RicelandMeadows


Harvest Time

bindershock

July 27, 2017

I got to take a ride in my truck yesterday. My buddy drove, as I am still not allowed. I got to see a lot from the passenger seat. We drove through northeast Ohio and wound up at my Amish buddy’s house. They are getting the oats all ready to harvest. The binder in the photo has been cleaned and is ready to be stored for the year. Looking through the binder, you can see the neat rows of oat shocks, drying in the sun.

My friend told me that he had just finished binding the oats when a gang of boys and young men showed up. The group consisted of his sons and sons-in-law, a few nephews and a few of their friends. The boys made short work of shocking the grain. They went around the field picking up bundles and building the little shocks in an almost competition style. In a little over two hours, the whole field was done.

I have built shocks before. It is a fun job when you have enough help. Each shock contains 7 bundles. If four men are available, it works perfect. The first three guys pick up a bundle in each hand. The first guy sets his bundles on the ground, oat heads up in teepee fashion. The second guy puts his bundles right in line with the first two bundles. The third guy does the same thing. So now you have two parallel rows of three bundles leaning against each other. The fourth guy takes one bundle, flares out both ends of the bundle and pulls it against his belly making a cap. This cap sits on top of the teepee shedding water and allowing the wind to dry the ripening shock.

The above process is continued until all the bundles have been picked up. The more people you have to help, the quicker the job goes. It is actually fun. Cold drinks or ice cream shared by all adds a nice finishing touch to the job of shocking. Soon the shocks will be loaded onto wagons and taken to the threshing machine. The grain is separated from the straw. This is a big job requiring many hands, but it is a busy, dirty, hot, sweaty wonderful job!

Belgianspeltz



Dig a Little Deeper

ronswell

July 21, 2017

This photo is looking down into a water well that my buddy just dug. Now, I want you to think about this; Who hand digs a well in this day and age?  My buddy, that’s who!

I witched the water last year. He asked me to dowse it for him last November. I have done this many times in the past. Finding the right spot took me only just a little while. He marked the spot with a flag and everything paused for winter.

Well, not exactly paused. My buddy went to work making the cement ring sections in his garage. He spent a great deal of time making each one exact. He measured the sand, gravel, concrete and water in five gallon buckets. He painstakingly mixed and poured the cement into forms. He made two rings every other day until he had enough.

He started digging about six weeks ago…with a shovel and a spud bar. A bucket on a pulley is how the dirt was excavated from the hole. As he dug down, he added a ring. One after the other, making sure each one was plumb as he went. After a while, he would add the steel ladder rungs into the rings, in places that were formed during the cement mixing phase. This project amazes me and I have watched from start to finish.

As he went deeper, he added light on a ground fault breaker. He also moved fresh air into and out of the space with an air mover. He tried to dig for half a day each day. He stopped to plant the garden, build some raised bed boxes and a few daily chores. He even gave me a day to mow hay for me as I recover from my knee replacement.

Last night he called me to say that as he was finishing up for the day, the clay in the bottom of the hole, “cracked”. He said then it cracked a little larger and started hissing. He stepped up onto the ladder rungs and water started spraying into the well. As of this morning, there was six feet of water in his newly hand dug well.

As I do what my therapist says to keep my new knee working, sometimes I hit a rough spot. The pain is temporary so I just dig a little deeper and keep pushing myself. I will say though that there is no way I can see myself hand digging a well! In case you are wondering, the depth of the well is just a few inches shy of thirty feet deep!



Finding Your Way
July 17, 2017, 10:45 am
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

pinewoods

July 17, 2017

In this photo above, the skid trail from our pine forest is evident. I got this all mowed and ready to harvest a few logs for an addition on our machinery shed. The addition will allow me to store the last two pieces of equipment that I am forced to leave outside all winter. The structure will also make a place to store a quantity of round bales, protected from the elements.

The pine trees were to supply the rafter material, as well as a few boards to close off the north end of the building. The overhang structure, will be open to the east, but closed off from the brutal north winds of winter. It is amazing how much protection a roof gives your equipment. The fact that I can also store some hay there, means I will have less waste from the effects of the weather on bales stored outside.

I got this area of the woods ready for the lumber harvest, just a few days before I got the news that we would be replacing my knee. This project is on hold, until I get healed, but it is still on my “to-do” list. I drew my diagram and figured out the lumber list last winter for this project. A list of projects, helps me to stay on task and find my way. The filtered light on the skid road in the photo, helps me to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel as I pause to rebuild and heal.

In life, especially on a farm, it is a good idea to have a plan. It gives direction for your energy. It helps to keep your finances on track. It gives opportunity for discussions and research. There are times when the plan serves to show you that you are going in the wrong direction. Defining your goals and working towards them, is great for your mental health. The feeling of accomplishment fills the mind and refreshes your soul.

The logging job is on hold for now, but the speltz crop has been harvested. The last of my first cutting hay has been mowed and is curing in the sun. The speltz straw too, has been mowed and waits for the baler. These projects were all completed with the help of friends. I watched from the porch as my buddies, did my summer work. It is humbling for me as people help me do what I can’t. It will all work out. It won’t be long and I can reciprocate. A good plan, a bunch of good friends….let me tell you, you can’t help but find your way!

 



Tabletop Farming
July 15, 2017, 9:41 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

tabletopfarm

July 15, 2017

My farming these days amounts to playing on a table with my grandson. He is a meticulous farmer! The tractors get parked by the barn. The gate must be closed unless you are driving the tractor through it. Hay bales get stacked in the same direction and the animals can be in the same pasture, but the cows are with the cows and the sheep with the sheep. I watch and play with a big smile….this kid takes this stuff serious and he won’t be three until next week!

My days just got a little better. I am allowed to walk around the circle drive around the barn once a day. It is part of my therapy. It also does wonders for my mental health as I peek through the windows at the pigs and monitor the landscape as I walk. Progress is slow but steady as my knee heals.

Today, the cement crew that I hired, completed the feedlot extension. The job went fast. I saved my daily walk until the cement was 99% done, so I could see the completed job. I was very happy with the job they did. The next phase will be gates and fences, but like my knee, progress is slow but steady.

feedlotextcement

This is going to make winter chores a breeze. Hay feeding will now move to a weekly job from a daily job. Cattle comfort will be improved and manure management just got better too. Plus I get to keep all that liquid gold all winter to make crop food for next year’s crops.

So, in between ice packs, great exercises for bending, stretching and sweating, I will take that daily walk and do my farming on the tabletop…for now :o)



Watching the Prep Work
July 13, 2017, 7:43 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , ,

feedlotprep

July 13, 2017

This is very strange for me to be watching out the window while other guys do my work! I still get to have my “discussion” hands in the project. It will all be fine. The guy ramrodding the job worked for me when he was in school. Now, he is making his way in the world and just like my project, he is on course and doing a great job.

I can see the corner of the lot from my window seat in the house. I will have to watch from the window of the car I guess. I got permission from my physical therapist that I can watch for a bit while sitting on the car seat. It isn’t quite the same, but at least I can satisfy my nosey self! My knee is improving. The healing process takes awhile, so I must be patient.

The chores are being done by others too. I can see that all is well and that gives me comfort. This weekend guys will turn out to help with a couple of things. I will visit between ice pack rest periods and watch the work getting done. It is very weird to me to be the one watching…unless I’m leaning on a shovel!



A Different Perspective
July 7, 2017, 1:08 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , ,

backendfarm

July 7, 2017

As I recover from recent knee replacement surgery, I spend quite a bit of time looking out the windows. I can see too much unfinished work. I can see things that will soon need done and even a few things that should be done. I have decided however, to focus on all the things that have been done, are done and are being done by people other than myself. I will be thankful and positive.

The speltz are turning ripe. Soon they will need combined. I have it pretty well under control. My son Jake and a friend will take care of that job. My horse feed will be harvested along with an ample supply of winter bedding for the livestock. My son Josh is helping with pasture mowing and maple sap road maintaining. Our son Don is coming to hang blinds and few other needed repairs around the house. Our neighbor boy is helping with the daily chores and odds and ends. My wife is somehow holding it all together and feeding me too!

In the picture above, the corn can be seen getting over taken by weeds, but I will get some corn. The hayfields that were harvested are growing and looking good. The pastures are holding up well. The grazing animals have plenty to eat. The ponds are staying full. the baby lambs and calves are growing very well.

I roll from room to room with my walker, perfectly content to watch out the windows for now. This healing process is pretty intense. I have a new appreciation for mobility! I will do my best to be patient…and trust me…that is a different perspective!



Making it Easier

feedlotfeeder

June 30, 2017

I am engaged in a project that will make my life easier for the rest of my days. We are adding onto the feedlot and building this hay feeder. This will allow me to keep all of our animals by the barn for the whole winter. I will only have one water trough to keep thawed and clean. I will only have one area of manure to stack and manage and the addition of this “built in” hay feeder, will allow me to only have to handle big round bales weekly,feedlotfeeder instead of almost daily.

I can fill it with the skid steer using four bales at a time. The cows will get some protection from the weather as well as the hay, as they eat. The whole thing can be cleaned out when needed by simply pushing out the opposite end of the feeder. I will add a few gates that will give me flexibility when sorting or confining animals. It will make things easy when using the horses in winter, by being able to isolate the cattle when I want.

Sheep can be offered the protection of the barn, while keeping them out of the way of the cattle by simply making a portion where only the sheep will have access. I can bed the area with chips, sawdust or straw all kept nearby. Chore time in winter will be reduced by hours, giving me more time for important things like talking to friends, breathing on horses or sipping coffee.

The real goal, however, is to make doing chores easy for me well up into my advancing age. I am currently recovering from knee replacement surgery. Yep, it was a surprise for me too! I will be down for three months. Projects such as this have been put on hold. They are only moving forward thanks to the help of family and friends. I ice my knee, stretch my muscles and watch from the window…these are some of the hardest things I have ever done!