RicelandMeadows


Farm to Fork

fork2table

July 17, 2018

Several years ago, a young man stopped to visit with me. He was full of excitement about living a homesteading lifestyle. We had many talks about farming, gardening and family. He was a well read man, who knew what he wanted. It was easy for me to expand his knowledge. At the time, he was very interested in trying to raise his own pork.

I talked with him, showed him and encouraged him to try raising pigs. I explained what I believe to be the best methods. Buy young pigs at weaning called feeder pigs. Keep the pigs in a pen on full feed and water ration. Give them treats like apples, garden leftovers even weeds. Keep their pen clean and keep the pigs comfortable, shade for summer, deep bedding and a warm hut for cool fall days.

The young man, Mark, went home to try and convince his wife that they could grow their own hogs. Sure enough, he wore her down and pigs soon graced the landscape at their farmstead. I went over that autumn and taught him how to humanely butcher his pigs. He learned well and was a quick study. They have raised their own pork now for seven years.

Mark has a young family. He is teaching his children all about gardening and animal husbandry. Mark’s wife too has a hand in teaching. She cans and freezes their food. They make cider, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and produce lots of vegetables in their raised bed gardens.

After using a makeshift yet sturdy pen for a number of years, Mark built this nice permanent pen. At the gate where the pigs enter the pen, he set a stainless steel fork into the concrete. The pigs pass this fork twice. Once when they enter the pen and the last time as they are slaughtered for food.

The fork keeps everyone grounded. The children know that the pigs are not pets. Sure, pet them, scratch their ears and rub them down, but keep in mind the purpose of the pig is to sustain the farmer and his family. The fork also signifies that the pork will be going into their mouths, so the pigs will be only fed wholesome grain, vegetables and other gleaned produce from the farm like apples and pumpkins.

I am pleased to have helped this young man out. He is paying it forward by helping others return to the land. This makes me very happy. We must teach the young ones where our food comes from. They learn kindness, responsibility, nurturing and become self-reliant. They learn patience and tolerance. They learn many things about “farm to fork”. Congratulations on your homestead Mark. Thanks for being such a good student, but most of all, thanks for helping others.



Sunrise Weeding

garden2018

June 26 2018

This morning, I was weeding the garden as the sun rose. The garden is behind a bit due to delayed planting from our rainy weather. It is easy to see that we should get a crop. It may come a little late, but it will taste good just the same.

Weeding is a great quiet time for me. The small weeds succumb to the sharp bladed hoe easily. I am alone with my thoughts. The animals have been fed. The horses are back in the barn after a night of grazing. The biting flies don’t like the dark cool barn, but the horses sure do.

The sheep and cattle are still laying peacefully in the grass. Their bellies are full and the cool morning refreshes them all. I hilled the potato rows. I was going slowly, tucking dirt around the small tender plants. The dirt wasn’t quite ready for this job, but rain is forecast for tomorrow, so I pushed to complete the job. Soon, in the soft hilled up dirt, potatoes will form and grow in the dark, warm ground. A tasty treat, boiled, fried or baked, makes my efforts worthwhile.

Today, I have to use the skidsteer to move the big, plastic-wrapped, round bales of haylage. It is a noisy job that must be done. The horses will rest in the barn as I stack the bales for winter feeding. I need to get them off the field before they kill the grass underneath. I pondered that up coming job as my hoe slid into the Earth, barely making a sound. This sunrise weeding is good for my well being. I sort my day, kill weeds and grow some of my food…all under a beautiful sky, in the cool of morning, surrounded by birdsong.



It Runs In Families
June 4, 2018, 5:39 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

Finleysniff

June 4, 2018

In her grandpa’s shadow, my granddaughter sniffs the flowers. She is smart enough to stop and “smell the roses”. I have the good fortune of seeing the effects of my leadership in my children and grandchildren. Some like the farm and animals. Some like the woodlands and protecting it. There are hunters and fishermen and horse lovers alike. It is awesome to see your children enjoying things such as keeping backyard chickens or making maple syrup.

It struck me funny watching Finley sniff the flowers, after I had just posted about taking time out for such things. The little ones are more in tune to what matters. They will play with kittens or pet the dog. They will lay on the grass and look up at the clouds. They will nap when they are tired. It is neat to notice such things, now that my eyes have been opened again.

It is very easy to get so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. I am an advocate for hard work and its benefits. I see now however, making a little time for the “little things” is absolutely necessary! It brings balance to a happy life. It sets a great example for those watching your every move. Lastly, it can make smiles last a lifetime and beyond.



Taking Nothing For Granted
June 1, 2018, 1:27 pm
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , ,

lilac

June 1, 2018

Today, is my first official day of retirement. I am the first male “Rice” to make it to retirement in three generations. My grandpa, was killed in an auto accident when he was in his fifties. My father’s retirement years were stolen from him by a disease called Alzheimer’s. I made it to today, but I realize that life is truly short, so I will take nothing for granted!

I took this selfie while sitting on the porch. I sat there just to rest a bit, but mostly to smell the blooming lilacs. I think over the years, I have let myself miss out on things such as that. I know a bit more rest wouldn’t have hurt anything. Smelling those lilacs made me remember days gone by, people I have known and loved ones that I have lost. The scent was truly heavenly…and just like us…only here for a short time.

I am making lists and working on fun projects. The wet weather makes gardening tough, but the grasses in the pastures and hay fields are loving it. I have taken the time to walk those wet fields, making notes were some drainage would help. I also see nesting birds and baby animals. It is as if I am seeing some of these things for the very first time. I guess my eyes were always open, but now, time allows for my heart to be opened too.

Stay tuned, as I work this farm with renewed vigor, in the ways of my grandfather’s, walking the rows and fields with draft horses leading the way. I will share. I will care and I will take nothing for granted.



Corn 2018
May 27, 2018, 9:48 am
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , ,

corn2018

May 27, 2018

With overcast skies looming and a few scattered raindrops falling, I managed to get my 2018 corn field planted. It was a mad dash. The field was still a bit too wet in places, but I planted anyway. The newly reconditioned corn planter worked wonderfully. I wasn’t able to use the horses, but the corn is in and the animals will thank me later this year.

My corn planter has been fitted with “plateless” seed boxes. This will allow me to plant seeds of any size, one at a time, in any spacing that I decide. It will be great for open pollenated  varieties. I will plant with the horses and powercart next year. I will have more time for planning and preparation without the undertow of an off farm job.

I backed The corn planter into the shed, shut the tractor down and walked to the house. As I was walking, the rain started falling. Whew, not enough to soak us, but just enough to delay any field work…thank God, I got the field planted.

Yesterday morning, I cleaned up a fallen tree in one of my neighbor’s yards. I was hustling around trying to finish the work, knowing that I needed to be working in the field. I saw my elderly neighbor wave from his window and I realized that I needed to do the tree. I think I may have been blessed for my efforts, because it rained all around me as I fitted and planted. I kept going and it all turned out perfect!



The Next Chapter
May 24, 2018, 11:19 am
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

cowretire

May 24, 2018

I am stepping into the next chapter of my life. Retirement is upon me. I have been working to adjust. It is nice to sleep at night, all night, every night. Many years of swinging shifts around the clock make my body wonder what the heck is up…but mostly we are liking it a lot!

Rain keeps coming just about the time we can work in the fields again. I’m not worried. I only have a little to do and plenty of time to do it. I no longer have to worry about an off farm work schedule…man this is different! Like the sleep…I am liking it!

I came down with an awful virus, that had me laid low for a day or two. I am back on the mend and almost ready for whatever comes. I have been in the forge shop working a bit, daily chores and getting things all ready for our timber harvest, as we remove the dead and dying ash trees. In any case, I’m moving into the next chapter, of what I hope will be, a very long and happy book!



Spring Chores
May 8, 2018, 2:04 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

hammeringJohn

May 8, 2018

Our spring continued to be evasive. Long hours and too many days at my off farm job has caused delays in getting into the fields. It’s no big deal. The soil is just starting to warm and dry enough to work it anyway. I am spending time with family, especially the little ones.

My grandson continues to like blacksmithing. He is coming along very well. He started banging and bending horseshoe nails. He has now moved up to steel stock. He likes the coal forge and turning the blower crank, but hammering hot iron is his favorite!

Two of our grandchildren live here on the farm with us. They live next door, but seek out Pa-pa and Grammy often. They like feeding the chickens ear corn. They would shell corn until the chickens burst, but understand why we don’t.

sissychick

So spring is here…finally. The horses and I will soon be in the fields. The animals are grazing spring pastures, but are still munching a little hay. The leaves on the trees are starting to pop. Most of the shedding winter coats is a memory and garden planting looms on the horizon. I can’t say that I have wasted one minute…but it is sure time for Spring Chores.