RicelandMeadows


Fruits of Our Labor
June 15, 2019, 7:21 am
Filed under: June 2019 | Tags: , , ,

strawberry2019

June 15, 2019

This was our first picking of strawberries for 2019…well not counting a few early ripe ones, eaten while weeding 😮  The wet weather has made it possible to have berries such as these, without any added irrigation. The raised bed also kept the plants from becoming waterlogged, with muddy fruit. I would say that the raised beds were perfect this year…not to mention no bending over for weeding or picking!

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Here is a picture of our raised beds. We have two , side by side, one we keep a kitchen garden in, the other is planted with strawberries. We switch beds every three years. The switching allows us to fill the beds with soil and compost and amend with any nutrients needed, like lime.

The bed above is boasting a late summer growth cover crop of buckwheat. The buckwheat suppresses weeds and attracts all sorts of “good” bees. These beds produce lots of vegetables for us. In fact, one day we probably won’t need the main garden at all. Until then, we will garden in a traditional garden and tend to these wonderful raised beds and enjoy the fruits of our labor.



Whew, That Was Close!
June 13, 2019, 11:26 am
Filed under: June 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

hayrake2019

June 13, 2019

Whew, that was close! The field above was the first dry hay of this year. We mowed last week. It was almost ready when the rain rinsed it off. I had left the grass laying flat, fearing the coming rain. The day after the rain hit, the horses and I went to work.

We fluffed the hay Tuesday morning just after the dew had dried off. The hay was mostly cured, but the bottom layer was still green and fresh cut looking. The hay was allowed to dry for several hours. We then raked the hay, flipping that bottom layer to the top. The sun and wind dried it throughout the rest of that day.

Wednesday morning, we were back at again. We fluffed the hay again with our tedder, a piece of equipment designed to pick the hay up and fluff the windrows. We stopped for lunch when we finished the fluffing job. The horses and I ate lunch, drank water, then headed out to the field again.

We raked the hay a second time, turning the windrows over yet again. The hay was light and airy. The cured, fresh hay smelled wonderful. We finished raking about two pm. The horses were unharnessed and left in the cool barn while the hay dried a bit more.

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I started round baling the hay at 4 pm. The hay had dried well and the baling was complete by 6:30 pm. This is the first dry hay of the season. This year has been a challenge for us farmers as we work around the wet weather. This hay will be fed to the cows. Its quality didn’t suffer much from the rain, but I fear it might be a little dusty for the horses. The horses get the very best hay that I can produce.

It was well after dark as I moved the last bale off the hay field. I was pleased with our efforts over the last few days. The horses worked very well and once again, proved superior over a tractor, as I worked on the drying hay. Their feet walked alongside the windrows as the rake flipped and fluffed the hay. No tractor tires to push the hay down into the soggy ground or compact the soil.

We have much more hay to cut, cure and store, but we are off and running. The equipment and horses have been tested and found to all be sound. The weather, we can’t control, so I will just wait patiently and be ready to go again at the next opportunity.

As I crawled into bed last night after a warm shower, the rain could be heard falling on the roof. My hay was baled. The bales were off the field. The equipment was parked back in the barns again. I smiled sweetly as I drifted off to sleep….

 



Signs of Summer
June 8, 2019, 10:07 am
Filed under: June 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

foggysunrise

June 8, 2019

The sun came up through the fog this day. It was a warm morning, as the sun started to peek through. The hay stands ready for mowing, but the weather is a bit unstable. I struggled with the decision to cut the standing grass or wait for dryer days. The weathermen have lost their ability to forecast the weather. I think they are trying to predict for too large an area, but whatever it is, for us, they don’t come close very often.

I decided, based on wisdom from an old farmer friend who once told me, ” if you don’t cut it, it will never dry”, to just go for it. I mowed the first field of about 3 acres. It’s looking like the Lord may wash it once before I get it cured and rolled up, but it will still make feed for the cows. In another bit of country folklore the adage of, “it’s better than snowballs” will play in here. The hay may lose a little quality, but it will make feed.

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The horses and new mower did a good job. The mower worked like a sewing machine. It ran quiet. Its sharp blades slicing through the standing grass making a swishing sound. The horseflies started to bite about the time we were finishing up. I even was able to relearn the seasonal job of running the mower while driving the horses. Once they settled in to a nice gait, the job went very smoothly.

The cutter bar on my #9 regular gear mower, measures six feet in length. A round of the field pares it down by twelve feet. It didn’t take long to make short work of this field. A sign of summer is surely the sight of freshly mowed hay. The smell that comes from the lush, curing hay, is sweet and pleasing. Summer is about the bust upon the scene. All the work of harvesting hay, cultivating corn and mowing pastures will soon be in full swing. I will try to be ready, trusting in my own judgement, and predicting weather like a weathermen…after all I only have to be right part of the time!



Sun and Rain
June 6, 2019, 12:02 pm
Filed under: June 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

RFDplow11

June 6, 2019

The rains held off just long enough for me to finish plowing this sweet corn and pumpkin patch. I even got this whole area planted before the skies opened up yet again. Some farmers are not as lucky as I have been. Sure, we were delayed, but we are now finished and the corn is up!

I did 80% of this work with my horses. I am blessed, not bragging. I kept at it when the weather allowed. The use of horses gives me a few days that tractor guys can’t even  move. It makes up for my lack of speed and need to rest the horses. I have completed my planting, until later in the year when we plant the spelt crop.

We now move on to the job of making dry hay. The sun will come out. I just need to be patient. I am considering making some baleage and having those bales wrapped in airtight plastic. That makes very good cow feed and can be done in wet weather. I just need to stay focused.

The sun and rain means much to all of us, but farmers are at the mercy of the weather. We must just have faith and wait upon the Lord….there are times when our human nature makes waiting almost impossible. My heart goes out to many of our area farmers who are way behind. Unplanted acres are everywhere this year. Farm incomes already stretched, will take another hit. Keep our farmers in prayer. Help them find a way to … “Slow down, get smaller, mix it up and care”. That is my recipe for success…But I admit, it is not for everybody.



Pumpkin Patch Plowing 2019
June 1, 2019, 6:40 pm
Filed under: June 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

pumppatchplow1

June 1, 2019

My younger sister, age 55, passed away yesterday. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer just two weeks ago. We are all in a state of disbelief. I choose to remember her just as the last time I saw her, healthy and full of life. I took a day to grieve. I decided that she would want me doing what makes me happy, so, I continue to work on plowing for our sweet corn and pumpkin patch.

The autumn that my mother passed away, she was fretting over me not getting our spelt crop in the ground. She was very happy the day that I told her that the spelt had indeed been planted. My sisters both remind just how important that job is to complete every fall, taking over where mom left off. It seemed only fitting, to honor my sister in sort of the same way. As the seasons on a farm come and go, so do the seasons of our lives.

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We till and plant. New life is born. We grow and nurture. The sun and rain refresh us as we grow. We reach harvest and bear fruit. Then we, like the crop are cut down. Our seed continues the process while we rest. The cycle of life is a cold hard fact, filled with warm moments that touch our soul. The cycle is an endless, wonderful, magical thing!

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As I plow, I zig and zag a little bit. In life we also waver, but eventually find our way. My sister and I share many memories. I will always remember her smile and laughter. I will think of her now, when I am plowing, for the rest of my life. My sister liked things neat and tidy. I try to plow straight, when the soil is just right. I know she would approve.

Gone too soon, but not forgotten. Rest in peace, in the arms of God, dear sister.



2019 Corn Crop Has Been Planted!

cornplanting12019

May 28, 2019

After a very wet spring and many delays due to soggy conditions, our corn crop has been planted! The horses and I finished plowing the second “land” yesterday. This is a three acre field. If it gives us a normal yield, we will have plenty of corn for the animals.

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I am happy with my plowing job. The horses worked beautifully. The soil turned over very nicely yesterday. This is the last strip in this section. In the distance, you can see my cousin discing with the tractor. Having his help made it possible to finish the field prep and get the corn planted by suppertime.

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As the strip gets smaller, the horses have to walk a little differently. Here, Hoss walks in the main furrow. Abby walks on the strip of green. Knight walks in the furrow made from our last pass coming from the opposite direction. We plow this strip until all of the green has been flipped over. The last pass makes a small ditch that helps to drain water from the field. This ditch is called a dead furrow.

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A view of my mixed powered farm. The horses do much of the work, but a tractor can be utilized when needed. Yesterday, we pushed hard to beat the coming rains. As we all ate supper last night, (horses included) we took great pleasure in knowing that the corn field and our main garden were both planted before the weather turns wet again.

It was a crazy past few days. The horses and I plowed almost every day for a few hours. They are improving in condition after having so many days off due to weather. We got the rest of the tillage equipment ready, knowing that the corn would have to be planted soon. We even captured a wild swarm of honeybees that had stop to rest on a tree in the chicken park. They are all snug and happy in their new hive too. So, as the month of May is coming to a close, we have much to be thankful for and thankful, we are!

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A quick look at the dead furrow. Once disced, this makes a smooth swale for the water to flow out of the field.



Working At It
May 20, 2019, 9:32 am
Filed under: May 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

KAHplowing22019

May 20, 2019

Here we go again! The rains are still trying to keep us out of the fields, but a breezy day and warm sunshine dries things out fast. We have two wet places that would stop a tractor, but the horses plow right through.

Many farmers are getting very worried as planting days are held off by the weather. Much of our areas field work has not even been started. We are playing catch up ourselves. The horses, are soft from all those days off due to the rain, so I have to go slowly with plenty of breaks. I’m fine with that. We are making progress and that is what counts.

I am pleased with our efforts so far. The horses are working good together. This much horsepower makes everyone’s job easier. It looks like we will be able to plow for at least the next two days, but who knows? We will just take it in stride and work steady. Slow is steady, steady is fast.

The hay fields are growing quickly. Looks like as soon as the corn gets planted, we will be shifting gears and begin the work of making hay. Farm life is full of ups and downs, but a man is never bored!

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The new haymower…..soon it will get its debut.