RicelandMeadows


The Old is New
June 20, 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: June 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

cultivatorretrofit

June 20, 2017

The photo above is of an old John Deere cultivator that I recently upgraded. This same unit is being made by a new company using the old pattern. They are a bit pricey. I found this old piece shed kept but rusty. I cleaned it up and had it painted. Last week, we added these new style “S” tines. They get the weeds but are a bit more gentle on the crop being weeded.

This unit is made for two horses to cultivate two rows at a time. I get to ride in the back on a seat riding on a dolly wheel. I am excited to try it out. I am even already thinking of adding a homemade fertilizer side dress applicator to this next year. Projects keep my mind and hands busy!

This cultivator replaces an old McCormick Deering one that I recently sold. The old one had served me for over thirty years. It worked great and was in great shape. My only reason for selling it, was due to the way I had to sort of climb down in to it to use it. As I get older, I find that I am not as spry as I once was! If I should get into trouble while using this piece of equipment, I could almost just fall off the back, out of harm’s way. The old one, I would almost be trapped, especially now when my old knees don’t work as well as they once did.

Taking something old and making it new again, pleases me very much. I have a few pieces of reworked equipment, even a few homemade pieces. It is things such as these, that keep our farm profitable. By the way, I have a total of $425.00 invested, counting the initial purchase, painting and now the retro-fit. Those new ones that I talked about cost over $4000.00  I think that I did good!

cult2

If you look close you can see my seat and even the old toolbar in the background. This was a great project. Many thanks to my friend Ervin R Miller!



Four Stars
June 17, 2017, 7:40 am
Filed under: June 2017 | Tags: , , ,

 

fourstars

In order; Duke, Knight, Hoss and Abby

 

June 17, 2017

What a great morning. My babies came to meet me at the gate this morning. Talk about a four star morning!

I remember as a schoolboy, it was a great thing to get a star on a paper from a teacher. It was even better if that paper was a tough one, or from a teacher who didn’t usually notice me. I would rush home with the graded work and proudly post it on the refrigerator. Now, all these years later, I still like the look of stars. My horses all display them on their foreheads and I never get tired of looking at them.

It’s funny how things stick with us from childhood. My love of horses comes from my boyhood years. My grandpa Rice always had horses and I hope that I always do too. I like everything about a good draft horse. They are truly stars in  my book!



Little Help Please

kmanpets

June 16, 2017

In the photo, two friends enjoy a drink after work. If you look close, you’ll see a little helper. If you look even closer, you’ll see a tiny hand about to pet the face of our draft horse. It doesn’t get much better than that.

We here on the farm are extremely busy with mowing and hoeing, to name two jobs. This week, with the help of family and friends, we made 90% of our first cutting hay. The horse barn is full to the brim with some of the nicest hay that we have ever made. The day was very hot and muggy. Water and sweat flowed freely. When the last rays of sunlight were fading, I was backing the baler into the barn, tired, happy and very thankful.

2017Ted

The horses and I sweated together as we fluffed the hay for drying with our tedder. The best thing about that day was the cool stiff breeze. It was a nice quiet time, listening to the machine as it softly flipped the drying gasses into the air. The harness bells and birdsong complemented the light chatter of the machine’s metal parts. The sweet smell of the curing hay filled my nostrils, as the big animals easily pulled me around the field. Their power and grace never ceases to amaze me.

Hay making on a small farm takes many hands. I am grateful for all of you who helped. The main day was Tuesday, but a lot of work was done in the days leading up to then and even the days that followed. Two small fields remain. Those fields will be rolled into round bales for the cows winter feeding. I will still need the sun, some dry weather and help from the horses, but the hands on portion of small bales for this year, is now over! I could not have done it without all the help. Thank You!



Safe and Secure
May 31, 2017, 10:23 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

gateclose

May 31, 2017

My almost three year old grandson is a stickler for keeping the gates closed. He knows which gates are normally open, as well as, the ones that are usually closed. He does not like to see one that is usually closed, in the open position. It’s okay if we are moving livestock, but a random open gate really bothers this young man.

I guess that I am where my grandson gets his ideas from. I close gates behind me. I insist that others do too. If you go through a gate and it is closed, then the expectation is that you close and latch it behind you. We live on a busy road. There is not a time when livestock are welcomed there. I also don’t like them stomping holes in the lawn or other mischief.

Our oil well tender man is also very careful with our gates. I am grateful to him as well. I guess much of our farm life revolves around opening and closing gates. I have many because we move livestock often, from pasture to pasture. I need things to be easy, especially with my advancing age! Our cattle and even the sow herd knows where to go, all because of our gates. They make life easy and keep all of us safe and secure.

My little next door farmer keeps a watchful eye for open gates and anything amiss. I too am wary of strange things or stuff out of place. I notice things that are different and have done so from an early age. I see part of myself in this little guy…that knowledge also makes me feel safe and secure.



A.I. for Breeding Hogs Does Work

AIsow

May 25, 2017

Our red sow was bred last time using artificial insemination. I was a bit skeptical at first but my son and his friend convinced me that it would work good. We had recently sold our boar and had not replaced him yet. Jake and Brian, told me what to do, where to order the boar “seed” and reassured me saying they would take care of making it happen. That was about 4 months ago. Today, 10 little piglets are nursing on a very good mother.

Now, for the “inside and very funny”…rest of the story.

The UPS driver rolled into our drive with a package. I asked him if it was corn seed or boar seed. He thought a minute and handed me the package with two fingers and said, “I don’t think it’s corn.” I took the package to our basement, in keeping with the directions included with the boar seed. There were also plastic “corkscrews” inside the package. I knew right then, that this was going to be an interesting project.

Our little red sow, is not little by any means. She weighs over five hundred pounds and measures over six feet long. She is over waist high when she stands up. She is tame…and that turned out to be a good thing. The first attempt to see if the sow was ready for a male visitor, lead to some unpleasant grunts and squeals from her. We tried for a whole day, over several hours to no avail.

Brian shows up with a can of “boar spray” ( no crap..it smells like a male pig!) He sprayed a little near the flirtatious sow and shazam… she was in a standing heat and ready to breed. The corkscrew thing that came with the boar seed was inserted and actually screwed into place. The semen came in a soft plastic bottle and was squirted into the corkscrew tube. Deed done, but to make the sow relax, Brian sat on the sow backwards to imitate the weight of the boar.

That was a sight…tall sow, short man…he looked more like a one legged kangaroo hopping around the pen saying kind words and squeezing the bottle! Remember, he was seated backwards, so this too made for a funny thing to watch. I was grateful to Brian then and now… A.I  works, but I believe that I will continue to keep a boar! I’m just not good at hopping one legged and backwards to boot!



Homemade, Handcrafted, Shop Made
May 24, 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

spreaderfert

May 24, 2017

Yesterday, I spread my fertilizer on the corn ground with my rig pictured above. The spreader is affixed to the axle out of an old Jeep and some small I-beam. My uncle did all the welding. My late friend in Pennsylvania figured the gear ratio. He took the distance in one revolution of the tires and told me what size gear was needed to weld on the shaft coming out of the axle rear end “pumpkin”.

My uncle welded the frame and centered the gear on the rear end shaft. A stub shaft made from pillow block bearings and fitted with stub ends from an old PTO shaft, completed the build. The spreader is just a category one, three point hitch model that I already had. Once the whole rig had been assembled, I tried it out. The horses walk about four miles per hour. My old friend Jonathan had it figured so the speed of the walking horses, turned the power take off at 540 rpm…exactly what the old spreader needed to work at its optimum.

My uncle’s welding days are behind him. My old friend has designed his last piece of homemade equipment. I think of the two of them every time I use this spreader. It gets used often during the growing season. We even spread grass seed on a football field for a community project, to help make a place for some young football players. Because of my uncle and my friend, I was able to “pay it forward” using inexpensive shop built equipment.

Many times in my life I have benefited from someone’s hand made or hand crafted object. The very first leather harnesses that I owned were a gift from my two grandfathers. They each contributed parts to get me a set that would work on two small ponies that I owned. One day, I should compile a list of all the folks who have shown me the greatest love by giving of themselves.

I have slept under homemade quilts all of my life. I still have the last one that my mother and great grandmother made for me. It is well worn and faded, but still held together by the love that made it. My wife quilts for me, our family and others. She works steady and almost tirelessly creating designs in cloth. The love she puts into them will be seen for decades.

I try to always meet people on the level and treat them square. I try to lead with a smile and follow with a good deed. One of the gifts I have, is that of managing the written word. I hope that I can impart a series of words that will touch a heart and stir a fond memory. I hope that long after I am gone, I will still be able to make folks remember a loved one, a favorite event or an old object made by hand with help from the heart.



Applying a Boost

fertspread

May 23, 2017

Today, the horses and I applied soil amendments to the corn ground. We got chased off by the weather on the day we planted. It took seven days of sun, wind and drying, to make it so we could finish our job. Everything went very well. I like it when things go that way! Our homemade spreader worked stellar as usual.

Knight, my left hand horse, is still shedding some of his winter hair. It got a little warm before we were done. He sweated some, but so did I. We both will be better off for it. I brushed him down after stripping the harness off. He stood like a statue, enjoying every single stroke. I imagine that he will be all shedded out like the other horses by the end of the week.

We spread commercial fertilizer on this field, following the recommended plan from our soil tests. It has been five years since we added anything other than compost and cover crops to this piece. The corn to be grown here will use much of the applied fertilizer. I plan to sow rye, or perhaps wheat to this field at harvest. The grain , cover crop, will suck up anything left over. It will be transformed by next spring into usable, stable plant food. Corn won’t grow here again for five to seven years. A soil test will be taken to determine if we need any additional nutrients then.

disc2017

The boys taking a break. We disced the plot lightly to incorporate the fertilizer. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so we won’t be back to this field until time to cultivate to eliminate or at least reduce weed pressure.

I grow corn to feed my sows. The growing hogs get some when they get to about 120# live weight. This just helps stave off boredom. The horses get one ear a piece on cold days in winter. I only need about 3 acres of corn to meet all of our need. Growing it in a rotation helps break up the nematode cycle, gets rid of ruts in the field, and just works well in our farm plan. This year I planted an open pollinated variety called “Wapsie Valley” it grows nice for me….. hopefully, more on that later in this season!