RicelandMeadows


The Lives We Touch
June 21, 2018, 1:48 pm
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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
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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
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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!



Making Deals
June 6, 2018, 8:50 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

henryfish

June 6, 2018

I made a deal with two young Amish boys. They would re-stack all of last year’s sugarwood. Bringing all the old wood up to the front, so the newly split wood can be stacked in the back. This allows me to use the oldest wood first, much like rotating stock in a grocery store.

In exchange for their hard work, I would buy them breakfast in a restaurant, provide cold drinks to include milkshakes and let them fish for a few hours. I held up on my end and these two little guys worked like troopers. The oldest wood has all been stacked neatly and as high as it would go. They also proved to be good fishermen as you can see by the stringer of fish.

As I was driving home, it occurred to me, that for the price of a couple meals and a little bit of my time, I got a very boring job completed in record time. I made a great day for two boys whom I have known since before they were born and had some good clean fun. I’m no “Monty Hall” but in this case I think I made a deal for sure!



It Runs In Families
June 4, 2018, 5:39 am
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Finleysniff

June 4, 2018

In her grandpa’s shadow, my granddaughter sniffs the flowers. She is smart enough to stop and “smell the roses”. I have the good fortune of seeing the effects of my leadership in my children and grandchildren. Some like the farm and animals. Some like the woodlands and protecting it. There are hunters and fishermen and horse lovers alike. It is awesome to see your children enjoying things such as keeping backyard chickens or making maple syrup.

It struck me funny watching Finley sniff the flowers, after I had just posted about taking time out for such things. The little ones are more in tune to what matters. They will play with kittens or pet the dog. They will lay on the grass and look up at the clouds. They will nap when they are tired. It is neat to notice such things, now that my eyes have been opened again.

It is very easy to get so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. I am an advocate for hard work and its benefits. I see now however, making a little time for the “little things” is absolutely necessary! It brings balance to a happy life. It sets a great example for those watching your every move. Lastly, it can make smiles last a lifetime and beyond.



Taking Nothing For Granted
June 1, 2018, 1:27 pm
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , ,

lilac

June 1, 2018

Today, is my first official day of retirement. I am the first male “Rice” to make it to retirement in three generations. My grandpa, was killed in an auto accident when he was in his fifties. My father’s retirement years were stolen from him by a disease called Alzheimer’s. I made it to today, but I realize that life is truly short, so I will take nothing for granted!

I took this selfie while sitting on the porch. I sat there just to rest a bit, but mostly to smell the blooming lilacs. I think over the years, I have let myself miss out on things such as that. I know a bit more rest wouldn’t have hurt anything. Smelling those lilacs made me remember days gone by, people I have known and loved ones that I have lost. The scent was truly heavenly…and just like us…only here for a short time.

I am making lists and working on fun projects. The wet weather makes gardening tough, but the grasses in the pastures and hay fields are loving it. I have taken the time to walk those wet fields, making notes were some drainage would help. I also see nesting birds and baby animals. It is as if I am seeing some of these things for the very first time. I guess my eyes were always open, but now, time allows for my heart to be opened too.

Stay tuned, as I work this farm with renewed vigor, in the ways of my grandfather’s, walking the rows and fields with draft horses leading the way. I will share. I will care and I will take nothing for granted.