RicelandMeadows


What Happened?
June 27, 2018, 7:57 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , ,

monkeybeaver

June 27, 2018

This rough looking dog toy, we call the monkey-beaver. It looks like a sock monkey, but has a beaver’s tail. Tilly played with it for hours. She would fetch it and bring it back every time that you threw it. I say would…because this morning when I went to let Tilly out of her crate, only her stiff little body remained. What the heck happened?

After chores, the last thing we do is close up the chicken house for the night. Tilly usually waits by the gate for me and then we go to her crate. Last night, I closed the chicken door, but Tilly didn’t wait by the gate. I went to her crate to look for her and she was inside laying down. I reached inside petted her and told her goodnight. I latched the crate door….for what would be the last time.

I dug her grave near the garden, not far from where my old Lucy dog is buried. Digging went slow because the tears blurred my vision. I went and got Tilly’s lifeless body and carried her to the grave. My dog Cinch, Tilly’s pal and gracious host, followed me to the grave site. I placed Tilly in the ground and started to cover her. I looked over at Cinch and broke down crying like a child.

pallbearcinch

Cinch waited and watched as I buried his little charge. I struggled to get the job done. Afterwards, I petted Cinch for a long time. He dropped the monkey-beaver and walked away. I guess, like me, he is wondering …. what happened?



Sunrise Weeding

garden2018

June 26 2018

This morning, I was weeding the garden as the sun rose. The garden is behind a bit due to delayed planting from our rainy weather. It is easy to see that we should get a crop. It may come a little late, but it will taste good just the same.

Weeding is a great quiet time for me. The small weeds succumb to the sharp bladed hoe easily. I am alone with my thoughts. The animals have been fed. The horses are back in the barn after a night of grazing. The biting flies don’t like the dark cool barn, but the horses sure do.

The sheep and cattle are still laying peacefully in the grass. Their bellies are full and the cool morning refreshes them all. I hilled the potato rows. I was going slowly, tucking dirt around the small tender plants. The dirt wasn’t quite ready for this job, but rain is forecast for tomorrow, so I pushed to complete the job. Soon, in the soft hilled up dirt, potatoes will form and grow in the dark, warm ground. A tasty treat, boiled, fried or baked, makes my efforts worthwhile.

Today, I have to use the skidsteer to move the big, plastic-wrapped, round bales of haylage. It is a noisy job that must be done. The horses will rest in the barn as I stack the bales for winter feeding. I need to get them off the field before they kill the grass underneath. I pondered that up coming job as my hoe slid into the Earth, barely making a sound. This sunrise weeding is good for my well being. I sort my day, kill weeds and grow some of my food…all under a beautiful sky, in the cool of morning, surrounded by birdsong.



Creatures From The Black Lagoon
June 25, 2018, 7:45 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

mudface

June 25, 2018

The other evening our son and his family came for a visit. Two of the grandkids went swimming in our farm pond. Being the crazy kids that they are, they took mud from the pond bottom and covered their faces. It was “yucky” to watch, but they had a great time.

A childhood memory flashed through my mind as I watched them. My father and a group of family members were swimming in grandpa’s pond. My dad went deep to swim under someone. When he surfaced, his chest and belly were as black as my granddaughter’s face. I remember everyone laughing, just as I was laughing at my grandchildren. Making memories is what life is all about!

seahair

They even found “seaweed” to make long green locks of hair. The kids had a ball. My dog Cinch waited fairly patiently to play catch. I watched and laughed while reflecting upon the past too. A farm pond with its muddy bottom, just struck a chord in my memory. I am blessed to have had a simple childhood….it is good to see these children are too!



The Lives We Touch
June 21, 2018, 1:48 pm
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

kinfarm

June 21, 2018

My granddaughter was playing farm with Grammy, while her daddy, older brother and I sorted sheep. She set up a corral and placed the animals as she wished. The next thing she did, was give each one a bale of hay to eat. I guess following us around the barnyard feeding chickens corn and such, makes her understand animal husbandry.

Once the sheep had been sorted, my grandson joined his sister in the farm play. He built a feedlot. If you look to the lower right-hand of the photo, you will see a block sitting on top of the others. That block is the gate. Each animal had to walk through the gate. Again, understanding the movement of farm animals is not an easy task, yet my not quite 4 year-old grandson , “get’s it”.

lilfeedlot

I hadn’t really thought about it much, just how often other’s learn from us. I was helped by my other son’s children load chickens into the trailer for a trip to freezer camp. They were gentle. They were quick and they understood perfectly where the chickens were headed. They had raised the flock from chicks. The connection of farm to table is firmly embedded in their daily lives. I am very proud of them.

I try to goof off a little too. In the photo below, three generations of Rice’s catch polywogs in the water trough! I can remember my sons at four years old doing the same thing. Life is short. The days are long…but the years are short.

polywogs

I am blessed to share my life and my stories with my family and folks all over the world. Thanks in part to TV, the Internet, magazines and books…but nothing is better than face to face interaction. I hope to always be positive and kind, because the lives we touch are precious! The time we share is priceless and the memories we make last forever.



Neighbors, Numbers and Salvage
June 20, 2018, 9:53 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

wetwindrows

June 20, 2018

Monday morning I was up early. I started raking three small fields of hay that we used for “baleage” This hay was baled while still green or “wet”, then wrapped in plastic. The bales resemble large marshmallows. I started raking at 5:45 am, right after chores were done. I wanted the morning dew to raise the water content on the wilted hay. The good bacteria turn the bales into yummy sweet smelling silage! My Amish neighbors did the baling and wrapping.

My closest Amish neighbors, use tractors and very modern equipment instead of draft horses like me. This sect is much different from my Old Order Amish friends to whom I am most accustomed. In any case, the neighbors came by and made my balage. It cost me less than one payment on the equipment I would have to buy to do this job myself. It makes economic sense to hire this job done. We made 42 bales, enough for my supplemental winter feeding, in two hours!

I have always tried to look at my farm from a profit and loss perspective. Often times it is better to hire jobs done based upon time, equipment needs or the scope of a job. I tend to be hard-headed at times. I get myself into a project where hiring a man to do it, would have cost less, been done faster and probably had a better end result as well. Pride can be a wicked thing. I have learned a lot from experience…usually I learn the most from a bad experience!

salvagewood

Here is another example of hiring a neighbor and making use of salvaged goods. The lumber in the above photo was sawn for me by a friend. The logs were from a pine tree that blew down, A bitternut hickory growing in the wrong place and a dying sycamore next to the sugarhouse. Some of the hickory will replace the floor on my horse drawn work sled. The rest of the hickory and the pine, will become the north wall on my back barn overhang. The sycamore I had cut into live edge pieces to make benches for visitors to the sugarhouse.

So, it has been a great week so far. Thanks mostly to neighbors, numbers and salvage!



Sharing is Caring
June 17, 2018, 7:14 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

sharing

June 17, 2018

As part of my new retirement gig, I got a new Border Collie puppy. My old dog “Cinch” is teaching the pup many new things. “Matilda” aka “Tilly”, is a quick learner. She is a smart pup who is fun to train. She sits, fetches, is crate trained already and has learned to stay down with no jumping, pretty well. We continue to work on those two. So far, she only jumps when she first sees me. She get very excited, but quickly settles down, “good girl”, helps a lot!

As she learns to fetch, “Uncle Cinch” helps too. She jumps and bites his lip. He growls a little and mostly tolerates his new charge. There have been some scuffles, but mostly just patience from the old man. He is teaching her manners, boundaries and the daily routine. Best of all, he shares me with her. He is a great dog.

Today is Father’s Day. I will take a walk and talk to my dad. He rests peacefully under a tree in my pasture. Gone are the days when we could talk on the phone or face to face. I’m sure he keeps an eye on me, even now, that’s what us dads do. I am lucky enough to have many who call me dad. Sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws, our family has grown over the years to a large herd. I am very proud to watch over them all and to share in each of their lives.



Rolling in the Hay
June 15, 2018, 7:29 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

tendercrop2018

June 15, 2018

The haying season has finally begun. The rain delayed me some, but yesterday I got the first hay of the season mowed. The tender grass and trefoil will make some very nice hay for the horses. I mowed this crop with the tractor. The horses will be used to fluff the drying hay, as well as, to rake it into windrows.

We have quite a bit to do. Just like any journey, it begins with the first step. It looks like a good stretch for hay making. Early next week a guy will bale and wrap a good amount of our cow hay. That baleage will be used in the coldest part of winter to keep the cows in top condition. The hay that is shown in the picture will be baled dry and stored for winter feeding of the horses.

hay2018

This is some of the nicest hay that I have ever cut. The sheep wintered in this field. They grazed the grass I left here for them all winter. They set the grass back a little making it slower to mature allowing for later cutting. They also fertilized it all winter and early spring. I will call this a grazing success. I should also mention that 12 sheep grazing all winter only ate 4 bales (800 pounds) of hay that I made. The rest of their diet came from the stockpiled grass in this field. The hay was available to them 24/7, but they chose to paw through the snow to eat the grass.

So the 2018 hay season has begun. We will be busy for awhile as long as the sun shines. All is well here at Riceland….we are just taking care of the Meadows!