RicelandMeadows


Corn Crop Seed for 2022 , Saved!

November 12, 2021

One of the things that I wrap up before the bad weather comes, is to set my next year’s seed corn in a cool dry place. It will dry down more. Then one winter day I will shell the ends off of the ears, followed by shelling the entire ear. The ends will go for animal feed. The rest of the ear will be shelled into a paper sack and kept until spring. This keeps the seed viable until it can be planted next year.

I like the color that comes naturally in this corn. It makes hand husking fun. I save seed from the biggest ears, picked from stalks that are standing up well. Many ears are over a foot long. I saved the seed that grew this corn last year. As I select the corn for seed, my crop follows that direction. There are about 50% yellow ears and 50% of ears of color. The animals don’t care, they eat it all. I just like to make picking fun.

I describe shelling the ends of the ears off. This is just so that the seed planted is from the “flats” they go through the seed plates easier and are more uniform size. I don’t have to worry about this anymore as I now have a plateless planter. It allows me to plant seeds of all different sizes including the small round seeds found at the ends of the ears. So, I guess its just an old habit slow to die for me. If folks are planting using a planter with seed plates, they may want to stick with the way I describe to get the more uniform flat seeds from the middle part of the ear. The plants themselves don’t care. The seed will all sprout and grow, producing a regular looking ear, no matter if it was a flat seed or a round seed that was planted.

I keep a close eye on these saved cobs of corn. I don’t want mice or birds getting to them. I think it could be said that I almost baby them. I check on them often and protect them. Once the seed has been removed from the cob and stored in a paper bag, I guard that pretty close too. This seed will continue to adapt to our climate. It will grow much in the way that I select the seed. Large ears from stalks that stand up and color just to make this farmer smile.

The big ears will continue to get larger. The stalks will have to get a little bigger or stronger to hold the large ears. It is a sort of circle. If the big ears have fallen over, even though they are large, they are no good for seed, because the stalk couldn’t hold them up. Like livestock, seed must be culled hard as you save only the best. A good farmer will have to make some tough choices at times. His culls will be better stock than other guys even possess. As tough as it is, that is a very good problem to have

This was a sunrise the other morning. It tells me that foul weather is coming. I know that a storm or at least more rain is headed our way, but it sure is a pretty way to let me know. Before the weather turns rough, I hope to have much of the outside work completed. The corn crop all harvested, seed saved and set aside, now its on the the last of the firewood needing to be gathered. The small farm can present plenty to do, but with amazing sunrises and sunsets to start and end the days, its fine with me.



2021 Corn Harvest Complete

November 8, 2021

We finished picking our corn last Saturday. Pictured above is one of our wagon loads. It was a fair harvest, but the good thing is, we got enough! There will be plenty to feed out until next year’s crop has been picked. This labor of love I do by hand. The multicolored ears make it an interesting job. The old guys liked to find a red ear, because doing so meant they got to kiss a girl…My heart is full and my lips are chapped. My wife doesn’t even like to see me coming towards the house these days.

We had to wait for almost a week due to heavy rains. The husking got delayed. The horses got plenty of rest and the raccoons had a hay day in the standing corn. Once the weather broke we got right back at it. I picked 2 rows at a time so that the wagon moved over its width every time we made a round. We didn’t leave many tracks. The horses pulling the wagon leave much less impact than the tractor does.

The tractor tracks that you can see in this photo were made by me brush hogging the whole field upon completion of the husking job. It is my hope that the crop residue will make a winter cover for the soil, but still allow for drying out come early spring. This field will be plowed next spring to prepare for a crop of oats and hay. The cycle continues.

I am very glad to have the harvest season completed. The last real job for this year is to finish filling the maple syrup woodshed. It is just about full. Winter is coming fast so I must push to get this job done. When cold weather gets here it will be time to butcher for the season. Then a few weeks of rest as we wait for the maple syrup season in 2022…ahhh the life on a small farm! I love it!!



Stallion Training Day

October 13, 2021

Yesterday was a very good day. We worked with Hank, our young Suffolk Punch stallion. He just turned 2 last April. We were pulling an old tire around the field for awhile. He has done this job before, but yesterday his brain “clicked”. He figured out how to start the load, but also how to enjoy a break. You can see a little sweat coming from under his harness. That sweat along with breaks at the right time, lead to just standing still, minding your own business and listening for me to give direction. He is getting it. I am very happy with his progress.

I won’t push the young guy too hard. He only gets light loads for now. We are more training his mind than his body. He likes the ladies, so we need to make him understand that life has other things in it too. Some of you may notice the “jockey stick” running from his halter to his partner Abby’s harness ring. This spacer keeps him from trying to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. He stays in his place and she is not bothered by his nonsense this way. Abby is a wonderful partner. She moves and stops when I ask. She teaches him stuff by just being there and she is one big anchor if I need one!

I snapped this picture of the growing speltz yesterday. I am pleased with these results so far. The crop should be well rooted before winter sets in and freezes the ground.

All I can say is that it was a very good day!



Haying Season 2021 is Finished

September 14, 2021

Last Saturday, 9/11/21, we finished up our haying season. That morning as the dew dried off the hay crop, I watched the tributes on TV of the brave souls who lost their lives 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks on our civilians. My heart was heavy as I watched and waited. I will not forget.

In the week prior to my last round of hay making, we were visited by our daughter and her husband from Maryland. You have to make hay while the sun shines, so even with visitors present, the hay making rolled on. I simply included our guests in the project. They got to drive the horses, even raking some of the crop as they learned about the process first hand. The horses worked well for the novice drivers and my visiting teamsters gained experience and understanding. The smiles were big and the workload was made smaller.

The hay tools have been gathered and will be cleaned and stored in the coming days. It is a bittersweet time as one season ends and another begins. Summer is a fleeting thing and autumn looms near. A few jobs that were delayed by wet, then very hot weather, still wait to be completed, but I’ll get them done soon.

We found out this week that we have been featured on the draft horse desktop calendar for 2022. There are so many teams and teamsters to choose from, gathered from events all over the country and only 12 months to display them. We are humbled to represent the Suffolk horse breed and thank Mischka Press for the privilege.

The little filly in the picture has now been weaned. She is learning all sorts of new things. She has bonded well with her stablemate. Those two young ladies have become great friends. Momma has returned to full work and all is well. The job of preparing the soil for our fall planting of speltz is at hand. Once that job has been completed, corn picking will commence. In any of the days not filled up, we will work on the last of the firewood needed for the upcoming maple syrup season. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all down, but it is simply a great life!



Blowing in the Wind
July 31, 2021, 11:26 pm
Filed under: July 2021 | Tags: , , ,

July 31, 2021

The answer my friend…. You know the old song.

What a month it has been! Horse Progress Days were held over the 3rd and 4th of July. It came right on the heels of our North American Suffolk Horse Association Gathering. I rested big time on the 4th. I entered into the next week hopeful that I could get caught up on farm chores and especially making our first cutting hay. It didn’t happen as the rains moved in, making for a very wet month.

I worked on all sorts of things including forging several large basket hangers to be used at the fairgrounds for floral displays. The horse all got their feet trimmed and shoes reset. Training went on for our young horses and Grace, this years Suffolk filly, too had a few lessons. The gardens were worked when the weather allowed us. The weeds are winning at the moment, but we are harvesting in spite of them.

The back pond was suffering from the lack of oxygen. It had become foul smelling and dark. Scum and vegetation floated on the surface. We have a large grass waterway at the entrance to the pond. The recent rains made it overflow often, but the ugliness continued. American Eagle Windmills installed an air bubbling windmill to cure our problem. It has only been a few days, but already we are seeing an improvement.

I really like to look of it in our landscape. Powered by the wind, it will work all by itself. It is very quiet and the animals have no fear of it.

I have worked very hard this last week of the month trying to get that hay made. After another 8 tenths of an inch of rain this week, I finished the hay job tonight at sundown. The hay got washed, but still looks pretty good for as late in the years as it is. We wrapped some silage bales and put a few squares in the haymow too. The whole farm needs its edges mowed and such, but the hay job being complete is a big relief.

Looks like firewood for the sugarhouse will be part of next weeks work, after I get the straw all baled from our speltz harvest. That job went very well. The grain is currently in wagons, but will be loaded into our bins as soon as I secure an elevator to use. Summer is fading fast and it sure is going quick!

Time is a fleeting thing. In fact you could say that it is blowing in the wind. Rest when you can, make memories as often as possible and love with all your heart.

Baby Grace, checking out the firewood plie on July fourth. She is a sweetie



Working in the Tree Tops
September 10, 2020, 10:05 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , ,
One of three large piles.

September 10, 2020

Many people think that working in the tree tops requires a person to be up in the air, at the top of a tree. I am working in the tree tops that are laying on the ground from my recent tree harvest. I am salvaging firewood to be used to boil maple sap, to make maple syrup.

I am cutting everything three inches or larger, that didn’t make lumber logs and hauling them out to be cut to length and split. The brush and smaller limbs are being left for homes for small woodland creatures and to rot to enrich the forest floor.

Our harvest consisted of about 60 mature trees. The trees were removed to allow the growth of many smaller trees, predominantly maple, both hard and soft varieties. The trees removed, also allow for mature maples to have more open canopy for crown growth. It also lets in light and air to the forest floor. I can direct some water puddles towards the nearby stream, allowing the water to runoff through the existing leaf litter. This drys the forest, but assures that water quality is improved by the filtering effects of the leaf litter.

Bree is learning lessons as we work towards her weaning. She is not always happy with me. Here she learns patience. I tied her to a fence post far from mom. She did not like it, but soon realized that she would have to wait on me. This was a short lesson of about 35 minutes. It was good for her. She can be strong willed, but yields fairly quickly. Her training continues.

The garden harvest continues. Our animal corn harvest is starting, as I build shocks. Hand picking will begin soon. I picked a few random ears last night. I am happy with what I see so far.

The crop should fill my crib.

A busy time is coming, but we look forward to the dash to winter!



Feeling Good
October 8, 2019, 2:26 pm
Filed under: October 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

mary20191stbaby

October 8, 2019

Our weather has been nice. My work list is getting completed. Autumn is making itself known. Our last cow had her calf and things are good. We finished filling the sugarhouse woodshed yesterday. I even delivered a load of firewood for a birthday present.

chuckwood2019

I am a little sore today from doing unaccustomed work….I haven’t had this in a long time. Oh sure, do too many sit-ups or ride a horse…and I feel that the next few days, but holy cow!  When did a little extra work start to make my old muscles stiff and sore? This aging stuff is for the birds, but all in all…I feel good!

Honestly, how could a guy not feel good. I’m surrounded by family, friends, great draft horses and farm animals. Sure there is work that comes with those things. Work that is well worth the effort! Heck with feeling good… I feel great!



A Tale of Two Kitties

Milo and Otis

Milo and Otis

July 7, 2015

My granddaughter got to pick out two kittens from our recent litters. I suggested in jest that she should have a kitty and to my amazement, her dad thought so too. These kittens are cute, like all kittens, but they are borderline wildcats. I pick them up from time to time when they are small, but as they grow and crawl out of the box, I pet them much less. Kittens need little boys and girls to tame them, keep them calm and love them.

These two baby “tigers” were hiding in my workshop. It took three adults and two children a half an hour to catch and contain the little darlings. The kittens were delighted. I could tell from their squalling and hissing that there was nothing they’d rather do, than to be held in the arms of a child. The children paid no attention to the jaw snapping sweeties, but they did wrap the one with the biggest claws in a baby doll blanket for a while 😮

In no time at all, much to my surprise, the kittens were purring and enjoying being held. “We must name them.”, my granddaughter said. So all of us started to come up with names for the two male kittens. I used traditional oxen names like Bright and Lion, Star and Tiger, Cuff and Link, Boone and Crocket, but my granddaughter was not having it. Finally I said, “What about Milo and Otis?” She loved the idea.

After a few minutes, she asked me, “How will I tell them apart?” I looked them over and in my best grandfatherly advice I told her, “Milo has an “M” on his head….and if you lift the tail on the other one…there is an “O” for Otis!”  She was not amused…..