RicelandMeadows


Harvest Time

bindershock

July 27, 2017

I got to take a ride in my truck yesterday. My buddy drove, as I am still not allowed. I got to see a lot from the passenger seat. We drove through northeast Ohio and wound up at my Amish buddy’s house. They are getting the oats all ready to harvest. The binder in the photo has been cleaned and is ready to be stored for the year. Looking through the binder, you can see the neat rows of oat shocks, drying in the sun.

My friend told me that he had just finished binding the oats when a gang of boys and young men showed up. The group consisted of his sons and sons-in-law, a few nephews and a few of their friends. The boys made short work of shocking the grain. They went around the field picking up bundles and building the little shocks in an almost competition style. In a little over two hours, the whole field was done.

I have built shocks before. It is a fun job when you have enough help. Each shock contains 7 bundles. If four men are available, it works perfect. The first three guys pick up a bundle in each hand. The first guy sets his bundles on the ground, oat heads up in teepee fashion. The second guy puts his bundles right in line with the first two bundles. The third guy does the same thing. So now you have two parallel rows of three bundles leaning against each other. The fourth guy takes one bundle, flares out both ends of the bundle and pulls it against his belly making a cap. This cap sits on top of the teepee shedding water and allowing the wind to dry the ripening shock.

The above process is continued until all the bundles have been picked up. The more people you have to help, the quicker the job goes. It is actually fun. Cold drinks or ice cream shared by all adds a nice finishing touch to the job of shocking. Soon the shocks will be loaded onto wagons and taken to the threshing machine. The grain is separated from the straw. This is a big job requiring many hands, but it is a busy, dirty, hot, sweaty wonderful job!

Belgianspeltz



Grazing Extended
November 18, 2016, 10:02 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

grazob2

November 18, 2016

Today, I turned the cows into the oats and buckwheat that we planted in early August. The oats are just headed out, in the “dough” stage. They are lush and green. They are waist high. The buckwheat has bloomed and has reached maturity. The plants are succulent, big and leafy. This is a little field that was simply disced, two or three times. The seed was broadcasted and then rolled. The rain did most of the work after that.

My pastures around the farm have all been grazed off. The fields are now resting, feeding themselves before going dormant for the year. The weather has been unseasonable, but this is about the time that we are done grazing every year. This year however, this little field will feed the cow herd for another two or three weeks. I will offer hay and baleage free choice in a few days to ensure the cows have plenty of feed.

Here in the snow belt of northeast Ohio, grazing extenders like these oats and buckwheat, help to keep inputs down. Low input means more profitability. More profitability keeps us sustainable, ensuring and securing this farm’s future. The oats were straight out of our feed bin. They need to be oats that were not heat treated so that they germinate. I am not after a grain crop. I just want to stockpile feed for when the grazing is over for the year.

I also have some fourth cutting clover in another field. I plan to graze that field off once the ground freezes. I don’t want the cattle punching holes in the new field of clover. If the ground doesn’t freeze, at a minimum, I will graze the sheep flock there. They will not hurt the soil. They will harvest their own feed and spread their own manure.The other dynamic is their little hooves will press the clover seed heads into the soft soil, thereby reseeding the field as they eat.

Increasing the amount of grazing on a small farm is easy if you think outside the box a little bit. Small plots of summer annuals planted and grazed can rest the regular pastures while keeping the cattle in top condition. Cover crops can be lightly grazed before incorporating them into the soil. Corn fodder, after harvest, can be grazed along with the field edges in that field. I even let the animals graze on the field while I am plowing it. Plowing takes me a few days when using the horses. The grazing keeps the grass short so it turns over easier. I get my plowing done while the animals get their grazing extended.

grazob1



Oats and Buckwheat
October 6, 2016, 1:56 pm
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

oatsnbuck

October 6, 2016

This little field is located at the back of my farm. It is where the cows will spend the winter. I planted oats and buckwheat here to extend the grazing season. The little field is much better with a cover crop on it. The cows will soon eat this, leaving rich manure behind. It’s nice when they spread their own!

I spent $24.00 on the buckwheat seed. The oats were right out of my feed bin. We disced the area to cut some grooves into the hard ground. We next broadcasted the oats and buckwheat on top of the ground and waited. The rains finally came and sprouted the seed. The buckwheat bloomed and provided a nice autumn crop for the bees. The standing forage will make my cows very happy.

The oats and buckwheat are not frost hardy. They will die once winter gets here, but the cows will have this all eaten before then. The plants have “mined” the soil of trace elements. The cows will eat the plants and deposit the digested minerals back on the ground. Next spring I will plant corn in this small place. The corn will benefit from this crop and from the cows too. It will prove to be a very good way to have spent $24.00.



Fixing a problem
September 3, 2016, 4:17 pm
Filed under: September 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

buckwheatnoats

September 3, 2016

This little field was my last winter’s cow lot. It was a rough field filled with hoof prints. I grazed it short in late July. Then we disced it all up to smooth it out and to open the soil up some. We next broadcasted oats from our bin and some buckwheat seed. The seeding is coming along good. I won’t put the cows up here until November. When they do get here they will have thick oats and the spent buckwheat to munch.

The buckwheat mines minerals out of the soil. When the plant dies back or is eaten by the cows, it gives up those minerals. The nutrients will be available for the following crop. I plan to plant some open pollinated corn in this spot next spring. The cows will get it until then. They will winter here again, depositing their manure all over this field. I will plow and prepare a seedbed for the corn. It should be a yummy place for the corn.

So, by fixing the problem of a rough field, I planted feed for the cows, suppressed weeds, mined some nutrients, used up some old oat seed and made a great autumn food crop for my bees. The blooming buckwheat is a favorite for all pollinators, especially honeybees. My cost was my time, a little fuel and $23.00 of buckwheat seed. It is a field of about 2 acres. It was most definitely worth my time!



Cover Ups
September 17, 2015, 4:51 pm
Filed under: September 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Garden beds ready for winter

Garden beds ready for winter

September 17, 2015

It has been a hectic week so far. The garden beds have been all cleaned off, worked up and planted to a cover crop. This year I chose oats. The oats will grow well until about Thanksgiving time. They will then die back and provide a winter mulch layer for the otherwise exposed soil. When spring gets here, the oat mulch is easily worked into the beds at planting time.

I have used rye, wheat and spelt for winter cover. These plants grow much of the winter and early spring. They provide plenty of organic matter to till in the spring. I chose oats this year because the beds are full of composted material already and I am hoping for an early spring warm up in the raised beds. It will be nice to get off to an early gardening start.

My favorite summer cover crop for garden and field is buckwheat. This plant provides much weed suppression. It is hollow stemmed and incorporates easily at plow down time. It is also a great soil miner. It makes many micro nutrients available for the following crop. It mines the soil, then gives it up when dead and rotting in the soil. The bees and other pollinators love the flowering blossoms of buckwheat making this plant a win-win for everyone involved 😮



Beautiful Day…Oats are planted!
April 29, 2015, 10:56 pm
Filed under: April 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
The back pond, home to a goose family

The back pond, home to a goose family

April 29, 2015

I got up this morning and had an idea. I would plant oats in my spent corn field. I am not trying to get a grain crop. I just want to plant a quick crop of additional pasture. It should be ready by mid June. I may only get a week or two grazing from this field, but I used my bin oats to plant it, at a cost of about twenty five dollars, plus some diesel fuel. I can’t feed ten cows for two weeks much cheaper than that. So I say hooray for oats! The awesome grazing extender!

I worked all day on this project, along with farm work. The animals all had to be fed, pens and stalls cleaned, and water troughs filled. I also went and got a load of mulch for our flower beds. Perhaps the mulch is wishful thinking, but the weekend looks nice and I can get two young men to help me 😮

I hope to start back on my firewood cutting for the sugarhouse next week. If I push hard, I should have the woodshed filled before time to cut hay! Now with the oats out of the way, the only other big farm job is to empty the compost bin. That too will be a big job, but I can do it in one long day. The sun stays out until after nine pm. It gets up early these days too. All I have to do is work with old Mr. Sol, and my work will disappear …. now, talk about a beautiful day!

The compost bin, cooking and waiting

The compost bin, cooking and waiting



Summer Slumber

Three of our girls resting

Three of our girls resting


August 13, 2014

A very busy off farm work schedule along with the demanding work around this farm, has kept me from writing for a while. I am currently enjoying a few days of rest, thanks in part, to the rain. Even the cows were resting this morning in the recently harvested experimental oats and buckwheat field.

The experiment went well for the most part, but I didn’t seed it heavy enough. I did harvest a few round bales for feeding this winter, but would not repeat the experiment. There are other forages that do better in the same time frame. Sorghum/Sudan grass does better. I proved that too in a side by side comparison this season.

I am an ambassador for both oats and buckwheat in other applications. Buckwheat “mines” the soil for nutrients. When incorporated back into the soil, buckwheat makes those nutrients available for the next crop. Buckwheat also lures all sorts of beneficial bugs, especially pollinators.

Oats grow well in spring and fall. They can be baled or grazed along with harvesting them for the grain and straw. I use them often to follow corn and as a nurse crop for grasses and legumes. The grain makes great horse feed, but I prefer speltz due to my work load and our cold clay soils.

I managed to get all of our second cutting hay made, along with the forage buckwheat and oats and sorghum/Sudan grass. All the bales were made without any rain on them… a real feat this year! I have one more field of clover second cutting, that will be made into balage for our cows. The silage type bales will be wrapped in plastic and resemble big marshmallows.

Our corn, planted June tenth, is doing well. Sure, there is better looking corn around, but my small field of open pollenated corn will feed our sow herd all winter. I am fine with that 😮 The fodder will also be used as a snack for the cows once the ears have been picked and stored.

Plenty of work awaits me, but it feels very good to be caught up for now and enjoying a few days of fun. A trip to Holmes county yesterday, made for laughs shared and memories made with Connie. We bought a “chicken Tractor” from an Amish man who makes them from conduit and small square wire. They are light and portable, yet strong and durable …. more on this topic later.

Our corn towers above the five foot fence

Our corn towers above the five foot fence