RicelandMeadows


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!



Training a Yearling

hankharness1

July 31, 2020

I continue to train our young stock. Hank, our yearling stallion, is learning to wear his harness. I put it on and off. I rattle the chains and fuss with the straps. I make him move from side to side as I walk around. Most importantly, I make him wear the gear for longer and longer periods. We are now up to about an hour of just standing with the harness on in a safe environment.

Today, I introduced him to the bridal and bit. He had to keep it on for about a half hour. I let him learn about it,  by just staying near as he fumbled with it in his mouth.

hankbit

He played with the bit with his tongue and teeth. I lead him around a while, then put him in his stall. I did a few other things as he stood in his stall, wearing his complete harness and bridal. After a little while, he just relaxed stood on three legs and rested. I left him stand and talked to him as I did other work around the barn.

He listened to my voice, but didn’t try to look over his blinders. He just stood like a perfect gentleman and waited for whatever was coming next. After he had stood relaxed for fifteen minutes or so, I brought him out of his stall and unharnessed him.

I started with his bridal first. As I took the bit out of his mouth, he just let it slip right out. I rubbed his ears and talked softly to him. He nuzzled me. I then took his harness and collar off. I made plenty of extra noise and made a few extra, unneeded movements, just to reinforce that all is well.

I brushed him for a while after removing his harness. He is a great student. Next we will begin line driving him on long lines teaching him to go, stop and turn. Very soon he will be going with the team, not to pull a load, just to learn commands and patience.

Hank is an April baby.  He will soon be 16 months old. It is a bit early for training to start, but he will be a stallion, so I want his mind busy with something other than breeding. He must learn to be a workhorse first. He will one day be our centerpiece.  This early learning is crucial for his development. Daily handling and good manners at all times is a must. So far, he is passing with flying colors!

 



Logs to Slumber
July 27, 2020, 7:06 am
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , ,

split1

July 27, 2020

Most folks take logs and saw them into lumber. We split a bunch of logs on a very hot day last Saturday. That equated for me…slumber! We started early in the morning and finished at noon. I showered, ate and took a nap!

split2

The two photos show the total wood for our efforts. I will confess that I employed the use of a wood processor for a trial run. It still required much effort and hand work to keep the machine running. I thought it might be a good alternative to splitting with our woodsplitter one piece at a time.

The machine worked fairly well, but can only make 22″ pieces. That length is a bit short for the maple syrup arch, but I will adjust for this amount. I usually employ 4 or 5 boys and we just make a day of splitting. I believe this method is what we will stick with. Using men and boys makes for a much more fun day.  I actually think manpower, my woodsplitter and some planning, leads to more wood, the correct length split and stacked at the end of the day.

Sweat soaked our clothes and dripped from our heads. The machine droned on, often needing us to adjust a piece of wood and load another log. If the logs would have all been of the same dimension, free of knots and good length, the machine may have out performed good old-fashioned manpower. However, the short, mixed sized, tangled log and pole pile we had, made for a lot of “grunt” work. I discovered that “grunt” work is much more tiring in my 60’s than it was in my 20’s!

The good news is that we have enough wood split to boil all of next year’s maple sap. We even have a very good start on the wood we will need in 2022!  We still have to stack it all. The woodshed is 3/4 full, so even that job is well started. I can say the old adage is true…wood does warm you twice!  It will take me a while to get used to this whole new “slumber” thing, but what a great feeling to have this work behind us.



Extending the Grazing Season

sorghumsudan2020

July 20, 2020

Our pastures would have run short because of the number of livestock we are currently keeping and our lack of rain. I planned ahead, just in case,  and I am glad that I did. I planted this field of sorghum sudan grass to be grazed as needed by the sheep and steers. I put a little rape seed in the mix to add some additional feed too.

I waited until the crop was 18 inches high at its lowest spot. I then turned the flock into it. They are enjoying this fast growing forage. The other pastures are getting a rest and some much needed moisture without any grazing pressure from the sheep. I left a grassy strip all the way around this old corn field. It too provides feed of different types, much to the enjoyment of the sheep.

I have two different pastures for the horses and a couple smaller paddocks that can be utilized when needed. This field of sorghum sudan grass will grow very well and suppress weeds while feeding the sheep. It will be mowed once, grazed again, then plowed for a fall planting of speltz.

I am looking at planting a small field of oats, peas and turnips for autumn grazing for the sheep. I have room for it alongside of the current corn crop. The sheep will be able to graze the corn fodder after the corn harvest. They will get the benefit of the oats and peas, corn fodder and some grass just before the cold weather sets in. The small field of oats and turnips will also give me the opportunity to see how well the new Suffolk horses know how to plow.

There is always stuff to do, but extending the grazing season must remain a top priority. Animals grazing on farm feeds and harvesting the crop themselves, saves time and money for the farmer. It aids in increasing profitability and makes good sense from a sustainability standpoint.



Its a Heat Thing
July 14, 2020, 8:42 am
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

woodsplit20201

July 14, 2020

It’s that time of year when I try to get the woodshed all fill up. I am currently about 3/4 full. We spent part of Saturday splitting some big chunks of wood. I enlisted the help of three of my buddy’s sons. We made great progress.

woodsplit20202

The large trunk sections of wood, some four feet thick, make a lot of firewood. There is plenty of work in them, but they do yield well. We used the skid steer at times to lift the large sections onto the log splitter. It was a good day made easy, thanks to lots of help. It is surely true that many hands make light work.

woodsplit20203

I still have plenty more waiting , but the biggest pieces have been conquered! This smaller stuff, I hope to have worked up by next weekend. This will launch me ahead enough that by fall, I may be a whole year ahead. In other words, 2021 wood will be all stacked and waiting in the woodshed. 2022 wood will be stacked and drying in neat stacks next to the woodshed.

I like cutting and splitting wood. It is a satisfying job. You can see your progress and it makes you feel good to be prepared. My grandma used to tell us the story of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant worked steady and was prepared when “winter” came. I think all of us should follow the example of the ant and be prepared for when our “winter” comes.

The heat that well seasoned, dry wood makes is wonderful. It really makes the sap boil! Getting ahead makes good sense. It also takes the pressure off. I will continue to work on wood even when I get ahead.

We use 11-12 cords a season for the maple syrup making. The last thing I want to happen, would be to have a longer than normal season and run out of wood to boil. Trying to cut wood and gather sap at the same time is rough. The wood made that way, even from dead trees, does not have the BTU’s that good seasoned wood puts out.

Its a heat thing! They say firewood warms you twice, once when you cut it and a second time when you burn it. I know wrestling big chunks through a log splitter in July will dang sure warm you! Seeing the large piles actually warms my heart too… no matter what the weather!



Speltz Crop 2020
July 13, 2020, 7:50 am
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , , , ,

speltunload

July 13, 2020

Some folks call this crop spelt. We have always called it speltz. It is a small grain like oats, that we grow for horse feed and straw. This year’s crop was part of an experiment that I won’t try again. I planted them on plowed sod. The grasses tried to overtake the grain. I salvaged what I could by setting the combine head high as I harvested them.

spelthopper

We only got about half a harvest because the grasses choked some of the grain out. It will still make great horse feed, it’s just that our yield was down.

speltgrass

The green in the combined mix shows just how much of a problem the grass turned out to be.

speltstraw

I will make the best of it. I mowed the grass and straw mix. I will take care to get the fluffy stuff dry for baling. The animals can decide what they want to eat, then lie down on the rest. It will all work out, just not like I had planned.

On another note, we got two inches of much needed rain. The pastures, gardens and corn crop all jumped from the moisture. Things are greening up again…including t he lawn. It looks like our corn crop will be a success. It surpassed the knee high by the fourth of July criteria. Here it is yesterday 7-12-2020.

mecorn2020

 



Splish Splash Our First Bath
July 9, 2020, 12:12 pm
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , ,

breebath

July 9, 2020

These hot, oppressive days take the starch out of me! I got the bright idea to give the horses all baths. I included our baby Bree. This is all part of her training. I continually expose her to all sorts of sounds and experiences.

She took the squirting hose very well. She wasn’t actually thrilled by it, but she wasn’t scared either. I put this in the win column. I think she was more upset about being tied just around the corner from mom, than anything the hose did. By the time we were finished, all fear of the hose, the water and the hissing noise was gone.

The gardens and crop fields are doing very well. They could all use some rain, but they are holding up well. The speltz harvest is just days away. Straw bales will soon be stacked in rows near the barn for winter bedding.

Normally, I would be wrapping up the wood splitting job for our sugarhouse, but this heat made me decide to just pick away at it during the cool of morning. Its working okay, but taking a bit longer. No worries, I’ll get it done :o)



Hot as a Firecracker
July 7, 2020, 3:26 pm
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , ,

july42020moon

July 7, 2020

Hard to believe that this picture was taken at night as the moon rose above the trees! This was taken on the 4th of July. It was a beautiful sight and all the “Fireworks” this old man needed.

KK&corn2020

This photo too, was taken on the 4th. Our garden is doing well. The corn meeting the knee high requirement with ease.

I finished our first cutting hay crop late in the day on Independence Day. Who doesn’t like baling hay on 4th of July?  I had a couple breakdowns, but that is okay. It is just part of farming. Thanks to good friends and good horses, we finished up before supper anyway.

The last couple of days have been very warm for us. The temperature is in the 90’s. I have been taking time in the middle of the day to just relax and ponder my next writing projects. I have passed some of the time watching hummingbirds come sit on the hummingbird swing that I made in my forge shop.

hummingbirdswing

So very neat to see these busy little guys taking a break too. It even makes me feel a little less guilty about sitting around myself!