RicelandMeadows


Autumn Curtain Call
November 9, 2019, 9:13 am
Filed under: November 2019 | Tags: , , ,

nov19sunset

November 9, 2019

Winter is pushing hard on us. Next week, they are forecasting overnight lows in the single digits and teens (F). The leaves are mostly off the trees and our growing season is over. I have a couple pastures of stockpiled grass for the sheep, but the cows and horses only have a few days of grazing left. I will be feeding hay very soon.

Our weather has been changeable, to say the least. One highlight is that our sunrises and sunsets have been beautiful. I have a breakdown with my corn picker. Thankfully, the parts are in route, so I may get to pick with it yet. So far, I am picking by hand. I like the job, but would have gotten an earlier start if I had realized that this was my option.

They are also predicting lake effect snow for us in the snowbelt for the coming week. It’s not a big deal, but it seems very early. When I was a boy, this weather was more the norm, but in the last few decades, our fall weather has been more warm and wet. I like winter, but I should have made better use of October!

Alas, it will all work out. The weather will be what it will be. The corn will get picked and the animals will come to the barn. Chores will increase as outside work slows down. In the meantime, I will take a little more time to enjoy the beautiful show each morning and evening, as Autumn bows out.



Fall, Friends, and Field Trips
October 27, 2019, 2:36 pm
Filed under: October 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

fallsugar2019

October 27, 2019

In this blurry picture of our sugarhouse, you can see the autumn leaves. The color was late in coming this year, but after a couple hard frosts, the trees draped themselves in wonderful colors. I shot this picture on a cool morning at sunrise. Autumn has arrived!

I have just begun to pick our field corn crop. It needed a bit more drying, but now is ready to harvest. We had a rainy weekend, that made me rest and reset. I guess it’s sometimes good for all of us to just be still.

I managed to attend two major draft horse sales in our area. The Lake Erie Draft Colt Sale in Burton, Ohio was the first. The three-year-old filly in the picture below, brought over $6000.00. Great sale, good horses and cool weather.

burtonblack

Then last Thursday and Friday, I attended the Buckeye Draft Horse sale in Dover, Ohio. I hauled horses and friends as we supported the sale. There were many nice horses to feast your eyes upon. They came in all colors, shapes and sizes. A weanling Percheron filly sold for $24,000.00 in Dover, topping the sale!

suffolkstud

I also visited a friend in southern Ohio last week, who owns this chunky Suffolk Stallion. He is a great horse with a quiet disposition. I had gone to see his owner, because I bought a wagon from him. I plan to convert the old hay wagon into a hayride wagon for the farm.

Corn picking is on my mind and will fill my days in the near future. In the meantime, it was nice to enjoy the autumn splendor, in the company of friends and good draft horses.



Feeling Good
October 8, 2019, 2:26 pm
Filed under: October 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

mary20191stbaby

October 8, 2019

Our weather has been nice. My work list is getting completed. Autumn is making itself known. Our last cow had her calf and things are good. We finished filling the sugarhouse woodshed yesterday. I even delivered a load of firewood for a birthday present.

chuckwood2019

I am a little sore today from doing unaccustomed work….I haven’t had this in a long time. Oh sure, do too many sit-ups or ride a horse…and I feel that the next few days, but holy cow!  When did a little extra work start to make my old muscles stiff and sore? This aging stuff is for the birds, but all in all…I feel good!

Honestly, how could a guy not feel good. I’m surrounded by family, friends, great draft horses and farm animals. Sure there is work that comes with those things. Work that is well worth the effort! Heck with feeling good… I feel great!



The Autumn Rush
September 19, 2019, 9:23 am
Filed under: September 2019 | Tags: , , ,

blkcowcalf

September 19, 2019

September is flying by. It is a busy time, as I rush and work to get our speltz crop planted. I did manage to get the hay equipment all cleaned and put away. I helped a friend on a logging job for a day too. Now I must focus on getting the crop planted, before the wet days of fall make field work impossible.

The cows are starting to have their calves. This is always a fun time…watching the babies that is. The moms take it all in stride. I try to stay pretty much hands off, mostly checking on everyone from the fence line. I get involved when necessary, but usually just watch to ensure that all is well.

The corn crop is ripening fast. The trees are starting to show color and signs of dropping their leaves. I want to stay “on track” so as not to get caught by the changing weather. Last year, our autumn was very wet. I didn’t get any speltz planted, nor any fall plowing done. My hope, for this year, is to continue to keep up.

The compost has all been spread. The manure storage area is empty and ready for winter. The manure spreader has been power washed, lubed and stored away. The corn harvest is our next big job, but so far so good. The autumn rush is on, but we are keeping up…so far.



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!