RicelandMeadows


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)



Laying It On
July 22, 2018, 8:03 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

K&Hpowercart

July 22, 2018

It’s finally time to spread manure and our compost. The farm work is mostly caught up. The weather is a bit unsettled and rain is forecast to be spotty and scattered. I like to spread on the recently mowed pastures and hay fields. The grass responds well. The rains wash the nutrients into the soil. I get much satisfaction from handling this job well.

I don’t spread manure in winter, on soggy, wet ground or anytime that I could make ruts. I want the manure to stay put, not wash off into road ditches and watercourses. First of all, I want the nutrients to enrich my soils. Secondly, I am a good steward for the land, being responsible with this raw material is a passion. Lastly, I want my fields to stay in smooth condition whenever possible. Smooth fields are much better to farm…especially with horse drawn equipment with steel seats!

I will be working on this task everyday for several weeks. I will take 3 or 4 loads out a day, while working on other jobs around the farm. Once the pastures and hay fields have been given a light coating, the field where corn will grow next year will be given a liberal amount. It will then be plowed under in the old way of farming.

Summer is zipping by, this job signifies the halfway point for me. So far, we are on track. I steady rain falls as I write and all the plants seem to be looking skyward enjoying the life-giving moisture. Today we rest, watch the rain and enjoy family….tomorrow…I’ll be laying it on again!



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.