RicelandMeadows


Bridging The Learning

Homsklkidsonbridge

March 2, 2016

Yesterday, we had a group of home schooled children come an visit our maple syrup operation. The kids had a great time running and playing in the woods and on the sap paths. They also learned a lot about all things maple. The field trip was organized by my daughter-in-law. She taught the group, gave out informational handouts and set up a tasting station.

The steam was really rolling as I boiled maple sap for over six hours. The syrup is light, clear and delicious. In the afternoon the trees started to drip, but clouds and cool soon stopped that effort. Today we are cold and snowy. All of us get a break. I will do a little clean up and make ready for the next warm day and the sap flow that comes with it.

It was fun for me to share with the visiting families. Moms, dads and kids alike all took some maple information home in their hands, as well as, in their minds. The steamy room, the sweet smelling syrup and the hot fire, all made memories….for us all.

My dog Cinch had a great day too. All of those kids to play with and all that mud to splash through! He and I are grateful for the down time today. It was a fun day for us all as we bridged the gap from city to country, neighbor to neighbor and young to old. The best part of all, was making friends out of strangers!

Homeschoolgroup



Summer Fun? You Better Hurry!
August 6, 2015, 11:19 am
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Spray me with the hose mom

Spray me with the hose mom

August 6, 2015

Connie and Cinch play an almost daily game as she waters her flowers. Cinch loves to “chew” water from a hose. I caught the two of them playing in the water the other day and snapped this picture. He jumps at the water and gobbles up huge mouthfuls. He is funny to watch and I admit, I have to play with him too as I fill water troughs around the farm.

Summer is flying by these days. It’s hard to believe that the county fair is next week and school for children starts soon after. When I was a boy in 4-H, the county fair was the highlight of our summer. It was where we met up with old friends, rode rides and ate “food” from the midway. It was also a time for great responsibility. We had to care for, then show our animals. Unlike the daily care at home, we tended our stock 24/7, making sure city folks saw as little manure as possible.

We worked hard, lost sleep and fell in love, always with a farm animal nearby. I never out grew it. I am the most comfortable around animals. They are my passion. They put me at ease…no matter if I am working hard or tired from lack of sleep. As for falling in love, it still works! I fell in love for the last time, thirty years ago, but I continue to fall in love with new babies, boy and girlfriends of grandchildren and people who God puts into my life, always with a farm animal nearby.

The end of the fair week was bittersweet. It signaled the end of summer. It meant saying goodbye to friends from other school districts until next year. It meant saying goodbye to an animal friend raised and shown for it’s carcass. It meant school was just around the corner and the only thing to look forward to was mowing the yard. So, this time of year meant cramming as much summer fun into each day as possible. I still live by this creed.  So, if you find me squirting water at my dog, you’ll know that I am just reliving the wonderful days of my childhood!



It’s Hot Dad
July 24, 2015, 3:49 pm
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Great is thy faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness

July 24, 2015

My dog Cinch goes everywhere that I go. He runs back and forth as I go to the field. He waits by the gate while I work. He sits at my feet or lays nearby. If I move, he is going too. I could not ask for a better canine companion. He loves to ride in my truck, even if it is only for fifty feet. He will nudge my hand once in a while, but is not a pest. We are fast friends who look out for each other.

Lately, with all the farm work, we have made hundreds of trips to the fields and back, or at least it seems that way 😮  In every instance Cinch is with me….panting like mad. Today it is hot and dry. The straw is drying in the sun and most farm creatures are laying in the shade. I let Cinch into the breezeway where it is cooler. He gets fresh water often but what quenches his fire best is a word of praise and a pat on the head.

When I use the sickle bar mower, I keep Cinch in his kennel or in the breezeway. I don’t want an accident. When I was a boy, there were lots of farms with 3-legged dogs. Many farmers cut their hay with sickle bar mowers. The dogs would lay in the high grass or even jump at the sickle bar. The often fell victim to the sharp blades. I sure don’t want that to happen to my buddy!

Panting dogs, sweating men and drying straw are three things that can be counted on today. It reminds me of a time not so long ago when two little boys followed me around whining, “it’s hot dad.”  Dang I miss those days………….



Happy As A Pig In ………. Shhhhhh
June 17, 2015, 1:06 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Momma Pig enjoying a day out

Momma Pig enjoying a day out

June 17, 2015

Our sow herd is out on pasture. They seem to love that space. The have several wallows thanks to all of our recent rains. They munch clover and grass while rooting after who knows what. They rest in the shade, lay in the sun and romp and play whenever they want to do it. They feel no stress. They come when I call to eat grain, but mostly they just relax and enjoy the summer breeze as it cools their skin.

I have three mature sows, two bred gilts and a boar in a four acre pasture. The older gals will farrow in a month or so. The young gilts will not have babies until early October. I will let them all have their babies out on pasture. I do give them little hoop houses to use if they choose. Some will use them, but others will make a nest in a spot of their choosing and fill it with baby pigs.

My fences are made from woven wire. The pigs are happy and not hungry. They stay where I put them because there is no reason to break out. When the grass gets short, I move the herd to another field. I give them grain daily, keeping an eye to not get them too fat. Fat mommas are lazy moms who will smash their babies, too lazy to jump up off a squealing piglet. Big moms are okay so long as they are fit. The walking and playing in my pastures helps keep them fit.

I want good healthy sows who give birth to strong healthy piglets. Keeping them in the manner that I do helps to insure this happens. The lack of stress, a clean place to play, eat and sleep also keeps my herd on the right track. I tried yoga once for them, but as close as I got was them all looking at my border collie through the fence… I guess it’s a pig’s version of “Downward facing dog”… 😮



My Summer “do”
May 9, 2015, 8:01 pm
Filed under: May 2015 | Tags: ,
OMG...My new haircut

OMG…My new haircut

May 9, 2015

My name is Cinch. Many of you have seen me before. My master is lazy tonight, so I am writing the BLOG. Today, my mistress took me to a nice lady’s house. The lady met us in her driveway. She took a look at my matted, long stinky coat and smiled. I wanted to tell her that I am usually more handsome, but I have been enjoying watching the big sows. I found a cool spot from which to lay and watch…. I didn’t know it was pig crap!

My bad hair day started a month ago when the mud replaced snow on the sap roads. I go everywhere with my master, so a little mud wasn’t going to stop me. The cockleburs and prickers didn’t slow me down much either. I found lots of places to wait on him, often in a puddle or creek. He brushed me quite often, but the animal bedding, garden mulch and poo stayed stuck on my coat.

I soon became hot as the weather warmed. I found refuge in the farm pond 😮  The cool water felt good, rinsed off some of my dirt and only smelled a little like a fish. My coat was thick and black. These past days of muggy hot weather were making me miserable. My mistress said the lady would make me feel cooler and boy was she right!

I got a bath right in the driveway. The lady didn’t seem to appreciate my wonderful odor of farm and fish. She was wonderful. She soon learned to cope and we were having a great time. She removed my entire coat in a mere 4 hours. I almost didn’t recognize myself. My friend Max even growled at me when we got home! I swear those darn cats even snickered at me. I feel good. I think I favor my master now, both of us a bit too fat with short gray hair!



Friends
March 23, 2015, 5:41 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Cinch waits patiently for me

Cinch waits patiently for me

March 23, 2015

Today, I met with an old friend. We have talked on the phone and by email, but we had a real visit today. It was face time, in the flesh…no computer or cell phone needed 😮  We caught up on life as easy, as if we had visited last week. The conversation flowed freely in both directions. I had a wonderful time.

This man I met well over twenty years ago. He and I hit it off and have shared many common threads since then. We share many of the same views on farming methods, conservation, forestry and the human condition. My friend is now an octogenarian, but spry and sharp of mind. He is a delight to be around. He is a little ornery, often contrary with a sense of humor that tickles me to the core.

I am grateful for friendships such as this one. I hope that I am as much a friend to him as he is to me. If I had one wish for everyone that I meet, it would be for them to have at least one true friend. It makes life complete.

My dog Cinch, the Border Collie, is an awesome friend too. He doesn’t let me out of his sight. He is glad to see me even if I have only been gone two minutes. He greets me with a big smile, waits patiently for me always and would give his life for me. There is no question that he is my friend! I am thankful for his love for me. It’s dogs like him that make me realize that “dog” spelled backwards is … “God”



Watching the Weather
March 1, 2015, 1:29 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , ,
Max looks for some warm weather

Max looks for some warm weather

March 1, 2015

We are once again being hit with a winter storm. It is warmer than it has been. Today it might even warm up to freezing! Anyway, no maple syrup weather in sight. Sure, there is one or two days next week that may even hit 40 degrees F, but the night temperatures will bottom out in the single digits. The snow is still deep and the trees are frozen solid…it will be a while 😮

So, March comes in like a lion, that can only be a good thing. The temperatures should warm as we head towards the lamb like month end. This is where patience pays off. I am not the best at waiting, but this time it only makes sense not to worry and fret! So I am working on my writings, waiting and watching for the warm weather … Just like everybody else!