RicelandMeadows


Laying It On Thin

KH2018july

October 29, 2018

In the photo above, I am hooking up to my powercart. Hoss looks like he is about to talk out the side of his mouth. Fear not, I am not being cruel with my lines or his bit, the camera just caught that moment when line pressure tells a horse where to stand.

They were watching the cattle, who had just been moved to new pasture. The cattle were running and jumping, playing if you will, checking out their new paddock. The horses were so focused on the cattle, that they weren’t listening to my voice. Usually they plod over to whatever they are to be hooked to, sidle up and stand. They move right or left when I say, “Gee or Haw”. This day they were wide awake, yet waiting for my signal.

KHCompost

Once we were all hooked up, we took this load of compost out to the field. I spread it on thin. The thin application is absorbed quickly by the soil. The nutrients stay in place and are used as food. Composted manure applied in this manner is of in little danger of running off into streams and waterways. It is also important to spread on dry days when rain or snow is of little concern.

I also make sure there are grass filter strips along stream borders. These strips collect any potential manure from becoming a problem. It takes a little planning to farm the way I do, but it is worth it. To know that my farm is not having a negative impact on my neighbors or any person downstream is pleasing to me.

This year, I was able to spread 40 loads of compost like the one in the photo above. The black gold was spread on a field that will grow next season’s corn. It was spread on a field where the speltz were harvested to give the growing newly seeded hay crop a boost. Lastly, it was spread on an older hay field that will soon be put into pasture. The compost applications are done as part of our crop rotations. We try to put the nutrients where they will be needed most. By spreading the compost thin, it goes farther, stays in place and gives us the most “bang for our buck”! Good farm husbandry goes hand and hand with good environmental stewardship. I believe that is not only my responsibility, but my duty as well.



Hand Picked

cornpicking2018

October 27, 2018

I grabbed some random ears from the corn crib to show how well the corn crop is this year. Today, I am sidelined by a steady, all day, rain. The picking will resume once the rain stops. I managed to pick around a wet spot and the last end rows. I pick these areas first to make turning at the ends of the field easier and to keep from running corn over.

The wildlife like deer and raccoons are hitting my field pretty hard. I don’t mind them eating some, but I hate it when they waste it. They knock ears to the ground, take two bites, then move on to the next ear! The corn on the wet ground spoils very quickly. I need to stay on task to get my crop harvested, before those rascals ruin more of it.

My husking peg, shown on my hand in the picture, makes picking by hand easier. I poke the pointed end down into the husk at the top of the ear. My thumb holds a portion of the husk as I rip it down, while snapping the ear off the stalk. I am not as quick as some men that I have seen, but I am effective. Corn stored with minimal husks will keep better in the corn crib. It stays drier and lacks the nesting materials that vermin like so well.

So, I will poke along husking corn by hand. My horses walk and stand as I go around the field. They make the job much easier than getting on and off the tractor each time to move the wagon ahead. In the way of farmers from days gone by, I harvest my crop. I am so happy to have been shown how to do this job by my great grandpa and others. If I was to rely on tractor and machine this year, I would make incredible ruts in the sea of mud that has become my corn field. Husking around the field with team and wagon, I am barely making tracks. Those tracks will be easily removed during seedbed preparation next spring. So, thank you great grandpa Case and grandpa Rice, for passing your knowledge on to me. Once again, I am in your debt.



Duel Jobs
October 26, 2018, 9:14 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

samK&H

October 26, 2018

I am working on two jobs. We are trying to finish filling the woodshed at the sugarhouse. We are also picking our corn for the animals (maize). I pick by hand when the fields are wet. Believe me, this year, my field is very wet. The horses navigate the sloppy ground with ease. They do not get stuck and their impact on the land is light compared to the spinning wheels on a tractor.

I pick two rows at a time. This way the horses and wagon move over to a new place to walk, every trip around the field. Once I have picked all the corn ears off the stalks, the livestock will be turned in to glean the field. The cows will search out any nubbin ears that I missed, as will the hogs. All of the animals will eat the leftover plant called stover or fodder depending upon what part of the country you are from.

I will graze this field all winter once the ground has frozen. The animals will eat much of the spent plants. The field will then plow easy in the spring. I hope to plant oats here in early spring 2019. That is the life of a farmer, plant, weed, harvest and repeat. The little things along the way like making use of corn fodder, just help the farmer out.

Picking corn by hand is a boring job to some. To me, it is a nice quiet time spent with the horses. I can pick along and solve all sorts of problems, plan things out and enjoy some nice autumn days. Winter will soon be here. I must push hard to get the corn harvested and the woodshed filled, but thanks to good horses, good friends and family, I’m sure I will get it all done.



Cooped Up
October 24, 2018, 4:54 pm
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

coop1

October 24, 2018

I don’t think there is much better food than farm fresh eggs for breakfast! These ladies keep us supplied. They have the run of their fenced yard along with a spacious coop. The coop I designed myself to look like a “monitor style” horse barn. I built it this way to allow for great ventilation and lots of natural light. It turned out great. It has been in service for many years now. It functions well in all seasons.

coop2

The little bump out shown here on the front is where the hens lay their eggs. The eggs can be gathered from the outside without entering the coop. Windows let in light and a nice cross breeze through the screens.

coop3

I bed the house with pine shavings. The screen under the feeder catches the feed the hens knock out. I get a second chance to feed the spilled grain. The chickens foul the coop most under their roost. It can be easily cleaned, making best use of the pine shavings.

coop4

Gathering eggs is easy and a great reward for keeping a few hens, safe and happy!



Cool Weather Wrap-Up
October 22, 2018, 9:35 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snugK&H

October 22, 2018

This past Saturday night, we got a late autumn storm. The wind driven rain and sleet pounded on the walls and roof of every building. The animals were snug, as was I, inside warm and dry. We woke to a light covering of snow that had followed an inch of rain. The cold and wet continued into Sunday, but at least the rain had stopped.

cowherd2018

The cow herd continues to graze the wooded paddock on the north side of the farm. All of them are fat and happy. The young calves are little butterballs! Winter is crowding in hard, but so far we are on schedule to be prepared.

filling2018

The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up fast. Most years this would be behind me, but I chose to not work on the hottest summer days. This year we had a lot of those hot days. As I look back, I wont make that mistake again. A little sweat in June and July, would have this job much farther along, perhaps even finished. It’s time to be picking corn, not still messing around with the wood…unless it was for a year ahead.

In any case, I will get it all done. I just need to keep reminding myself to stay focused. I am enjoying retirement, but it is easy to get sidetracked. I need to just make a list to guide me….then remember to look at the list!



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?!