RicelandMeadows


Safe at Home

April 12, 2021

After 21 years, our barn needs some upgrading and renovation. This is our hay mow floor. The original one, made form OSB plywood, had a few spongy spots and even a couple holes. I didn’t want anyone to fall through or even step through the declining wood. We laid new boards right over the top of the OSB after fixing the holes. The new lumber is native hardwood Beech with a section of white pine. The floor is safe, stable and will last me for a very long time.

New doors will be one of the next projects. I am also removing a door on one end. I will install a window in its place. Things change as the years go by. We now fill our mow with 4×4 round bales of hay instead of the labor intensive small square bales. Finding help to put up the small squares had become a problem. The round bales I can put in with our skid steer. I just need a guy upstairs to roll them into place. The mow will hold 30 bales. It supplies the hay needed for the worst part of our winter. I simply stand the bales on end and peel off what I need. Its almost like feeding loose hay.

I am also making changes to our east overhang. This has been a run-in shed for cattle and sheep for 21 years. I have decided to house those animals in other areas around the farm. This will allow for big roomy box stalls to be built under the overhang. We need them for our Suffolk mares and foals. The barns footprint won’t change, but its usefulness will be much enhanced.

It will be quite an upgrade once the project is complete. We sold our flock of sheep to help finance the project. Sheep may be back in our future especially young lamb for our customers. We will continue to finish lambs on our pastures seeded for that purpose, but the ewes are gone…for now.

The farm is evolving as we transition into breeding and preserving this rare breed, the Suffolk Punch horse. I want to ensure their safety and mine as we go. :o) Stay tuned for updates as this project progresses.



Put a Lid on It
July 3, 2015, 6:28 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , ,

Even a skylight!

Even a skylight!

July 3, 2015

We managed to get the walls and roof on the sugarhouse addition. Only the doors and batten strips remain to be finished. The addition is turning out even better than I visualized in my head. We even put two skylights in the roof to make use of natural light. I know from experience that there is nothing like it. The big windows on the sugarhouse itself, let in much more light than I can make with a few bulbs. The manmade light works good at night, when piercing the dark, but falls way short during the light of day.

The rain fell as the work commenced, but in the end, a nice day made this building project fun to build. It will soon be all closed in and the work on the inside will start. A wall will come down and a set of stairs will be built. The large tank is scheduled for October. The installation will take place then. There will be plumbing to do and a few other things to complete, along with a final measurement of my hill outside for unloading. Gravity can be your friend, but he can be a mean enemy when trying to push water uphill…saying nothing about how he helped my chest fall into my drawers ­čś«

The fields are still wet, but drying. Farm work is┬ástalled, but completing projects such as this, makes me feel good. The work all has to get done, so changing the order is good planning not a shotgun approach to work. On a small farm it is all about adapting to change. It is about wearing many hats like a builder, a veterinarian, a gardener, a logger and a mentor. I embrace this life. I take up the challenge and speak up for small farmers…..so the nay-sayers can “Put a lid on it!”



Made in the Shade
June 21, 2015, 9:36 am
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , ,

The new addition on the Sugarhouse

The new addition on the Sugarhouse

June 21, 2015

Yesterday, in the shade of some sugar maples, we started on the sugarhouse addition. This add on will house a large tank. The tank will have two jobs. It will hold over 1200 gallons of sap waiting to be boiled and it will be the tank that feeds the evaporator. Boiling maple sap is a continuous process, so having the incoming sap readily available is very important. The big tank will replace the old tanks in the foreground of this photo.

The boards on the new addition, down low, are a temporary thing to keep the sheep from taking up residence under the building. I don’t mind them there, it’s the manure they would leave behind that I want to avoid! The building went up fast, thanks in part to all the help from my friend Marvin and his sons. We had a good time in the shade of those trees, while working together ­čś«

We had enough time for the young boys to fish for bass in the farm pond. We drank coffee and cold drinks, shared a meal and lots of conversation. Piece by piece the building took shape. The roof and siding are all that remains to finish. A pair of doors on the west side will be built. The door will allow for easy installation of the big tank. A set of stairs will be built inside the sugarhouse for easy entry to the new space, then this project will be complete.

The best part of this whole project for me, will be the ability to stand next to the tank and clean it out easily. The drain will direct wash water outside. I have struggled for the last four years with my old system. I could get the job done, but man was it ever difficult! This new addition, built under the trees, by me and my friends will serve us well for the rest of my life.

"Buster" climbs the sidewall

“Buster” climbs the sidewall



Destruction begets Construction
June 18, 2015, 9:41 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

The old tanks are out

The old tanks are out

June 18, 2015

The rain won’t stop, so just like when life gives you lemons and you make lemonade, I am working on projects where the rain won’t matter. My new tank will be manufactured by the first of October. I want the sugarhouse addition to be completed before the tank is ready. I want to bring it home and slide it right into place. The addition will accommodate the tank with just a little room for storage.

The addition will resemble a mezzanine. A small porch like structure, built up in the air, allowing gravity to feed maple sap to my evaporator. The new addition and tank will make it much easier for cleaning. In any part of the food industry, clean up is the most important job. Making this job easier is a wonderful thing!

The construction project will take a few days, but having it completed before haying season fills my schedule from daylight to dark, is pleasing. I have enlisted the help of my friend Marvin. He and I share work. We trade labor for labor. It is a good system that costs us nothing and cements a longtime friendship. His concerns become my concerns and visa-versa. We share work, wisdom and fellowship as we work out projects and problems.

It is bittersweet to rip part of my sugarhouse apart. I like this little building and it has served me well. I see this new addition as a very important part of our operation. We need the storage space as our maple syrup operation grows. The move to a one tank system will make my┬ásap boiling job much easier and less stressful.┬áCurrently, I┬áto have to keep an eye on tank levels and transfer when needed. That has to be done in-between loading the firebox, drawing off syrup and keeping a watchful eye on the boiling liquid….trust me when I say this new project will ease my burden significantly.