RicelandMeadows


What Happened?
June 27, 2018, 7:57 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , ,

monkeybeaver

June 27, 2018

This rough looking dog toy, we call the monkey-beaver. It looks like a sock monkey, but has a beaver’s tail. Tilly played with it for hours. She would fetch it and bring it back every time that you threw it. I say would…because this morning when I went to let Tilly out of her crate, only her stiff little body remained. What the heck happened?

After chores, the last thing we do is close up the chicken house for the night. Tilly usually waits by the gate for me and then we go to her crate. Last night, I closed the chicken door, but Tilly didn’t wait by the gate. I went to her crate to look for her and she was inside laying down. I reached inside petted her and told her goodnight. I latched the crate door….for what would be the last time.

I dug her grave near the garden, not far from where my old Lucy dog is buried. Digging went slow because the tears blurred my vision. I went and got Tilly’s lifeless body and carried her to the grave. My dog Cinch, Tilly’s pal and gracious host, followed me to the grave site. I placed Tilly in the ground and started to cover her. I looked over at Cinch and broke down crying like a child.

pallbearcinch

Cinch waited and watched as I buried his little charge. I struggled to get the job done. Afterwards, I petted Cinch for a long time. He dropped the monkey-beaver and walked away. I guess, like me, he is wondering …. what happened?



I Made It!
May 17, 2018, 10:13 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

retirecake

May 17, 2018

After 27 years working an off farm job, I have made it to retirement! I can now spend my time working draft horses and this farm. Of course, I will now have more time for family and friends, as well as, other passions of mine. All those years of swing shift and missing out on things are over…it was worth it!

Three years after I hired in, I took a job in salary. I had a few people give me great advice, but I took the job anyway. You see, I thought that I could make a difference. After all those years and countless ups and downs, I was reflecting upon my career and thought that I hadn’t made much of a difference at all…that was until these last few days.

People at work sought me out to say good-bye. I shook hands with lots of folks, shared a hug or two as well. I got to have some one-on-one time with several guys and each time, I felt humbled. The comments made me choke up at times. Guys thanked me for my leadership, my candor, my honesty and for keeping them safe. It was a team effort people, we did those things together. I thank every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your help, your kindness and the respect that you showed me over these past years.

I thank you for the laughs, the memories and even those moments that made me grow! I missed some of you due to our crazy schedules, but fear not, I wish you all well and I know that you too send good feelings my way.

It is still a big place with lots of opportunities, but  this afternoon, as I walked out the gate for the last time…I realized that I had indeed made a difference…thanks to all of you!

 



She’s a Hot One!
December 11, 2017, 7:06 pm
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

propaneforge

December 11, 2017

Thanks to a friend of mine named Ed, I now am the proud owner of a propane forge. The forge was made from an old air tank. The directions came from YouTube, along with some modifications by Ed. I had gathered all of the materials before I got laid up. Ed built this in one rainy day, in my shop.

The table was a scrap table bought at a second hand store. The angle iron and old horse shoe that makes up the bracket, came from my scrap pile. The rest of the needed items I bought off E-Bay. The photo above was taken right after curing the mortar. That mortar was applied as a slurry, allowed to dry for a day, then cured with the burner in the forge.

Soon, I will be able to forge handmade items for family and friends. I am looking forward to this new hobby. I have a long way to go, but this little forge will make it possible to learn. Thanks Ed!



How About a Hug
August 19, 2017, 10:26 am
Filed under: August 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

balehug

August 19, 2017

Once again, friends came forward to do my farm work while I recover from knee replacement. This time, one friend donated the use of his bale “grabber” and another friend donated his time to haul and stack all of our wrapped bales. The day went very well. Now, all the second cutting has been stored right next to the feedlot for winter feeding.

I can’t help but think the bale “grabber” should be called a bale “hugger”. It squeezes the bales just right. They can then be lifted, moved and stacked with care. No holes get ripped in the plastic. This is important, because a hole with cause spoilage in the bale. This machine attachment along with our skid steer, made easy work of the job. It hugged the bales one by one and set them into place.

Who wouldn’t rather be hugged than grabbed?!

balehug2

The attachment works like a pair of big smooth tongs. It doesn’t pinch, it doesn’t grab, it gently squeezes. The Welsh people would called it “cwtch”  A very special hug saved for the ones we truly love, creating more than a snuggle, but a safe place as well. So, as I click one more job of the farm list, I hope you’ll agree a hug is much better than a grab!



Standing By
August 11, 2017, 7:34 pm
Filed under: August 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

kentile2017

August 11, 2017

Yesterday, my friend Ken, installed this short section of tile. I have been wanting to do this job for two years. It was on the schedule for this summer because the feedlot expansion project now makes drainage the utmost important. He did the work, I stood by and watched for awhile. This water will filter through a gravel layer, into a tile that connects with a field tile that ends up at our wetlands. The water is filtered by grasslands and slow moving water, before it can enter Mill Creek as it leaves our farm. The job turned out real good, just as I had hoped.

It seems this has been my summer…standing by watching others do my work. I look forward to being able to reciprocate soon. Just a few more weeks of healing and therapy should do the trick. My knee continues to improve, thanks to ice, a few great therapists and rest. I will say it is a process! It tests a man’s reslove and his wife’s patience!

Pastures are holding out very well. We rotated the stock to different pastures last night. My grandson and I opened and shut gates as others moved the cattle and sheep. Today’s heavy rain, gave everything a drink again. The horses watched us over the fence. They are ready to work too, but like me, for now, are standing by.



Looking Ahead
March 20, 2016, 2:40 pm
Filed under: March 2016 | Tags: , , ,

chris looking ahead

March 20, 2016

The 2016 maple season has come to an end. Friday, I boiled the last sap we had and chased it with fresh water. We made a few more gallons of syrup as the steam headed heavenward. My cousin stopped in to visit, smell the steam and check the finished syrup quality of course! It was a good year for us, even though the sap was not sweet. Our ratio of sap to syrup was 80:1 at times. I burnt lots of wood. I made some great syrup and I made a few more memories to hold me over until next year.

last boil 2016

The new head tank worked great. I do need to raise my hill outside to make gravity unloading a better option, but it was a successful year. I do have some opportunities to capitalize on by next year, but work does not scare me.

making the best of it

One of my old tanks and a new plastic sump pump, made it possible to unload the sap and get it to the fill line for the new head tank. I need more stone on the hill, but that is a job done much easier when better weather is upon us.

new sled

The new “long tailed” sled worked much better that I thought it would. It shattered all of my expectations. I used it with three horses and no tongue. It traverses the uneven terrain so smoothly that not a drop of sap was spilled. The long runners are much easier on the land. The horses pulled it easily and turning with the fifth wheel action of the “bob” front end made that job a breeze.

Yes, it was a great year filled with lots of good things. It leaves me looking ahead for next year. I have more plans and dreams as we continue to grow our maple operation, but just like the little wooden sign in our sugarhouse says…..”Dream, Believe, Achieve!”



Yum times Six

6xyum

March 11, 2016

We completed our sixth boil of the maple season yesterday evening. It has been a great year for us so far. The sap is not very sweet, so it takes a lot of it to make a gallon of syrup. This year’s syrup has been light and creamy tasting. The ratio is closer to 65:1 , than our usual 40:1, but it is still worth the effort to me.

The weatherman say we are in for a warm up. Lots of folks are giving up for the season. I am not one of them. I did chase the pans with water and will do a mid-season clean up tomorrow. The pans and all equipment will be drained, cleaned, rinsed and made ready for what I hope will be the next run. It’s only early March and the trees know. A few warm days will tease them just like us, but it’s not time to start gardening yet!

As I write, the thermometer just dipped below freezing. It may not be cold enough to make the sap run, but it should remind the trees not to set buds yet. Next week looks cold and seasonable. So, with fingers crossed and plenty of wood in the woodshed, I will wait and hope for more maple sap.

Just to help things turn cold, the horses and I will start plowing. That almost always makes for a good freeze. It’s like washing your car, no sooner you get started and the rain starts to fall. The warm days and cool evenings makes for pleasant plowing. The horses ease into spring work while shedding their winter coats. I get to work the horses while the greedy maple trees hold their sap.

Last June, when we got 19 days of rain and cool temperatures, the trees could not get enough sunshine to make sugar and send the nutrients to their roots. Now, when we want the sweet juice bound for the treetops, we are reminded of the rainy days of last year and trying to make hay.

The season will be what it is and I can speak all about how it went much better in a few weeks. For now I will enjoy the nice days and continue to do farm work being ever ready to jump back into the sugarbush. It has been awesome so far. I will be satisfied with our success, thankful for the memories and happy as a little boy as I breathe the sweet steam.