RicelandMeadows


Horse Drawn Hay Mower
August 8, 2018, 6:50 pm
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

num91

August 8, 2018

I bought this #9 regular gear horse drawn hay mower, to mow my hay. I have been using a tractor mower for the last eight years. It had reached it’s limit and I had reached mine working on it all the time! I have time now to relax and make hay when the sun shines! Using the horses is good for them and me!

This mower was rebuilt by a friend of mine. He has been rebuilding this type of mower for his entire life. It has been done from the “ground up”. I am looking forward to using it. I have four acres of second cutting grass to use for our maiden voyage. This thing sounds like a sewing machine. I can’t wait to try it out.

num92

Usually these have a cast iron seat. This one has a seat for an old man with a sore back….

This mower will cut six feet in a swath. The guards down near the mower are called stub guards. The short “stub” guards reduce plugging by a lot! The machine has been timed, all the seals replaced and a new style pitman arm bearing installed. It is as ready to go as I am.

These McCormick Deering mowers came in several styles regular gear, high gear and trailer gear. I did a lot of research before choosing this one. All of the Amish farmers that I asked said pretty much the same thing…. Well timed machine, sharp knives mean everything…the rest is “fluff” and mostly personal preference.

When I started farming, I used a McCormick Deering #7. It is a model a bit older than the #9″s. I got along well with it. I only sold it to be able to go faster…or so I thought. As I was mowing hay with my tractor mower for the last time, I realized that I was going 3MPH…the same speed a horse walks. The only thing that made it seem faster was not having to stop and rest the horses.

So, I listened to the noisy tractor drone on as I mindlessly drove around the fields. Now, I will listen to the horses and their harness bells. I will stop to rest them and give the mower a shot of grease or a splash of oil. I can listen to birdsong and enjoy farming in the way of my grandfathers. Plus…I will still be mowing at 3MPH!



Neighbors, Numbers and Salvage
June 20, 2018, 9:53 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

wetwindrows

June 20, 2018

Monday morning I was up early. I started raking three small fields of hay that we used for “baleage” This hay was baled while still green or “wet”, then wrapped in plastic. The bales resemble large marshmallows. I started raking at 5:45 am, right after chores were done. I wanted the morning dew to raise the water content on the wilted hay. The good bacteria turn the bales into yummy sweet smelling silage! My Amish neighbors did the baling and wrapping.

My closest Amish neighbors, use tractors and very modern equipment instead of draft horses like me. This sect is much different from my Old Order Amish friends to whom I am most accustomed. In any case, the neighbors came by and made my balage. It cost me less than one payment on the equipment I would have to buy to do this job myself. It makes economic sense to hire this job done. We made 42 bales, enough for my supplemental winter feeding, in two hours!

I have always tried to look at my farm from a profit and loss perspective. Often times it is better to hire jobs done based upon time, equipment needs or the scope of a job. I tend to be hard-headed at times. I get myself into a project where hiring a man to do it, would have cost less, been done faster and probably had a better end result as well. Pride can be a wicked thing. I have learned a lot from experience…usually I learn the most from a bad experience!

salvagewood

Here is another example of hiring a neighbor and making use of salvaged goods. The lumber in the above photo was sawn for me by a friend. The logs were from a pine tree that blew down, A bitternut hickory growing in the wrong place and a dying sycamore next to the sugarhouse. Some of the hickory will replace the floor on my horse drawn work sled. The rest of the hickory and the pine, will become the north wall on my back barn overhang. The sycamore I had cut into live edge pieces to make benches for visitors to the sugarhouse.

So, it has been a great week so far. Thanks mostly to neighbors, numbers and salvage!



The Old is New
June 20, 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: June 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

cultivatorretrofit

June 20, 2017

The photo above is of an old John Deere cultivator that I recently upgraded. This same unit is being made by a new company using the old pattern. They are a bit pricey. I found this old piece shed kept but rusty. I cleaned it up and had it painted. Last week, we added these new style “S” tines. They get the weeds but are a bit more gentle on the crop being weeded.

This unit is made for two horses to cultivate two rows at a time. I get to ride in the back on a seat riding on a dolly wheel. I am excited to try it out. I am even already thinking of adding a homemade fertilizer side dress applicator to this next year. Projects keep my mind and hands busy!

This cultivator replaces an old McCormick Deering one that I recently sold. The old one had served me for over thirty years. It worked great and was in great shape. My only reason for selling it, was due to the way I had to sort of climb down in to it to use it. As I get older, I find that I am not as spry as I once was! If I should get into trouble while using this piece of equipment, I could almost just fall off the back, out of harm’s way. The old one, I would almost be trapped, especially now when my old knees don’t work as well as they once did.

Taking something old and making it new again, pleases me very much. I have a few pieces of reworked equipment, even a few homemade pieces. It is things such as these, that keep our farm profitable. By the way, I have a total of $425.00 invested, counting the initial purchase, painting and now the retro-fit. Those new ones that I talked about cost over $4000.00  I think that I did good!

cult2

If you look close you can see my seat and even the old toolbar in the background. This was a great project. Many thanks to my friend Ervin R Miller!



I think my sheep got “Leied”
March 4, 2016, 7:09 pm
Filed under: March 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

sheep necklace

March 4, 2016

I came out to do chores last night, and there stood one of my ewes with a hay necklace around her neck! I said, “Lamby Pie, is that ewe? Have you been to Hawaii? Where did you get the necklace?” She just stared at me like I was the crazy one. It is the little things that make me chuckle. This crazy sheep made me laugh out loud.

My ewes are near the barn. They share the feedlot at night. They eat their grain and hay, then rest on a straw pile over night. The are content and tame. They are all expecting lambs in about thirty more days. I was hoping that my little rouge ewe hadn’t been up partying all night….Even if she is eating for two or three!

Today, I made repairs to a piece of horse drawn equipment. I ran a few errands and shared a few cups of coffee with friends. I sat next to a wood stove and soaked up some warmth and conversation. I accomplished the task at hand, rested my mind and refreshed my soul. I was a great day…even if I didn’t get a necklace!



Horsing around

long tail 009

January 26, 2016

I spent most of today at my buddy Marvin’s farm. We were working on a new sap sled for me. It is a new style for us, but tried and true on several farms. It has a long tail. It is designed so as to take the big dips out of the woodland floor. Well, it doesn’t take the dips out, but rather floats over them without digging the dips deeper.

The long runners displace the weight of the sled and make for a smooth ride like a long wheel base on a truck or car. Us guys who gather sap from tree to tree throughout the woods, use the same paths over and over. Once a short sled goes down in a depression, it makes the hole deeper every time we go through it. It isn’t very long and what was a nice ride resembles a bucking bronco.

These deep holes fill with water and wash out even deeper as the sled drops into them. The long tailed sled, has a bob sled front end and a very long set of runners behind. The bob goes down slightly, but it takes awhile before the back runners come to the hole. The middle part of the long runner holds the load up and runs smoothly along the ground. No more gouging, digging or wrecking the forest floor. It also saves the wear and tear on an old man’s back!

So, I spent the day doing some carpentry work, learning about new things, sipping coffee and enjoying the sights and sounds of my friends Amish farm. It was a great day to have off. I am looking forward to using the sled in the upcoming maple syrup season. I wasn’t really horsing around…I was getting something done :o)

long tail 005

The sap tank sets on the platform. The man stands behind the handrail. The horses hitch to the front. Exciting times ahead, as I strive to continue to be a good steward to my land.



Animal Corn 2014

2014 off to a good start

2014 off to a good start


June 23, 2014

This year I went back to a tried and true variety of field corn for my animals. I used a hybrid for the last two years and had crop failures both years. I will blame the weather, first year drought, last year constant rain and weed pressure. I can’t help but wonder, if this open pollenated corn might have fared better even in those stress years.

Three years ago I planted this corn. Three years ago at harvest time I had large twelve inch ears on tall stalks. My expense that year totaled $140.00 per acre. Those costs included the seed, organic fertilizer and some fuel. The corn produced 90 bushels per acre of ear corn plus, the fodder that the animals ate almost completely to the ground.

My largest cost that year was the organic fertilizer at $100.00 per acre. I didn’t have enough of my own compost that year, so had to buy some “plant food”. I feel that I still made out very well. I had my seed for next year, corn in the crib and quite a bit of dry matter feed in the fodder. The patch had been cultivated with the horses, costing me only my time … and time using horses is an asset to me 😮

Last year’s corn crop cost me $410.00 per acre, my yield was less than 20 bushels per acre. I only recovered any because I was able to turn cattle and hogs into the short, stressed, standing corn to harvest it themselves. I don’t think a silver tongued salesmen will ever sway me again… no matter what the weather!

Our June has been a wet one again. The crops are all planted and so far so good. I am looking forward to making hay while watching the corn grow. The horse drawn cultivator is ready to go, hopefully it will all work out.