them to change. I have been through a few low points in my life testing my mettle. I did indeed change a few things. In the end I am stronger than before, but I can bend.

knifeblank

Slowly the knife blade takes shape. In men, maybe it is the loss of a job or failure in some way, that tests them. The birth of a baby or the loss of a loved one, will shape your life differently. It is not the reshaping that matters, it is the way you react to it. Be positive. Find the good in yourself and others. Change if needed, but at a minimum, learn from the new experience.

I stand at my forge and anvil. I hammer and twist steel into shapes. I make mistakes, but I turn out good stuff too. The joy comes not from the pieces of steel I bend and hammer, but from finding a skill that I didn’t even know I possessed! I wouldn’t allow myself to waste time on idle things…what a mistake!

So, the point of this post is to help my readers understand, the importance of rest and relaxation. We as humans need the down time to recharge and reset. The Bible tells us that on the seventh day, God rested. He was God. He didn’t need to rest…He did it because He knew that “we” needed it! This took me too long to understand, but now…I get it.

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Peace, Food and Beauty

shadylea

October 16, 2018

This picture was taken in one of our north pastures this week. The leaves are late displaying their colors this year, but the scene, to me, is still beautiful. The pasture was grazed down in September. This same field was cut for hay in late June. It is a bit of a nuisance to farm around trees, but for my small farm, it is worth it.

The tree in the foreground is a volunteer maple. I saved it a few years ago. Soon it will be big enough to tap for maple syrup. The larger tree on the left is a large hickory tree that was once a corner post for an old farmer. The wire marks are on the tree where the tree grew around the steel that had been stapled to it’s trunk. The saplings to the left of the larger tree are part of a row of brush left as a windbreak.

The livestock who graze this paddock gather under the large tree for the summer shade it provides. They nestle up in the brush row to escape the biting flies in summer and the biting winds in winter. The animals and the trees both benefit. The animals get some protection in exchange for their manure. The manure enriches the trees. The trees are located near the center of the field, so any runoff from the rains or snow, must travel across several yards of sod before it reaches a stream, keep water quality safe.

The “mast” or food crops from the large hickory trees and her daughters, is abundant. Old wild apple tress are also found in the brush row. The fruit and nuts are eaten by wildlife and my pigs. One more good reason for the existence of the brush row. A couple years ago, five gestating sows spent almost three weeks here. Ear corn was offered , but they only nibbled at the corn. The lived on the wild fruit and nuts until the mast had been consumed. Just one more way to show the value of the trees and brush, that I choose to farm around.

On a small farm, any way to add value should be considered. I find much value in having a few wooded paddocks. They provide comfort, food and beauty. If that isn’t adding value…I don’t know what is?!



Valuable Cover Crops
October 4, 2018, 2:45 pm
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

buckwheatcover

October 4, 2018

In the photo above, buckwheat blossoms in our raised bed. The garden crops finished up last month, just after Labor Day. I pulled up all the plants, except for the Swiss chard in the foreground. The buckwheat germinated quickly and grew faster than I thought possible. These early autumn blooms providing a food source for many pollinators.

I plant cover crops often. Their value is amazing. In the case of buckwheat it draws honeybees and the like to the garden, helping to increase fruit set in many plants. I grow cover crops mostly for their weed suppression qualities. It must be noted, that cover crops also “mine” the soil of nutrients. The cover crops give those nutrients up, when they are incorporated back into the soil. The following crop gets the benefit of plant ready “food” right in their root-zone.

I could have left the raised bed garden fallow, void of any plants. Weeds would have soon taken over the bed. I have enjoyed a month of weed free gardening as the buckwheat grew. Now, I will enjoy these blossoms for a few more days. Soon, I will cut the buckwheat off and leave it to wilt and dry up some. Then I will incorporate the dead plants while preparing a seedbed for a winter cover crop of rye. The rye will suppress weeds for the few remaining weeks of the growing season. The rye then protects the soil from wind erosion over winter, while mining more nutrients from the soil below.

In spring, the cycle will start over at the time of planting next year’s garden. These are but two cover crops that we use, but their value is awesome. They save me work and provide beauty to be seen. The blossoming buckwheat against the blue sky, highlighted by the autumn foliage, is as pretty as, the green blanket of rye on a cold winter day.



When the Autumn Winds Blow
October 2, 2018, 8:44 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

potatoes2018

October 2, 2018

Yesterday, my wife and I dug our potatoes. This is the last garden harvest of this season. The ground was damp, so the potatoes are a bit muddy. I will lay them out on the floor of the shop to dry some before storing them in their crates. The drying cures the spuds, while allowing the mud to dry and fall off. Much better to have the dry dirt on the shop floor, rather than the basement.

These will keep in our root cellar until next March. Plenty for the two of us. In past years when the kids were all home, potato harvest was a much bigger deal! Funny how garden size and portion size shrinks as we age.

As we dug the last shovel out of the round, we paused to say….ahh, my aching back!  We laughed with each other as we finished the job. It was a good feeling to make the harvest complete, just before forecast rain. I even managed to get the whole garden rototilled and seeded to a cover crop of rye. The garden now put to bed for winter, I can focus on the remaining jobs to be done before the snow blankets us all.

Yesterday too, I managed to get all of the summer compost spread on ground that will be plowed for next year’s corn. I pushed hard as the skies threatened to rain, but alas, no rain came until the overnight. The winds of autumn are starting to blow. Rains sprinkle us often, as the leaves start to turn color. When it comes to the fable of the “Ant and the Grasshopper”, be the Ant.



Goodbye Third Quarter
September 30, 2018, 10:05 am
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , ,

postdrill

September 30, 2018

Today, is the last day of September 2018. Three-quarters of the year gone already. Time marches on! I looked back over the month and realize that while I was waiting to make the last of this year’s hay or decent weather to plant speltz, a whole month flew by. I didn’t get anymore hay made. I was unable to get speltz planted. Both jobs were abandoned due to the rainy month.

Alas, all is not lost. I have managed to get a new wagon bed built, a few forge projects completed including the post drill above. I have gotten the sugarhouse woodshed almost full of seasoned split wood. I am working towards putting the summer hay tools away and gearing up for fall plowing.

The post drill had been in an old building for a very long time. It was seized up and covered in rust. I kept working at it slowly for a few months. It now works perfectly and is mounted back on my forge wall. I see it as a tribute to the men and machines who made this country great.

Trailerload2018

I think this load of wood will almost complete the job of filling the woodshed. This load of cherry and red oak will be split by the end of next week. These trees were felled by a late winter storm. I am almost done with the cleanup job. Now, as October closes in, I am setting my sights on the corn harvest and fall plowing. So, I say goodbye to the third quarter of 2018.



Steering and Brakes

powercarttongue2

September 23, 2018

A week ago, I broke the old wooden tongue on my powercart. I use this cart to power equipment, while being pulled by my horses. When the tongue snapped, I was only backing it into position. I was in no danger. I unhooked the horses and quit for that day. Upon inspection of my set-up, I realized that I could have been in a bad accident, had the tongue broke while I was working the horses.

I completely revamped my tongue and hitch point. I also looked at what was available to us draft horse guys and changed the way I switch from a two horse hitch to a three horse hitch. The “Z” laying on the ground gets inserted where the tongue is currently. The tongue then gets moved to the “Z” piece. The “Z” is the right spacing to move the horses over and align with a three horse evener.

I also chose to use steel instead of wood for the tongue. There are many times when I am pulling very heavy loads with the power cart, like when picking corn with a wagon behind the picker. I sure don’t want the tongue to break causing me to lose both steering and brakes. The tongue does both jobs on a wagon or in this case powercart. You see, knowing where you are going and knowing you can stop is important in driving and in life! I feel much better now.

powercarttongue1

Hopefully, this is a better view. The lower hitch pin in the picture is where the eveners hook to the cart.

Here is a picture with the powercart hooked to a brush hog, for folks who have not seen one of these carts power tractor equipment. The horses supply the traction power. The powercart supplies the PTO, three-point hitch and hydraulics when needed.

powercartbrushhog



Productive Rainy Days
September 12, 2018, 9:43 am
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

raspfirstset

September 12, 2018

After oppressive heat and humidity, rain ushered in some cooler weather. The rains fell for three days here giving us 2.75 inches of moisture. I used the wet days to complete a couple of projects. The knife and hatchet set, forged from a farrier’s rasp was a fun project and is now complete. I learned a lot during the process. I will continue to put this new skill/hobby to work for me. I must say I really enjoy it.

newrack

We also completed putting a new wagon rack on my horse drawn wagon. This is the second rack on this same running gear. The last rack was 9 years old. It rotted out even though it had been painted. I now have room to keep this one inside during winter weather. It should last a good long time. The boards were wet as we built from rough cut hemlock lumber. Once it dries out, I will seal it from the elements. It will be all ready to gather firewood and pick our field corn.

The cooler weather also makes me get excited about fall plowing. The horses and I can do more in the cool comfortable days of autumn. This summer’s heat was one for the record books. It did make for a great corn crop. Timely rains and hot weather kept the pastures lush and green. Hay making was a challenge as we would get “pop-up” showers that didn’t do much more than wash the drying hay. It makes the hay dusty, okay for cows, but not for horses. Oh well, we can’t control the weather, but we can work with it…like doing something productive on a rainy day!