RicelandMeadows


Finding Your Way
July 17, 2017, 10:45 am
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

pinewoods

July 17, 2017

In this photo above, the skid trail from our pine forest is evident. I got this all mowed and ready to harvest a few logs for an addition on our machinery shed. The addition will allow me to store the last two pieces of equipment that I am forced to leave outside all winter. The structure will also make a place to store a quantity of round bales, protected from the elements.

The pine trees were to supply the rafter material, as well as a few boards to close off the north end of the building. The overhang structure, will be open to the east, but closed off from the brutal north winds of winter. It is amazing how much protection a roof gives your equipment. The fact that I can also store some hay there, means I will have less waste from the effects of the weather on bales stored outside.

I got this area of the woods ready for the lumber harvest, just a few days before I got the news that we would be replacing my knee. This project is on hold, until I get healed, but it is still on my “to-do” list. I drew my diagram and figured out the lumber list last winter for this project. A list of projects, helps me to stay on task and find my way. The filtered light on the skid road in the photo, helps me to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel as I pause to rebuild and heal.

In life, especially on a farm, it is a good idea to have a plan. It gives direction for your energy. It helps to keep your finances on track. It gives opportunity for discussions and research. There are times when the plan serves to show you that you are going in the wrong direction. Defining your goals and working towards them, is great for your mental health. The feeling of accomplishment fills the mind and refreshes your soul.

The logging job is on hold for now, but the speltz crop has been harvested. The last of my first cutting hay has been mowed and is curing in the sun. The speltz straw too, has been mowed and waits for the baler. These projects were all completed with the help of friends. I watched from the porch as my buddies, did my summer work. It is humbling for me as people help me do what I can’t. It will all work out. It won’t be long and I can reciprocate. A good plan, a bunch of good friends….let me tell you, you can’t help but find your way!

 



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!

 

 



Teamwork
February 24, 2017, 1:30 pm
Filed under: February 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

sapgather2017

February 24, 2017

Our maple syrup season is over for this year. It came and went in a flash. We have not seen a spring like this, since the year 2000. I want to take just a minute to say thank you to all the folks who helped us make this short year a success.

We had set up folks, tank cleaners, horse drivers, sap gatherers, photographers, float monitors, cooks and visitors. You all know who you are. I just want to say thank you, to each and every one of you. The job of maple syrup making is a labor intensive effort, made much sweeter by your help and by teamwork!

We identified a few opportunities for next year. We solved a few problems. We discovered a few real fixes and we look forward to trying some new things in 2018. All of these things are a direct result of the prospective views from all of you! I will try to guide and direct…usually as I busy myself with some task from across the room, to make our visions come to be, but know in your hearts… I cannot do this without you and I appreciate your tolerance of my passion.

Lastly, to my dear wife who washes pounds of mud from my clothes, cuts filters and counts bottles, while cooking, cleaning and keeping me in every way, I say to you, I love you!

I look forward to 2018 and our time during maple season, but remember the hay will soon be drying in the hot summer sun!  :o)  Love you guys!



Corn Harvest is History
November 4, 2016, 8:00 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

cornhorses

November 4, 2016

It’s done. The 2016 corn harvest here is complete. I have to say a big thank you to friends Ron and Leah. They helped me every day. I worked from dawn to dark so that we could get three loads each day. Tonight we finished up just after five pm. I did chores, fed horses and harnessed them so we were in the field mid-morning each day. It’s nice to have the dew off the husks when you are picking by hand.

My little weedy, spotty field yielded pretty good. In fact, it was much like the story from the bible about the boy with his loaves and fishes. The corn seemed to keep filling the wagon even though it looked sparse. The big ears were easy to pick. In fact, they were almost fun!

The main thing is that I am done. The best thing is that I will have enough.

elevatcorn

My crib is a little over half full. I will continue to smile knowing the harvest is complete. The woodshed is full, the speltz are up and doing good and it looks like I may even get some time to fall plow before the snow hits….all because the corn harvest for this year is history!



Full to the Brim
August 8, 2016, 10:10 pm
Filed under: August 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

woodshed2016

August 8, 2016

The sugarhouse woodshed is finally full to overflowing. What a great problem to have. The woodshed is quite large. It measures sixteen by twenty feet. The eave height is just over seven feet. We pile the wood up even higher in the middle, as we stack between the rafters. This wood will be used to boil our maple sap next spring as we make maple syrup.

Saturday, my buddy and his five sons, my hired man, my grandson and myself spent just over half a day filling this woodshed. My logsplitter performed great! We had to put a new motor on it a couple months ago. We chose a 22 horsepower Honda. The splitter doesn’t even slow down as large pieces are turned into smaller ones. It is fun to watch.

We had a  great day. We worked, we laughed and we even fished for a few  hours. The day ended with us all laughing, telling stories and eating an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen. The work was hard, but made easier by all the hands that helped. The young men made me feel old. I used to be the one lifting large pieces and throwing them around defying gravity, but Saturday, I watched as men forty years younger than myself met the challenge.

How can it be? My mind still thinks that I can do everything that I used to do, but my body protests, especially the next day! Where have the years gone? Oh well, I still get all the work done….it just takes me longer as I work smarter, not harder. Of course what works even better is having great friends and young men who look up to me. The sugarhouse woodshed is full. I am full … of gratitude for my friends and family. Thank you.



A Little Help From My Friends
July 31, 2015, 7:08 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Flocking together

Flocking together

July 31, 2015

Often I write about what is new around here, the projects that I am working on and the ones in the planning stages. It is true that I stay busy here on the farm, but it is not all about me. Much of what I do is made possible by friends of mine and my family. Even on days when chores are the only thing accomplished, my wife works hard behind the scene cooking meals, packing lunches and washing a mountain of clothes, to keep me going.

I rely on different guys for work on motors, others for fabrication and some to just lend a hand on any job. I have friends who are builders, farmers and fellow maple syrup makers. We may not work together, but we bounce ideas off one another, talk about markets and trends or where to buy the best lumber. This network of friends is a blessing and something for which I am very grateful.

I realize that I too am a friend to others. It is important to make myself available to them on occasion. I have been searching my life a bit and fear that I am sometimes too busy to make that happen. I work a full time job, write a column in Rural Heritage magazine, am the township zoning inspector and run this farm. I have decided that something has to give. I am not sure yet just what, but I will create a break in my business to visit friends and family and to make myself a better friend to them.

They say “Life is not about the breaths you take, but rather the moments that take your breath.” I have my head down working perhaps a bit too much and may have missed a few of those moments. I vow to change my behavior and live more for others and enjoy “the ride” a little bit more. I will still be found here immersed in my farm work, but I will take more time to lean on the fork to visit 😮



Its all about Friends
July 4, 2015, 8:34 pm
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , ,
Cinch and Ugly Cat hanging out

Cinch and Ugly Cat hanging out

July 4, 2015

Today we celebrate our country’s birthday and the freedoms that we enjoy. My hope is that you are with friends and family as you do. Of course we love our family. No matter its quirks, love is never lost. Friends are sometimes overlooked. It is awful when you haven’t seen someone for way too long, but the meeting is awesome. True friends meet and take up conversation almost where they left off. True friends don’t part, you just pause until you meet again.

I am so very thankful for my friends. I have many and for that I am grateful. Today, I listened to a man speak about farming. He talked about how wonderful it was when neighboring farmers worked together, especially on big jobs like threshing grain or filling silo. He talked about young and old men alike working together. The older men sharing their wisdom, often in the form of a minor “balling out”. It is like life, it is tough and everyone can’t finish first…sometimes an ass chewing is good for us.

I am known for my candor. I have been called brutally honest. I don’t hold any malice, but no one has to wonder very long what I think or how I feel. This personality of mine is a tough one and I realize it. I want to publically thank my friends for tolerating me, for forgiving me and for continuing to stand by me. You guys and gals are the best!

You will notice that I didn’t get all mushy, saying that I was going to try and change. This is it my friends. I will be the same today, tomorrow and many years from now. I speak up when my toes get stepped upon. I growl when my ideals get trampled but I will defend you with the same tenacity. I will stand by you through thick and thin. A guy once said, “When the trouble starts, make sure your standing on the right side”  I try to always be on the side of right. One thing for sure when I make up my mind, it doesn’t change…..although, my wife, my best friend,  can persuade me a little :o)  See…it’s all about friends!