RicelandMeadows


Forging into the New Year
December 31, 2017, 1:12 pm
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forgesetup

December 31, 2017

What a year 2017 has been for all of us here at the farm and around the country as well. I, of course, have been outfitted with two new knees. The farm has three new building additions. The feedlot was expanded. The female animal numbers have been increased for future breeding prospects with the sheep and cattle…and Abby the Percheron too I guess. The forge shop is all set up for useful future projects and a little fun too. These things make me happy, but one of the most wonderful things that happened in 2017, was having all of our family present at one time, to break bread and make memories! It was awesome and will be repeated at least annually from now on.

We got the forge shop all set up last week. I warmed the chimney and built the first fire in the forge. My sessions are very short, but positive none-the-less. Yesterday, I played around and made a tiny cowboy hat paperweight.

cowboyhat1

It was fun to make this little trinket. I have much to learn, but I had a good time. I even felt a little productive!

2018, will be here in a few hours. I wish for all of my readers a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! I pray that you can fill it with family and friends. The older that I get, the more I realize that family and friends are what truly matters in life…everything else is fluff. Sure, we need jobs and we have to make a living…but don’t get so caught up in making a living that we forget to make a life!            Happy New Year Everyone!



And So It Continues…
December 23, 2017, 10:35 am
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hammeringjohnny

December 23, 2017

As a small farmer, especially one who uses draft horses for much of our farm’s power requirements, it is thrilling when a son, grandson or any family member asks me how to do something. I get asked questions about gardening, animal husbandry, woodlands, and many things relating to the vocation that I love. When my grandson John asked me about forging, I was pleased.

I can’t really do too much yet due to my recent knee replacements, but I managed to sit in the shop and guide John as he made some hooks out of horseshoe nails. I got him a hammer better sized for him. Pliers took the place of a set of tongs. Our heat source was a propane torch. That small torch supplied ample heat to make the thin nails red hot, much to the delight of my grandson.

In no time at all he had mastered the skill of hitting a target with the hammer multiple times in the same spot. He is a fan of the television show, “Forged In Fire”. He was sure hammering steel was an easy task, he soon learned differently. As his skills improved, he moved on to using a pair of needle nosed pliers to scroll the hot metal into hooks. After just a couple lessons from me, he had it. He did a great job for a seven year old boy who had never set foot in a shop.

I am sure that we have discovered a “thing” to do. Sure we will talk about metal and projects, but we will also talk about how to treat a woman, the value of giving and keeping your word, the power in an honest man’s eye and that thanks to God above, men as well as steel, get second chances. I hope to guide him as he becomes a man.

I am so blessed to have been able to bond with many, in special relationships. I have taught skills, exposed some to unknown adventures that became life passions and kept a few from doing bad things. I am grateful for these connections. I look forward to passing on my skills, my experiences, my advice and my lifestyle, especially to lose I love and who love me back. The fact that I get to share with folks outside of the family is a wonderful thing as well.

I am elated when I get a note from a friend who has just butchered his first farm raised pig or ate a meal from their garden. I like it when someone lets me know how much they appreciate me helping them make a plan for their woodlot or lay out a farming plan. I gathered my knowledge over time and from folks who could stand the questions from a little boy, and trialing those things in my own life. It is my life’s mission to share these things as often as I can…..and so it continues!



Bird’s Eye View
December 22, 2017, 12:03 pm
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Dronefarmblds

December 22, 2017

Last October during a family harvest party, our grandson Jonathan brought his drone and took pictures of the farm. As I look at the pictures, I am very pleased. The harvest is complete. The compost has been spread on the fields where needed. The speltz crop is up and growing well. The pastures have all been clipped and stand ready for winter.

I am very thankful to family and friends who helped to get the farm ready for winter. My knee replacements are healing and doing well. It helps me mentally to know that things are well, jobs are complete and the promise of spring can be seen all over the farm.

The back of the farm too shows the work that has been done and the beauty that is this farm. A pile of lumber in the photo, is now a barn addition that houses the last of the equipment that once had to sit outside all winter long. Again, friends and family pitched in to make this all happen.

drone 2

As we close in on Christmas and the end of the year, I am very happy to share the gift of this farm with everyone. We are blessed, I, most certainly am! I pray that this farm and the example I set here, helps not only the people closest to me, but reaches out to others too. These photos are not meant to brag, but rather to say thank you to many and to show that anything is possible….Dream, Believe, Achieve!



It’s Kind Of Like This!
December 15, 2017, 6:35 pm
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sugarhousesnow

December 15, 2017

Snow on the ground, snow piled up and more snow falling. I think winter is here. Christmas is just around the corner. My birthday for another year has come and gone. Work on the farm is greatly reduced, mostly made up of animal care. Those jobs are my most favorite.

I am still pretty much housebound due to knee replacement surgery, but walking in the barn at the end of the day, listening to my animals chew, is great therapy. These creatures who depend upon us, complete my life. The snow is falling, yet all the animals are well fed, warm and dry. This farmer has a warm grateful heart to all of the folks helping to make their comfort possible.

Soon, I will be back in usual form, pitchfork in hand. I will say, it will be a good trade for the cane I’ve been using. In any case, my recovery is made much easier, by breathing on my four-legged friends, on this dark and snowy night. Yep, it’s kind of a day like that!



She’s a Hot One!
December 11, 2017, 7:06 pm
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propaneforge

December 11, 2017

Thanks to a friend of mine named Ed, I now am the proud owner of a propane forge. The forge was made from an old air tank. The directions came from YouTube, along with some modifications by Ed. I had gathered all of the materials before I got laid up. Ed built this in one rainy day, in my shop.

The table was a scrap table bought at a second hand store. The angle iron and old horse shoe that makes up the bracket, came from my scrap pile. The rest of the needed items I bought off E-Bay. The photo above was taken right after curing the mortar. That mortar was applied as a slurry, allowed to dry for a day, then cured with the burner in the forge.

Soon, I will be able to forge handmade items for family and friends. I am looking forward to this new hobby. I have a long way to go, but this little forge will make it possible to learn. Thanks Ed!



Winter Hay Feeder

hayfeed

December 5, 2017

We have been trialing the newly built hay feeder. The cows like it well. We had to turn one gate around on the feedlot for animal movement, but the feeder is working out very well. The cattle stick their heads through to eat. They eat at different times, but even when most of the herd east together, even the most timid animal can get a spot at the table.

They do eat some from the ends where the green gates are located, but mostly just clean up what ever has spilled out. There has been very little waste feeding the cattle this way. I can click the “success” button on this project! The feeder is easy to fill using the skid steer. The animals use it very well. The percentage of wasted hay is minimal. Lastly, I only have to move hay once a week or less, so it is a great time saver too!

This feeder is permanent, but building one on skids would be a great option for many small farmers. You provide some protection for the hay, as well as, the animals. This could even provide shade from the hot summer sun, while feeding hay when pastures are declining. I recommend trying one on your small holdings in some form or another. The benefits far out weigh the costs.



Stockpiled Pasture a Beautiful Thing

stockpiled

November 28, 2017

One of the geldings munching on stockpiled pasture. They are still grazing as November comes to a close. Let’s face it, making a small farm profitable is not always easy. Keeping horses can be a drain on a man’s wallet. Using grass and working with Mother Nature is a wonderful, profitable option that often gets overlooked.

We made hay while the sun shined this past summer. We mowed the pastures as the animals grazed them down. The mowing keeps weeds in check and encourages growth in the grasses and clover. The paddock in the picture was allowed to grow after the last mowing in late August. The cattle grazed it once in mid-September for about 36 hours. Yesterday, the horses were turned in to this pasture to graze until the autumn rains or snow make the soil soft.

Most of the regrowth that the horses are eating is endophyte free fescue. This warm season grass gets more palatable and sweet after it has been frosted. The cold nights in the past few weeks ended our growing season, but made this magic grass sweet and much more to the horse’s liking. I will be able to graze this for about two weeks. So, that is feed for four draft horses for fourteen days! No fuel to harvest it. No time invested to harvest it and the horses are spreading their own manure!

I have one more paddock of stockpiled grass. It is a stand with lots of trefoil in it. The sheep will spend the winter there. They will graze much of the winter as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep. Again, no fuel to harvest the hay for the sheep. They can eat at their own pace, spreading their droppings as they go. I will have to feed a little hay I am sure, but our flock of ten ewes should have eighty to ninety days of grazing in that paddock. I will pull the sheep off in late February or early March, but the worst part of winter should be over by then…and the sheep will have pretty much fed themselves all winter!

I encourage the small farmer to look for opportunities such as this to increase profits or at least increase efficiencies in your daily labor. Think outside the box and … stockpile a few ideas of your own!