RicelandMeadows


Laying It On Thin

KH2018july

October 29, 2018

In the photo above, I am hooking up to my powercart. Hoss looks like he is about to talk out the side of his mouth. Fear not, I am not being cruel with my lines or his bit, the camera just caught that moment when line pressure tells a horse where to stand.

They were watching the cattle, who had just been moved to new pasture. The cattle were running and jumping, playing if you will, checking out their new paddock. The horses were so focused on the cattle, that they weren’t listening to my voice. Usually they plod over to whatever they are to be hooked to, sidle up and stand. They move right or left when I say, “Gee or Haw”. This day they were wide awake, yet waiting for my signal.

KHCompost

Once we were all hooked up, we took this load of compost out to the field. I spread it on thin. The thin application is absorbed quickly by the soil. The nutrients stay in place and are used as food. Composted manure applied in this manner is of in little danger of running off into streams and waterways. It is also important to spread on dry days when rain or snow is of little concern.

I also make sure there are grass filter strips along stream borders. These strips collect any potential manure from becoming a problem. It takes a little planning to farm the way I do, but it is worth it. To know that my farm is not having a negative impact on my neighbors or any person downstream is pleasing to me.

This year, I was able to spread 40 loads of compost like the one in the photo above. The black gold was spread on a field that will grow next season’s corn. It was spread on a field where the speltz were harvested to give the growing newly seeded hay crop a boost. Lastly, it was spread on an older hay field that will soon be put into pasture. The compost applications are done as part of our crop rotations. We try to put the nutrients where they will be needed most. By spreading the compost thin, it goes farther, stays in place and gives us the most “bang for our buck”! Good farm husbandry goes hand and hand with good environmental stewardship. I believe that is not only my responsibility, but my duty as well.



Laying It On
July 22, 2018, 8:03 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

K&Hpowercart

July 22, 2018

It’s finally time to spread manure and our compost. The farm work is mostly caught up. The weather is a bit unsettled and rain is forecast to be spotty and scattered. I like to spread on the recently mowed pastures and hay fields. The grass responds well. The rains wash the nutrients into the soil. I get much satisfaction from handling this job well.

I don’t spread manure in winter, on soggy, wet ground or anytime that I could make ruts. I want the manure to stay put, not wash off into road ditches and watercourses. First of all, I want the nutrients to enrich my soils. Secondly, I am a good steward for the land, being responsible with this raw material is a passion. Lastly, I want my fields to stay in smooth condition whenever possible. Smooth fields are much better to farm…especially with horse drawn equipment with steel seats!

I will be working on this task everyday for several weeks. I will take 3 or 4 loads out a day, while working on other jobs around the farm. Once the pastures and hay fields have been given a light coating, the field where corn will grow next year will be given a liberal amount. It will then be plowed under in the old way of farming.

Summer is zipping by, this job signifies the halfway point for me. So far, we are on track. I steady rain falls as I write and all the plants seem to be looking skyward enjoying the life-giving moisture. Today we rest, watch the rain and enjoy family….tomorrow…I’ll be laying it on again!



A Job Worth Doing…
November 5, 2017, 8:05 pm
Filed under: November 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

wbpoop

November 5, 2017

How many times have you heard that a job worth doing, is worth doing right.? It always makes me laugh as I clean the barn…that is one job that just won’t stay done! I find it almost therapeutic. Cleaning the barn daily, makes it look and smell nice. I am sue the animals appreciate it too. In fact, I think they pay me with manure for keeping their beds clean.

I like the feeling of satisfaction I get as I apply fresh bedding and sweep the barn. It pleases me to know that all is well. The animals are in their stalls eating or have just been turned out to pasture as I clean. In any case, the clean, neat barn, gives me a sense of pride.

This wheelbarrow load of sawdust, old hay and manure is headed for the compost pile. It won’t get spread on the fields until next spring. This is the beginning of next years fertilizer. The pit is now empty waiting for the animals and I to fill it up again. The repetitive barn cleanings, just like daily chores, make up a farmers life. I love this life and wouldn’t change a thing!



Its Here!
December 12, 2016, 8:58 pm
Filed under: December 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

sugarhousesnow

December 12, 2016

Winter has arrived here in northeast Ohio. It came with a vengeance! We had this quick first snow, followed two days later with eighteen inches more. I dug us out. Last night, it drizzled for four or five hours. We had a slushy mess today. Six to eight inches covers the ground, but slush and mud are underneath. Ugh, that is winter, but not my favorite kind of weather.

The cattle and sheep took it all in stride. They waited out the rain in their respective sheds. The horses went out to play during the deep snow event. They had a great time. Today, they romped and splashed about like children. Tonight, they are back in the warm barn, coats all brushed and ready for bed.

The winter chores are mostly about feeding and making sure all the animals have a dry, warm bed. That means shoveling lots of manure. The manure makes compost so as I wheel each load to the pile, I smile a bit knowing the payback comes in the spring. Those rich nutrients make my crops grow well and round out a well managed farm plan. So as the snow piles up and the rest of us hunker down, I will pile up the benefits…one forkful at a time.



Spring Application
April 3, 2016, 4:06 pm
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

Pcart4

April 3, 2016

We were hauling compost until the rains and now snow have made the fields too wet. We do not spread manure or compost on fields that are wet or snow covered. I want the nutrients to stay in place where the plants can use them. Being cautious when applying soil amendments goes a long way in the art of sustainability.

I have switched the powercart over for three horses. They will be hitched three abreast. The job is much easier for them, but also allows me to work all three horses. We have a good time working. The usual warm spring days will soon return. We will be ready once the paddocks dry out again. In the meantime….there is always firewood to work on!



Once a shepherd… Always a shepherd
June 16, 2015, 8:20 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , ,
4-legged mowers back on the pastures!

4-legged mowers back on the pastures!

June 16, 2015

I just couldn’t stand spring time pastures without spring lambs I guess. No really it all came to me a few days ago. It makes no sense to have to mow the pasture around the back pond and sugarhouse. I have worked a long time to get good forage to grow there. I don’t want the cows or horses punching holes all around the pond edge. Trimming there is simply a sheep job. The grass turns small lambs into tasty meat by summers end. The place looks neat and trimmed to boot!

These ewes are from my old flock. I didn’t have to be too particular for I just want the mowing job done. I have my old black nemesis “Midnight” back. She and I have exchanged many looks and one-sided cuss sessions. I swear a lot and she just eggs me on with a baa-baa, raspberry sound 😮 I also got a couple ewes who only had one baby this year. Lastly, one ewe is here because she had a “bad personality”, what ever that means?

They are not too friendly yet. They managed to hang out long enough by the door to the sugarhouse last night to leave me a landmine…which I of course stepped in first thing. They watched from a nearby hillside with big grins on their faces. I shook my shoe to no avail. The manure made from clover blossoms and orchardgrass apparently has the same bonding ingredient as super glue. I did get it off after a trip through the mud to a nearby stream. Thanks to the sheep I walked in a wet shoe most of the morning! Ahhh yes…and it was my idea!



Oh Poop!
April 30, 2014, 7:51 pm
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: , , , , ,
Compost all spread on our 2014 corn field

Compost all spread on our 2014 corn field

April 29, 2014

I spent last weekend, before the current rainy weather, spreading all of our manure. The manure has been piled and rotting since last fall. I don’t like to spread raw manure. I feel that I lose too much when doing that. The manure, composted or even partially composted, is much better for the soil and the soon to be growing plants. The nutrients are more readily available to the plants after it has been composted.

I use a lot of straw and bedding material. This carbon material, ties up the ammonia in the manure. That ammonia smell, is the nitrogen escaping from that manure. Once it is stabilized by the straw and bedding, the nitrogen is tied up. The plants can use it. It also makes spreading manure a good job, the smell is much less and almost earthy…rather than unbearable 😮

I also leave room at the end of the field for a grassy strip to absorb any runoff that might escape the field. I believe that environmental stewardship is the responsibility of every farmer or landowner. I try to practice what I preach and farm by example. I got to share my experiences and my efforts with some kids today from our local technical school. It was a great day!

The kids and I walked our woodland and the buffer zones around our farm. The rain had been falling much of the morning, so it was a perfect day to show my successes and even a failure or two. I am not perfect, but I keep trying… I wanted to impart that philosophy with the young people. All it takes is “try” with a little “umph” to triumph in everything you do…. I know they left here thinking positive thoughts… because not one kid said, “oh poop” to anything that I said 😮