RicelandMeadows


Warm January
January 8, 2019, 11:02 am
Filed under: January 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

2019woodshedjan

January 8, 2019

As I write this entry, it is 52F degrees outside. Rain is falling and a winter thunderstorm grumbles and flashes out the window. Our winter has been more springlike than winter. We have had almost no snow and very little cold. Mud abounds making things difficult in the fields or forest.

I continue to work on cutting and stacking wood for the sugarhouse woodshed. It is mostly full. Just a few large pieces remain to be split. I have even started on next year’s wood, thanks to a good friend. The ash tree chunks in the foreground, were from dead trees near a lady’s barn. Now, they are no danger and will be utilized to make maple syrup.

Those ash trees were near a driveway, so we could cut and clean up without being knee deep in mud. I took the above photo last Sunday. The ground is almost drying out, but today, the rains are soaking it all again. We don’t have to shovel rain and I guess its moisture no matter how you look at it!

Cold snap coming for the week’s end. Maybe the ground will freeze and work can continue. In the meantime, I will stay plenty busy…as is a farmer’s life!



Demonstration
January 2, 2019, 3:13 pm
Filed under: January 2019 | Tags: , , , , ,

forgedemo

January 2, 2019

I want to thank the folks at “Tiller’s International” in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Those guys teach classes on all sorts of old skills from blacksmithing to barrel making, timber framing and tin smithing. The instructors give a very good foundation for learning. I took classes there for blacksmithing and knife making. I am enjoying my new hobbies very much.

Over the Christmas holiday, I was able to give a few demonstrations to friends and family. I feel it is our duty to teach others. I enjoy watching my “students” learn. I am not a master smith, although I do get a little better almost daily. I am able to show and teach¬† others. Some people want to learn the skill, other folks just like watching. I understand it all, because as a much younger man, I watched a guy doing blacksmithing….I have been “hooked” ever since!

I make all sorts of useful things for the farm. The only limitation is my imagination. I encourage you, dear reader, to teach something that you know to someone else. That someone else could be a friend or stranger, a child or grandchild, but the good you will feel is wonderful.

I learned a lot from my grandparents. Much of what they taught me, I use daily. The best part for me is, that those early days of learning are some of my most treasured memories!

 



New Year
January 1, 2019, 1:11 pm
Filed under: January 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

2018orrnements1

January 1, 2019

As last year came to a close, I spent quite a bit of time in the forge shop. I made gifts for many folks. I worked outside of my comfort zone, but had a great time honing my skills.

exhibitionbowie

Elk handle, a farrier’s rasp and some brass pipe allowed me to make this rustic exhibition Bowie knife. A few old railroad spikes were turned into container gardening tools.

charliegarden

I even forged all the pieces to make a small “Hit and Miss” engine toy. A 3/4 block of steel, a piece of pipe, a rivet, a few washers, a block from the toy box and lots of imagination. It brightened the day of a long time collector and made my heart smile.

novo

The flywheels were taken off a broken toy tractor. It was a fun project.

I made hooks and hangers of several types. I made a few tools to help me make the things shown above. This new hobby for me is very relaxing. It pushes my mind and promotes creativity. My hands are happy near the forge and anvil. My body enjoys the warmth on wet, cold winter days.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope your year is filled with the people and things that make you happy.



Nite Nite
December 3, 2018, 12:15 pm
Filed under: December 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

niteK&H

December 3, 2018

As a dad, there isn’t any feeling much better than tucking your children into bed at night. It is wonderful knowing that all is well. Everyone is safe and warm in their beds. As a farmer, the same holds true for animals in our care.

I like the barn at night. The animals chew their food and a calm fills the barn and barnyard. The cattle move to the overhang to lie down in a warm dry bed. The calves follow mom. All of them rest and chew their cud.

nitenitecows

I don’t know what they dream about, but I know they are comfortable and at peace.

The hogs too, nestle down in warm beds of straw. Their bellies are full. Their bodies are warm. No stress enters their lives or thoughts. They can slumber along with the other animals, snug, warm and safe.

nitenitepig

I choose to raise animals. I choose to work and be a good steward of the land. I chose this life almost at my birth…in fact, I think God chose this life for me. He knows that I am content, taking care of his animal charges.

Isn’t that what we want for our children? That they find their life’s work, that contentment follows them all the days of their lives and they never forget our love for them?

As a hush falls on the farm and nighttime makes us sleepy, I give thanks for the peace found here on this farm. With a glad heart, I walk to the house filled with gladness, knowing that my animals are tucked into bed. I am reminded of those times, not so very long ago, when sleepy voices whispered, nite, nite daddy…I love you.



Harvest and Thanksgiving
November 27, 2018, 10:31 am
Filed under: November 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snak18

November 27, 2018

November has been a very busy time here on the farm. The ear corn for the animal feed has all been harvested. The animals are tucked in for the winter. Butchering season is upon us now. This job is the last one for the year. The meat sticks in the photo above, were made from venison. Our 9 year old grandson bagged his first deer. His request was for snack sticks and jerky.

jerky18

We made jerky from the ground meat. There is now a family, happily munching meat snacks!

Thanksgiving, is a big word for a great holiday. It is set aside for us to count our blessings and give thanks for them. This post is delayed, because I have been busy counting!

I have been busy in the forge shop making Christmas gifts. Sorry no photos of those gifts¬† for a while, I don’t want to spoil the suprizes. I am really enjoying this new venture. It forces me to think and allows me to work with my hands in a very different way. In fact, it lets me “harvest” from steel!



Laying It On Thin

KH2018july

October 29, 2018

In the photo above, I am hooking up to my powercart. Hoss looks like he is about to talk out the side of his mouth. Fear not, I am not being cruel with my lines or his bit, the camera just caught that moment when line pressure tells a horse where to stand.

They were watching the cattle, who had just been moved to new pasture. The cattle were running and jumping, playing if you will, checking out their new paddock. The horses were so focused on the cattle, that they weren’t listening to my voice. Usually they plod over to whatever they are to be hooked to, sidle up and stand. They move right or left when I say, “Gee or Haw”. This day they were wide awake, yet waiting for my signal.

KHCompost

Once we were all hooked up, we took this load of compost out to the field. I spread it on thin. The thin application is absorbed quickly by the soil. The nutrients stay in place and are used as food. Composted manure applied in this manner is of in little danger of running off into streams and waterways. It is also important to spread on dry days when rain or snow is of little concern.

I also make sure there are grass filter strips along stream borders. These strips collect any potential manure from becoming a problem. It takes a little planning to farm the way I do, but it is worth it. To know that my farm is not having a negative impact on my neighbors or any person downstream is pleasing to me.

This year, I was able to spread 40 loads of compost like the one in the photo above. The black gold was spread on a field that will grow next season’s corn. It was spread on a field where the speltz were harvested to give the growing newly seeded hay crop a boost. Lastly, it was spread on an older hay field that will soon be put into pasture. The compost applications are done as part of our crop rotations. We try to put the nutrients where they will be needed most. By spreading the compost thin, it goes farther, stays in place and gives us the most “bang for our buck”! Good farm husbandry goes hand and hand with good environmental stewardship. I believe that is not only my responsibility, but my duty as well.



Hand Picked

cornpicking2018

October 27, 2018

I grabbed some random ears from the corn crib to show how well the corn crop is this year. Today, I am sidelined by a steady, all day, rain. The picking will resume once the rain stops. I managed to pick around a wet spot and the last end rows. I pick these areas first to make turning at the ends of the field easier and to keep from running corn over.

The wildlife like deer and raccoons are hitting my field pretty hard. I don’t mind them eating some, but I hate it when they waste it. They knock ears to the ground, take two bites, then move on to the next ear! The corn on the wet ground spoils very quickly. I need to stay on task to get my crop harvested, before those rascals ruin more of it.

My husking peg, shown on my hand in the picture, makes picking by hand easier. I poke the pointed end down into the husk at the top of the ear. My thumb holds a portion of the husk as I rip it down, while snapping the ear off the stalk. I am not as quick as some men that I have seen, but I am effective. Corn stored with minimal husks will keep better in the corn crib. It stays drier and lacks the nesting materials that vermin like so well.

So, I will poke along husking corn by hand. My horses walk and stand as I go around the field. They make the job much easier than getting on and off the tractor each time to move the wagon ahead. In the way of farmers from days gone by, I harvest my crop. I am so happy to have been shown how to do this job by my great grandpa and others. If I was to rely on tractor and machine this year, I would make incredible ruts in the sea of mud that has become my corn field. Husking around the field with team and wagon, I am barely making tracks. Those tracks will be easily removed during seedbed preparation next spring. So, thank you great grandpa Case and grandpa Rice, for passing your knowledge on to me. Once again, I am in your debt.