RicelandMeadows


Harvesting in Many Ways
September 9, 2018, 12:09 pm
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , ,

caitlynpep

September 9, 2018

We are started with the fall harvest. Our first order of business was to make and preserve memories as most of our family joined us for a reunion. Our granddaughter Caitlin, made friends with Pepper in the photo above. City relatives enjoyed the farm and its animals, as much as we enjoyed seeing them all again. A water balloon fight, pony rides and a walk in the woods were highlights of the day.

The pantry is filling up as the garden is producing in high gear. It looks like we will soon be pulling up the plants and preparing for a fall cover crop, putting the garden to bed for winter. I’ll be glad to click that off the list. The field corn for cows is ripening fast and will take up my attention soon. The first order of business however,  is to prepare and plant the speltz grain for our horses.

sweetcornshock

Sweet corn shocks, cut and tied for decoration. Our son Josh and his family grew pumpkins, squash, gourds and such for a fall roadside stand. They are getting all set up and open for business. Our granddaughter Rachel is selling bouquets of wild and cut flowers. She too is harvesting and gleaning not only plants, but memories as well.

I am inside today as rain falls steadily, the remnants of hurricane Gordon. The rest is good on this sleepy Sunday, as we all prepare to hit high gear very soon!



Pony Boy
August 31, 2018, 7:27 am
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

judy1

August 31, 2018

Our son has had ponies ever since he was a small boy. We got him his first equine companion one year for Christmas. Her name was of course, “Noel”. She was a very old girl, just right for a small boy. She was gentle and did everything right. Jake loved her. He learned a lot about horses and ponies from her.

Over the years, our son has had quite a few horses and ponies. One of the last ponies he trained, was named “Patches”. He was a small, powerful little guy who hated me. The little imp would do anything for our son, but delighted in making me angry. In fact I saw “Patches” a week ago. He now lives on an Amish farm and gets daily use by a bunch of children. I walked up to the little calico pony, called his name. He ran right over to me and promptly bit me…Just a nip, but just enough for me to be sure he still doesn’t like me.

Our son is teaching his children about horses. He is passing his love for them on to his own children. “Jumping Judy” is becoming my grandchildren’s best friend. They are learning all about her daily care. They realize she needs to be brushed, fed, petted and looked after. Responsibility is good for children, supervised and corrected by an engaged adult, creates many loving bonds.

judy2

This little pony is a gem. I am sure there will be countless hours spent riding, driving and simply just spending time with her. She even tolerates me. Ms. Judy comes over occasionally. She interacts with my horses in the barn. She is polite. Everybody gets along. Judy’s usual day, however, is spent in her own barn. My grandchildren take care of her. They put her in and out of the barn. They clean her stall and fill her water, much like their daddy did…not so many years ago. I think a pony and a child is a connection made in Heaven. Once you see the smile and confidence on a child’s face, while they are caring for a well broke equine…You will think so too.



Rough Around the Edges
August 27, 2018, 9:56 am
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

rasp1

August 27, 2018

This knife I have been making as time permits over the last week. I made it from a farrier’s rasp that was given to me by my farrier. This is my second knife project. I learned a lot. I had to soften the rasp steel, then forge, grind, harden and temper the knife. The handle fit went much better this time. I still have to sharpen and polish it, but it is coming along quite well.

rasp2

I left the rasp’s character showing as I worked the steel. This knife will be a gift for my farrier. I think he will use it or perhaps just display it, but I am pleased with my efforts. I think leaving it a little rough around the edges makes for a great conversation piece. I say this because those who know me, know that I too am a little rough around the edges…and conversation is my specialty!      (Some may even say that I am a bullshi**er!)



Misty Morning
August 25, 2018, 9:42 am
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

miststars1

August 24, 2018

There is a nip in the air this morning. How can it be? I still have hay to make, wood to gather and garden crops to harvest. I guess today was just a teaser. The August heat showed up by late afternoon. I think this is just a warning that soon, autumn will be here. I heard the school bus as I closed the gate. It was almost an exclamation point for my thoughts!

Work here at the farm continues, but so does the “fun”. Baby calves have started to be born. We calve in the fall. It’s backwards for most folks but works well for us. Pastures are in good shape with lots of feed for the animals. Plowing will begin soon for our speltz crop planting in the next few weeks….one more sign that fall is close at hand.

The corp crop is looking very well. It is one of our best crops in a long while. The reconditioned corn planter did an awesome job. The stand of corn is spaced just right. The ears are plentiful and well formed. The timely rain allowed the kernels to fill and made for some nice soon to be “hand picked” ears!…If picking corn by hand doesn’t signal fall… then winter… I don’t know what does.

 



Steel Away for the Weekend

tillknif1

August 16, 2018

I had a great time last weekend at Tiller’s International in Scotts Michigan. I took their knife making class. Last year, I took two blacksmithing courses. This was just “continuing education” I guess. I learned a bunch of new stuff thanks to good instruction and hands on learning.

tillknif2

This very simple “clamp” in the photo above, became a good friend as I sanded and rubbed on the steel knife. I forged the blade from 5160 steel, then learned to grind and sand the blade into a functional piece.

tillknif3

We learned to fit a handle on the blade. I am pleased with my first attempt to make a knife, but I see imperfections that I will work on for the next one. This is a good blade… even if it did take me two full days to make it!

tillknif4

I even ventured into file work. I free handed the “X’s” into the back of the blade for my thumb to rest on. Again, I learned things that I will do different, but am satisfied by my efforts. I need to work a bit more on the finish…but… “It will cut” as they say.

Tiller’s International is an institution that strives to bring old, early American methods in farming and homesteading to poor countries. They build small agricultural equipment out of materials found in those poor countries, like rebar, shipping containers, and bicycle parts. They make hand tools and oxen pulled pieces as well.

The international part of the Tiller’s mission, is made possible by training learned from preserving America’s past. I am glad they share. Classes in timber framing, tool making, coopering, tin smithing, commercial barrel making from white oak staves, oxen and draft horse driving basics and more. Check out their website for classes and events at http://www.tillersinternational.org  This non-profit organization can use your help, why not enrich your life while helping them out?  It worked good for me as I was able to “steel away for the weekend!”



Horse Drawn Hay Mower
August 8, 2018, 6:50 pm
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

num91

August 8, 2018

I bought this #9 regular gear horse drawn hay mower, to mow my hay. I have been using a tractor mower for the last eight years. It had reached it’s limit and I had reached mine working on it all the time! I have time now to relax and make hay when the sun shines! Using the horses is good for them and me!

This mower was rebuilt by a friend of mine. He has been rebuilding this type of mower for his entire life. It has been done from the “ground up”. I am looking forward to using it. I have four acres of second cutting grass to use for our maiden voyage. This thing sounds like a sewing machine. I can’t wait to try it out.

num92

Usually these have a cast iron seat. This one has a seat for an old man with a sore back….

This mower will cut six feet in a swath. The guards down near the mower are called stub guards. The short “stub” guards reduce plugging by a lot! The machine has been timed, all the seals replaced and a new style pitman arm bearing installed. It is as ready to go as I am.

These McCormick Deering mowers came in several styles regular gear, high gear and trailer gear. I did a lot of research before choosing this one. All of the Amish farmers that I asked said pretty much the same thing…. Well timed machine, sharp knives mean everything…the rest is “fluff” and mostly personal preference.

When I started farming, I used a McCormick Deering #7. It is a model a bit older than the #9″s. I got along well with it. I only sold it to be able to go faster…or so I thought. As I was mowing hay with my tractor mower for the last time, I realized that I was going 3MPH…the same speed a horse walks. The only thing that made it seem faster was not having to stop and rest the horses.

So, I listened to the noisy tractor drone on as I mindlessly drove around the fields. Now, I will listen to the horses and their harness bells. I will stop to rest them and give the mower a shot of grease or a splash of oil. I can listen to birdsong and enjoy farming in the way of my grandfathers. Plus…I will still be mowing at 3MPH!



Taking Out the Ash
July 28, 2018, 5:16 pm
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

ashnotch

July 28, 2018

I started removing our dead and dying Ash trees. They have fallen victim to the Emerald Ash Borer, a pest from overseas. They have no natural predator here in the USA. My wife took these pictures as she stood by while I fell the first few. In the photo above, I am completing the notch cut. This cut determines the direction of fall. This tree had some lean so a few things came in to my decision, as to where the tree would fall. I simply wanted to guide it where it would do the least amount of damage to surrounding trees.

I am not a novice. I have been trained in the art of directional felling and have many years of experience working at this craft. I wear my safety gear always. I have someone nearby to call for emergency services if needed. I get help from seasoned professionals if I find myself with a tree that I am not comfortable doing alone. I suggest that most folks leave tree cutting to professionals, as this is a dangerous job.

In this next photo, I am making my “release” cut. I have cut all but the small hinge, looked around one last time for any changes to the area, like people or pets, perhaps even a limb I hadn’t noticed beforehand. Once I am sure all is well, I make the final cut, “releasing” the tree to fall. I walk a path 45 degree angle from the tree as it falls. My chainsaw has been shut off or the chain break set, at a minimum.

ashrelease

The release cut above…..Me walking safely out of harm’s way below.

ashhinge

My wife even caught the falling tree, just as it was about to hit the ground.

ashfall

I am watching above the tree for anything that would snap back from the falling tree or trees nearby as it brushes them on the way down. The tree is stripped of its limbs to expose the marketable logs. The logs are measured and skidded out to be loaded. This tree yielded two logs twelve feet long. The limbs will be all used for boiling maple syrup. The trees will not be wasted. I feel bad that this specie will disappear from our landscape in the way of the American Elm and Chestnut. I am glad to be able to at least utilize the ones in my control.

I’d like to write a bit more, but I better keep my “Ash” busy.  :o)