Another Job Done
May 31, 2013, 7:17 am
Filed under: May 2013 | Tags: , ,
Ready for the log truck

Ready for the log truck

May 31, 2013

I can scratch this job off my list. The logs have been sold, picked up and we have been paid. The log cart and equipment is back home. I will say not a bit too soon. The temperature has skyrocketed, especially for this time of year!

Yesterday, we got a very big, sudden rain storm. It cooled things off for only a few minutes, but it flooded things that are still standing in water. It was a doozy ­čś«

The weather has taken a turn towards summer, but the humidity is making it so that I don’t dare cut hay. I don’t have a way to make silage bales, so I must work with the weather to get it dry. It is early, so I am not stressing …yet.

The garden was ready to be planted, that is before yesterday’s soaking rains. We will be on hold for a few days. The newly planted farm crops, however,┬áare enjoying the moisture and heat. It is a mixed bag and that is just how farming goes.

We will just work on firewood. That job can be done almost anytime. It warms you twice anyway, so these hot days won’t make much of a difference. The flys are starting to bite and the humid air makes them seem to bite even harder … I guess most of us northerners get grumpy when it’s hot!


The End of a Good Job
May 26, 2013, 4:36 pm
Filed under: May 2013
The horses and I take a break on the landing

The horses and I take a break on the landing

May 26, 2013


It was late February 2012. The sap was just beginning to run and I was looking for help to gather it all. A boy showed up in the drive and introduced himself to me. He had an easy manner, a firm grip and an honest look in his eye. I hired him on the spot to work on the days that the sap was running.

He was a production oriented guy. He looked for the fastest, most effcient way to do a job, without short cutting the work. He was, very soon, one of our best gatherers. He has a easy way about him, that puts folks at ease. He is able to teach by lesson and example. He taught quite a few other boys how to gather and how to do it quickly.

The syrup season came and went that year. We moved on to the job of filling the sugarhouse woodshed. I kept Justin on as we completed that job, while getting the spring planting done. He continued to be an exceptional lad at working and took my joking and advice while he worked.

I decided to find enough work to keep Justin busy so I would have him when I needed him. He wound up doing all sorts of work. Many jobs were short, small tasks that had him doing all sorts of things. He learned to drive the farms equipment and use many tools. He most recently is learning to use a chainsaw. As usual he is careful, calculating and confident.

After a winter of doing chores, cutting firewood, plowing snow and shoveling mountains of manure, it was maple syrup season again. This year we went up to 1200 taps. The job of gathering more than tripled from 2012, when we had just 500 taps. Justin dug in and became the leader or perhaps pointman as the seemingly endless sap, kept flowing.

I have had the pleasure of watching the skinny boy from up town become a fit, young man over these last fifteen months. He is more confident than ever, but not one bit obnoxious. His honest eye looks toward the future. His grip is, as strong as, his hold on his life plan. The days spent working in the sugarwoods and around the farm, cemented him in the country for the rest of his life. I am sure that a bit of “Riceland” will follow him all of his days.

Justin starts a new job next week. He is following a career in carpentry. I am very proud of him. It is with mixed emotion that I bid him goodbye. We have tied up almost all of our loose ends. Today we finished the logging job that we had been doing. The only job left, is that of vaccinating the sheep flock. We will complete that one tomorrow evening.

We will shake hands and part ways as our employee/employer relationship ends tomorrow evening. The best part is, that we will start a new kinship. Our parting handshake will also be the begining of a new association. The wonderful connection of friendship …┬áthe kind that lasts forever!


On The Move
May 25, 2013, 10:33 am
Filed under: May 2013, Uncategorized
The flock following me

The flock following me

May 25, 2013

The pastures are growing like mad, which is a good problem to have. We are rotating animals through them and mowing afterwards. It seems a bit early, but what a great season so far!

This morning it was cool. We even had a frost here. I used the cool of the morning to castrate the little boars. They look much better to me with empty “suit cases”. They will taste better too one day ­čś«┬á The pork … not the contents in the “suit cases” !

I spent a little time working on my “honey do” list. It is usually a short list, but this year I have been so busy with farm stuff, it is a bit longer. I did make some real progress and progress is always good! Today’s wind and sunshine may make it so that we can plant garden by Monday or Tuesday.

One thing for sure, there is plenty to do, I have a few days off, so I will be ….on the move!

Woodland Wonderland
May 24, 2013, 9:21 pm
Filed under: May 2013 | Tags: , ,
Jake skidding logs with Knight and Hoss

Jake skidding logs with Knight and Hoss


May 24, 2013

Today, in the cool weather, we were back at our logging job. It was a nice day to work for men and horses. I ran the chainsaw and hooked for Jake as he drove the horses.

The forest floor was a little wet from yesterdays rain, but the roads are holding up well due to the light impact of the horses feet. They can’t be beat in the woods in that regard!

Our corn has been planted for this year. The oats are coming up very nicely. The fall planted speltz look great. The garden has been prepared and will soon be planted too. We have planted a few things in the raised bed, but the main garden planting won’t occur until next week. I just have to many things going!

The grass and hay is growing fast. I am pleased with the hay, but the lawn has been tough to keep up with, as far as, mowing goes. My hired hand graduated today. He will very soon be taking his place in the world. We will miss him around here. He has been a lot of help, no matter what the job. He has gathered maple sap, chopped and stacked a mountain of wood. I am sure a part of him will always be found in our woodland wonderland…. and a part of it,┬áwill always be found in him.


What Not To Do !
May 22, 2013, 1:31 pm
Filed under: May 2013
Hive needing some attention

Hive needing some attention

May 22, 2013

In my life so far, I have found out all sorts of things NOT to do. Don’t ever, no matter what the dare, never, ever pee on an electric fence wire! You will actually boil your future children…or at least it feels that way ­čś«

Never get into a discussion with a woman about her weight … unless it involves saying how “light” she is. Never swim after eating if your grandmother tells you not to … never , no matter what! Don’t jump off a roof with a homemade parachute tucked into your pants … it doesn’t work…period.

If you raise and handle bees, don’t think┬á “I’ll be fine, they are busy” … wrong! Some stay home just to guard against intruders. You .. will be considered an intruder. Also, mow around the hive body to keep the grass away. Ants climb up the grass and cause problems for the bees … But don’t weedeat in boots and shorts!┬á Especially the baggy, legged type!

Don’t try working night shift without sleeping during the day. Even if you make it through, your body will not be happy with you. Don’t eat something called a “figlet” and go for a long walk. “Figlets” are in the prune family. They will race through your intestines like a bullet … making for a crappy situation.

Don’t try to change someone. It’s like trying to fall a tree with a heavy lean in the opposite direction…you work your butt off and it goes they way it wants to anyway! Don’t give an ice cream cone┬áto a 3-year old in a new car.

Don’t seek a vocation based upon the amout of money you can make. Your heart will not be happy, but your brain will not let you make a change. Don’t make coffee with chickory and dirt… and lastly, don’t lick chocolate off of a small childs fingers!


Parallel Lines
Another logger ... doing it right

Another logger … doing it right


May 21, 2013

Last weekend I attended a forestry conference. It was very well attended by young people in the study of forestry, landowners and consulting foresters. I went to meet Wendell Berry, a guest speaker. I also went to see some old friends. The program was top notch and I learned a little and re-affirmed much.

The conference was put on by the “Foundation for Sustainable Forests and the Forest Guild”. The program was to show sustainable forestry methods. We, as participants, had the opportunity to walk two side-by-side parcels of woodlands. Each parcel had been managed for 40 years.

The parcels had been managed on two very different ways. The first one was managed in a conventional way using big equipment and cutting the big trees. A large stand of hemlock, growing along a stream, had been removed. That parcel had been cut four times over the forty years. Some nice big trees remained, but they were spaced wide and brushy undergrowth crowded the forest floor.

The other parcel has been managed using draft animal power and a method of harvesting called “Worst First”. This parcel has been harvested twelve times in the past forty years. Undesireable tress were removed, storm damaged trees were harvested, and some pole timber was taken to enhance the understory.

The trees in this parcel were amazing. Several trees, numbering into the thousands were tall, straight, veneer quality specimens of Black Cherry and Oak. Sugar Maples were beautiful big trees that will dominate the landscape as the Oaks and Cherry trees are removed. The mid-story and under story trees were healthy and vibrant.

Looking at the two parcels, comparisons could be made in several areas. The roads made by the big equipment were compacted so hard, no trees and very few woodland plants grew in the hardened pathways. The skid roads left from horse logging resembled a hiker’s path. Flaura and Fauna grew everywhere, leaf litter was deep and trees along the roads were not scared from being hit by logs and equipment.

One part of the stream looked like a road ditch, where the Hemlock trees had been removed. The soft, damp ground was a mess of ruts and disturbed soil. The water struggled to find its way through the maze of tangled brush and old machine tracks. The parcel where the Hemlocks still guarded the stream, showed no silt in the water. The stream was free flowing along a rocky bottom. The actual temperature of the water was four degrees different. The cool waters under the branching hemlocks is home to brook trout and other water species.

I am an advocate for┬ásustainable forestry. I learned more and I saw what a well managed forest looks like. I am very pleased to be doing this very thing. I didn’t know this logging company or it’s manager until this past weekend. Troy Firth Logging is the man and business who manages the woodlands in the sustainable way. I did not know him, but we are sure on parallel lines!


Meeting a Hero
May 19, 2013, 9:01 pm
Filed under: May 2013
King and Ariel tell me Hello!

King and Ariel tell me Hello!

May 19, 2013

This past weekend, I went out of town to a forestry conference. I caught up with several old friends and made some new ones. I re-affirmed my commitment to being a good woodland steward. It was good to hear that I share a love of the environment and the forests, with many others.

I also met a hereo of mine. He is a man who has influenced my life for almost twenty years. He is an author, a speaker and a farmer. He is Wendell Berry. I got to meet him and share what will be, the first of many, conversations. He is a good old farmboy who believes as I do. I was thrilled to finally meet him.

In my travels this weekend I met a man named Tom. We too shared conversations, a couple of meals and a love for nature. We have forged a friendship. It is so funny how God places people in our lives. Tom turned out to be a good friend of Wendell’s, having known him for many years.

I missed my chance to send a letter to John Wayne and James Herriott, but I am so very glad that for the second time in my life I have met a hero of mine. The first time was with Gene Logsdon and now, most recently Wendell Berry. I am so very glad to bring many things to the table as we discuss all things farming. I believe they find me as entertaining as I do them.

I can only hope, that when my days are done, I will have left a few memories for folks in my deeds and writings. In the meantime, I am content to reflect on my life, share with others..and try and be a hero to someone some day┬á ­čś«


Mom’s Day
May 10, 2013, 8:09 pm
Filed under: May 2013 | Tags: ,
Wait up mom!

Wait up mom!


May 10, 2013


These little calves will some day go off to freezer camp. They will become delicious, grass feed, ground beef. Now, however, they are little bottle babies that think I am their mother. They make sorting the sheep a challenge as they bound after me.

I can’t help but think about my own mother. It is that time of year. I have to believe that mothers hold a near and dear place in God’s heart, for even his own son had a mother. The bond between mother and child is like no other.

My mom used to say, “Step on my feet when they are little. Step on my heart when they are big.” She was talking about us kids of course. I never thought about stepping on her heart, but I guess I did a time or two. I know she had a hard time giving me up when I married.

I know that leaving home, entering the world all on my own, was much easier done knowing that she was just a phone call away. She healed skinned knees, bumped heads and broken hearts. I will always miss her, but I am so very glad to have had her in my life … she cared when nobody else did …sometimes even more than my own self.

I will never wonder what she thought of me…her love was unconditional … even when I didn’t deserve it. I still find strength and comfort in her words. Now, call your mother… she needs it and so do you ­čś«


Getting it all done!
May 9, 2013, 9:36 am
Filed under: May 2013 | Tags:
Taking a short break

Taking a short break

May 9, 2013

What a week this has been so far! We have been working our butts off as they say ­čś« The spring plowing has all been completed. The logging job is nearing completion and several small projects have been finished. It is good to be caught up again.

Last night we got a nice rain. The pasture grasses and newly planted oats all got a welcomed drink of water. Today the air is cool making for a great day to work. I am off to a late start, but started none the less. The rain has slowed the soil prep work , but we are on track again, so it is less worrisome.

Corn planting will dominate the next little while, but first I must get the seed, and make a modification to our corn planter. The seed has been ordered since last fall, but at last check, it was still not in? The modification to my corn planter is for the row markers. I hope to plant better once the row spacing has been set. The horses and powercart will plant this year. I’m looking forward to that!

Your Lambs Are Out!
May 8, 2013, 9:35 am
Filed under: May 2013 | Tags: ,
Me and the herding calves

Me and the herding calves


May 8, 2013

My daughter-in-law came in telling me that┬ásome of the lambs were out. I went to investigate. Sure enough two wayward youngsters were on the wrong side of the fence. I went to get them back in. It didn’t work too well because the babies run away from me, while the rest of the flock ran towards me.

I went inside the fence trying to convince the sheep to move over by the gate so the lambs would run back to their mothers. This did not work either. We have two bottle fed calves in the pasture with the flock. They think I am their momma. They would not let the sheep come to me…except for our ewe Dolly, a bottle baby herself ­čś«

I tried for a while, but had no luck what-so-ever. The gates are now tied open enough for the lambs to sneak through. The calves, tired from high speed running all over the pasture, are napping alongside the fence. The escapees are walking back and forth eating grass, but bleating for mom now and then. I am sure they will make their way home soon.

I am working like a busy bee. Plowing is the order of the day. I am working up the old pumpkin patch. I plan to open a couple more fields before the rain comes. The back field we will plow with the horses. The horses are in the midst of a logging job, so I am using the tractor some. I prefer the horses, but the great weather will not hold forever…. so it’s off to work I go!

I can keep my eye on the lambs while they sort out getting home. I told my wife that, “The lambs aren’t really out…they are just not where Iwant them.” She thimks that will be a great line for my headstone … He’s not out, He’s just not where we want him ­čś«