RicelandMeadows


Year End

December 31, 2022

The end of the year is here. It is hard to believe that it has flown by.

In the photo above, our four grown up Suffolk horses enjoy their supper before turn out. I gave all of them haircuts and trimmed all the tails and manes. They were due!

Left to right; Hank, the new horse Rosie, Abby and Amee Quite a bit of power on display.

We are sitting through a rainy day. The bitter cold temperatures have left us. Now, we are having unseasonable warm days. Today was 55 F

We have plenty of work to do, but the mud and rain makes for a day off for us all. We will ring in the new year in a few hours. We will make our plans and resolutions and hope that we are blessed for doing it.

Maple days will soon be here. Firewood jobs are plenty. There are many youngsters to keep training and spring work is right around the corner. Instead of looking forward, I will take a minute to look back and reflect on a successful year that was 2022. There were sad days, mad days and glad days. I will hold on to the glad days.

Happy New Year everyone!



Wood Work
November 26, 2022, 9:26 am
Filed under: November 2022 | Tags: , , ,

November 26, 2022

We took advantage of a warmer day yesterday to haul wood. The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up. We have a ways to go but made a good amount of progress again yesterday. We set the log splitter up right at the woodshed. We can cut and split as we go, stacking the wood as it comes off the splitter.

A wagon load like this makes for quite a bit of split wood. I would say that we have less than a third to go. I hope to finish up this coming week. The mares had a good day and did a great job as usual. They sure are good working partners. I am glad to have them for my work…especially wood work!



Well That Stinks!
November 12, 2022, 11:33 am
Filed under: November 2022 | Tags: , , ,

November 12, 2022

What a fabulous November we have enjoyed so far! The temperatures here were in the lower 70’s F. It dried out enough for the harvest to continue at a rapid rate. Our corn crop is in and all the summer hay tools have been stored away. Yesterday we received almost 3 inches of rain. Today snow is in the forecast. Gone are those 70 degree days…boy does that stink.

Many of the outside jobs at my sister’s house are wrapping up too. The siding is the biggest job that remains, but it too is on schedule. There is a lot of planning and work to build a house. I have been reminded of this fact almost daily as I chase materials, parts and manpower. It is coming together and completion looms on the near horizon.

I have quite a few people watching my progress. Many have lent a hand and I appreciate it very much.

The woodshed filling for the sugarhouse, though well started, is still progressing. The hope is to have it full by next week. I just made more projects than I could complete during the good weather, but no worries, I will get it done.

The snow and winter will come if we are ready or not. I can do a lot of work on cold days, as long as it isn’t raining. I hate getting wet, especially working in a cold rain. I would say that stinks too!

Happy Mid-November everyone. Get your outside water hoses in, the air conditioners inside, your tools put away and your firewood finished up. The winter winds will soon blow hard. It will be nice to be able to sit inside on those nasty days, looking out the window drinking a hot beverage, while smiling because all of your work is caught up.



Garden Harvest Begins

August 2, 2022

The garden has started to reward us for our work of tending it. The harvest season begins slow, but soon we will almost be overwhelmed with fresh produce. My wife works steady canning and freezing so that we can enjoy the taste of summer all year. I do help, but once in awhile I am told to go do something else… I think I might cross the “bossy” line now and then. I am a great production guy. My wife is great in her kitchen. I found out that she doesn’t need me pointing out the obvious. We work well together. We laugh together and we love together. I think the yearly discussion over how the kitchen will be used allows us the reset needed in every relationship. It works for us! It has been working for 30 years this month and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Our young Suffolk filly is now 4 months old. She will get weaned by the end of the month. She is growing well. Her lessons come easy to her. She is shedding her foal hair out and becoming a big girl. She will be separated from mom and left to run with her sister and cousin in a big pasture. She is an independent lass, so I don’t see any real distress in her future. She is eating very well on her own and mostly nurses for comfort these days.

Once the main garden harvest commences, the last of this year’s hay will be cut. So the haying tools can be put away one by one. Then plowing and soil preparation for the fall planted spelt crop will begin. In the meantime, pasture mowing and wood cutting for the maple syrup woodshed fill our time. Training the young horses continues but that is more fun than work. It is hard to believe that the last month of summer has arrived, but the heat and humidity keeps it real! Enjoy the warm days…winter is coming.



Celebration Day
December 30, 2021, 10:58 am
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 30, 2021

I enlisted a little help, but the woodshed is now full! I am ready to boil maple sap for the upcoming 2022 season. This is much later than I usually complete this job, but I will celebrate anyway. It was muddy when we got off the driveway, but Abby and Amee handled it all in stride.

We have more wood that has been split, so a good start on the wood for 2023 season. It is my plan to fill the woodshed at the completion of the 2022 maple season. Once the woodshed has been filled, I want to continue with the cutting and splitting. The goal is to get to the point where we will be almost 2 years ahead on the wood supply. I already have the next 2 years worth of logs piled in a sunny place making this goal easily attainable.

After a day of wet, cold, rain and snow, it feels good to bed down. I don’t care if you are two-legged or 4-legged a warm dry bed is a beautiful thing!

We here at the farm hope all of our readers had a wonderful Christmas. We are also wishing you a Happy New Year. We look forward to each day gifted to us. We make plans, prepare and execute work, but first we ask for our endeavors to be blessed. It is hard at times to wait for things to fall into place, but thankfully they usually do. If things don’t go well, it is best to pause, examine our plans and even our hearts. One thing that I know for sure… God will make a way where there is no way! We just need to focus on the destination and not the journey…. for the journey rests in God’s hands.



Christmas 2021

December 24, 2021

It is here, Christmas 2021. This month has been a whirlwind. All sorts of things were out of sorts. My wife got Covid. We spent two weeks away from folks and her under the weather for many days. Thankfully, all is well, but man did it shorten the “getting ready for Christmas” time. I am very thankful that we were healed. I lost two friends due to this illness in the last couple of weeks. My heart goes out to those families.

Our three “main” horses that power our farm, all got their shoes reset. This makes sure their feet are trimmed and they are ready for the coming icy drive and laneway. Hank is coming along good. He took his shoeing and feet trimming all in stride. He will turn 3 next April. He is growing well and fills up the shoeing stock pretty well already.

He continues to be a gentleman who works well with his mares. He is still a youngster, but will soon be a very valuable part of the inner workings of the farm.

We are working our way through the animal harvest, as we butcher and store the meat we have raised this past year. Beef, pork and chicken grace our shelves. We are thankful for those blessings. We even butchered our old laying hens. They gave us eggs for over a year and now will continue to keep us healthy with chicken soup made from their golden broth.

One of my last remaining jobs for 2021 is to finish filling the sugarhouse woodshed with wood for boiling. In most years, I am done by mid summer. This year however, due to all sorts of excuses, bad weather including lots of rain, I am nearing completion of the job. Hats off to a couple of friends who helped me this week to finish the splitting.

This will more than finish filling the shed. It will also give me a head start on next years wood. We use 12 to 15 cords of wood to make our maple syrup. Wood cutting, hauling and splitting takes a while. It is just part of our labor of love to make great Ohio maple syrup, but to me it is worth it!

Our horse-drawn dump cart works very well for this job. The horses and I will get the shed full and this job finished before we ring in the new year. They are all ready now for sure, sporting their new shoes!

Merry Christmas everyone from our farm to yours!



Haying Season 2021 is Finished

September 14, 2021

Last Saturday, 9/11/21, we finished up our haying season. That morning as the dew dried off the hay crop, I watched the tributes on TV of the brave souls who lost their lives 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks on our civilians. My heart was heavy as I watched and waited. I will not forget.

In the week prior to my last round of hay making, we were visited by our daughter and her husband from Maryland. You have to make hay while the sun shines, so even with visitors present, the hay making rolled on. I simply included our guests in the project. They got to drive the horses, even raking some of the crop as they learned about the process first hand. The horses worked well for the novice drivers and my visiting teamsters gained experience and understanding. The smiles were big and the workload was made smaller.

The hay tools have been gathered and will be cleaned and stored in the coming days. It is a bittersweet time as one season ends and another begins. Summer is a fleeting thing and autumn looms near. A few jobs that were delayed by wet, then very hot weather, still wait to be completed, but I’ll get them done soon.

We found out this week that we have been featured on the draft horse desktop calendar for 2022. There are so many teams and teamsters to choose from, gathered from events all over the country and only 12 months to display them. We are humbled to represent the Suffolk horse breed and thank Mischka Press for the privilege.

The little filly in the picture has now been weaned. She is learning all sorts of new things. She has bonded well with her stablemate. Those two young ladies have become great friends. Momma has returned to full work and all is well. The job of preparing the soil for our fall planting of speltz is at hand. Once that job has been completed, corn picking will commence. In any of the days not filled up, we will work on the last of the firewood needed for the upcoming maple syrup season. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all down, but it is simply a great life!



Working in the Tree Tops
September 10, 2020, 10:05 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , ,
One of three large piles.

September 10, 2020

Many people think that working in the tree tops requires a person to be up in the air, at the top of a tree. I am working in the tree tops that are laying on the ground from my recent tree harvest. I am salvaging firewood to be used to boil maple sap, to make maple syrup.

I am cutting everything three inches or larger, that didn’t make lumber logs and hauling them out to be cut to length and split. The brush and smaller limbs are being left for homes for small woodland creatures and to rot to enrich the forest floor.

Our harvest consisted of about 60 mature trees. The trees were removed to allow the growth of many smaller trees, predominantly maple, both hard and soft varieties. The trees removed, also allow for mature maples to have more open canopy for crown growth. It also lets in light and air to the forest floor. I can direct some water puddles towards the nearby stream, allowing the water to runoff through the existing leaf litter. This drys the forest, but assures that water quality is improved by the filtering effects of the leaf litter.

Bree is learning lessons as we work towards her weaning. She is not always happy with me. Here she learns patience. I tied her to a fence post far from mom. She did not like it, but soon realized that she would have to wait on me. This was a short lesson of about 35 minutes. It was good for her. She can be strong willed, but yields fairly quickly. Her training continues.

The garden harvest continues. Our animal corn harvest is starting, as I build shocks. Hand picking will begin soon. I picked a few random ears last night. I am happy with what I see so far.

The crop should fill my crib.

A busy time is coming, but we look forward to the dash to winter!



Woodshed 2020
September 2, 2020, 9:17 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Ateamwood2020

September 2, 2020

On the last day of August, We finished filling the woodshed. The wood will now have many months to dry and cure. The fire will burn hot under the boiling maple sap next spring.

woodshed2020

This is a great job to have behind us. Corn harvest will start soon, along with getting the soil ready for our fall planted crop of speltz. I will also continue to work on firewood during the autumn season. I hope to be a year ahead by late winter.

I have started to shock corn. These small shocks I made in the garden from our sweet corn. I will open my animal corn field in the coming days, by making shocks down the center. The shocks make good feed and protect the corn just like a dry crib. The best thing is, shocking the corn divides my field into two small rectangles instead of one big square. It makes harvesting more efficient. I don’t spend a lot of time driving around the ends of the field this way.

shock2020

We hope to wrap up the tomato season in the next two weeks. The potatoes are wonderful this year too. We have been enjoying all of our garden produce. It has been a good year for gardens and gardeners.

Late summer jobs and early fall work is commencing nicely. The horses are working well. The young stock is growing on the good pastures. Our stallion is learning manners and how to be a work horse. Our young filly is about to be weaned from her momma. Hank, our young stallion, will accompany our mares as we harvest the corn crop. He will mostly just walk along learning to behave and work. I like him very much. Here he is looking over the fence at us last Sunday morning.

hanklisa



Logs to Slumber
July 27, 2020, 7:06 am
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , ,

split1

July 27, 2020

Most folks take logs and saw them into lumber. We split a bunch of logs on a very hot day last Saturday. That equated for me…slumber! We started early in the morning and finished at noon. I showered, ate and took a nap!

split2

The two photos show the total wood for our efforts. I will confess that I employed the use of a wood processor for a trial run. It still required much effort and hand work to keep the machine running. I thought it might be a good alternative to splitting with our woodsplitter one piece at a time.

The machine worked fairly well, but can only make 22″ pieces. That length is a bit short for the maple syrup arch, but I will adjust for this amount. I usually employ 4 or 5 boys and we just make a day of splitting. I believe this method is what we will stick with. Using men and boys makes for a much more fun day.  I actually think manpower, my woodsplitter and some planning, leads to more wood, the correct length split and stacked at the end of the day.

Sweat soaked our clothes and dripped from our heads. The machine droned on, often needing us to adjust a piece of wood and load another log. If the logs would have all been of the same dimension, free of knots and good length, the machine may have out performed good old-fashioned manpower. However, the short, mixed sized, tangled log and pole pile we had, made for a lot of “grunt” work. I discovered that “grunt” work is much more tiring in my 60’s than it was in my 20’s!

The good news is that we have enough wood split to boil all of next year’s maple sap. We even have a very good start on the wood we will need in 2022!  We still have to stack it all. The woodshed is 3/4 full, so even that job is well started. I can say the old adage is true…wood does warm you twice!  It will take me a while to get used to this whole new “slumber” thing, but what a great feeling to have this work behind us.