RicelandMeadows


I Made It!
May 17, 2018, 10:13 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

retirecake

May 17, 2018

After 27 years working an off farm job, I have made it to retirement! I can now spend my time working draft horses and this farm. Of course, I will now have more time for family and friends, as well as, other passions of mine. All those years of swing shift and missing out on things are over…it was worth it!

Three years after I hired in, I took a job in salary. I had a few people give me great advice, but I took the job anyway. You see, I thought that I could make a difference. After all those years and countless ups and downs, I was reflecting upon my career and thought that I hadn’t made much of a difference at all…that was until these last few days.

People at work sought me out to say good-bye. I shook hands with lots of folks, shared a hug or two as well. I got to have some one-on-one time with several guys and each time, I felt humbled. The comments made me choke up at times. Guys thanked me for my leadership, my candor, my honesty and for keeping them safe. It was a team effort people, we did those things together. I thank every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your help, your kindness and the respect that you showed me over these past years.

I thank you for the laughs, the memories and even those moments that made me grow! I missed some of you due to our crazy schedules, but fear not, I wish you all well and I know that you too send good feelings my way.

It is still a big place with lots of opportunities, but  this afternoon, as I walked out the gate for the last time…I realized that I had indeed made a difference…thanks to all of you!

 



Making Ready
May 15, 2018, 9:12 am
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

sawmillphil

May 15, 2018

The rain has stopped all field work for now. I will be switching gears from spring field work to woods work. Our ash trees have all been killed by the emerald ash borer. An insect brought to us from Asia/China. It has decimated the ash trees in several states. There is no predator for them. The woodpeckers go after the larva, but by then, it’s too late for the tree.

It is my hope to harvest the dead and dying ash trees before they rot away. I went in search of a market for the logs. I have found a sawmill willing to take the logs and pay a fair price for the wood. I will have to get busy before I lose my market. I have a few nice logs. The rest of the tree will become firewood for the sugarhouse. It will be used for boiling maple sap next spring.

So, while the rain keeps us out of the fields, we will continue to work. The horses impact in our woodlot is minimal…even in the muddy conditions from the recent rains. We just have a small plot (3 acres) to plant to animal corn and our gardens to get ready for planting. I will switch back and forth between jobs as the weather dictates. It will all go smooth. I just have to make sure everything is ready to go. So far…So good!



Spring Chores
May 8, 2018, 2:04 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

hammeringJohn

May 8, 2018

Our spring continued to be evasive. Long hours and too many days at my off farm job has caused delays in getting into the fields. It’s no big deal. The soil is just starting to warm and dry enough to work it anyway. I am spending time with family, especially the little ones.

My grandson continues to like blacksmithing. He is coming along very well. He started banging and bending horseshoe nails. He has now moved up to steel stock. He likes the coal forge and turning the blower crank, but hammering hot iron is his favorite!

Two of our grandchildren live here on the farm with us. They live next door, but seek out Pa-pa and Grammy often. They like feeding the chickens ear corn. They would shell corn until the chickens burst, but understand why we don’t.

sissychick

So spring is here…finally. The horses and I will soon be in the fields. The animals are grazing spring pastures, but are still munching a little hay. The leaves on the trees are starting to pop. Most of the shedding winter coats is a memory and garden planting looms on the horizon. I can’t say that I have wasted one minute…but it is sure time for Spring Chores.



Give Us a Break!
April 13, 2018, 10:43 am
Filed under: April 2018 | Tags: , , ,

bhivupset

April 13, 2018

Well, my ladies made it through a long winter, a crazy spring and were doing quite well. This morning, I find this. I first thought it was bear damage, but have decided that it is thanks to the wind and raccoons. I am beating myself up for allowing the wind to be a factor. The raccoons are just taking advantage of an opportunity. The bees however, have all died.

I will clean up the mess, assemble the hive after cleaning it all out and get it ready for a new batch of bees. I just am disgusted with this event. Folks, the honeybees need our help. They do provide honey, but the honey is a by product of pollenating our food! No bees…no food. This is perhaps a bit of an extreme statement, but is very close to the truth.

I will keep trying. I will upgrade my setup for the bee yard. I will even look at a better way to stabilize the topbar hives. I’m not going to give up, but I can say that I am mad about this!



The Things We Do For Love
April 5, 2018, 10:23 am
Filed under: April 2018 | Tags: , , ,

easter2018

April 5, 2018

I do not care how tough or cool you are….when an almost 2 year-old tells you to put on Easter bunny ears…you do it!

As I write this post, I am reminded of how love makes the world go around. Of course there is love of family and friends, that goes without saying. I also think jobs like birthing baby animals, mucking stalls and making maple syrup are all labors of love. There is not a lot of profit in any of those jobs, but there is joy in all of them…at least for me!

When I drain a tractor rut in such a manner where the water runs across the grass instead of washing mud quickly into a stream, it pleases me. When I pull fallen tree limbs out of a small stream or cut a big undesirable tree, releasing saplings of hard maple or oak to thrive in the newly opened spot, I am also pleased. I know that I am doing things that will in time offer big rewards.

When I play with a small child or teach them something new, I can also see the promise in the future. We took two of our grandchildren to a movie last week. Our eight year-old grandson held the door for us and some other people as well. Both of them said please and thank you. I was very proud, not only of them, but of their parents as well.

All of us need guidance and love. When it is my turn to provide these things, I do my very best. Reaping the seeds of what you have sown can be a wonderful thing. I feared that I worked too much when our kids were little. Seeing the generations from the children we raised, makes my heart soar. Apparently, I spent enough time to show the way, offer advice and live by example. None of the time was wasted.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to blend a big family. I didn’t always do things right, but I never quit trying. My wife and I are surrounded with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They are our labor of love. They are worth every minute that we spend with them! This farm anchors us all. I hope to continue to show, teach and share with all of them…how life truly depends upon six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains….. All that love stuff is the fun parts!



Another Maple Season Come and Gone
March 29, 2018, 11:07 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

endoftheseason2018

March 29, 2018

This new section of road saw many trips of horse drawn sled. On the day of the photo we had gotten almost two inches of rain. I am always impressed by the small amount of disturbance the horses do. Their impact on the land, even in muddy conditions is light.

I boiled maple sap for the last time this year yesterday. The syrup was still light and yummy looking. The taste was awesome too. I take a few sips to ensure the quality! Just a few drops to swirl on my tongue is enough to make a big maple smile.

Yesterday was bittersweet. The season ends so this job is done for another year. I enjoy this time of year like no other. Sometimes its cold, wet and miserable as we gather in the sleet or rain. Other times the sun shines warm on our faces as the snow covers the ground. The steamy room echos with voices of children, family and friends. I even hear the echo as I boil all alone. My memories rush forth from days long ago, as I watched my grandparents make this sweet treat I so dearly love.

The evaporator boiled the last of the season’s sap. I watched the puffy clouds make their way out the roof knowing that the work would be over for a year, but silent too will be the voices and laughter. You see, I make more than maple syrup here… I make memories and smiles, while ensuring an old way of making maple syrup is preserved for the next generations.

The clean up part of the job begins today and will continue for a week or so. Tanks, pans and piping all get washed, dried and stored away. The trees have all already been untapped. The spiles now get washed and dried. The job of filling the woodshed again will begin and take a few months to complete. All these things must be done, because the maple season 2019 will be here before we know it!

emptyshed2018

 



The Stars Are Out Again!

Hosknisap2018

March 22, 2018

My horses are stars again! They just had the role in a video showcasing our farm’s maple syrup operation. The footage was shot by Rural Heritage magazine and will appear in the future on RFD-TV. The CD will also be available for purchase from Rural Heritage magazine. You can look for this and other episodes made here at the farm by going to their website Ruralheritage.com 

It was an amazing day. We gathered maple sap. We tapped a tree and we boiled the sap and made some syrup all while being filmed. The horses gave me a little “push back” at first , but soon settled into their routine and worked perfectly…. as expected.

Maple season has been hit and miss, but these last few days we have been very busy. We boiled for the 7th time yesterday. The next few days look pretty good too. We will be in a rush as the season will soon be at its end, but for now we will work hard, even into the night….working at times, when the stars are shining!

Special thanks to Susan Blocker for the amazing photo of Hoss and Knight pulling the sap sled!