RicelandMeadows


Cattle Hay Feeder
October 11, 2017, 7:31 pm
Filed under: October 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

fedlot1

October 11, 2017

The rain fell the whole time we worked, but the feedlot addition for the new hay feeder is complete. All that remains to do is add some height to the east fence, taking the top rail up even with the gates. The material is ready. I will be repurposing some old pipe. I just need a day to finish that part of the project.

fedlot2

The new gates on the end of the feeder will allow for easy access with the skid loader. I will fill it full of round bales. Once the cattle have eaten all that they want of the bales, I can push the debris out the other end to be used as bedding before composting it.

fedlot3

Here you can see where the fence needs to be extended just a bit taller. This photo also shows the wide aisle where the cattle will feed and move about. I will have plenty of room for manure removal too. The bolts sticking out in the foreground, have been cut off and smoothed over. This will make a safe comfortable place for the bovines to eat.

fedlot4

The place where my dog is watching a couple of fattening pigs, is where the cows will sleep on cold winter nights. They will have access to this feeder, a large cement lot and the dry bedding area under the barn’s overhang. This place is where they will spend the bad days of winter. On better days, when the sunshine and daylight make for a nice day, the cows will be allowed out to a large field. The 4 acre field will be put into crops next spring, but will be an exercise lot for all the farms animals this coming winter.

I also built into this area the “headlocks” pictured above. They will allow for a humane way to catch a cow or steer when needed for ear tagging, vet checks or sorting for freezer camp. A large water trough will sit on the outside of the headlocks and catch rainwater off the roof. I will of course supplement as needed, but on rainy days I can save some. Even the dew will be collected as it runs off the barn roof.

Lastly, I can put the cows in this section of the feedlot when I am working the horses in winter. The cows have the protection of the feeder as they eat. I can leave the barn door and gates open as I wish to get the horses in and out. I won’t have to fuss with the cattle when coming and going to the woods or fields. It will prove to be a very efficient way to save time and stress levels for every single one of us!



Autumn Frolic
September 30, 2017, 8:29 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

calves2017

September 30, 2017

As the last day of September comes to a close, I am happy to report the calf crop is coming along well. The little black one in the picture was born last night. So far two little bulls (soon to be steers) are running all over the pasture. They will be joined by a couple more babies before foul weather sets in for winter. They are sure having fun!

Last Saturday, we put a new roof on my shop. The shingles were curled up and were in rough shape. They were 18 years old, so rather than wait for a leak, I put on a new roof. My friends helped me. We had a great day. It was an Autumn Frolic too! We finished the day with fellowship and ice cream…Yum!

adminshop

We are working steady to be ready for winter. Projects keep getting marked off the list. The speltz are growing very well. We got a quarter of an inch of rain yesterday and everything seems to have benefited. The speltz especially. They jumped a couple of inches and look real good. The lawn too appears greener. It will have to be cut at least once more. The weatherman says frost for tonight, so, our growing season may end by tomorrow.

The trees are taking on their colorful hues. Some leaves litter the ground, nuts are falling and small animals are gathering for winter. The north wind blew today signaling all of us to take note, turn up your collar and stay busy. A little more wood for the shed and we are good. So, perhaps just one more Autumn frolic and we will be ready to welcome the Winter Wonderland!

 



Find and Opening
September 29, 2017, 7:30 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , ,

feedmanger

September 29, 2017

The hay feeder is taking shape. The cows should be able to find an opening, to munch on the sun cured hay, all winter. We used an old print from a university. I’m guessing it was information first posted in the early part of the last century. The measurements were just right for my cattle. I guess some things don’t change.

The opening at the top is twenty one inches. At the bottom the opening is seven inches. This gave me seven openings on each side. My feeder measures just under seven feet wide and eighteen feet long. I will fill it with round bales using my skid steer.

The hay feeder project is almost complete. Lumber is waiting for another project. I am in high gear. My knee is doing well, but I am still getting much help from family and friends. The next project is for an overhang to store hay and a couple pieces of equipment. That project is well started and should only take a couple more days to complete.

Lastly, we will be making a small addition to the sugarhouse for a large holding tank for maple sap. The tank is stainless steel and will hold just over 2000 gallons. This new tank will make it possible for us to have a storage capacity of well over 4000 gallons. We don’t use reverse osmosis in our operation. We choose instead, to boil the water out of the sap from start to finish. The flavor that develops during that time is awesome.

Our new guard donkey has found an opening in our family. The children are sitting on his back and loving him daily. He is content with the cattle and sheep as they eat, sleep and graze together. He comes when he is called. He is an adorable creature…long ears and all.



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!