RicelandMeadows


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?!



Valuable Cover Crops
October 4, 2018, 2:45 pm
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

buckwheatcover

October 4, 2018

In the photo above, buckwheat blossoms in our raised bed. The garden crops finished up last month, just after Labor Day. I pulled up all the plants, except for the Swiss chard in the foreground. The buckwheat germinated quickly and grew faster than I thought possible. These early autumn blooms providing a food source for many pollinators.

I plant cover crops often. Their value is amazing. In the case of buckwheat it draws honeybees and the like to the garden, helping to increase fruit set in many plants. I grow cover crops mostly for their weed suppression qualities. It must be noted, that cover crops also “mine” the soil of nutrients. The cover crops give those nutrients up, when they are incorporated back into the soil. The following crop gets the benefit of plant ready “food” right in their root-zone.

I could have left the raised bed garden fallow, void of any plants. Weeds would have soon taken over the bed. I have enjoyed a month of weed free gardening as the buckwheat grew. Now, I will enjoy these blossoms for a few more days. Soon, I will cut the buckwheat off and leave it to wilt and dry up some. Then I will incorporate the dead plants while preparing a seedbed for a winter cover crop of rye. The rye will suppress weeds for the few remaining weeks of the growing season. The rye then protects the soil from wind erosion over winter, while mining more nutrients from the soil below.

In spring, the cycle will start over at the time of planting next year’s garden. These are but two cover crops that we use, but their value is awesome. They save me work and provide beauty to be seen. The blossoming buckwheat against the blue sky, highlighted by the autumn foliage, is as pretty as, the green blanket of rye on a cold winter day.



When the Autumn Winds Blow
October 2, 2018, 8:44 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

potatoes2018

October 2, 2018

Yesterday, my wife and I dug our potatoes. This is the last garden harvest of this season. The ground was damp, so the potatoes are a bit muddy. I will lay them out on the floor of the shop to dry some before storing them in their crates. The drying cures the spuds, while allowing the mud to dry and fall off. Much better to have the dry dirt on the shop floor, rather than the basement.

These will keep in our root cellar until next March. Plenty for the two of us. In past years when the kids were all home, potato harvest was a much bigger deal! Funny how garden size and portion size shrinks as we age.

As we dug the last shovel out of the round, we paused to say….ahh, my aching back!  We laughed with each other as we finished the job. It was a good feeling to make the harvest complete, just before forecast rain. I even managed to get the whole garden rototilled and seeded to a cover crop of rye. The garden now put to bed for winter, I can focus on the remaining jobs to be done before the snow blankets us all.

Yesterday too, I managed to get all of the summer compost spread on ground that will be plowed for next year’s corn. I pushed hard as the skies threatened to rain, but alas, no rain came until the overnight. The winds of autumn are starting to blow. Rains sprinkle us often, as the leaves start to turn color. When it comes to the fable of the “Ant and the Grasshopper”, be the Ant.