RicelandMeadows


It’s The Day For It
April 30, 2015, 2:51 pm
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All Tuckered Out

All Tuckered Out

April 30, 2015

After a late night in the oat field, I am a bit lazy today. I have done my chores and a few extra things, but I can’t seem to talk myself into any big projects. It’s a bit cool, with passing showers mixed into the day. Twice I dragged a few tools out, only to have the rain start again. I said, the heck with it and gave myself permission to just do nothing 😮

There is plenty to do and tomorrow is another day as they say. So, I will rest and let my mind wander through my thoughts. I work much better with a clear mind and a rested body. I don’t work like I once did, but I’m not used up yet!



Beautiful Day…Oats are planted!
April 29, 2015, 10:56 pm
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The back pond, home to a goose family

The back pond, home to a goose family

April 29, 2015

I got up this morning and had an idea. I would plant oats in my spent corn field. I am not trying to get a grain crop. I just want to plant a quick crop of additional pasture. It should be ready by mid June. I may only get a week or two grazing from this field, but I used my bin oats to plant it, at a cost of about twenty five dollars, plus some diesel fuel. I can’t feed ten cows for two weeks much cheaper than that. So I say hooray for oats! The awesome grazing extender!

I worked all day on this project, along with farm work. The animals all had to be fed, pens and stalls cleaned, and water troughs filled. I also went and got a load of mulch for our flower beds. Perhaps the mulch is wishful thinking, but the weekend looks nice and I can get two young men to help me 😮

I hope to start back on my firewood cutting for the sugarhouse next week. If I push hard, I should have the woodshed filled before time to cut hay! Now with the oats out of the way, the only other big farm job is to empty the compost bin. That too will be a big job, but I can do it in one long day. The sun stays out until after nine pm. It gets up early these days too. All I have to do is work with old Mr. Sol, and my work will disappear …. now, talk about a beautiful day!

The compost bin, cooking and waiting

The compost bin, cooking and waiting



Raised Bed gardening
April 28, 2015, 7:45 pm
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Our garden entrance

Our garden entrance

April 28, 2015

This garden space was once used completely. Now, there are not so many of us, so the whole space is not needed. I arranged these raised beds to be able to mow in between and around the ends. I can drive down through the garden to hoe, harvest or add compost when needed. The added height will dry us out sooner and make our wet, cold springs less of a concern. It will also be easy to root zone water when needed.

I like the new look. I am sure that I can raised plenty of food for the two of us. The one side of the garden I left so it can be plowed and used for things like potatoes and sweet corn. Who knows ? I may one day only use the raised bed system and add more. This season will be our first with this set up. We do have two raised beds of strawberries. Those beds are thirty inches high, so no bending over to pick berries.

I hope this makes for easy gardening as I age 😮  I used to focus so hard on gardening that I almost took the fun out of it. I hate weeds and enjoy a clean, neat garden. I have enough to do without obsessing over a few weeds. I hope that I can stay just as focused, but in these smaller spaces, spend far less time hoeing. I think this will be fun.

I am considering small high tunnels to be used in conjunction with the raised beds. This will extend my gardening season on both ends. I think by having soaker hose to water when needed, along with the warmer soil, I can continue to raise award-winning produce, but with half the effort! I also plan to create beds for a blueberry patch, some herbs, asparagus, and some thornless blackberry bushes. In short, I’m just going to have fun with this space.

I am planning to grow concord grapes up the entrance arbor. We just want enough to make jelly and to see the nice arbor. I have planted rhubarb and onions so far, It is fun to plan for the upcoming season as well as planning for the future. This will make for a great space to spend a few hours each week once I retire. I figure if I plant it now, there may be something to see by then 😮

The best part of this project is that more than two thirds of the material was left over from other jobs or salvaged. The dirt was left over from the building of my son’s house. Compost will be applied and mixed in once we clean the manure storage area this spring. I want the very best stuff for these beds. I like it when you plant seeds then have to step back quickly, so the growing plants don’t knock your hat off !

Here we grow!

Here we grow!



Hello Ladies!
April 27, 2015, 2:34 pm
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10,000 ladies arrive at the farm

10,000 ladies arrive at the farm

April 27, 2015

Last Friday my bee packages arrived. I of course was not ready 😮  Oh well, I dropped almost everything else and scrambled to get my new Top Bar bee hives ready. I want to try these old/new hive bodies for raising bees on the homestead. I sold or gave away most of my equipment that revolved around the traditional Langstroth style of boxes and frames. I just got tired of losing bees, maintaining equipment and storing stuff to keep wax moths out etc. I guess it was part of my trying to downsize some of my work…problem is… I miss having the bees here.

I ordered two Top Bar hives. My plan was to hive them with purchased bees. New bees, new woodware, new plan, everything should be great…right?  Wrong! I forgot to get my hives put together until I got the call saying my bees are here! Thank goodness my wife helped me prepare. She helped with assembly and she painted the beeswax on the frames. The beeswax guides the ladies where to build their comb.

Connie paints on the beeswax

Connie paints on the beeswax

We got the hives all built last Friday night. Other folks go out to dinner or a movie on Friday nights. We spent ours screwing……hive boxes together 😮 Once the were completed, all I had to do was get the bees put inside. I have handled many wild swarms, but this was my first experience with purchased bees. I give many thanks for the folks at YouTube. I spent some time watching and learning!

I placed the hives in a good location, sprayed the inside with sugar water, placed food in there and then prepared the bees for placement. On YouTube, nobody wore their bee suits…I sure as heck did. I am not afraid of the occasional sting, but I also know the kind of pandemonium that can ensue when working bees. Much better to be dressed and prepared than running like a madman for your veil.

I followed the instructions laid out in YouTube and it worked great! I twisted some grass and installed it at the hive entrance to reduce the opening size. I will remove it later, once the hive has built up and can defend itself from intruders. I dumped the bees into the hive after hanging the queen inside in her cage. The bees will remove candy cork that holds her inside. Then the work begins as the queen sets up housekeeping.

I placed the bees, installed the food then put the lid on the hives…yes, hives, I ordered two packages of bees! I waited outside the hives watching the new neighbors acclimate themselves to the neighborhood. As I left the bee yard, only about 1000 bees were in flight around the two hives. I am hoping all is well. I will check them on a sunny day next week. In the meantime they will settle down and settle in. Welcome home ladies!

Moving in day!

Moving in day!

Top Bar hives are not new. They have been used around the world for centuries. They allow the bees to draw honeycomb just as they would do in the wild. They make their bee cells the correct size for their larva, not larger ones like commercial hives do. The larger cells allow for Varoa mite infestation and other problems. Once the bees draw out comb and fill it with capped honey, all I have to do is slice it off and strain it. It is easy. It is natural and it is as good for the bees as it is for a busy farmer.



Water Babies
April 24, 2015, 10:38 am
Filed under: April 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Little pigs at the fountain

Little pigs at the fountain

April 24, 2015

Winter is over, so I have put my homemade pig waterers back into service. The curious piglets figured them out quickly. They were soon fighting over the nipple. In a very short time they aren’t thirsty anymore, but they love to play with the water nipple. I guess its like kids and a spigot… any reason to play in the water is great!  😮

At first, it’s cute. They monkey around delightfully playing in the water. By day three or four it becomes annoying for the farmer. There is always one smart Alec who learns to hold the nipple in his teeth and let the water flow out of his mouth…and ALL OVER the floor. Then again, just like small children, the pigs, run, splash and play in the water. They have a great time until their entire pen is soaked…even their nice straw beds. Like a dutiful parent, I clean up the mess, remake their beds and offer no water at bedtime 😮 This cycle however, continues until the pigs go off to freezer camp!

In summer, the mess must be kept to a minimum otherwise the flies find great places to lay their eggs….and what a yuk fest that is!  Having water readily available is necessary and it helps the pigs grow. It is much better once the pigs are out on pasture. They still play in the water, but the dirt soaks up most of it. The pigs still find a way to make a sloppy place to play. They don’t sweat so the mud keeps them cooler. I guess all this mess making now is just good practice for later.

I make my waterers out of a 15 gallon plastic jug/barrel. I use two pipe flanges with the barrel sandwiched in between. I use silicone caulk to keep it from leaking around the bolt holes and face of the flanges. I then drill a hole in the center of the flange and screw in a pipe nipple, then a bushing and last, the pig nipple. It is important to set your pig nipple up for gravity flow. They come from the factory set up for pressure.



A Pig or a mouse..Come on Squeak Up!
April 21, 2015, 8:25 pm
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Moo and her buddy

Moo and her buddy

April 21, 2015

This pig cracks me up. She looks like a mouse sometimes! She is growing slow, just like I want. She will be a momma some day. I want her to be healthy, strong and tame. She is all of the above and fun to look at too. My granddaughter calls her Moo. She thinks the young pig looks like a cow. Me, I think she looks like a mouse 😮

The spring green up continues. It is just nice to sit and look at the landscape. Soon bugs will be out, grass will be needing mowed and it will be hot. I like spring and fall. Both sides of summer are loaded with beautiful color and adventure. The flowers at both times of the year punctuate the scene with their beauty.

Our project list is looking manageable. I have plenty of things to keep me busy, but looking at piglets, green grass and the first flowers of spring are at the top of my list right now. I will give myself permission to reflect on old friends, look for the beauty in the little things and celebrate the cycle of life.



Honey Do List
April 19, 2015, 6:59 pm
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Nice to see the green again

Nice to see the green again

April 19, 2015

We spent the weekend working on projects from a big list my wife and I made. It included such things as washing  the house, picking up “stuff” from the yard our dog Max finds and carries there. We built some raised beds in preparation for the gardening season. We got the flower beds ready for mulch and restored order to several trivial, yet annoying things.

Chores are an every day, two times a day affair. The maple syrup season puts everything else on hold, until it is done. I played catch up these last two days, but having a list kept me on track. My wife is pleased with what we got done. We did not mow the lawn for the first time this year. I hope I don’t regret that….especially as the rain is now falling…in very large drops 😮

One good thing, having paused with farm work to do the little things keeps smiles on faces as the spring planting season bears down on us. A large pile of firewood is waiting to be cut and split. I want that job done and over before it’s time to cut hay. Farm work keeps a guy busy, but he must set enough time aside for the things that are important to his wife. It pays to remember those little things!

The horses had the weekend off. They will be back at it soon. We have a little plowing and some firewood logs to skid. I will work on these projects as the weather lets me. When I can’t plow because its too wet… I can always work on wood. I am breaking in a couple of new hired hands. So far they are standing the work well. I have not held back and they keep coming back, so I think it’s going very well 😮