RicelandMeadows


Peace, Food and Beauty

shadylea

October 16, 2018

This picture was taken in one of our north pastures this week. The leaves are late displaying their colors this year, but the scene, to me, is still beautiful. The pasture was grazed down in September. This same field was cut for hay in late June. It is a bit of a nuisance to farm around trees, but for my small farm, it is worth it.

The tree in the foreground is a volunteer maple. I saved it a few years ago. Soon it will be big enough to tap for maple syrup. The larger tree on the left is a large hickory tree that was once a corner post for an old farmer. The wire marks are on the tree where the tree grew around the steel that had been stapled to it’s trunk. The saplings to the left of the larger tree are part of a row of brush left as a windbreak.

The livestock who graze this paddock gather under the large tree for the summer shade it provides. They nestle up in the brush row to escape the biting flies in summer and the biting winds in winter. The animals and the trees both benefit. The animals get some protection in exchange for their manure. The manure enriches the trees. The trees are located near the center of the field, so any runoff from the rains or snow, must travel across several yards of sod before it reaches a stream, keep water quality safe.

The “mast” or food crops from the large hickory trees and her daughters, is abundant. Old wild apple tress are also found in the brush row. The fruit and nuts are eaten by wildlife and my pigs. One more good reason for the existence of the brush row. A couple years ago, five gestating sows spent almost three weeks here. Ear corn was offered , but they only nibbled at the corn. The lived on the wild fruit and nuts until the mast had been consumed. Just one more way to show the value of the trees and brush, that I choose to farm around.

On a small farm, any way to add value should be considered. I find much value in having a few wooded paddocks. They provide comfort, food and beauty. If that isn’t adding value…I don’t know what is?!



Got Nuts?
October 16, 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: October 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

nut2

October 16,2017

Chris Pidcock asked me, “You got any big hickory nuts up by you?” I said, “yes, we have one real nice tree. The nuts are good sized and very sweet.” He told me that he would give me some nuts from a tree that his grandfather had planted, if I wanted any. Then he showed them to me. Holy Crap!!! I don’t have anything like these at home!

I made my way home from Nelsonville, Ohio with a bag of these babies on the floor of my truck. I smiled all the way to Akron! I have just the spot to plant a “Pidcock Hickory orchard” on the farm. I don’t know if I will live to eat from those trees, but hopefully my grandchildren will.

These hickory nuts are almost the size of walnuts. The meat inside is light and sweet. The hull opens easy and the nuts are pretty easy to crack, especially for a hickory nut. My son’s great grandfather on their mother’s side, used to sit and crack hickory nuts much of the winter. His wife would make sweet, yummy, hickory nut cake. I so wish I could have shared some of these awesome nuts with him.

I will be stomping these nuts into the mud over the next few days. I will however, map out a sort of grid pattern, spacing them evenly. They will not all come up. The deer will eat a few I bet. If any squirrels hear about these wonder nuts…they will be hitchhiking in from Pittsburgh just to steal some! So, I will space them carefully, but mother nature will put them how she wants them anyway. That sort of “cracks me up”!

 

 



Old Hickory
July 6, 2016, 3:12 pm
Filed under: July 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

Hickorytree

July 6, 2016

This old hickory tree has been standing in my pasture for a very long time. When I came to this place, only her crown could be seen above the brush and thorns. Once I had tackled the dense underbrush, I discovered that this tree had been the corner post for a very old fence. I cleaned the fence post, broken steel rods, wire and a host of trash from around this awesome tree.

Every year she sheds a whole bunch of hickory nuts. The hogs love them. The nuts are hard but very sweet. We get some too,but the hogs seem to know when they are falling and gobble them up quickly. The sows crunch through the hard shells with their powerful jaws, enjoying the sweet nutmeat inside. We have many of these trees on the farm, so the hogs eating these, still leaves plenty for us.

I also strip the shaggy bark of these trees to be used as fuel for the smokehouse. It is nice to add one more layer of comfort on a slab of bacon. What I mean is this; farm raised pork, butchered, cut and cured in our slaughterhouse, tastes just a bit better when smoked with wood grown here….all part of the bounty of our farm.

This wood has gained favor in recent years for its unique beauty in furniture and cabinets. It has many imperfections that look beautiful when opened, sanded and finished. It is a hardwood, stringy in nature. It is very tough and dense. It was used for single trees and evener blanks for the horses to pull equipment with in days of old. It has the highest BTUs of any of our native hardwoods, almost equaling that of coal.

One more awesome thing about a tree such as this is the amount of shade it provides. The ground is cool underneath her branches. A cool breeze will almost always be found whispering near her trunk. I like to sit now an then, pausing to enjoy the shade and listen to the soft woodsong drifting on the breeze.



Falling Down
October 9, 2015, 8:07 pm
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Colorful backdrop for the pig's pasture

Colorful backdrop for the pig’s pasture

October 9, 2015

The color of autumn is really starting to wow us. A few of my sows can be seen laying in the picture below the trees. They are content and seem to be enjoying the cooler days as much as me. Last night, as I hurried to feed my momma pigs out in that pasture, I twisted my knee and fell down. Today, I am limping. My knee is swollen and sore, but it was worth it. I fell coming back from checking on a new mom and her five piglets. They are fine… I am not 😮

I am amazed at how well the clover pasture the pigs are enjoying is holding up. There will even be a week or more grazing for our cow herd once I move the pigs to the woods. The woods pasture is doing well. Hickory nuts and crab apples are falling steady. Those woodland treats will be gobbled up by the sows and their babies. They will romp, play and sleep in the fallen leaves. I guess its like one big party before coming in for winter. It sure makes for happy pigs!

I will chalk up my tumble to the season. You see in autumn,  it’s not only leaves that “fall”…. It’s us nuts too!



Hickory Nuts and Ear Corn
October 15, 2014, 7:04 pm
Filed under: October 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,
One of our gilts enjoying her pasture

One of our gilts enjoying her pasture

October 15, 2014

Our gilts are out on a wooded pasture with a boar. They are enjoying freedom, hickory nuts and ear corn. I guess they must be enjoying each other too, because I see the incriminating hoof marks on their backs…and that is a very good thing!

The pasture measures about four acres. This is much more area than they need, but there is plenty to eat, so this breeding season is costing me almost nothing. I am picking the ear corn on the ends and edges of the field, The pigs get a big helping every night. They usually have it cleaned up by morning, but don’t come running for it due to all the fallen hickory nuts.

Sunday’s frost along with Tuesdays wind has loosened the bounty in the hickory trees. The squirrels are even shaking their little fists at the hogs, as the hogs gobble up the nuts. The pigs are in great shape and eating less than half a normal ration, thanks to the pasture and all of feed it provides.

Each sow will get her own pen and recess for 40 minutes a day, once they return to the barn. The pasture is a better place, but I lack the time to make a place for them to spend the winter on pasture. I do have a portable pen for late autumn so they can glean the picked corn field, but litters will arrive in late December. I like to have the mommas and babies close where I can watch and care as needed….but for now it’s hickory nuts and ear corn!