RicelandMeadows


Here Comes the Cold
January 15, 2022, 1:43 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 15, 2022

Hank, our herd stallion and me clowning around for the camera. He wasn’t impressed with the flash too much. We have been busy training with Hank, keeping him on track to become a great work horse.

He is growing well and will turn three years old in April. He has a deep, wide chest. I like this quality in a horse. It is our hope that Hank will pass this trait along to his offspring.

His best quality is his mind. He is a very likeable horse who has great manners. He doesn’t bother the ladies. Well, he may walk by close enough to get a squeal out of them, but he is just teasing. The mares are serious about no monkey business. He just walks away and minds his own business. When we work, he keeps to himself too. I really like this guy. He is a model stallion for any breed, but exemplifies the Suffolk Punch breed.

I expect him to reach 17 hands tall, with plenty of bone. He will start expanding into his body over the next two years as he matures. He has been a good horse to raise. I hope that our progress remains positive. I wouldn’t recommend a stallion for everyone, but this guy has been good for us. His first baby is due in April. We are getting excited to see what he passes on to his children.

The January cold is upon us. It is nice to have the mud frozen. The ground can be driven on anywhere on the farm. This moves many of our projects along well. I spread some compost last week and will complete that job later today. We are spreading only on paddocks with good green buffers on all sides to ensure our runoff stays put. We wouldn’t normally spread on frozen ground, but our manure pile is huge and we are simply out of room.

We plan to harvest a few trees next week for the lumber for a project we are working on. The frozen ground makes that job a joy to do. We must dress for it. I take a few extra breaks in to warm shop to warm fingers and hands, but I sure am enjoying being out of the mud!



Cold Days, Warm Meals
January 11, 2022, 11:06 am
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

January 11, 2022

Well, winter has finally come to northeast Ohio. After months of mud, we are getting some relief as the ground freezes. It went from the 40’s to the single digits overnight. The up and down still persists, but the cold appears to mostly be here to stay for awhile. The animals are all eating a bit extra feed to stay warm and comfortable. I too have enjoy the holidays a bit too much in the food department!

I shot this picture of a hawk eating a field mouse yesterday, out of our kitchen window. He was a handsome fellow, but my phone couldn’t catch all of his splendor. I didn’t see him grab his prey, but I watched him quite awhile as he devoured his meal. The cycle of life played out for us to see.

We have almost completed our family butchering job for the year. Just a little bit to do remains. I am thankful for the harvest and the meals to come. The woodshed is full. Now, our woodland job will shift to that of harvesting a few pine trees to be sawed out for lumber. That job will be good for Hank, our young stallion. He needs to learn to walk and work in the woodlot.

I guess this month is for my downtime. I get to play around with my hobbies before the start of maple season and the spring work that follows. I have a few projects in mind to make in the forge. I also want to build a wall on the north end of the newly constructed hoop building. This building is for bedding materials like straw and sawdust as well as, providing some extra storage.

It is a good sized building measuring 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and 36 feet long. I put a large apron on the southeast facing end. My plan is to dump sawdust on the apron then push it in with the skid steer. The wall I intend to build on the north end is to keep the worst winds at bay, while still allowing for plenty of air circulation.

Sawdust is plentiful and cheap during the summer months. This building will allow for the storage needed to house some of that cheap bedding material, along with our farm raised spelt straw. These carbon sources are critical to stabilizing our compost made from our animal’s manure. The compost is paramount in completing the fertilizer needs of our soils. All of our farm fields benefit from this black gold we help create. Just another warm meal made here on the farm!



Thank Full !!
November 26, 2021, 11:50 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

November 26, 2021

What a wonderful day yesterday was. Plenty of great tasting food, some family , some friends and a good day to pause and reflect.

Our hogs are ready for freezer camp. They have grown nicely and are now eating only our farm raised ear corn. The weather is switching to the favored cooler weather that makes home butchering possible. Now, its just making the plans to get this job done. The pigs are happy, warm and comfortable. They have no stress. One day soon they will be humanely dispatched.

They will be turned into chops, sausage, hams and bacons. They will strengthen us and keep us fed in the coming months. Their cycle comes to an end. I will thank them for their meat, their manure and for helping to complete the farm cycle that makes our farm viable.

You see they provide us with needed protein while suppling us with manure for the compost used to grow the crops they consume. It works very well for us.

They stay clean in the speltz straw grown here too. The straw makes our compost balance very well. It provides the carbon source to hold nutrients and rot down to feed the growing crop plants. Pigs truly are the “mortgage lifter” as in the days of old. They and chickens are the perfect animal mix for a small farm or homestead. We are so thankful!



Straw Boss
August 4, 2021, 9:01 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

August 4, 2021

I have been working steady trying to get our hay crop finished up during this wet summer of 2021. I am happy to report that our first cutting is finally done….30 days later than normal, but done none the less.

Now the horses and I are staying steady at getting the spelt straw ready to bale. The crop is almost dry enough to complete the job. The field however, is very soft, with standing water still found in places. I am fluffing and flipping the drying straw, hoping the field will dry out enough to hold the tractor and baler without making ruts.

The spelt grain came off very well. I combined over a week ago. The yield was very good, especially considering the wet year. The hay crop planted with the spelt had exploded with new growth. Some areas of the field, the timothy hay heads were taller than the spelt. The combine, thankfully, separated the grain from the weeds and timothy heads very well. Our bin will be nice and full, supplying horse feed for all of the coming year.

The golden windrows of straw are even pretty to look at. The weather is perfect right now, even the flies are tolerable for the horses.

You can see the yellow streak that was once under the straw windrow. I want this job complete soon. The windrows of wet straw can kill the growing hay underneath. I think this will all be fine. My main concern is to get the bales made and off the field without making a bunch of tracks and rutting up the field. It will all turn out OK … it always has. I may have to roll a few ruts or perhaps even disc and reseed a portion or two. Such is the life of a farmer and the reason why it is much better to work with nature, rather than being a “know it all” Straw Boss, demanding my own will. Mother Nature will humble the strongest man. Patience and persistence will get the crop in for sure.

I need to be more like Sam our Border Collie. He takes everything in stride. He relaxes when he isn’t working, yet he is always ready to pounce on a job. My pouncing days are few, but I am getting better at relaxing :o)



A New Day Dawns
January 10, 2021, 3:21 pm
Filed under: January 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

January 10, 2021

What a beautiful sunrise. If you look close you can see the steam rising above the compost pile. Perhaps a fitting tribute to recent events? Well, wherever you stand, keep your eyes on the sunrise and not the compost!

It has been an unseasonable January so far. The temperatures are warmer than usual for this time of year. The whole farm is muddy, but today, the entire landscape was frozen solid. What a relief to walk on firm ground, no matter where I stepped. It was wonderful.

I turned the horses out to run, roll and romp. They did just that. Then, once the sun came out and warmed us all, the frost left the ground. In celebration, the horses promptly rolled in the softening soil. In other words, they rolled in the mud! Their coats will be thick with the mud, but it must feel good to them. Oh well, it’s not the first time that I have worn a mask, to brush them clean.

It takes a little effort to keep them clean and make them shine, but to me it is worth it. I get to talk with them. I get to feel their whole body, watching out for any new bumps, cuts or potential problems. I also get to let my mind wander, far from anything that bothers me. I get to enjoy a peace not found in many places.

Maybe for me, clean stalls and clean coats make for a clean heart? All I know is that I am at peace with myself, in tune with my animals and in the right spot in the universe. I am a man truly Blessed.



Laying It On Thin

KH2018july

October 29, 2018

In the photo above, I am hooking up to my powercart. Hoss looks like he is about to talk out the side of his mouth. Fear not, I am not being cruel with my lines or his bit, the camera just caught that moment when line pressure tells a horse where to stand.

They were watching the cattle, who had just been moved to new pasture. The cattle were running and jumping, playing if you will, checking out their new paddock. The horses were so focused on the cattle, that they weren’t listening to my voice. Usually they plod over to whatever they are to be hooked to, sidle up and stand. They move right or left when I say, “Gee or Haw”. This day they were wide awake, yet waiting for my signal.

KHCompost

Once we were all hooked up, we took this load of compost out to the field. I spread it on thin. The thin application is absorbed quickly by the soil. The nutrients stay in place and are used as food. Composted manure applied in this manner is of in little danger of running off into streams and waterways. It is also important to spread on dry days when rain or snow is of little concern.

I also make sure there are grass filter strips along stream borders. These strips collect any potential manure from becoming a problem. It takes a little planning to farm the way I do, but it is worth it. To know that my farm is not having a negative impact on my neighbors or any person downstream is pleasing to me.

This year, I was able to spread 40 loads of compost like the one in the photo above. The black gold was spread on a field that will grow next season’s corn. It was spread on a field where the speltz were harvested to give the growing newly seeded hay crop a boost. Lastly, it was spread on an older hay field that will soon be put into pasture. The compost applications are done as part of our crop rotations. We try to put the nutrients where they will be needed most. By spreading the compost thin, it goes farther, stays in place and gives us the most “bang for our buck”! Good farm husbandry goes hand and hand with good environmental stewardship. I believe that is not only my responsibility, but my duty as well.



Amazing Weekend
July 27, 2018, 10:36 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

4onpasture

July 27, 2018

Last night we got some much needed rain. The whole landscape has greened up. The gardens and crops seem to have jumped, thanks to the needed moisture. It has rained all around us for over a week. It was finally our turn last night and we appreciate it very much. The rain gauge said 2.5 inches…everything else said, thank you!

Compost hauling continues…

haulingpoop

I take a load or two each day. We have lots to move, but this is almost fun! I have been trying to work when the air is cool and the flies bite less. This is good work for all of us and the farm benefits from my labor. I am liking retirement. I get to do what I love every day. Man, this is awesome!

khlooking

Here, I am hitching up to the powercart and spreader. The horses seem to be looking forward to the work as much as I am. It is very true, when your hands are doing what your heart tells them to do….there is no work in it at all! I am looking forward to an amazing weekend.



Laying It On
July 22, 2018, 8:03 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

K&Hpowercart

July 22, 2018

It’s finally time to spread manure and our compost. The farm work is mostly caught up. The weather is a bit unsettled and rain is forecast to be spotty and scattered. I like to spread on the recently mowed pastures and hay fields. The grass responds well. The rains wash the nutrients into the soil. I get much satisfaction from handling this job well.

I don’t spread manure in winter, on soggy, wet ground or anytime that I could make ruts. I want the manure to stay put, not wash off into road ditches and watercourses. First of all, I want the nutrients to enrich my soils. Secondly, I am a good steward for the land, being responsible with this raw material is a passion. Lastly, I want my fields to stay in smooth condition whenever possible. Smooth fields are much better to farm…especially with horse drawn equipment with steel seats!

I will be working on this task everyday for several weeks. I will take 3 or 4 loads out a day, while working on other jobs around the farm. Once the pastures and hay fields have been given a light coating, the field where corn will grow next year will be given a liberal amount. It will then be plowed under in the old way of farming.

Summer is zipping by, this job signifies the halfway point for me. So far, we are on track. I steady rain falls as I write and all the plants seem to be looking skyward enjoying the life-giving moisture. Today we rest, watch the rain and enjoy family….tomorrow…I’ll be laying it on again!



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



A Job Worth Doing…
November 5, 2017, 8:05 pm
Filed under: November 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

wbpoop

November 5, 2017

How many times have you heard that a job worth doing, is worth doing right.? It always makes me laugh as I clean the barn…that is one job that just won’t stay done! I find it almost therapeutic. Cleaning the barn daily, makes it look and smell nice. I am sue the animals appreciate it too. In fact, I think they pay me with manure for keeping their beds clean.

I like the feeling of satisfaction I get as I apply fresh bedding and sweep the barn. It pleases me to know that all is well. The animals are in their stalls eating or have just been turned out to pasture as I clean. In any case, the clean, neat barn, gives me a sense of pride.

This wheelbarrow load of sawdust, old hay and manure is headed for the compost pile. It won’t get spread on the fields until next spring. This is the beginning of next years fertilizer. The pit is now empty waiting for the animals and I to fill it up again. The repetitive barn cleanings, just like daily chores, make up a farmers life. I love this life and wouldn’t change a thing!