RicelandMeadows


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?!



Valuable Cover Crops
October 4, 2018, 2:45 pm
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

buckwheatcover

October 4, 2018

In the photo above, buckwheat blossoms in our raised bed. The garden crops finished up last month, just after Labor Day. I pulled up all the plants, except for the Swiss chard in the foreground. The buckwheat germinated quickly and grew faster than I thought possible. These early autumn blooms providing a food source for many pollinators.

I plant cover crops often. Their value is amazing. In the case of buckwheat it draws honeybees and the like to the garden, helping to increase fruit set in many plants. I grow cover crops mostly for their weed suppression qualities. It must be noted, that cover crops also “mine” the soil of nutrients. The cover crops give those nutrients up, when they are incorporated back into the soil. The following crop gets the benefit of plant ready “food” right in their root-zone.

I could have left the raised bed garden fallow, void of any plants. Weeds would have soon taken over the bed. I have enjoyed a month of weed free gardening as the buckwheat grew. Now, I will enjoy these blossoms for a few more days. Soon, I will cut the buckwheat off and leave it to wilt and dry up some. Then I will incorporate the dead plants while preparing a seedbed for a winter cover crop of rye. The rye will suppress weeds for the few remaining weeks of the growing season. The rye then protects the soil from wind erosion over winter, while mining more nutrients from the soil below.

In spring, the cycle will start over at the time of planting next year’s garden. These are but two cover crops that we use, but their value is awesome. They save me work and provide beauty to be seen. The blossoming buckwheat against the blue sky, highlighted by the autumn foliage, is as pretty as, the green blanket of rye on a cold winter day.



Productive Rainy Days
September 12, 2018, 9:43 am
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

raspfirstset

September 12, 2018

After oppressive heat and humidity, rain ushered in some cooler weather. The rains fell for three days here giving us 2.75 inches of moisture. I used the wet days to complete a couple of projects. The knife and hatchet set, forged from a farrier’s rasp was a fun project and is now complete. I learned a lot during the process. I will continue to put this new skill/hobby to work for me. I must say I really enjoy it.

newrack

We also completed putting a new wagon rack on my horse drawn wagon. This is the second rack on this same running gear. The last rack was 9 years old. It rotted out even though it had been painted. I now have room to keep this one inside during winter weather. It should last a good long time. The boards were wet as we built from rough cut hemlock lumber. Once it dries out, I will seal it from the elements. It will be all ready to gather firewood and pick our field corn.

The cooler weather also makes me get excited about fall plowing. The horses and I can do more in the cool comfortable days of autumn. This summer’s heat was one for the record books. It did make for a great corn crop. Timely rains and hot weather kept the pastures lush and green. Hay making was a challenge as we would get “pop-up” showers that didn’t do much more than wash the drying hay. It makes the hay dusty, okay for cows, but not for horses. Oh well, we can’t control the weather, but we can work with it…like doing something productive on a rainy day!



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.

 



Dressed in Autumn Colors
October 29, 2017, 10:30 am
Filed under: October 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

sugarhouseautmn2017

October 29, 2017

As I was hauling compost the other day, I snapped this photo of our sugarhouse. She is draped with the colors of autumn, framed by the lush pastures left from summer. Winter will follow soon, but spring is only four months away. So, we get to see this color followed by a blanket of white, leading to the “sweet” days of spring!

Winter, if you let it, can be a long season. Sure, it has it’s downside, but focus on the beauty and fun instead. Take a sled ride, go look at Christmas lights, spend time with family and friends drinking hot cocoa and winter becomes much shorter. In just three weeks, the days will start to get longer again! So fear not Spring is just around the corner.

 



Autumn Frolic
September 30, 2017, 8:29 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

calves2017

September 30, 2017

As the last day of September comes to a close, I am happy to report the calf crop is coming along well. The little black one in the picture was born last night. So far two little bulls (soon to be steers) are running all over the pasture. They will be joined by a couple more babies before foul weather sets in for winter. They are sure having fun!

Last Saturday, we put a new roof on my shop. The shingles were curled up and were in rough shape. They were 18 years old, so rather than wait for a leak, I put on a new roof. My friends helped me. We had a great day. It was an Autumn Frolic too! We finished the day with fellowship and ice cream…Yum!

adminshop

We are working steady to be ready for winter. Projects keep getting marked off the list. The speltz are growing very well. We got a quarter of an inch of rain yesterday and everything seems to have benefited. The speltz especially. They jumped a couple of inches and look real good. The lawn too appears greener. It will have to be cut at least once more. The weatherman says frost for tonight, so, our growing season may end by tomorrow.

The trees are taking on their colorful hues. Some leaves litter the ground, nuts are falling and small animals are gathering for winter. The north wind blew today signaling all of us to take note, turn up your collar and stay busy. A little more wood for the shed and we are good. So, perhaps just one more Autumn frolic and we will be ready to welcome the Winter Wonderland!

 



Harvest Time
October 4, 2016, 9:52 am
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

harvestload

October 4, 2016

Its that time of year again. We are all scrambling to get the harvest in before winter. I started yesterday opening up the corn field for picking. I go along the edge and pick the corn so that the team and wagon has room between the fence and the row being picked. I was surprised at just how dry the corn had become in just a week. It will now keep in my crib without spoiling.

My time commitments at my off farm job have been almost overwhelming this year. It takes away from my farm time, my blog time and even my life. It is a necessary evil at this time, but someday……… 🙂  Anyway, I did not grow pumpkins this year because I knew that I would not have time to take care of them. I bought this load from a friend. There are plenty here beyond the needs of my grandchildren, so some will be fed to the livestock.

My buddy makes these cute little straw bales for harvest decorations. I couldn’t resist them for the ladies in our family who love to decorate their yards and homes. I also got a bin of pie pumpkins. The kids can paint them, but I will enjoy pie and cookies made from this sweet treat. The kids will too…. sorry “Libby’s” but homemade is best.

I am scrambling to get my speltz planted this week before the next big rain. In between I am hand picking corn. I have a few days off so farm and horse time is just what I need to heal body and soul. The fact that I get to bring in the harvest, spend time with family and friends, just makes this awesome time of year even sweeter!