RicelandMeadows


Enjoying a Break
March 3, 2016, 6:50 pm
Filed under: March 2016 | Tags: , , , ,
101_1242

Sugar Snow

March 3, 2016

After a little snow and cold over night, the sap has stopped running and we are enjoying a break. There is plenty of farm stuff to do, but the hustle, hurry and rush has settled down if only for a day or two. I like these days for planning. I do get a little extra stuff done, but sipping a hot beverage is a good thing to do on a day such as this.

I find a restful day clears my head. It allows me to coast a little and get inspired to write. My book continues to sell quite well. I am getting lots of nice compliments. I am pleased that so many folks are enjoying and reflecting upon their own memories, as they read about mine. Life is short. Knowing that I have touched a few people along my journey so far is humbling. I give the glory to God.

The horses and I will be hauling wood and manure in the coming days in between sap gathering. All of us need the work so as to be tuned up for spring. The soil preparation will begin soon. We will be plowing before I know it. The time changes soon and we will enjoy a later sunset. I guess it’s only fitting to take a break now… while we can.



Bridging The Learning

Homsklkidsonbridge

March 2, 2016

Yesterday, we had a group of home schooled children come an visit our maple syrup operation. The kids had a great time running and playing in the woods and on the sap paths. They also learned a lot about all things maple. The field trip was organized by my daughter-in-law. She taught the group, gave out informational handouts and set up a tasting station.

The steam was really rolling as I boiled maple sap for over six hours. The syrup is light, clear and delicious. In the afternoon the trees started to drip, but clouds and cool soon stopped that effort. Today we are cold and snowy. All of us get a break. I will do a little clean up and make ready for the next warm day and the sap flow that comes with it.

It was fun for me to share with the visiting families. Moms, dads and kids alike all took some maple information home in their hands, as well as, in their minds. The steamy room, the sweet smelling syrup and the hot fire, all made memories….for us all.

My dog Cinch had a great day too. All of those kids to play with and all that mud to splash through! He and I are grateful for the down time today. It was a fun day for us all as we bridged the gap from city to country, neighbor to neighbor and young to old. The best part of all, was making friends out of strangers!

Homeschoolgroup



The Pages of My Life
Cultivating Memories...Hot off the Press

Cultivating Memories…Hot off the Press

November 15, 2015

It’s here! My book is finally done. This project of putting together a collection of short stories, to warm the heart and soul, Is done. I have been putting my memories and life experiences down on paper for over twenty years. This past January, I began to select stories and get them in order for this book. I write a column for Rural Heritage magazine and a few of these articles have been printed, but most of these 63 stories are original to this book.

My friend and mentor, Gene Logsdon, was kind enough to write the forward for this Reflection of my life. Bethany Caskey, from Iowa, illustrated the pages and cover. This work of mine is 235 pages of easy reading that will make you laugh and make you cry, as I tug at your heart strings. There are stories about love and life, farming, logging, horses and children. They are assembled from the pages of my life.

This book is available through the Rural Heritage website WWW.ruralheritage.com , here at the farm, or in Jefferson Ohio at The Jefferson Milling Company, J.R.Hoffestter Jeweler and the 4-H Extension Office….for the bargain price of $14.95 I invite you to come along, share a story, a laugh or a tear.

It is the simple things in life that matter. I will take you away from the stresses in your life, as you relax and take a mental vacation to my farm. I am not responsible for coffee or tea sprayed on your favorite chair as you bust out laughing, but I will take credit for the warm feelings that will be stirred in your heart.



Chilly Sunshine
November 12, 2015, 4:31 pm
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: , , ,
The growing season ends

The growing season ends

November 12, 2015

I snapped this photo the other morning just as the sun was coming up. The leaves, now long gone, were shimmering in that chilly sunshine. It was beautiful. I was thankful for the gift of sight. The morning was quiet. The animals hadn’t awakened yet. So, I stood in the quiet of morning, breathing the cold, crisp air and soaked in one of the last full days of autumn. My hands were wrapped around a mug of hot coffee. The aroma of the coffee mixed with the sweet autumn air and I drank up all that I could hold….confirming once again that this farm is my place in the universe. I am so very happy to be here.

Over the past winter I labored over a writing project. It was much bigger than my column in Rural Heritage magazine. It was the culmination of many stories, memories and life experiences. I worked gleaning my notebooks and in some cases bits of paper as I put together a book of my life thus far. “Cultivating Memories”, is not an autobiography. It is a collection of short stories that will warm the reader and touch their very core. I will make you laugh and I will make you cry, as I talk about all things country and farming.

My book is forwarded by Gene Logsdon and illustrated by Bethany Caskey. “Cultivating Memories”, is a labor of love and will touch people from the city and country alike. I will give more details in the coming days as to where to get your copy, so stay tuned in. You will not be disappointed.  😮



The Path Forward
October 26, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
An Autumn sap road

An Autumn sap road

October 26, 2015

This well defined sap road has been used by us for twenty three years. The horses make very little impact on the land as they pull the sled through the maple woods. We use this path for hiking, walking and reflecting. Just strolling along alone helps thoughts and dreams come into focus, but it is a much better stroll when walking with friends or family. I walk here often and I enjoy every minute spent there.

Today, I walked among a group of young people. They are part of a school class, but each child is searching for their path forward. It would be nice on one hand for their choice to well defined and easy to see. On  the other hand, however, finding your way while bouncing about for a time, gives life experiences to draw from “down the road”. I didn’t know what I wanted to do…..well, actually I did, but lacked the support to make it happen.

Now, in the last third of my life, I get it! I know exactly what I am supposed to do. I will farm and write. I have been engaged in farming, or parts of it, for my whole life. I have been writing (professionally) for well over fifteen years. I am very happy doing both. That is the key to life… “Do what you love, love what you do! Work is easy when you enjoy it. In fact it doesn’t even seem like work.

Many folks will discourage you from doing what your heart tells you to do. They will say, “There’s no money in it.” I think for them, that may be the truth, but for you, say…hogwash! Find a way to make it happen. Pour your heart and soul into it. You will succeed. It is not always about the “money”. You can be rewarded richly in many ways. Yes, you have to keep yourself out of debt and the bills paid, but the enjoyment of loving what you do is priceless.

Think it through. Make a plan. Go for it….But I caution you, if it doesn’t work out on paper…it won’t work out in life. So, get back to thinking. Make those thoughts into plans. Once you have defined the path forward…go for it. Life is very short, spending even one day unhappy or vengeful only makes you lose a day of your life. It can even poison you causing you to miss out on many of life’s pleasures. Seek the way that makes your heart glad. Find the path to your soul. Remember, it’s okay to walk alone, but much better when shared with friends and family 😮



For The Little Ones
October 21, 2015, 3:35 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Jackson and Xavier, helping Pa-Pa. Cinch keeping a watchful eye.

Jackson and Xavier, helping Pa-Pa. Cinch keeping a watchful eye.

October 21, 2015

These little guys are a gift from my wife. They are my great grandsons. They had a big day on the farm last week. They helped feed the animals and entertained us all. I like to watch the eyes of a child as they take in our farm. The kids get so excited as they run from place to place. The animals take it in stride. The kids like to feed the animals…I think that is what keeps the animals interested 😮

A big ear of corn looks even bigger in the hands of a child. The children tossed the ears over the fence to the delight of the sows. My great granddaughter was a bit shy at first, but she warmed up quick to feeding the pigs. One momma pig has a litter of piglets. The kids sure liked those babies. They got to pet one little squiggly baby who squealed a bit. They children jumped at first, but soon laughter over shadowed the fear.

I like this farm, in part because of the little ones. The baby calves, lambs and piglets make me smile. To see one of our grandchildren or great grandchildren delighting in the farm babies, tickles me to the core. When young people make a connection to the farm it pleases me greatly. In fact this is one of the biggest reasons that  I do all the hard work that comes with farming…it’s for the little ones!

oink oink!

oink oink!



Resting!
A Jersey cow rests in her bed at Billings Farm Museum

A Jersey cow rests in her bed at Billings Farm Museum

September 13, 2015

After a health scare, that shook me to the core, my wife and I went to the state of Vermont. I want to do a story on the Billings farm museum, located just outside of a town called Woodstock. This is not the rock and roll Woodstock, that one is in New York 😮  I felt that some time away from work and farm, would be just what I needed to decompress. I , by the grace of God, learned that I do NOT have cancer.

The area around Woodstock Vermont is beautiful. The Green Mountains were spectacular. They were just starting to turn color as they dress for autumn. We came at the tail end of summer and the beginning of “leaf peeper” season. The roads were not crowded. We were able to spend as much time as we wanted looking at anything we desired. It was a nice relaxing trip.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast in the town of Woodstock. The food was extremely good. The peace and quiet found there was just what I needed. We had fun walking the village streets. Those streets look just like a Norman Rockwell painting. It is a town almost stuck in time. The place is almost enchanting.

We also went to a large farm stand where they sold cheese and maple syrup all made by themselves. The cheese is awesome. The maple syrup operation is much like ours, but much bigger. They have 8500 taps. They do boil with wood on a modern evaporator, but like us, they do not use reverse osmosis to remove water from the sap. We do it the old fashioned way, with just heat and time…..you simply can’t rush perfection.

Billings farm was a very nice place. It is a farmstead that showcases life in the 1890’s, but also keeps a modern dairy farm running. The farm has been known for trophy winning Jersey cows for forty years. They still have a barn full of the little brown matrons. The pastures too are filled with heifers coming up to join the milking herd. There are sheep and draft horses too. The museum and tour are very well done. They are informative for sure, but they are set up to show young and old alike, where our food comes from….and that is a very good thing.

The real story for me about the Billings farm, was Mr. Billing’s approach to agriculture. He was a husbandryman for sure, but also an environmentalist. He was also a visionary who could see the promise in the land. He planted trees, used animal manures correctly and employed sustainable farming practices, that the farm still uses today. These practices help make the farm profitable and a good fit for the mountain farms of Vermont.

The Village Inn of Woodstock

The Village Inn of Woodstock