RicelandMeadows


Dashing Through The Mud

muddash

December 23, 2019

Our weather the last two or three days has been unseasonably warm and sunny. It feels good on the skin, but sure melts snow fast. We have only had one freeze up. That freeze up only lasted two days. We did pick corn on that second day, until the sun once again warmed the soil. We fell through the frozen crust and down into the mud in mere seconds.

A long chain and the tractor had to pull the wagon and then the corn picker out of the mud. We made a few ruts, but stopped before the field became a mess. We managed to pick over half of the field before the frost was gone. One more frosty morning, when the ground is hard enough to hold equipment, is all we need to finish the corn field picking.

The horses have been enjoying too much off time. They like to work and exercise. The mud has made it tough to do much of anything. So, I obtained an old tire. I drilled holes in the tire and installed a chain hook-up. I can now drag the old tire behind my cart or wagon. The tire makes for just enough load to require a steady pull. The exercise done in this way is just right for the horses. I can stay on the drive and simply make several trips around the farmyard.

Yesterday after church, two of my grandchildren and my son, came by to help hitch and drive. The horses, the kids and this old man had a fun day. Christmas will be here in two days. The snowy Christmas’ of my youth are a memory as well the horse drawn sled rides, but I think I am still making memories…even in the mud!

muddash2



Demonstration
January 2, 2019, 3:13 pm
Filed under: January 2019 | Tags: , , , , ,

forgedemo

January 2, 2019

I want to thank the folks at “Tiller’s International” in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Those guys teach classes on all sorts of old skills from blacksmithing to barrel making, timber framing and tin smithing. The instructors give a very good foundation for learning. I took classes there for blacksmithing and knife making. I am enjoying my new hobbies very much.

Over the Christmas holiday, I was able to give a few demonstrations to friends and family. I feel it is our duty to teach others. I enjoy watching my “students” learn. I am not a master smith, although I do get a little better almost daily. I am able to show and teach  others. Some people want to learn the skill, other folks just like watching. I understand it all, because as a much younger man, I watched a guy doing blacksmithing….I have been “hooked” ever since!

I make all sorts of useful things for the farm. The only limitation is my imagination. I encourage you, dear reader, to teach something that you know to someone else. That someone else could be a friend or stranger, a child or grandchild, but the good you will feel is wonderful.

I learned a lot from my grandparents. Much of what they taught me, I use daily. The best part for me is, that those early days of learning are some of my most treasured memories!

 



Harvesting in Many Ways
September 9, 2018, 12:09 pm
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , ,

caitlynpep

September 9, 2018

We are started with the fall harvest. Our first order of business was to make and preserve memories as most of our family joined us for a reunion. Our granddaughter Caitlin, made friends with Pepper in the photo above. City relatives enjoyed the farm and its animals, as much as we enjoyed seeing them all again. A water balloon fight, pony rides and a walk in the woods were highlights of the day.

The pantry is filling up as the garden is producing in high gear. It looks like we will soon be pulling up the plants and preparing for a fall cover crop, putting the garden to bed for winter. I’ll be glad to click that off the list. The field corn for cows is ripening fast and will take up my attention soon. The first order of business however,  is to prepare and plant the speltz grain for our horses.

sweetcornshock

Sweet corn shocks, cut and tied for decoration. Our son Josh and his family grew pumpkins, squash, gourds and such for a fall roadside stand. They are getting all set up and open for business. Our granddaughter Rachel is selling bouquets of wild and cut flowers. She too is harvesting and gleaning not only plants, but memories as well.

I am inside today as rain falls steadily, the remnants of hurricane Gordon. The rest is good on this sleepy Sunday, as we all prepare to hit high gear very soon!



Creatures From The Black Lagoon
June 25, 2018, 7:45 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

mudface

June 25, 2018

The other evening our son and his family came for a visit. Two of the grandkids went swimming in our farm pond. Being the crazy kids that they are, they took mud from the pond bottom and covered their faces. It was “yucky” to watch, but they had a great time.

A childhood memory flashed through my mind as I watched them. My father and a group of family members were swimming in grandpa’s pond. My dad went deep to swim under someone. When he surfaced, his chest and belly were as black as my granddaughter’s face. I remember everyone laughing, just as I was laughing at my grandchildren. Making memories is what life is all about!

seahair

They even found “seaweed” to make long green locks of hair. The kids had a ball. My dog Cinch waited fairly patiently to play catch. I watched and laughed while reflecting upon the past too. A farm pond with its muddy bottom, just struck a chord in my memory. I am blessed to have had a simple childhood….it is good to see these children are too!



Another Maple Season Come and Gone
March 29, 2018, 11:07 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

endoftheseason2018

March 29, 2018

This new section of road saw many trips of horse drawn sled. On the day of the photo we had gotten almost two inches of rain. I am always impressed by the small amount of disturbance the horses do. Their impact on the land, even in muddy conditions is light.

I boiled maple sap for the last time this year yesterday. The syrup was still light and yummy looking. The taste was awesome too. I take a few sips to ensure the quality! Just a few drops to swirl on my tongue is enough to make a big maple smile.

Yesterday was bittersweet. The season ends so this job is done for another year. I enjoy this time of year like no other. Sometimes its cold, wet and miserable as we gather in the sleet or rain. Other times the sun shines warm on our faces as the snow covers the ground. The steamy room echos with voices of children, family and friends. I even hear the echo as I boil all alone. My memories rush forth from days long ago, as I watched my grandparents make this sweet treat I so dearly love.

The evaporator boiled the last of the season’s sap. I watched the puffy clouds make their way out the roof knowing that the work would be over for a year, but silent too will be the voices and laughter. You see, I make more than maple syrup here… I make memories and smiles, while ensuring an old way of making maple syrup is preserved for the next generations.

The clean up part of the job begins today and will continue for a week or so. Tanks, pans and piping all get washed, dried and stored away. The trees have all already been untapped. The spiles now get washed and dried. The job of filling the woodshed again will begin and take a few months to complete. All these things must be done, because the maple season 2019 will be here before we know it!

emptyshed2018

 



Homemade, Handcrafted, Shop Made
May 24, 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

spreaderfert

May 24, 2017

Yesterday, I spread my fertilizer on the corn ground with my rig pictured above. The spreader is affixed to the axle out of an old Jeep and some small I-beam. My uncle did all the welding. My late friend in Pennsylvania figured the gear ratio. He took the distance in one revolution of the tires and told me what size gear was needed to weld on the shaft coming out of the axle rear end “pumpkin”.

My uncle welded the frame and centered the gear on the rear end shaft. A stub shaft made from pillow block bearings and fitted with stub ends from an old PTO shaft, completed the build. The spreader is just a category one, three point hitch model that I already had. Once the whole rig had been assembled, I tried it out. The horses walk about four miles per hour. My old friend Jonathan had it figured so the speed of the walking horses, turned the power take off at 540 rpm…exactly what the old spreader needed to work at its optimum.

My uncle’s welding days are behind him. My old friend has designed his last piece of homemade equipment. I think of the two of them every time I use this spreader. It gets used often during the growing season. We even spread grass seed on a football field for a community project, to help make a place for some young football players. Because of my uncle and my friend, I was able to “pay it forward” using inexpensive shop built equipment.

Many times in my life I have benefited from someone’s hand made or hand crafted object. The very first leather harnesses that I owned were a gift from my two grandfathers. They each contributed parts to get me a set that would work on two small ponies that I owned. One day, I should compile a list of all the folks who have shown me the greatest love by giving of themselves.

I have slept under homemade quilts all of my life. I still have the last one that my mother and great grandmother made for me. It is well worn and faded, but still held together by the love that made it. My wife quilts for me, our family and others. She works steady and almost tirelessly creating designs in cloth. The love she puts into them will be seen for decades.

I try to always meet people on the level and treat them square. I try to lead with a smile and follow with a good deed. One of the gifts I have, is that of managing the written word. I hope that I can impart a series of words that will touch a heart and stir a fond memory. I hope that long after I am gone, I will still be able to make folks remember a loved one, a favorite event or an old object made by hand with help from the heart.



February A Time Of Waiting
February 1, 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: February 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

101_0717

February 1, 2017

Today marks the first day of February 2017. Early February for me, is a time of waiting. Its time to see if the groundhog sees his shadow. Its almost maple syrup time so we work and wait. There isn’t much work for horses, so we work at easy jobs. I don’t mind waiting for the spring work to start, but I confess, waiting for syrup season is like waiting for Christmas.

It was a cold day in February when I got the sad news that my grandparents had been killed in an accident. It was too much for my ten year old brain to comprehend. I stood in our kitchen and started to shake, then in the arms of my mother, I cried until there were no more tears. My whole world was forever changed.

After the funeral when we went into grandpa and grandma’s house, along the wall of the basement were the neat rows of maple sap buckets. My grandpa was waiting for the season to start, by washing the buckets. I stood and looked at the pails along the wall and I realized that maple season, for me, would always be a dear memory.

Even as I write these few lines, I have a catch in my throat. It is wonderful to have someone love you so much that in the short space of my ten years, I would think of them always. I especially feel bittersweet at this time of year as I get the sugarhouse and all the equipment ready for maple syrup season. Perhaps this is why I love this season so much?

The horses and I will work and wait. We will get things ready, including ourselves, for the work ahead. I am sure that I will pause every now and then, so my mind can wander through my memory to a snowy woods almost fifty years ago. These are favorite memories of mine. Where steam, laughter and the smell of horses can be found, I will be there too…even many years after I am gone.



My View
November 7, 2016, 9:39 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

myview

November 7, 2016

This is my view when driving my team. I never get tired of it. Knight and Hoss have been awesome partners these last several days. They are well broke, making working them a true pleasure. I snapped this photo as we were taking a quick hayride around the farm. My youngest son, his family and a few new friends, all accompanied me as we drove. My grandson held the end of the lines. It was a great time.

It is fun to mix a little family time in with the work. I was just going to move the wagon, when my son suggested a hayride. It was a great idea. I did get the wagon moved too! Tomorrow, my oldest son and his family will be here to help me finish re-baling a few large round bales into small squares. It will be lots of fun and just a little work. I need a few more bales up in the loft. He needs some for his goats for winter. It is a win-win for both of us.

Tonight, my wife and I are working up the fall honey. I took the last of it off a few days ago. I was very careful, taking just a little more for the year. I needed to make sure my bees have enough to get through the winter.

honeycomb

A little bit of “topbar” honeycomb. The bees do this all themselves. No foundation, no wire, no plastic, just pure bees wax, filled with honey and capped.

honeyjar

This is the mashed honeycomb in the top jar. It is gravity filtered into the bottom jar. Just pure, raw honey. The bees produce it from the blossoms all around the farm. It is tasty, wholesome and a sweet reward for taking care of them. Everywhere that I look around this farm, I enjoy the view…even the memories are sweet!



The future belongs to them
September 2, 2016, 2:23 pm
Filed under: September 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

mabelnKman

September 2, 2016

Last night, my grandson helped us do chores. He likes to ride with his grammy in our side-by-side vehicle, so why not do chores as we go? We fed the sow herd and pastured piglets. Then we moved on to fill up the cows water. He wanted to be with me, so I help him as the cows came to investigate.

The little cow Mable is very tame. She stood while we petted and talked to her. My little buddy talked a blue streak of what only he and the cow could understand. I got the idea though that he likes the farm, the cows and especially the horses. He had no trouble telling the little cow all about it.

I realize that for this farm to continue, it will take the generations after me to be interested. Its nice to me, that my grandsons all like different parts of what I do. Some like the farming part, while others like the environmental and woodland part. It is great for me, because I can spend time doing what I like, while spending time doing what they like.

Hopefully, we are making memories that will serve them their whole lives.I don’t know their direction, but I sure hope that I will have a part in shaping it. I’m thinking that with time spent petting cows and making deer feed plots…I’m on the right track.



Plotting for Deer

deerplot

August 29, 2016

This little field was an old part of our pasture. When I put up the new fence, I straightened it out. This little place got abandoned. I keep mowing it. I tried a couple of years ago to plant trees here, but the weeds choked them out. We will probably do that again, but for now, we have created a plot for the wild deer.

We worked up the sod and planted oats, turnips, radish and a medley of grasses and forage. My sheep would go nuts for this soon to be lush autumn and winter grazing. We hope the deer like it. I just want to keep them coming to our farm. We harvest a deer or two each year, so it seems only right to offer them a little food.

They do get into my hay fields and eat clover. They munch my corn and other crops too. This plot however is all theirs. It is in the back, next to the woods. There are trees growing on three sides. A stream is just a few hundred feet away and places to hide and sleep abound.

My son was pretty pleased with our efforts today. My grandson was thrilled that we planted food for the deer. He had a great time catching grasshoppers, crickets and even a frog while we worked and planted. My granddaughter made me mud pies and helped her brother in the big grasshopper hunt. It was a good day for us all….I think more than just a few seeds were planted today…I believe a memory was planted too.