RicelandMeadows


Nite Nite
December 3, 2018, 12:15 pm
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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.



Peace, Food and Beauty

shadylea

October 16, 2018

This picture was taken in one of our north pastures this week. The leaves are late displaying their colors this year, but the scene, to me, is still beautiful. The pasture was grazed down in September. This same field was cut for hay in late June. It is a bit of a nuisance to farm around trees, but for my small farm, it is worth it.

The tree in the foreground is a volunteer maple. I saved it a few years ago. Soon it will be big enough to tap for maple syrup. The larger tree on the left is a large hickory tree that was once a corner post for an old farmer. The wire marks are on the tree where the tree grew around the steel that had been stapled to it’s trunk. The saplings to the left of the larger tree are part of a row of brush left as a windbreak.

The livestock who graze this paddock gather under the large tree for the summer shade it provides. They nestle up in the brush row to escape the biting flies in summer and the biting winds in winter. The animals and the trees both benefit. The animals get some protection in exchange for their manure. The manure enriches the trees. The trees are located near the center of the field, so any runoff from the rains or snow, must travel across several yards of sod before it reaches a stream, keep water quality safe.

The “mast” or food crops from the large hickory trees and her daughters, is abundant. Old wild apple tress are also found in the brush row. The fruit and nuts are eaten by wildlife and my pigs. One more good reason for the existence of the brush row. A couple years ago, five gestating sows spent almost three weeks here. Ear corn was offered , but they only nibbled at the corn. The lived on the wild fruit and nuts until the mast had been consumed. Just one more way to show the value of the trees and brush, that I choose to farm around.

On a small farm, any way to add value should be considered. I find much value in having a few wooded paddocks. They provide comfort, food and beauty. If that isn’t adding value…I don’t know what is?!



Winter White
January 15, 2018, 6:54 pm
Filed under: January 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

snoplay18

January 15, 2018

Today, the calves were having a ball, running all over the feedlot. The snow covered lot actually looks great. I scraped everything clean thanks to last week’s warm-up. The slush and manure was like cleaning up applesauce, but I did manage to get it all cleaned up. That was one job I was very happy to complete.

The manure collected will compost along with the daily horse droppings and bedding. It takes a while because the cold weather slows down the rotting process. I’m fine with it because the reward of the compost is worth the wait. I also like the look of the feedlot clean and currently covered in a blanket of white!

The cows are not paying much attention to this cold winter weather. They are fed, bedded and content to just chew their cud and wait for spring. Perhaps there is wisdom in what the cows do. The young ones run and play. The rest of the herd simply takes it all in stride. There is much to be said for a full belly and a warm bed. Watching the snow pile up is just a bonus I guess.

winterlot



It’s Kind Of Like This!
December 15, 2017, 6:35 pm
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

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!



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.



Settled In
January 11, 2017, 11:21 pm
Filed under: January 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

nitenitepig

January 11, 2017

Tonight, after chores, I walked through the barns just to look at the animals. Stalls are cleaned during evening chores. I add fresh straw when needed. Usually I am on the run, feeding, cleaning, bedding and headed off to the next job…sometimes the one that pays most of the bills. Tonight, however, I took time to pause just to reflect on my simple farm life. I do love it so very much.

These pigs are almost ready to leave for freezer camp. They, of course, don’t know. They are just fixing their bed like every night. They had a good day eating, playing on the tire swing and rooting around. Now, it’s time for bed. They will continue to enjoy a stress free life. They are warm, fed and comfortable. I make sure of that, it’s my job, no…it’s my passion.

The results of my labors can be seen in my fields, my livestock and my smile. I appreciate this farm life. I thank God that he has let me find my place in the universe. I get to enjoy every single day surrounded by my animal charges and embraced with the love only a family can provide. So, talk about being settled in … I sure am!



New arrivals

calicopigs

December 22, 2016

A hush fell on the night. The pig barn was quiet. Only the sound of munching pigs and fluffing straw filled the air. All except, that is, the soft grunts of a mother pig giving birth. I swept the feed aisle and offered a bit more straw to the pigs in their pens. I went about my usual business of doing chores, not disturbing the busy momma.

I found out long ago, keeping to the regular duties of chore time and keeping the status quo, keeps everybody calm. It is times like these that pay big dividends to regularity. Even the dog watching the sow, had no effect on her. The squealing pigs waiting impatiently for their dinner, is just part of the routine. The mother pig stays focused on her delivery job. I finished chores, made sure the barn was closed up from the cold winds then went to the house.

I checked on the mother pig later by looking through the window. I leave a light on making it easy to see into the barn. The mother and babies were snug in a warm straw nest. The piglets latched on and nursing were fast asleep. The mother sow also sleeping sound, tired from her big job. Satisfied, I went to bed myself.

This mother was selected from a long line of females. I have been breeding this lineage since 1986. I need mothers that will farrow on pasture or in warm winter nests … all by themselves. This is the way it was done long ago when pigs were bred for good mothering along with rate of gain. Today’s modern pig is raised with lean muscle in mind, most other qualities are secondary at best. So piglets are born in crates, where nervous mothers can barely move to keep them from laying on their piglets or even eating them!

Yes, having a pig herd such as mine requires more of my time than the standard commercial way of confined feedlot growing. My pigs are raised on pasture or in roomy pens in a barn when the winter weather forces us inside. Their pens are cleaned and their bellies are full. They are not left to walk in a swill of manure or lay on cold, wet, manure covered concrete.

The big shots say that farmers like me can not feed the world because of inefficiency. I say “Hogwash!”. There are plenty of want to be farmers who would take good care of their stock as I do. It’s just that when the mainstream way of raising pigs sucks every ounce of profit out of this noble profession. It can and will turn around, but it will take consumers demanding a better way. Once we force the big shots to produce food as good animal husbandrymen, there will be room for other farmers and a return to common sense where the animals are concerned.

The drawback will be that our food will cost a little more. It will have more flavor and perhaps even be much better for us, but it will increase prices. Our food in America is very cheap when compared to other places in the world, but that cheapness comes at a price. Small farmers get pushed out of farming and animals become regarded as “things” not living, breathing creatures which we have been given dominion over. For me, dominion means care… and I do.