RicelandMeadows


Laying It On Thin

KH2018july

October 29, 2018

In the photo above, I am hooking up to my powercart. Hoss looks like he is about to talk out the side of his mouth. Fear not, I am not being cruel with my lines or his bit, the camera just caught that moment when line pressure tells a horse where to stand.

They were watching the cattle, who had just been moved to new pasture. The cattle were running and jumping, playing if you will, checking out their new paddock. The horses were so focused on the cattle, that they weren’t listening to my voice. Usually they plod over to whatever they are to be hooked to, sidle up and stand. They move right or left when I say, “Gee or Haw”. This day they were wide awake, yet waiting for my signal.

KHCompost

Once we were all hooked up, we took this load of compost out to the field. I spread it on thin. The thin application is absorbed quickly by the soil. The nutrients stay in place and are used as food. Composted manure applied in this manner is of in little danger of running off into streams and waterways. It is also important to spread on dry days when rain or snow is of little concern.

I also make sure there are grass filter strips along stream borders. These strips collect any potential manure from becoming a problem. It takes a little planning to farm the way I do, but it is worth it. To know that my farm is not having a negative impact on my neighbors or any person downstream is pleasing to me.

This year, I was able to spread 40 loads of compost like the one in the photo above. The black gold was spread on a field that will grow next season’s corn. It was spread on a field where the speltz were harvested to give the growing newly seeded hay crop a boost. Lastly, it was spread on an older hay field that will soon be put into pasture. The compost applications are done as part of our crop rotations. We try to put the nutrients where they will be needed most. By spreading the compost thin, it goes farther, stays in place and gives us the most “bang for our buck”! Good farm husbandry goes hand and hand with good environmental stewardship. I believe that is not only my responsibility, but my duty as well.



Hand Picked

cornpicking2018

October 27, 2018

I grabbed some random ears from the corn crib to show how well the corn crop is this year. Today, I am sidelined by a steady, all day, rain. The picking will resume once the rain stops. I managed to pick around a wet spot and the last end rows. I pick these areas first to make turning at the ends of the field easier and to keep from running corn over.

The wildlife like deer and raccoons are hitting my field pretty hard. I don’t mind them eating some, but I hate it when they waste it. They knock ears to the ground, take two bites, then move on to the next ear! The corn on the wet ground spoils very quickly. I need to stay on task to get my crop harvested, before those rascals ruin more of it.

My husking peg, shown on my hand in the picture, makes picking by hand easier. I poke the pointed end down into the husk at the top of the ear. My thumb holds a portion of the husk as I rip it down, while snapping the ear off the stalk. I am not as quick as some men that I have seen, but I am effective. Corn stored with minimal husks will keep better in the corn crib. It stays drier and lacks the nesting materials that vermin like so well.

So, I will poke along husking corn by hand. My horses walk and stand as I go around the field. They make the job much easier than getting on and off the tractor each time to move the wagon ahead. In the way of farmers from days gone by, I harvest my crop. I am so happy to have been shown how to do this job by my great grandpa and others. If I was to rely on tractor and machine this year, I would make incredible ruts in the sea of mud that has become my corn field. Husking around the field with team and wagon, I am barely making tracks. Those tracks will be easily removed during seedbed preparation next spring. So, thank you great grandpa Case and grandpa Rice, for passing your knowledge on to me. Once again, I am in your debt.



Cool Weather Wrap-Up
October 22, 2018, 9:35 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snugK&H

October 22, 2018

This past Saturday night, we got a late autumn storm. The wind driven rain and sleet pounded on the walls and roof of every building. The animals were snug, as was I, inside warm and dry. We woke to a light covering of snow that had followed an inch of rain. The cold and wet continued into Sunday, but at least the rain had stopped.

cowherd2018

The cow herd continues to graze the wooded paddock on the north side of the farm. All of them are fat and happy. The young calves are little butterballs! Winter is crowding in hard, but so far we are on schedule to be prepared.

filling2018

The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up fast. Most years this would be behind me, but I chose to not work on the hottest summer days. This year we had a lot of those hot days. As I look back, I wont make that mistake again. A little sweat in June and July, would have this job much farther along, perhaps even finished. It’s time to be picking corn, not still messing around with the wood…unless it was for a year ahead.

In any case, I will get it all done. I just need to keep reminding myself to stay focused. I am enjoying retirement, but it is easy to get sidetracked. I need to just make a list to guide me….then remember to look at the list!



Peace, Food and Beauty

shadylea

October 16, 2018

This picture was taken in one of our north pastures this week. The leaves are late displaying their colors this year, but the scene, to me, is still beautiful. The pasture was grazed down in September. This same field was cut for hay in late June. It is a bit of a nuisance to farm around trees, but for my small farm, it is worth it.

The tree in the foreground is a volunteer maple. I saved it a few years ago. Soon it will be big enough to tap for maple syrup. The larger tree on the left is a large hickory tree that was once a corner post for an old farmer. The wire marks are on the tree where the tree grew around the steel that had been stapled to it’s trunk. The saplings to the left of the larger tree are part of a row of brush left as a windbreak.

The livestock who graze this paddock gather under the large tree for the summer shade it provides. They nestle up in the brush row to escape the biting flies in summer and the biting winds in winter. The animals and the trees both benefit. The animals get some protection in exchange for their manure. The manure enriches the trees. The trees are located near the center of the field, so any runoff from the rains or snow, must travel across several yards of sod before it reaches a stream, keep water quality safe.

The “mast” or food crops from the large hickory trees and her daughters, is abundant. Old wild apple tress are also found in the brush row. The fruit and nuts are eaten by wildlife and my pigs. One more good reason for the existence of the brush row. A couple years ago, five gestating sows spent almost three weeks here. Ear corn was offered , but they only nibbled at the corn. The lived on the wild fruit and nuts until the mast had been consumed. Just one more way to show the value of the trees and brush, that I choose to farm around.

On a small farm, any way to add value should be considered. I find much value in having a few wooded paddocks. They provide comfort, food and beauty. If that isn’t adding value…I don’t know what is?!



Goodbye Third Quarter
September 30, 2018, 10:05 am
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , ,

postdrill

September 30, 2018

Today, is the last day of September 2018. Three-quarters of the year gone already. Time marches on! I looked back over the month and realize that while I was waiting to make the last of this year’s hay or decent weather to plant speltz, a whole month flew by. I didn’t get anymore hay made. I was unable to get speltz planted. Both jobs were abandoned due to the rainy month.

Alas, all is not lost. I have managed to get a new wagon bed built, a few forge projects completed including the post drill above. I have gotten the sugarhouse woodshed almost full of seasoned split wood. I am working towards putting the summer hay tools away and gearing up for fall plowing.

The post drill had been in an old building for a very long time. It was seized up and covered in rust. I kept working at it slowly for a few months. It now works perfectly and is mounted back on my forge wall. I see it as a tribute to the men and machines who made this country great.

Trailerload2018

I think this load of wood will almost complete the job of filling the woodshed. This load of cherry and red oak will be split by the end of next week. These trees were felled by a late winter storm. I am almost done with the cleanup job. Now, as October closes in, I am setting my sights on the corn harvest and fall plowing. So, I say goodbye to the third quarter of 2018.



Horse Drawn Hay Mower
August 8, 2018, 6:50 pm
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

num91

August 8, 2018

I bought this #9 regular gear horse drawn hay mower, to mow my hay. I have been using a tractor mower for the last eight years. It had reached it’s limit and I had reached mine working on it all the time! I have time now to relax and make hay when the sun shines! Using the horses is good for them and me!

This mower was rebuilt by a friend of mine. He has been rebuilding this type of mower for his entire life. It has been done from the “ground up”. I am looking forward to using it. I have four acres of second cutting grass to use for our maiden voyage. This thing sounds like a sewing machine. I can’t wait to try it out.

num92

Usually these have a cast iron seat. This one has a seat for an old man with a sore back….

This mower will cut six feet in a swath. The guards down near the mower are called stub guards. The short “stub” guards reduce plugging by a lot! The machine has been timed, all the seals replaced and a new style pitman arm bearing installed. It is as ready to go as I am.

These McCormick Deering mowers came in several styles regular gear, high gear and trailer gear. I did a lot of research before choosing this one. All of the Amish farmers that I asked said pretty much the same thing…. Well timed machine, sharp knives mean everything…the rest is “fluff” and mostly personal preference.

When I started farming, I used a McCormick Deering #7. It is a model a bit older than the #9″s. I got along well with it. I only sold it to be able to go faster…or so I thought. As I was mowing hay with my tractor mower for the last time, I realized that I was going 3MPH…the same speed a horse walks. The only thing that made it seem faster was not having to stop and rest the horses.

So, I listened to the noisy tractor drone on as I mindlessly drove around the fields. Now, I will listen to the horses and their harness bells. I will stop to rest them and give the mower a shot of grease or a splash of oil. I can listen to birdsong and enjoy farming in the way of my grandfathers. Plus…I will still be mowing at 3MPH!



Taking Out the Ash
July 28, 2018, 5:16 pm
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

ashnotch

July 28, 2018

I started removing our dead and dying Ash trees. They have fallen victim to the Emerald Ash Borer, a pest from overseas. They have no natural predator here in the USA. My wife took these pictures as she stood by while I fell the first few. In the photo above, I am completing the notch cut. This cut determines the direction of fall. This tree had some lean so a few things came in to my decision, as to where the tree would fall. I simply wanted to guide it where it would do the least amount of damage to surrounding trees.

I am not a novice. I have been trained in the art of directional felling and have many years of experience working at this craft. I wear my safety gear always. I have someone nearby to call for emergency services if needed. I get help from seasoned professionals if I find myself with a tree that I am not comfortable doing alone. I suggest that most folks leave tree cutting to professionals, as this is a dangerous job.

In this next photo, I am making my “release” cut. I have cut all but the small hinge, looked around one last time for any changes to the area, like people or pets, perhaps even a limb I hadn’t noticed beforehand. Once I am sure all is well, I make the final cut, “releasing” the tree to fall. I walk a path 45 degree angle from the tree as it falls. My chainsaw has been shut off or the chain break set, at a minimum.

ashrelease

The release cut above…..Me walking safely out of harm’s way below.

ashhinge

My wife even caught the falling tree, just as it was about to hit the ground.

ashfall

I am watching above the tree for anything that would snap back from the falling tree or trees nearby as it brushes them on the way down. The tree is stripped of its limbs to expose the marketable logs. The logs are measured and skidded out to be loaded. This tree yielded two logs twelve feet long. The limbs will be all used for boiling maple syrup. The trees will not be wasted. I feel bad that this specie will disappear from our landscape in the way of the American Elm and Chestnut. I am glad to be able to at least utilize the ones in my control.

I’d like to write a bit more, but I better keep my “Ash” busy.  :o)