RicelandMeadows


Talk About “Chillin”
January 18, 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 18, 2022

Yesterday we got over 27″ of snow. It was the biggest single snow event we have had here since building our place 22 years ago. I spent 8 hours on the skid steer over the last two days digging us out! I am hoping like a good bag of chips…some settling occurs! I may have to get real creative to find a place to shove more if it comes too soon.

I snapped this picture of my two mares on Saturday evening before the snow came. What a difference a couple of days makes! The photo tickled me, as they are walking just as if they were hitched in the team. Good girls, who make me very happy.

I pushed snow everywhere even into a pile on the feedlot. I put as much as I could over the fence, but this pile will have to wait a day or so before I can move it. The horses don’t mind it and it is out of my way for now.

Abby coming to meet me. It is things like this that makes for a warm heart. She likes to be talked to and petted. It’s good for me too.

Work will continue soon, but right now the fields, woods and everything else lies under two feet of snow. It is beautiful. It is cold. It is winter in northeast Ohio…talk about chillin!



Cold Days, Warm Meals
January 11, 2022, 11:06 am
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

January 11, 2022

Well, winter has finally come to northeast Ohio. After months of mud, we are getting some relief as the ground freezes. It went from the 40’s to the single digits overnight. The up and down still persists, but the cold appears to mostly be here to stay for awhile. The animals are all eating a bit extra feed to stay warm and comfortable. I too have enjoy the holidays a bit too much in the food department!

I shot this picture of a hawk eating a field mouse yesterday, out of our kitchen window. He was a handsome fellow, but my phone couldn’t catch all of his splendor. I didn’t see him grab his prey, but I watched him quite awhile as he devoured his meal. The cycle of life played out for us to see.

We have almost completed our family butchering job for the year. Just a little bit to do remains. I am thankful for the harvest and the meals to come. The woodshed is full. Now, our woodland job will shift to that of harvesting a few pine trees to be sawed out for lumber. That job will be good for Hank, our young stallion. He needs to learn to walk and work in the woodlot.

I guess this month is for my downtime. I get to play around with my hobbies before the start of maple season and the spring work that follows. I have a few projects in mind to make in the forge. I also want to build a wall on the north end of the newly constructed hoop building. This building is for bedding materials like straw and sawdust as well as, providing some extra storage.

It is a good sized building measuring 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and 36 feet long. I put a large apron on the southeast facing end. My plan is to dump sawdust on the apron then push it in with the skid steer. The wall I intend to build on the north end is to keep the worst winds at bay, while still allowing for plenty of air circulation.

Sawdust is plentiful and cheap during the summer months. This building will allow for the storage needed to house some of that cheap bedding material, along with our farm raised spelt straw. These carbon sources are critical to stabilizing our compost made from our animal’s manure. The compost is paramount in completing the fertilizer needs of our soils. All of our farm fields benefit from this black gold we help create. Just another warm meal made here on the farm!



Celebration Day
December 30, 2021, 10:58 am
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 30, 2021

I enlisted a little help, but the woodshed is now full! I am ready to boil maple sap for the upcoming 2022 season. This is much later than I usually complete this job, but I will celebrate anyway. It was muddy when we got off the driveway, but Abby and Amee handled it all in stride.

We have more wood that has been split, so a good start on the wood for 2023 season. It is my plan to fill the woodshed at the completion of the 2022 maple season. Once the woodshed has been filled, I want to continue with the cutting and splitting. The goal is to get to the point where we will be almost 2 years ahead on the wood supply. I already have the next 2 years worth of logs piled in a sunny place making this goal easily attainable.

After a day of wet, cold, rain and snow, it feels good to bed down. I don’t care if you are two-legged or 4-legged a warm dry bed is a beautiful thing!

We here at the farm hope all of our readers had a wonderful Christmas. We are also wishing you a Happy New Year. We look forward to each day gifted to us. We make plans, prepare and execute work, but first we ask for our endeavors to be blessed. It is hard at times to wait for things to fall into place, but thankfully they usually do. If things don’t go well, it is best to pause, examine our plans and even our hearts. One thing that I know for sure… God will make a way where there is no way! We just need to focus on the destination and not the journey…. for the journey rests in God’s hands.



Snowvember 2021
November 30, 2021, 11:13 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

November 30, 2021

It has been another moist month! Rain and drizzle fell until the middle of the month, when the precipitation turned to sleet and snow. The moisture has made things difficult for most farming operations. Thankfully our harvest is done. We just struggle with wet pastures.

The cattle are in their winter pasture, complete with a shed and added feed. I just don’t like it that they are making too many hoofprints. The good news is that our number of steers is down. The animals are young so they are small and weigh less than the ones headed to freezer camp. Those are on the feedlot concrete.

The horses too have been only let out on their pasture sparingly. I work them for exercise. The young horses have box stalls and all get daily turnout on a portion of the concrete feedlot. I am keeping them up out of the mud not only to give our pastures a break, but to keep them healthy too.

They get to munch hay and wander around as they like. Hank gets scolded a little as he “checks” the girls. They are both in foal and do not want any of his nonsense. They lay their ears back and squeal. He is smart enough to walk away and just munch hay. He is a good boy.

A couple mornings in a row we had frozen ground for a couple of hours. I let all the horses out to really run, romp and roll. I think they enjoy those times, or perhaps they just enjoy the added brushing it takes to get them clean.

We continue to train the young horses like Hank. It is a bit of a challenge due to the wet fields. We stay on the long drive and lane way. It works ok, but I would like to get to some other jobs such as hauling logs and firewood. Exposure to work, noise and different things is vital when teaching the youngsters.

One thing about the snow….it sure makes things pretty!



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!!



Signal of the Coming Months
November 6, 2021, 9:15 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , ,

November 6, 2021

We have had a couple mornings of cool temperatures with frost on the rooftops and even one morning with a skiff of snow. Today was different. The water puddles were frozen over and the whole scene was white. The killing frost that signals the end of the growing season is here.

After a six day stretch of rainy weather, where the rainfall total was over five inches, we are finally enjoying some dry weather. The harvest is continuing. The fields are saturated making it difficult for large machinery. I am getting along slow but steady using the horses. They are making some deep hoofprints, but the wagon ruts are minimal. I am husking 2 rows at a time. This lets me move over a wagon width each time I make a round. I am keeping the loads light which also helps to make less impact on the field.

If everything goes well, we should finish picking the corn by supper time tonight. We used one of the young horses yesterday as part of her education. There is a lot of starting and stopping during this job, making it a good teaching opportunity. The youngster did well and we kept her lesson short. She will make a work horse very soon.

The growing speltz looks sleepy covered in this frosty blanket. The leaves are falling quickly and the deer breeding season is in full swing. This tells me to get my butt moving because winter will soon be upon us. I have just a little more wood to cut and split for next years maple syrup season. I think I will finish just in time. One thing for sure, Mother Nature is showing her signs and signals. I just need to pay attention! Oh yeah, and the clocks turn back an hour tonight too.



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!



Computer Trouble / Farm Success

October 10, 2021

We have been fighting with our computer for almost a month! Finally we have been repaired. We didn’t lose anything and I am back to communicating and blogging.

In the photo above, Abby , Amee and I were plowing at Lake Farm Park. The park is located in a neighboring county. They host a horsepower weekend. Old tractors and of course, real horsepower are showcased. We had a fun time visiting and plowing. The event was well attended by other teams of horses and the public. We struggled a bit with old vegetation plugging the plow, but we did make some loose dirt.

This is a picture of my old Oliver plow. I haven’t used it for years. My knees got too sore to use it. I got them replaced and decided that I wanted to try plowing this way again. The horses had not done this ever in their lives either. We worked on it for a few evenings before we went out in public. I am not the plowman that I once was, but we got it done.

There is a lot to this job. Once things are all set up and understood, it is a joy to plow this way. We are not there yet! I managed to drag along the ground a few times as The horses learned where to walk and I learned to pick my feet up higher. It was still fun. I will plow like this a few times each year just to keep my memories alive. This old plow belonged to a mentor of mine…I think he would be pleased too.

Over the last month, we continued to work with Hank, our two-year old Suffolk Punch stallion. He is doing good, but the training will continue for the coming months, even years. He is growing fast and well. He is pictured with our 7 year old mare Abby in the photo below.

It is my hope to have Hank plowing in a three-horse hitch before the snow flies this fall. He is not shy about pulling and keeps his mind on his work. I will call that a success!

The speltz have been planted. This horse grain is up and looking good. I have opened the corn field by picking two rows closest to the fence and down the middle. The main harvest will commence as I begin hand picking the dry ears in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me in my absence. Its good to be back sharing our success with all of you. There is much to catch up on, so ride along with me as I bring you a glimpse of our small farming life.



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!