RicelandMeadows


Woodshed Full :o)

conniewood

October 15, 2017

I engaged some man sized help from my neighbor boys and in just three hours, we finished filling the woodshed. This will boil the 2018 maple sap crop. A full woodshed, filled with drying wood, many months before it will be needed, is an awesome thing!

Using good dry seasoned wood increases the BTU’s when burned, producing a very hot fire. A very hot fire is just what is needed when boiling maple sap… or heating a home. Honestly, firewood should be cut a year ahead of when it will be burned for best results. I pile the logs all winter long for the next years wood. I slowly, yet steadily, start filling the woodshed as soon as the maple season ends.

This year, having had my knee replaced, made work take a bit longer but it did get done. As I look around the farm, with winter looming, I am satisfied that I will have everything done before the snow flies. It took lots of family and friends and I am thankful for each and every one of them!



Porches and Additions

tankporch

October 9, 2017

In the hustle and bustle from out of state family visiting, my step-sons, son in law, grandson and I (in a supervisory role of course) built this addition onto the sugarhouse for this new storage tank. This tank will provide enough room for 4000 gallons of sap. It will allow me to gather the sap from our entire woods before boiling. Up until now, I had to boil to make enough room, to hold all of the tree’s bounty.

tankfoundationporch

We had to excavate a portion of the hillside to accommodate the new porch addition. This task was completed by our, new to us, excavator and our son Matt. It was much easier than using a shovel! Treated posts and lumber provided the foundation for the new structure.

rooftankfrolic

Leftover steel roofing from our new house roof, provided the roofing material for the new porch. The new tank has its own lid coming soon, but the roof will offer weather protection, as well as, keeping it somewhat safe from falling tree limbs and such. I am very grateful for the new building and the workmanship volunteered to make it happen. Maple syrup time 2018 is looking real good!

backbarnadd

While we labored at the sugarhouse, my friends Justin and Gary, worked their tails off building this addition to the back barn. This new structure will provide a place for  winter storage of the last remaining equipment currently sitting outside in the weather. It was a busy day for sure. I am one happy farmer, thanks once again to great friends and a wonderful family!



Find and Opening
September 29, 2017, 7:30 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , ,

feedmanger

September 29, 2017

The hay feeder is taking shape. The cows should be able to find an opening, to munch on the sun cured hay, all winter. We used an old print from a university. I’m guessing it was information first posted in the early part of the last century. The measurements were just right for my cattle. I guess some things don’t change.

The opening at the top is twenty one inches. At the bottom the opening is seven inches. This gave me seven openings on each side. My feeder measures just under seven feet wide and eighteen feet long. I will fill it with round bales using my skid steer.

The hay feeder project is almost complete. Lumber is waiting for another project. I am in high gear. My knee is doing well, but I am still getting much help from family and friends. The next project is for an overhang to store hay and a couple pieces of equipment. That project is well started and should only take a couple more days to complete.

Lastly, we will be making a small addition to the sugarhouse for a large holding tank for maple sap. The tank is stainless steel and will hold just over 2000 gallons. This new tank will make it possible for us to have a storage capacity of well over 4000 gallons. We don’t use reverse osmosis in our operation. We choose instead, to boil the water out of the sap from start to finish. The flavor that develops during that time is awesome.

Our new guard donkey has found an opening in our family. The children are sitting on his back and loving him daily. He is content with the cattle and sheep as they eat, sleep and graze together. He comes when he is called. He is an adorable creature…long ears and all.



Is it over?
February 23, 2017, 12:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

ralphsyrup

February 22, 2017

Tonight, I finished boiling in the sugarhouse, after ten pm. I have been going almost non-stop since last Wednesday. We had to get ready, tap the trees set up unloading tanks, do a little extra cleaning, gather the the sap and start boiling. Every single thing over lapped the other! We started boiling very early Monday morning. The evaporator rested a total of 15 hours since then…only because I had to get some sleep, oh yeah and gather more sap!

The weather has gone nuts! It has been warm, no freezing in sight for another few days. I fear the trees will bud, then no matter how cold it gets, the syrup season is over. Today, the horses slogged through the mud in the warm temperatures. They sweated due to their heavy winter coats. We went slow to go easy on the horses and to prolong the season…well, that is why I went slow.

As always, it has been a family affair. All of our children giving some of their time and help to make this season all come together. My cousin has been with me almost every day, helping in many ways. Friends have stepped up and I have reached deep inside to keep going when my body said it was time to rest.

So, tonight, I write this blog, tired, happy, grateful and optimistic, but I am pretty sure our maple season is over. The next few days will tell the story. Tonight, I sat and watched the fire die down. I listened to the spring peepers and thought about climate change. The warmest February on record, is not good for syrup producers, grape growers or orchard growers. The buds will break, a freeze will come and the plants will suffer.

I don’t know if our syrup season is over, but I do know that climate change will effect every single one of us. It is a small world. Every single country needs to do their part…even the ones with developing economies. And China…well they should be ashamed of themselves.



Maple 2017
February 20, 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

threesap

February 19, 2017

Whew, the sap is running and so am I. I got some very welcomed help over the last few days, as I readied for making maple syrup. Today, we managed to get everything in the sugarhouse ready, while my son and a whole bunch of friends gathered the dripping sap.

Many of the bags were full to the top. The mud was sticky and drying. The sled pulled hard, so we used three horses. They still have their winter coats on, so we went slow, not pushing too hard. In four hours time, they had gathered almost 1100 gallons of sap.

My sister and two of her friends came. They were an BIG help. We managed to do all the final clean up of tanks and equipment, as well as, the final set up. We finished just as the sap started coming in to the sugarhouse. Right in the nick of time! We hold the sap in a tank that my cousin and I set in the ice and snow last Thursday. Today, a few guys wore only short sleeves!

Our weather for the next few days has us concerned. The warm up is coming too fast. Time will tell how our season will go, but it has started. Tomorrow we will be boiling much of the day. Oh what a wonderful day it will be!



Gone Fishin
August 10, 2016, 5:14 pm
Filed under: August 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

gonefishin

August 10, 2016

Our summer so far, with its lack of rain, has made it quite easy for me to be caught up with my work. Once we get some more moisture, the work will once again be plentiful, but in the meantime, I am finding a little time to goof off. The picture above was taken after the woodshed filling had been completed. The boys all went fishing, while several of us older guys sat in the shade and enjoyed a nice cool breeze.

I don’t sit very well. A long time ago, a man called me lazy. It stung me to the core. I vowed that I would not be thought of as lazy ever again. I carried hatred for that man for a very long time. Once in a while as I enjoy a cool drink in a shady spot, I call the man a son-of-a-bitch. He is long dead and my displeasure should have died with him. I even feel a little guilty for that mean streak that comes to light now and then. So, in the last year or two, I simply toast the man. I figure raising a glass in his honor, while I sit on my ass, would insult him more than anything. Somehow it pleases me.

I don’t fish because I put it in the lazy category as a boy. I don’t golf, or play any sport. I can only hunt when the work is all done. I do watch a little television after dark once the chores and the day is done. Perhaps that old man still has the upper hand? I don’t think so, but I am a pretty busy guy……One thing for sure… I am not lazy!

As we older guys sat in the cool shade visiting. My mind drifted to the fishing boys. They laughed and played. They even caught some fish, but I think it was me who had the best time of all. The work had been completed and though the boys caught some fish…. I caught up on some rest and a nice cool breeze….so mark me down as “Gone Fishin” 🙂



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.