RicelandMeadows


Nature’s Bounty

casperapple

August 31, 2017

Where did summer go? This last day of August, I am pleased to have plenty of grass left in our pastures. The cattle and all of the farm’s livestock are looking great. Now, we are getting another nice bonus as we share in Nature’s Bounty. Wild apple trees are dropping their fruit. The cattle love the sweet treats. Our dairy steer in the picture above seems to delight in eating them.

When I was a boy, the old farmer that I worked for thought apples would make his cows choke. So, we cut every wild apple tree we saw. It has been my experience that the livestock, as well as, the wild animals benefit from this wild fruit. I think there are enough nice apples to make applesauce or cider for us. The trees could be trimmed to enhance the fruit, making them grow bigger and easier to peel. Sounds like a great idea, especially by selecting the trees with the best tasting fruit.

The hickory nuts are dropping in the woods as well. I have one wooded pasture where the hickory trees are plentiful. There are apple trees there as well. My sow herd really enjoys spending a couple of weeks in that pasture. They munch on clover, nuts and apples, barely eating the corn I give them for those two weeks. There is much to be said about farming “with” nature instead of trying to fight “against” her. She is the boss and when you respect her, the bounty abounds.



Safe and Secure
May 31, 2017, 10:23 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

gateclose

May 31, 2017

My almost three year old grandson is a stickler for keeping the gates closed. He knows which gates are normally open, as well as, the ones that are usually closed. He does not like to see one that is usually closed, in the open position. It’s okay if we are moving livestock, but a random open gate really bothers this young man.

I guess that I am where my grandson gets his ideas from. I close gates behind me. I insist that others do too. If you go through a gate and it is closed, then the expectation is that you close and latch it behind you. We live on a busy road. There is not a time when livestock are welcomed there. I also don’t like them stomping holes in the lawn or other mischief.

Our oil well tender man is also very careful with our gates. I am grateful to him as well. I guess much of our farm life revolves around opening and closing gates. I have many because we move livestock often, from pasture to pasture. I need things to be easy, especially with my advancing age! Our cattle and even the sow herd knows where to go, all because of our gates. They make life easy and keep all of us safe and secure.

My little next door farmer keeps a watchful eye for open gates and anything amiss. I too am wary of strange things or stuff out of place. I notice things that are different and have done so from an early age. I see part of myself in this little guy…that knowledge also makes me feel safe and secure.



Shady Summer Pasture

woodedpasture

August 15, 2016

This patch of woodlands was recommended by the state forester to become a pasture. There were not too many trees worth saving according to him. I bought a herd of goats several years ago and let them eat whatever they wanted. I mowed what I could after the goats had moved on. I cut down and am cutting down, cull trees while cleaning up what falls down every year.

This hamlet has become a great pasture for sultry summer days. I feed hay to the cows here to provide feed in addition to whatever the cows graze. I graze it very short so that my clean up efforts are made easier. Soon I will hand seed grasses into the bare spots. As I remove trees the filtered sunlight encourages the grass to grow. What was once a brushy, thorny, overgrown patch, with a few trees growing among the multi-flora rose, has become a productive paddock on my farm.

I am going to remove all the trees with multi-trunks, leaving the best and straightest to grow. I continue to clean up the dead, wind blown, fallen trees and branches. Trust me I have made great progress, but plenty of work awaits. I work here in the fall. The weather is good for hard work. I also like to take trees down after the leaves have fallen. It makes the brush easier to handle.

In following my “Woodland Management Plan”, this area will become a pasture. In following my own desire, the pasture will be wooded, providing shade and comfort during the dog days of summer. I do get a fair amount of grazing days here as I rotate the animals through this field. I also graze the sow herd here to clean up the fallen Hickory nuts and wild apples. It has been a great little field and it is just starting to reach its full potential.



Kit and Kaboodle
May 1, 2016, 3:12 pm
Filed under: May 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

kittens

May 1, 2016

It continues to show the signs of spring on the farm. Baby lambs jump and play in the pasture, kittens mew in the barn and the grass continues to turn bright green. Today after a night of drizzle, the cows and horses are all stretched out soaking up the warm sunshine. It’s too wet to do much farming right now, but it sure is a great day for stretching out!

Why is it that the grass in the lawn out paces the grass in the pasture? I guess its because we don’t eat it, but it sure eats into our time having to mow. I guess that is one more signal of spring and the freshly mowed grass sure smells good! So, no complaints, just the facts I guess.

We have started to prep the gardens. That season will be upon us soon. In fact, early crops like peas, lettuce, radish and even potatoes could already be planted. No worries however, the warm soil will catch us all up once it dries out again. I will be preoccupied for a little while getting this years corn crop out. That job too will begin soon.

I guess we have much to do, all sorts of jobs, with just enough down time mixed in for the whole kit and kaboddle , to make for a very happy life!



The Color of Autumn
October 13, 2015, 8:02 am
Filed under: October 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Hoss, grabs a snack

Hoss, grabs a snack

October 13, 2015

As I prepare for winter, sometimes I get so busy that I forget to look around at the trees all dressed in their autumn splendor. Yesterday, we had a beautiful day. The sun was warm and bright. The green grass, revived by recent rains, is beautiful. The trees are almost dripping with color and the sky is a beautiful blue. I had to pause for a few minutes, just to savor the view.

Farmers around me are very busy with their fall harvest. Soy beans are being harvested as is corn and even grass for forage. I stood by the fence and watched as my animals harvest their own fall food. The lambs and steers are growing nice and fat on the lush late season grasses. The sows are enjoying wild apples and hickory nuts along with juicy clover, not to mention plump ears of corn, as they too prepare for winter.

I will have to feed hay and grain soon, but for now the animals are getting their own food. I don’t have to spend the time or fuel chasing around the farm for a few mouthfuls of grass. They animals do it themselves and they eat everything in the nooks and crannies too. They are efficient grazers who also spread their own manure as they go 😮

I will continue to store equipment and restore a sense of order on my farm. The animals will fill their bellies without much help from me. The farm will be harvested, the animals fattened and nourished as I go about my business. I simply need to keep water tanks filled, pastures rotated and momma pigs looked after. The horses and I continue to gather firewood as we all enjoy the cool, colorful days of autumn.

Soon, the cold wet, rainy days of late fall, will bring down the leaves and mud will also be present. The cold will penetrate a jacket and all of us critters will find warm places to huddle. I know those days are coming, but for now we will all enjoy the fleeting warm sunny days that nature is providing. It is important to look around, linger a little as I go about the business of animal husbandry and enjoy the color of autumn.



Waiting On A Birthday
August 7, 2015, 7:52 pm
Filed under: August 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Relaxing in the shade

Relaxing in the shade

August 7, 2015

This sow is waiting for her due date. She is laying in the shade in the cool earthen bed she made. I that that is about as comfortable as a girl can get. 😮

Her young ones will be here soon. The rest of the herd pays her no mind. Two sows have had their babies already. Two more younger gilts are in the middle of their gestation, so it will be a couple more months before they deliver their piglets. The boar over sees all of them. He is a proud papa who watches over his youngsters, keeps an eye on the girls and still comes to me to be petted.

It is dry on the farm. The pig’s wallow has dried up. If the rains don’t come soon, I may actually haul them some water back just to make them a mud hole. For now, the cool shade in the wooded pasture is keeping them cool, but if those hot, muggy days return, I will give them a pool to play in.

I managed to finish hauling all of my compost today. I put a thin coating on the big horse pasture. I also had enough to put on a small field where next year’s speltz will be planted. I am glad to have that job completed. When the rains come and they will, it will be great to have the nutrient rich compost washing into the hungry soil. The pasture grasses will jump as they put away stores, to carry them over winter.

So, we are waiting on birthdays, second cutting and some rain. I am keeping busy putting away equipment, making a few repairs and sitting in the shade now and then.



A Moo…ving Experience
Ka-boss, come along girls

Ka-boss, come along girls

July 1, 2015

As part of my rotational grazing method of raising livestock, I moo-ve my cows often 😮  I just need one gal to follow along and all the rest follow her. Now that we have been doing this a while, I say Ka-boss and they come running. They know that something good is about to happen! Even last years calves, still sucking moms, beat feet to the gate or new place that I am taking them.

My horse pasture is an area of almost six acres. I only have three draft horses on that paddock, so they can’t keep up with the grass, especially at this time of year. They also eat their favorite places down and leave other areas alone. I put the cows in there with them, just before mowing the pasture. The cows aren’t as picky. They eat the tall grass and anything else that grows pretty much. This makes great use of my forages, keeps all the grass growing well and rids the pasture of a few weeds in the process.

Having tame livestock is a plus, but once they know there is a reward for coming, even the surly ones follow the rest. The young stock go where mom goes. They stay together even grazing in a little herd. They go to the water at the same time and even rest together. The horses keep to themselves too. They don’t chase the cows, but definitely rule the pasture. They drink first. They come in first. and the cows move out of the way. I’m not sure how they learned this, but it goes on this way no matter which horses or cows that I have had over the years. I don’t question it any more. I’m just grateful it woks out so well.