RicelandMeadows


Misty Morning
August 25, 2018, 9:42 am
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

miststars1

August 24, 2018

There is a nip in the air this morning. How can it be? I still have hay to make, wood to gather and garden crops to harvest. I guess today was just a teaser. The August heat showed up by late afternoon. I think this is just a warning that soon, autumn will be here. I heard the school bus as I closed the gate. It was almost an exclamation point for my thoughts!

Work here at the farm continues, but so does the “fun”. Baby calves have started to be born. We calve in the fall. It’s backwards for most folks but works well for us. Pastures are in good shape with lots of feed for the animals. Plowing will begin soon for our speltz crop planting in the next few weeks….one more sign that fall is close at hand.

The corp crop is looking very well. It is one of our best crops in a long while. The reconditioned corn planter did an awesome job. The stand of corn is spaced just right. The ears are plentiful and well formed. The timely rain allowed the kernels to fill and made for some nice soon to be “hand picked” ears!…If picking corn by hand doesn’t signal fall… then winter… I don’t know what does.

 



Horse Drawn Hay Mower
August 8, 2018, 6:50 pm
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

num91

August 8, 2018

I bought this #9 regular gear horse drawn hay mower, to mow my hay. I have been using a tractor mower for the last eight years. It had reached it’s limit and I had reached mine working on it all the time! I have time now to relax and make hay when the sun shines! Using the horses is good for them and me!

This mower was rebuilt by a friend of mine. He has been rebuilding this type of mower for his entire life. It has been done from the “ground up”. I am looking forward to using it. I have four acres of second cutting grass to use for our maiden voyage. This thing sounds like a sewing machine. I can’t wait to try it out.

num92

Usually these have a cast iron seat. This one has a seat for an old man with a sore back….

This mower will cut six feet in a swath. The guards down near the mower are called stub guards. The short “stub” guards reduce plugging by a lot! The machine has been timed, all the seals replaced and a new style pitman arm bearing installed. It is as ready to go as I am.

These McCormick Deering mowers came in several styles regular gear, high gear and trailer gear. I did a lot of research before choosing this one. All of the Amish farmers that I asked said pretty much the same thing…. Well timed machine, sharp knives mean everything…the rest is “fluff” and mostly personal preference.

When I started farming, I used a McCormick Deering #7. It is a model a bit older than the #9″s. I got along well with it. I only sold it to be able to go faster…or so I thought. As I was mowing hay with my tractor mower for the last time, I realized that I was going 3MPH…the same speed a horse walks. The only thing that made it seem faster was not having to stop and rest the horses.

So, I listened to the noisy tractor drone on as I mindlessly drove around the fields. Now, I will listen to the horses and their harness bells. I will stop to rest them and give the mower a shot of grease or a splash of oil. I can listen to birdsong and enjoy farming in the way of my grandfathers. Plus…I will still be mowing at 3MPH!



Hay What a Busy Week
July 16, 2018, 9:04 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

haymow1

July 16, 2018

The last week has been a whirlwind! Hay dried very nice in the sun. We raked and baled, hauled and stacked until we got it all in off the fields without any of it getting wet.

haymow2

I modified the the hay loft door and am able to set the hay bales up into the loft with the skidsteer. I can set 5 bales up before I have to go up and roll them out of the way. This makes haying much easier for me. Most importantly, I don’t need help. Hay help is getting harder and harder to find, having overcome this fact is awesome! I can store the equivalent of 400 small square bales by doing it this new way. I will unroll the bale at feeding time and fork the hay down chutes to the horse mangers below.

The speltz straw also had to be mowed and made ready to bale

hayted2018

The horses and I fluffed the straw with our hay tedder. There was a lot of nice, new seeded grasses in the straw. I treated this bounty as hay. The animals will get to eat anything they want, then sleep on the rest. It gives new meaning to “bed and breakfast”. It was a hot week. The temperatures were 90F and above for many of them. The horses and I both sweated together, but we made 42 nice bales. Those bales have all been hauled in and stacked near where they will be used.

We are now ready for some needed rain. We are thankful that it held off while we scrambled to get the last of the first cutting hay harvested, the speltz combined and the straw gleaned as well. Today, it’s hot and sticky, but all of us will rest and wait for the rain…while I make a new list of work for us all.



Horse Progress Days 2018

wirehorse

July 1, 2018

I spent the last few days in Clare Michigan, attending an annual draft horse event called Horse Progress Days. It is an event that showcases draft horses and draft animal power paired up with modern farm equipment. But wait…there is more! Vendors galore, a whole program for the lady homesteader, pony equipment, saddle horse stuff, blacksmithing and farrier tools, oxen, and great food.

The wire horse in the picture is a creation of an artist named Jeff Best. It was made mostly from barbed wire. Jeff lives in Clare Michigan. This work of art is just one interesting thing to see. Equipment manufactures were on hand demonstrating their equipment and answering all sorts of questions. Many breeds of horses were represented at this amazing event.

Seminars were given on many subjects for the farmer, grower, horse lover and even aspiring beekeepers! Produce, even ripened tomatoes in a hoop house, were to be marveled by this attendee. I do these types of things daily, yet I was amazed at the innovation, simplicity and complexity of many items demonstrated.

24mower

In this photo, a hay mower capable of mowing 24 feet in one pass, was a big hit with us farmers. A 20 horsepower motor ran a hydraulic pump that powered the machine. The horses only supplied the traction power to make the mower go forward or backward. This machine is much too big for me, but man can it lay hay down!

This was the twenty-fifth year for Horse Progress Days. I hope it will still be growing strong in another twenty -five years. Judging from what I saw and the young people in attendance, I’d say the future is very bright.

Next year HPD will be held in Arcola, Illinois…. then here in Mount Hope, Ohio in 2020



Taking Nothing For Granted
June 1, 2018, 1:27 pm
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , ,

lilac

June 1, 2018

Today, is my first official day of retirement. I am the first male “Rice” to make it to retirement in three generations. My grandpa, was killed in an auto accident when he was in his fifties. My father’s retirement years were stolen from him by a disease called Alzheimer’s. I made it to today, but I realize that life is truly short, so I will take nothing for granted!

I took this selfie while sitting on the porch. I sat there just to rest a bit, but mostly to smell the blooming lilacs. I think over the years, I have let myself miss out on things such as that. I know a bit more rest wouldn’t have hurt anything. Smelling those lilacs made me remember days gone by, people I have known and loved ones that I have lost. The scent was truly heavenly…and just like us…only here for a short time.

I am making lists and working on fun projects. The wet weather makes gardening tough, but the grasses in the pastures and hay fields are loving it. I have taken the time to walk those wet fields, making notes were some drainage would help. I also see nesting birds and baby animals. It is as if I am seeing some of these things for the very first time. I guess my eyes were always open, but now, time allows for my heart to be opened too.

Stay tuned, as I work this farm with renewed vigor, in the ways of my grandfather’s, walking the rows and fields with draft horses leading the way. I will share. I will care and I will take nothing for granted.



The Stars Are Out Again!

Hosknisap2018

March 22, 2018

My horses are stars again! They just had the role in a video showcasing our farm’s maple syrup operation. The footage was shot by Rural Heritage magazine and will appear in the future on RFD-TV. The CD will also be available for purchase from Rural Heritage magazine. You can look for this and other episodes made here at the farm by going to their website¬†Ruralheritage.com¬†

It was an amazing day. We gathered maple sap. We tapped a tree and we boiled the sap and made some syrup all while being filmed. The horses gave me a little “push back” at first , but soon settled into their routine and worked perfectly…. as expected.

Maple season has been hit and miss, but these last few days we have been very busy. We boiled for the 7th time yesterday. The next few days look pretty good too. We will be in a rush as the season will soon be at its end, but for now we will work hard, even into the night….working at times, when the stars are shining!

Special thanks to Susan Blocker for the amazing photo of Hoss and Knight pulling the sap sled!



Snow Buddies Business
January 16, 2018, 9:16 pm
Filed under: January 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snowbuddies

January 16, 2018

I let the horses and donkey out to play this afternoon. They are fun to watch as they run, jump and roll in the fresh snow. I guess they get bored on these cold snowy days just like we do. The boredom will soon pass. I am healing well and very soon will resume winter farm work. I will be careful. I will have help, but I will soon be working horses again and I can’t wait!

The donkey has bonded with the draft horses. He much prefers to be with them instead of the sheep. He still patrols the sheep pasture, but stays with the horses. He has his own “stall” which is just the spot where he eats his grain, but he goes there every time! He makes me chuckle. I like the little guy.

I actually wonder if he will follow us while we work. I think it will be much easier to take him along, than to have him lonely in the barn. It will be a hoot for sure but time will tell. If I would have known how sweet these critters can be… I would have had one a long time ago!