RicelandMeadows


Man’s Best Friend
August 20, 2012, 8:11 pm
Filed under: August 2012

King and I take an evening break

                                                   August 20, 2012

     They say that dog is man’s best friend. I have to agree with that statement. A dog only knows one way to love you and that is with its whole being. They are always glad to see you, no matter that you have only been gone five minutes.

     Our dog is now just 14 months old. He is a member of our family. It’s crazy, my wife is not a dog person, but she makes a genuine exception to King. He has won her over too. I am a very lucky guy to have had so many wonderful canine pals.

     King joins a long list of faithful friends. My most recently departed Lucy broke my heart when she died. I guess that opened a place for King. He has become my trusted and loyal partner, not taking Lucy’s place, but rather securing one of his own. He is my buddy that is for sure!

     A young friend of mine has an old dog that is starting to have end of life issues. So far, the dog is in no pain and gets around with a slight limp. It is a fact that their long friendship will end one day soon. I am trying to prepare him for the day when he and his pal have to say goodbye.

     That will be a rough day for sure, but it is part of responsible pet ownership. The tears will flow as his old friend drifts off to an eternal sleep. There will be no tears of shame, but rather tears of celebration, for the times and life they have shared together. A boy needs a dog, just as much as a dog needs a boy. Hang tough my young friend, spend a few more minutes each day petting your old companion… you will be very glad that you did.

     I am not a cat person, but I do have a cat. I think he just lets me stay here to bring him food. He is aloof, friendly, hard-working, but aloof. I pet him and he allows it, unlike King who adores it 😮

     I am a dog person through and through. I don’t want to think about life without a good dog in it. I read somewhere once, and find it to be true…. there is a reason, that dog spelled backwards is … GOD …. nuff said for me!

 



Racked Up
August 19, 2012, 12:25 am
Filed under: August 2012

New rack on the hay wagon

                                                August 19, 2012

     Today we cut down half of the second cutting hay, we built this hay rack and we installed a culvert for the bridge to nowhere. The hay rack got broken during my demolition project of the old chicken coop. I broke everything in sight … even the neighboring  fence!

     The new rack cost $11.90. It was a quick fun project for my hired man and I. He was a boy when he first started here, but hard work makes men out of them 😮 He is planning a career in carpentry. I showed him how to be a wood butcher… finese he will learn later.

     The culvert went into a small ditch that leads to the little bridge down by the sugarhouse. I want the path to be high and dry in all sorts of weather. The culvert will help keep the little ones out of the mud. The culvert pipe was a leftover piece and Lord knows we have dirt around here.

     Once the path is complete, I want to grow flowers there. The short walk to the sugarhouse will be a nice place in summer with blooming flowers lining the walkway. I hope it turns out like I have planned and not some overgrown snarl of weeds and brush.

     Summer is nearing its end. These last several days have been perfect for me. It is cool, in the 70’s, with a nice breeze. The evenings have been lovely. I have been trying to enjoy some of each day, by pausing, just to notice how nice it is. I am better off for doing it.

     We hope to get the last of the hay in next week, along with cutting our logs for the pig barn project. A busy week is in store, but hey, we aren’t bored much! I will just have to be extra careful not to get “racked up”.

 



Moving sheep after Dark
August 15, 2012, 10:38 pm
Filed under: August 2012

Before the sorting

                                                    August 15, 2012

     Tonight we moved and sorted sheep. We waited until the cool of evening to do it. It took us a little bit too long, so we finished in the dark. It was nobodies fault, the sorting just took a little longer than I thought it would.

     The job went flawlessly. The new lambs are all sorted and now weaned from momma. They will rub noses through the fence, but the nursing days are over. We weaned lambs weighing 60 to 70 pounds. Not bad for a drought year!

     Once the sheep were sorted, the moms went into one paddock and the lambs into one adjoining it. The sun was long gone, as we moved the older ewes to their pasture. They walked behind me following my “come babies”  low call to them. They walked along nicely and went right into the lush pasture.

     Then, it was pitch dark. I could only see about twenty feet on the cloudy night. The baby lambs were put with my old matriarch Persephone. She was one of our original ewes and is almost thirteen years old. She will die here of old age. She has helped move my flock ever since she was a baby.

     She had been raised on a bottle and was very tame. I like the old girl. She gave us twins every year. Her udder is now shot , so we keep her away from the rams at breeding time. Her only job is to keep everyone calm and lead the flock.

     Tonight in the dark, little Persephone led the way following my voice. The baby lambs followed the old matron without question. They walked slowly as she ambled her way to the waiting paddock. I spoke softly to the group. Persephone baa’d softly and kept the little ones moving. They went through the gate as if we moved them that way everyday.

     The old ewe and I knew what was happening. I would beckon to her and she would do my bidding. She knew I would not harm her so she followed me fearless and confident. The babies followed because she asked them to do so. If only I listened as close to my Master’s voice….. A guy can learn a lot from a flock of sheep 😮

 



Handling the Harvest
August 13, 2012, 7:23 am
Filed under: August 2012

Some of yesterdays “hen fruit”

                                                   August 13, 2012

     It is that time of year for us again, when the garden starts to go crazy. Up until now, it has been a little here and a little there. Today the tomatoes are ripening quickly. The peppers hang like bananas and the rest of the garden is right behind them.

     It is a good problem to have! We got an inch of rain over the last three days. It seems everything was waiting for that water. All the plants are in high gear. We even had to cut the grass! The sweet corn jumped over a foot. The field corn however, may be too far gone to save… but I am working out a plan for that too 😮

     Our hens continue to like their playground and all it provides. I have big hands, but can still only hold four or five of their tasty brown eggs. That is a lot of breakfasts that I am holding…again, a good problem to have.

     I dug a few potatoes to check on their progress after growing through a very dry spell. They are doing okay. The potatoes are few in number, but respectable in size. Once again, we will have enough and even a few to share…. I am not taking credit for the abundance, for I have only tended the blessings.

     Today we will start spreading the partially composted bedding and manure from this summer. The fields will get a covering, more like a feeding if you will, of nutrients that I can’t buy. Instead it is provided free, by this farm, the animals and a little labor from me.

     Sustainable farming works! I see it every day, but when it’s time to gather the harvest, the “proof is in the pudding” , as they say. We will stock up for the next month or so. Then it will be just about time for butchering, as the harvest continues.

     So far this year we have harvested firewood, maple syrup, eggs and many meals from the garden. The farm gives great sleep, lots of smiles and a contentment that I can find nowhere else on Earth. It is a wonderful thing to handle the harvest from the place that I am supposed to be. I have found my place in the universe and that is just one, of many blessings that I have been given.

 



Free Range
August 12, 2012, 10:11 am
Filed under: August 2012

A Black Giant hen enjoys her freedom

                                                     August 12, 2012

     Our hens free range in the two acre multi-purpose field where the pumpkins grow. It is a compromise between my wife and I.  I like to see the hens running loose. They do better, are happier and require less commercial feed. My wife likes to watch them anywhere but in her flower beds. The small field is the perfect solution.

     Once the hens had the run of the field, they changed right before our eyes. They became much healthier. Their feathers are shiny, their combs much brighter and I swear their eyes shine too. The egg production has increased with their vigor as well.

     My hens had been in a large old coop with a nice sized “chicken park” attached to it. The ground in that “park” however, was barren and void of vegetation. On rainy days it was a muddy mess. You could call it an excercise lot, but it is not a very good way to keep chickens, even though it was the old standard.

     Free range chickens pass their healthiness on to us. We get the benefit of their enjoyment. They eat fresh grass and forbs, as well as, bugs and grasshoppers. The omega 3 goodness found in the fresh eggs is surely a heart pleaser, but I just know they taste good.

     Recently, one of the hens started to hide a nest outside of the coop. Once started, the other hens laid their eggs outside too. We cleaned up the nest, mowed the weeds and kept the hens inside a little longer each day. The hens get turned out after the days eggs are laid.

     It is remarkable how much feed they eat when penned indoors. They still scratch and feed as soon as they get let out-of-doors, but commercial  feed consumption is up by 50%. I hope they soon forget about that old hide away nest 😮

     One thing for sure, everybody is happier when the chickens are out on the range!  I will say that I do like them pretty well in the oven too 😮

 



Cut & Dried!
August 11, 2012, 8:22 pm
Filed under: August 2012

Sugarwood cut, stacked and ready for 2013

                                                     August 11, 2012

     Today we finished. The woodshed is full enough for next season. I could probably squeeze a few more pieces in if need be, but I am sure we have enough for 2013 and our 1200 taps. Now, we start working on 2014 😮

     What a wonderful day, we worked around the raindrops to get the last of the wood inside. There is plenty of time for it to cure before next February. The wood has been cut for almost two years. Some of the tree trunk pieces measured 50 inches across, lots of work, but lots of wood!

     I look forward now, to getting the dead and dying trees still in our woods, worked up. It will be a never-ending job. One that I will work at as long as I am able. It is part of good woodland stewardship and I want to do it. It will keep our woodland holdings healthy and looking good.

     There is much work to be done, but like I said, it will be a life’s work….. so I don’t want to hurry! The fallen timber will give us one more gift as we get the heat to boil our maple sap. I think it is the ultimate recycle project…talk about going green!

     This sustainable work will be made better by choosing some of the too long dead branches and punky wood for animal habitat. I will create brush piles for the little critters to hide and live. It is noble work and I enjoy it.  Heck, I’d even say it was cut & dried!

 



I’m Bushed
August 10, 2012, 8:07 am
Filed under: August 2012

King, sound asleep before the flash

                                                   August 10, 2012

     After a stretch of night shifts and splitting firewood, I crashed yesterday and slept most of it away. King too, found sleep to be a good option. We made several trips to the woodpile and back in the heat and humidity.

     They said we would get some rain, but so far once again, most of it has missed our farm. It looks like another chance today, so we shall see if the life-giving moisture comes in time.

     What a difference a year makes. Last year we were in the wettest season that I could remember. This year, it is the opposite problem. I guess we should be thankful, so far the pastures are holding out, hay has been made and stored and the sugar wood is split stacked and drying.

     Soon it will be time to start the soil preparation for fall grains. I think I will only plant speltz. I need the grain for the horses and oh, how I like that straw! It would be hard to get a plow in the ground right now, but I am sure the rain will come.

     We will start or logging project in the next few days. I need to get moving on the pig barn addition. If I wait too much longer, the snow will be flying before I get it finished. Driving nails with cold fingers is tough. Hitting cold thumbs with a hammer is awful 😮

     I am refreshed today, thanks to the sleep. My mind and soul will soon be refreshed too, as I spend time on this piece of heaven, of which I have been blessed.