RicelandMeadows


Pitching In
August 8, 2017, 11:57 pm
Filed under: August 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

kmanhelp.jpg

August 8, 2017

Everybody here, family and friend, has pitched in to help me. My grandson makes sure the cows have water and that I am doing okay. There have been so many people helping out that I am humbled by it. I am continuing to heal well, but it sure takes a load off a farmer’s mind, when the chores are all done!

appletime

Tonight, I walked along to an old apple tree that stands in the farm lane. My wife and grandson gathered up some of the dropped apples to feed the pigs. Some were given to the draft horses for a sweet treat too. They gathered up three 5 gallon buckets and didn’t even make a dent in the fallen fruit.

We will gather up as many as we can. The remainder will then be eaten by the cows and sheep. This is just a nice bonus given from a tree that I have mowed around for twenty five years. The apples are tart, but make good pies. These were all knocked off the tree in a recent rain storm. None will be wasted as we will pitch them into pens for the coming weeks.

It is just the beginning of August, but we are ahead of schedule as we race towards autumn. Children are getting back to school supplies, our county fair is in full swing, the blackberries are ripening and the windfall apples litter the ground. These are signs of autumn, next will be the blooming goldenrod and falling leaves.

For now, I will continue to watch from the porch as my knee heals. The pastures are green, the hay has all been made, the corn is making ears and all is well. I am simply amazed at how well the farm is running, thanks to the efforts of a whole lot of folks pitching in. Several folks have written notes and cards wishing me well. I want to take just a moment to say, “Thanks everybody!” I cannot do this without you!



Second Time Around

balage2017

August 3, 2017

The second cutting hay had grown thick and lush. This field was an almost pure stand of red clover. It was just beginning to blossom. It was a beautiful stand. I hired a local Amish man to mow, bale and wrap this crop. There was also another seven acres of trefoil in an adjoining field. He did indeed accomplish the work. He did a good job in a timely fashion.

My Amish friend is of a “new order” sect. They are allowed to use tractors and modern equipment according to his church and their beliefs. I watched him from the porch as I continue to recover from my knee surgery. It was an oxymoron! My big draft horses are standing in the barn, waiting to work. This man was zipping around my field, over the space of two days, with well over $70,000.00 worth of equipment. All of my hay tools together cost less than his mower!

The bales wrapped in singles will be easy to feed. This high protein hay will take the place of grain in my grassfed beef. The sweet smelling bales are a real treat for the cows. They really boost their diets in the dark, cold days of winter. We will move these bales closer to the feedlot in a few days, once we make a place for them.

To make good baleage, first you need a good crop. The hay/grass is cut and left to wilt in the sun. It is baled the very next day, sometimes even the same day. The high moisture content in the bales ferments after it is wrapped preserving the high quality forage. I am pleased to hay the bales in my feed inventory, but doubt that I will ever lay out the cash needed to buy the necessary equipment to make them on my own. This is a job that is better to hire done.

Our crazy wet weather patterns do make it a challenge to make dry hay. You have to really “make hay when the sun shines!” All other work comes to a stand still and dry hay becomes your only focus. You push yourself, the hay and even, in my case, the horses as I rake and fluff the hay to dry before it rains. Making these “wet” bales is a great option, but for now it is not cost effective for me, on our small farm, to own the equipment ourselves.

It was fun to watch the bales being made. My grandson enjoyed it too. Things like watching bales being wrapped, big mowers hogging down 13 foot of hay at a time, or a speedy baler rolling out round bales in rapid succession never gets old for guys like he and I….But I will say, we both much prefer to work with horses…a little slower? Perhaps….but much more cost efficient!



Finding Your Way
July 17, 2017, 10:45 am
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

pinewoods

July 17, 2017

In this photo above, the skid trail from our pine forest is evident. I got this all mowed and ready to harvest a few logs for an addition on our machinery shed. The addition will allow me to store the last two pieces of equipment that I am forced to leave outside all winter. The structure will also make a place to store a quantity of round bales, protected from the elements.

The pine trees were to supply the rafter material, as well as a few boards to close off the north end of the building. The overhang structure, will be open to the east, but closed off from the brutal north winds of winter. It is amazing how much protection a roof gives your equipment. The fact that I can also store some hay there, means I will have less waste from the effects of the weather on bales stored outside.

I got this area of the woods ready for the lumber harvest, just a few days before I got the news that we would be replacing my knee. This project is on hold, until I get healed, but it is still on my “to-do” list. I drew my diagram and figured out the lumber list last winter for this project. A list of projects, helps me to stay on task and find my way. The filtered light on the skid road in the photo, helps me to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel as I pause to rebuild and heal.

In life, especially on a farm, it is a good idea to have a plan. It gives direction for your energy. It helps to keep your finances on track. It gives opportunity for discussions and research. There are times when the plan serves to show you that you are going in the wrong direction. Defining your goals and working towards them, is great for your mental health. The feeling of accomplishment fills the mind and refreshes your soul.

The logging job is on hold for now, but the speltz crop has been harvested. The last of my first cutting hay has been mowed and is curing in the sun. The speltz straw too, has been mowed and waits for the baler. These projects were all completed with the help of friends. I watched from the porch as my buddies, did my summer work. It is humbling for me as people help me do what I can’t. It will all work out. It won’t be long and I can reciprocate. A good plan, a bunch of good friends….let me tell you, you can’t help but find your way!

 



Watching the Prep Work
July 13, 2017, 7:43 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , ,

feedlotprep

July 13, 2017

This is very strange for me to be watching out the window while other guys do my work! I still get to have my “discussion” hands in the project. It will all be fine. The guy ramrodding the job worked for me when he was in school. Now, he is making his way in the world and just like my project, he is on course and doing a great job.

I can see the corner of the lot from my window seat in the house. I will have to watch from the window of the car I guess. I got permission from my physical therapist that I can watch for a bit while sitting on the car seat. It isn’t quite the same, but at least I can satisfy my nosey self! My knee is improving. The healing process takes awhile, so I must be patient.

The chores are being done by others too. I can see that all is well and that gives me comfort. This weekend guys will turn out to help with a couple of things. I will visit between ice pack rest periods and watch the work getting done. It is very weird to me to be the one watching…unless I’m leaning on a shovel!



A Different Perspective
July 7, 2017, 1:08 pm
Filed under: July 2017 | Tags: , , ,

backendfarm

July 7, 2017

As I recover from recent knee replacement surgery, I spend quite a bit of time looking out the windows. I can see too much unfinished work. I can see things that will soon need done and even a few things that should be done. I have decided however, to focus on all the things that have been done, are done and are being done by people other than myself. I will be thankful and positive.

The speltz are turning ripe. Soon they will need combined. I have it pretty well under control. My son Jake and a friend will take care of that job. My horse feed will be harvested along with an ample supply of winter bedding for the livestock. My son Josh is helping with pasture mowing and maple sap road maintaining. Our son Don is coming to hang blinds and few other needed repairs around the house. Our neighbor boy is helping with the daily chores and odds and ends. My wife is somehow holding it all together and feeding me too!

In the picture above, the corn can be seen getting over taken by weeds, but I will get some corn. The hayfields that were harvested are growing and looking good. The pastures are holding up well. The grazing animals have plenty to eat. The ponds are staying full. the baby lambs and calves are growing very well.

I roll from room to room with my walker, perfectly content to watch out the windows for now. This healing process is pretty intense. I have a new appreciation for mobility! I will do my best to be patient…and trust me…that is a different perspective!



Making it Easier

feedlotfeeder

June 30, 2017

I am engaged in a project that will make my life easier for the rest of my days. We are adding onto the feedlot and building this hay feeder. This will allow me to keep all of our animals by the barn for the whole winter. I will only have one water trough to keep thawed and clean. I will only have one area of manure to stack and manage and the addition of this “built in” hay feeder, will allow me to only have to handle big round bales weekly,feedlotfeeder instead of almost daily.

I can fill it with the skid steer using four bales at a time. The cows will get some protection from the weather as well as the hay, as they eat. The whole thing can be cleaned out when needed by simply pushing out the opposite end of the feeder. I will add a few gates that will give me flexibility when sorting or confining animals. It will make things easy when using the horses in winter, by being able to isolate the cattle when I want.

Sheep can be offered the protection of the barn, while keeping them out of the way of the cattle by simply making a portion where only the sheep will have access. I can bed the area with chips, sawdust or straw all kept nearby. Chore time in winter will be reduced by hours, giving me more time for important things like talking to friends, breathing on horses or sipping coffee.

The real goal, however, is to make doing chores easy for me well up into my advancing age. I am currently recovering from knee replacement surgery. Yep, it was a surprise for me too! I will be down for three months. Projects such as this have been put on hold. They are only moving forward thanks to the help of family and friends. I ice my knee, stretch my muscles and watch from the window…these are some of the hardest things I have ever done!



The Old is New
June 20, 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: June 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

cultivatorretrofit

June 20, 2017

The photo above is of an old John Deere cultivator that I recently upgraded. This same unit is being made by a new company using the old pattern. They are a bit pricey. I found this old piece shed kept but rusty. I cleaned it up and had it painted. Last week, we added these new style “S” tines. They get the weeds but are a bit more gentle on the crop being weeded.

This unit is made for two horses to cultivate two rows at a time. I get to ride in the back on a seat riding on a dolly wheel. I am excited to try it out. I am even already thinking of adding a homemade fertilizer side dress applicator to this next year. Projects keep my mind and hands busy!

This cultivator replaces an old McCormick Deering one that I recently sold. The old one had served me for over thirty years. It worked great and was in great shape. My only reason for selling it, was due to the way I had to sort of climb down in to it to use it. As I get older, I find that I am not as spry as I once was! If I should get into trouble while using this piece of equipment, I could almost just fall off the back, out of harm’s way. The old one, I would almost be trapped, especially now when my old knees don’t work as well as they once did.

Taking something old and making it new again, pleases me very much. I have a few pieces of reworked equipment, even a few homemade pieces. It is things such as these, that keep our farm profitable. By the way, I have a total of $425.00 invested, counting the initial purchase, painting and now the retro-fit. Those new ones that I talked about cost over $4000.00  I think that I did good!

cult2

If you look close you can see my seat and even the old toolbar in the background. This was a great project. Many thanks to my friend Ervin R Miller!