RicelandMeadows


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!



Tabletop Farming
July 15, 2017, 9:41 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

tabletopfarm

July 15, 2017

My farming these days amounts to playing on a table with my grandson. He is a meticulous farmer! The tractors get parked by the barn. The gate must be closed unless you are driving the tractor through it. Hay bales get stacked in the same direction and the animals can be in the same pasture, but the cows are with the cows and the sheep with the sheep. I watch and play with a big smile….this kid takes this stuff serious and he won’t be three until next week!

My days just got a little better. I am allowed to walk around the circle drive around the barn once a day. It is part of my therapy. It also does wonders for my mental health as I peek through the windows at the pigs and monitor the landscape as I walk. Progress is slow but steady as my knee heals.

Today, the cement crew that I hired, completed the feedlot extension. The job went fast. I saved my daily walk until the cement was 99% done, so I could see the completed job. I was very happy with the job they did. The next phase will be gates and fences, but like my knee, progress is slow but steady.

feedlotextcement

This is going to make winter chores a breeze. Hay feeding will now move to a weekly job from a daily job. Cattle comfort will be improved and manure management just got better too. Plus I get to keep all that liquid gold all winter to make crop food for next year’s crops.

So, in between ice packs, great exercises for bending, stretching and sweating, I will take that daily walk and do my farming on the tabletop…for now :o)



Rye Cover Crop
May 22, 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

ryecover

May 22, 2017

This photo shows the cover crop of  cereal rye on our garden this spring. This seed is also known as annual rye. It is grown for grain for flour and for whiskey. I plant it here in late fall, September even into October. It actually grew to waist high before I got it mowed down. I mowed it with the weedeater. Usually, I just plow it under. The wet weather made the fast growing crop too rank to plow down. Once the garden was dry enough to plow, my schedule had changed, so we mowed it. Today, I could have plowed it, but am housebound recovering from pneumonia!

Using a cover crop, even in a small scale like on my garden, makes sense. The growing plants hold soil in place, stopping erosion. They suppress weeds, both in the late autumn as well as, in early spring. They “mine” minerals and nutrients out of the ground. These “mined” materials are given up by the decaying plant. Those become available to the growing plants, in a form ready for use. I will caution that decay uses soil nitrogen, so if the cover crop gets too big, like mine did this year, additional nitrogen may need to be added.

In the case of a heavy nitrogen feeder like corn (maize), you could actually set the plants back by the rich cover crop. My garden soil is well balanced. There is plenty of nitrogen available, so I am not worried. If this was a new garden spot, too much decaying plant material can almost starve the growing crop. Compost added, has already decayed, so if the carbon balance is correct, the nitrogen in the compost is stable and stays in the soil until needed by the growing crop.

You can offset the effects of a thick, heavy cover crop in its decay cycle, by adding more compost. You can add commercial fertilizer too or in place of the compost, but I choose to use compost only on our food crops. I have used commercial fertilizers, but only when soil tests demand it. I’d rather farm with nature and the balance she provides.

The mowed rye plants have dried in the sun. The hollow stems are soaking up rain water and decaying a bit. Incorporating them into the soil as soon as possible is the order of the day. I hope to beat the coming rain and have the garden plowed by chore time Wednesday. Farming is a wonderful life. It is an ongoing chemistry lesson. The cycle of life spins daily and I love the ride!



Piling up the Benefits
January 5, 2017, 2:03 pm
Filed under: January 2017 | Tags: , ,

wintercompost

January 5 2017

Yesterday, in a bitter cold windy day, I pushed up the manure pile. I use this dry stack area to compost all of our manure. I dump wheelbarrows until I can’t close the gate. I then push the piles up and mix it in a bit with the skid steer. Yesterday, the steam rolled out of the pile as I disturbed it, with a fog that I couldn’t see through! That pile is working hard, let me tell you.

The pile is a mix of animal manures and lots of straw, old hay and some sawdust. The whole thing breaks down and turns to rich compost. The rotting action does slow a little in this cold time of year, but it still works like a charm. By the time I have to push up the wheelbarrow piles, the main pile will have shrunk down by a few feet. I root around in there with the skid steer bucket, somewhat turning the pile. This action seems to make the pile decompose much quicker.

I would not do quite so much mixing, if it weren’t for my big orange shovel (AKA skid steer) That thing makes quick work of all manure management issues. I have quite a bit to manage, so I welcome the help it gives me. This pile and many like it are the basis for my farm’s fertility. It’s free for the gathering, just one more benefit that piles up around here.



Its Here!
December 12, 2016, 8:58 pm
Filed under: December 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

sugarhousesnow

December 12, 2016

Winter has arrived here in northeast Ohio. It came with a vengeance! We had this quick first snow, followed two days later with eighteen inches more. I dug us out. Last night, it drizzled for four or five hours. We had a slushy mess today. Six to eight inches covers the ground, but slush and mud are underneath. Ugh, that is winter, but not my favorite kind of weather.

The cattle and sheep took it all in stride. They waited out the rain in their respective sheds. The horses went out to play during the deep snow event. They had a great time. Today, they romped and splashed about like children. Tonight, they are back in the warm barn, coats all brushed and ready for bed.

The winter chores are mostly about feeding and making sure all the animals have a dry, warm bed. That means shoveling lots of manure. The manure makes compost so as I wheel each load to the pile, I smile a bit knowing the payback comes in the spring. Those rich nutrients make my crops grow well and round out a well managed farm plan. So as the snow piles up and the rest of us hunker down, I will pile up the benefits…one forkful at a time.



Tis The Season
December 6, 2016, 10:30 pm
Filed under: December 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

lamb2016

December 6, 2016

Butchering season is upon us. This is one of our 2016 grassfed lambs. We will enjoy him ourselves. It is a bittersweet time. The animals that I have nurtured all year, now become meals for us. It is the cycle of life. I understand, I am grateful and yet a part of me feels a little sad. I stun the animals humanely and treat them with respect right to the end of their lives. I take comfort in that fact.

Our animals are well treated form birth until death. Even in the final seconds of their lives, they know no fear or mistreatment. I believe the stress free lives that they live, translates to very safe, wholesome food for me and my family. They spend much of their lives on pasture in the fresh air and sunshine. I watch over them, keeping them safe and well. We get the benefit of vitamins and minerals consumed from our grass and converted into the flesh of our animals.

We feed the soil with compost and pH buffering limestone. The soil feeds the crops. The crops feed the animals and in the case of cover crops, the soil itself. The animals feed us very nutritious protein, packed with vitamins and omega3. The work that I do taking care of our soils is worth every minute. I see it in the crops we grow and I taste it in the beef, lamb, pork and chicken that we eat.

 



2016 Spelt Has Been Planted
October 7, 2016, 8:52 pm
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

2016speltzplant

October 7, 2016

Wow, after pushing hard from dark until dark for the last three days, the spelt crop for this year has been planted. I had to use the tractor some, but the horses and I pushed through it. This back field is usually our pig herd pasture. I needed to renovate it. Spelt and hay is planted at the same time. I will frost seed clover into this field in February or March, but in the meantime, the spelt will nurse the fescue hay seedlings.

This is a field of about five acres including a small wooded section and several small groves of trees. I farm around the trees for the benefit of the animals and even for the look of the grassy hamlet. The spelt field is about three acres, so well worth the effort. Next July, the grain and straw from this piece will meet our farm needs for a year.

The straw when mixed with the animals manure, after providing them a warm bed, is the foundation for our compost providing much of the carbon source needed. The grain fuels” the horses for an entire year, providing all goes well with the crop. We have not had to buy commercial horse feed for over eight years. Spelt and salt and mineral are all that is needed to keep working horses in good condition, along with good hay of course.

As I type these words, I am tired from the last three days, but I am very satisfied. Now, I just have to clean up the grain drill, grease and put away the disc and other tools while I wait for the seed to sprout. :o)