RicelandMeadows


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.



Hand Picked

cornpicking2018

October 27, 2018

I grabbed some random ears from the corn crib to show how well the corn crop is this year. Today, I am sidelined by a steady, all day, rain. The picking will resume once the rain stops. I managed to pick around a wet spot and the last end rows. I pick these areas first to make turning at the ends of the field easier and to keep from running corn over.

The wildlife like deer and raccoons are hitting my field pretty hard. I don’t mind them eating some, but I hate it when they waste it. They knock ears to the ground, take two bites, then move on to the next ear! The corn on the wet ground spoils very quickly. I need to stay on task to get my crop harvested, before those rascals ruin more of it.

My husking peg, shown on my hand in the picture, makes picking by hand easier. I poke the pointed end down into the husk at the top of the ear. My thumb holds a portion of the husk as I rip it down, while snapping the ear off the stalk. I am not as quick as some men that I have seen, but I am effective. Corn stored with minimal husks will keep better in the corn crib. It stays drier and lacks the nesting materials that vermin like so well.

So, I will poke along husking corn by hand. My horses walk and stand as I go around the field. They make the job much easier than getting on and off the tractor each time to move the wagon ahead. In the way of farmers from days gone by, I harvest my crop. I am so happy to have been shown how to do this job by my great grandpa and others. If I was to rely on tractor and machine this year, I would make incredible ruts in the sea of mud that has become my corn field. Husking around the field with team and wagon, I am barely making tracks. Those tracks will be easily removed during seedbed preparation next spring. So, thank you great grandpa Case and grandpa Rice, for passing your knowledge on to me. Once again, I am in your debt.



Duel Jobs
October 26, 2018, 9:14 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

samK&H

October 26, 2018

I am working on two jobs. We are trying to finish filling the woodshed at the sugarhouse. We are also picking our corn for the animals (maize). I pick by hand when the fields are wet. Believe me, this year, my field is very wet. The horses navigate the sloppy ground with ease. They do not get stuck and their impact on the land is light compared to the spinning wheels on a tractor.

I pick two rows at a time. This way the horses and wagon move over to a new place to walk, every trip around the field. Once I have picked all the corn ears off the stalks, the livestock will be turned in to glean the field. The cows will search out any nubbin ears that I missed, as will the hogs. All of the animals will eat the leftover plant called stover or fodder depending upon what part of the country you are from.

I will graze this field all winter once the ground has frozen. The animals will eat much of the spent plants. The field will then plow easy in the spring. I hope to plant oats here in early spring 2019. That is the life of a farmer, plant, weed, harvest and repeat. The little things along the way like making use of corn fodder, just help the farmer out.

Picking corn by hand is a boring job to some. To me, it is a nice quiet time spent with the horses. I can pick along and solve all sorts of problems, plan things out and enjoy some nice autumn days. Winter will soon be here. I must push hard to get the corn harvested and the woodshed filled, but thanks to good horses, good friends and family, I’m sure I will get it all done.



Cool Weather Wrap-Up
October 22, 2018, 9:35 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snugK&H

October 22, 2018

This past Saturday night, we got a late autumn storm. The wind driven rain and sleet pounded on the walls and roof of every building. The animals were snug, as was I, inside warm and dry. We woke to a light covering of snow that had followed an inch of rain. The cold and wet continued into Sunday, but at least the rain had stopped.

cowherd2018

The cow herd continues to graze the wooded paddock on the north side of the farm. All of them are fat and happy. The young calves are little butterballs! Winter is crowding in hard, but so far we are on schedule to be prepared.

filling2018

The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up fast. Most years this would be behind me, but I chose to not work on the hottest summer days. This year we had a lot of those hot days. As I look back, I wont make that mistake again. A little sweat in June and July, would have this job much farther along, perhaps even finished. It’s time to be picking corn, not still messing around with the wood…unless it was for a year ahead.

In any case, I will get it all done. I just need to keep reminding myself to stay focused. I am enjoying retirement, but it is easy to get sidetracked. I need to just make a list to guide me….then remember to look at the list!



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.