RicelandMeadows


Homemade, Handcrafted, Shop Made
May 24, 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

spreaderfert

May 24, 2017

Yesterday, I spread my fertilizer on the corn ground with my rig pictured above. The spreader is affixed to the axle out of an old Jeep and some small I-beam. My uncle did all the welding. My late friend in Pennsylvania figured the gear ratio. He took the distance in one revolution of the tires and told me what size gear was needed to weld on the shaft coming out of the axle rear end “pumpkin”.

My uncle welded the frame and centered the gear on the rear end shaft. A stub shaft made from pillow block bearings and fitted with stub ends from an old PTO shaft, completed the build. The spreader is just a category one, three point hitch model that I already had. Once the whole rig had been assembled, I tried it out. The horses walk about four miles per hour. My old friend Jonathan had it figured so the speed of the walking horses, turned the power take off at 540 rpm…exactly what the old spreader needed to work at its optimum.

My uncle’s welding days are behind him. My old friend has designed his last piece of homemade equipment. I think of the two of them every time I use this spreader. It gets used often during the growing season. We even spread grass seed on a football field for a community project, to help make a place for some young football players. Because of my uncle and my friend, I was able to “pay it forward” using inexpensive shop built equipment.

Many times in my life I have benefited from someone’s hand made or hand crafted object. The very first leather harnesses that I owned were a gift from my two grandfathers. They each contributed parts to get me a set that would work on two small ponies that I owned. One day, I should compile a list of all the folks who have shown me the greatest love by giving of themselves.

I have slept under homemade quilts all of my life. I still have the last one that my mother and great grandmother made for me. It is well worn and faded, but still held together by the love that made it. My wife quilts for me, our family and others. She works steady and almost tirelessly creating designs in cloth. The love she puts into them will be seen for decades.

I try to always meet people on the level and treat them square. I try to lead with a smile and follow with a good deed. One of the gifts I have, is that of managing the written word. I hope that I can impart a series of words that will touch a heart and stir a fond memory. I hope that long after I am gone, I will still be able to make folks remember a loved one, a favorite event or an old object made by hand with help from the heart.



My Country Life
May 21, 2017, 2:27 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

countrylife

May 21, 2017

As a young boy, I spent many hours playing on a swing such as this. It was tied to a limb on a big maple tree in my grandpa and grandma Rice’s front yard. I remember my dad giving us “underducks” where he would push us very fast and duck under the wooden board swing sending us skyward like a rocket…or so it seemed. The laughter of those happy times still echo in my memories.

My grandchildren and their friends are swinging in the photo above. You don’t see “I-pads, phones or earbuds”, just four children playing using their imagination. I don’t know if they are Jedi Knights, dragon flies or rockets, but even from the photo, I can see they are having fun. This, in my mind, explains my country life.

It is not about material things. It is about bonfires, sled rides, baby lambs and garden vegetables. It is about hard work done together with family, followed by a cold drink or dish of ice cream. It is the simple things like woods walks and lightening bugs, even pollywogs in a jar. The smell of fresh mowed hay or the soft mew of a kitten in the mow of the barn, these are the things that bring joy.

City children play “bottle flip” with water bottles. We drank water from a garden hose, at times from a pump pumped by hand. Water tasted so very good on a hot day after some type of work, especially during haying. One of the most refreshing drinks I ever had, came from a hand dug well. I gulped down mouthfuls of the cool water after having been working on a thrashing machine with my Amish friends. I’m not sure if it was the water or the friendship that made it so sweet, but every swallow made me praise God.

The common denominator in a country life is the country or green space of course, but the real key, is family and friends. Keep in mind, you can have a country life in the city if you choose to do so. Put friends and family first. Hold the door for a stranger. Offer your seat to another. If all else fails, smile. In fact if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours. Kindness goes a long way. Being kind does not make you weak, in fact, it probably makes you stronger.

I hope that I can always have time to spare a minute, to listen to a bird sing or listen to the dreams shared by a child. I hope I can dig fishing worms, smell wildflowers and eat strawberries off a dew covered vine for a long time yet. It’s not the amount of days in your life…it’s the amount of life in your days. So, live county my friends!

 

 



Gardening is a Family Affair
August 1, 2016, 4:18 pm
Filed under: August 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

JoshBeckgarden

August 1, 2016

Many years ago now, I taught my son and daughter-in-law how to garden. I showed them the basics of how to raise much of their own food. I explained as many things as I could and told them that keeping the weeds out is one of the biggest, yet rewarding jobs.

My son sent me this picture yesterday of their current garden. Over their right shoulders is this years sweet corn. The corn on the other side is “Indian” corn. It is doing remarkable. The bean, potato and tomato plants look lush and green. The weeds are few and the garden truly is something to write about!

My son and his family all work together to have this outside pantry. Everyone helps weed and everyone helps pick the produce. I am proud to see that they choose to be self reliant. The independence that this brings is a wonderful feeling for all of us. My grandchildren smile when they talk about it…and so do I.



Hanging Out
December 17, 2015, 10:19 am
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

002

December 17, 2015

Many teenagers “Hang Out”, which means goofing off, sitting around and visiting with friends. Around here it means fall butchering! I am in full swing. We are working our way through the family’s pork right now, but beef processing is on the horizon.

It is a wonderful thing to have our washhouse. Cutting meat is easy when you are in out of the weather. Clean up is a snap with running hot water and a big sink. All of our equipment is in one place and laid out for easy use. Yes, I am very fond of our little “slaughterhouse”. We call it the washhouse, because it doubles for a canning kitchen, a maple syrup filter washing and clean up stop and the home of our on farm smokehouse.

I made this seasons first bologna yesterday. I made enough to freeze for lunches later, as well as, plenty to eat now and share with friends. I enjoy the art of sausage making almost as much as the job of sausage eating :o)

I will say that I lose a little sleep, because I take this job serious. Once the sausages start to cook, I babysit the smokehouse until the job is complete. Sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, I can be found red eyed and waiting for a few more degrees on the thermometer. It’s worth it though, when I pull slab bacons, bolognas and cottage hams out of the hot smokehouse. It smells wonderful and tastes just as good.

bologna 011

Yum



I’d Rather Be Fishing!
July 9, 2015, 7:31 pm
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Johnny fishing in the pond

Johnny fishing in the pond

July 9, 2015

This little guy would rather be fishing than anything else…unless it would be hunting!

He baits his hook, takes his fish off and has the patience of Job….as long as he is fishing or hunting. He tires easily with farm work, yard work and conversations that don’t involve the subject of wildlife. He is a quick study, good turkey caller and noise maker extraordinaire. I love this little guy!

He is just like his father in every way. He likes the simple things in life. He is independent, yet asks lots of questions. I try to answer them as quickly as he asks, but there are days when that is a tough job for an old mind 😮

I got rained out today once again. We ran a few errands so that once the sun shines…we can make hay. I asked Johnny if he’d like to help me…. He looked off into space and said, “I’d rather be fishing pa-pa.”   I guess I should take a lesson from my grandson, he’s not worried about the hay!



Today’s Project
December 28, 2014, 9:59 pm
Filed under: December 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,
Hams and bacons smoking

Hams and bacons smoking

December 28, 2014

Instead of working on firewood this weekend, I got the hams and bacons from our recent butchering into the smokehouse. They have been brining in a mixture of salt and brown sugar for a week. Today, I smoked them with hickory wood. It took all day, but was well worth the effort.

I babysat the meat as it smoked. I, and my dear wife, stayed busy putting order in the slaughterhouse. Santa Clause brought us a couple of new tables. We continue to work on traffic patterns and ease of operation, but our little meat house is coming together nicely.

This building doubles as a summer kitchen for canning our vegetables. It also makes a nice place to wash maple syrup filters and equipment. It is a multipurpose building that is working out well for us. It is even a nice place to warm up and drink coffee with my boots on! I sure do like this place!

a great place to work

a great place to work



A Real Cut Up
December 18, 2014, 11:35 pm
Filed under: December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Two nice hogs cooling

Two nice hogs cooling

December 18, 2014

Tuesday, I butchered these two nice hogs. They walked outside to their play area, looked up at me and dropped in their tracks. There was no stress, no shouting, no problem at all. They led a happy stress free life here. They had a clean dry bed, all they could eat and drink and access to a play area every day. The meat tastes wonderful.

Today we cut them up, made fresh sausage, pork chops, roasts and spare ribs. The hams and bacons have been brined and await smoking and cooking in a few days. It was the first big job we did in the new slaughterhouse. The building and equipment worked flawlessly. There was plenty of room to work and having the hot and cold water was awesome!

We had a nice full day with friends and family. My grandchildren made their own sausage, then cooked it in a pan. Fresh sausage sandwiches don’t come much fresher than that 😮  The children helped stuff sausage into casings and even leant a hand during clean up. They were very involved and have a good understanding where their food comes from. They are 5 and 8 and well on their way to becoming homesteaders.

I am tired, but very happy. I see the next generation learning skills handed down to me from my grandparents. My son worked right along beside me. He does better every time we butcher. He made the primal cuts, took the spareribs off his bacon. He deboned many pieces and helped with the brining process. He did most of the grinding and paid close attention to the seasoning process. My wife gave lessons to our daughter-in-law as she wrapped her family’s meat. Yes, it was a very good day!

Primal cuts, ready to go!

Primal cuts, ready to go!