RicelandMeadows


Snow Buddies Business
January 16, 2018, 9:16 pm
Filed under: January 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snowbuddies

January 16, 2018

I let the horses and donkey out to play this afternoon. They are fun to watch as they run, jump and roll in the fresh snow. I guess they get bored on these cold snowy days just like we do. The boredom will soon pass. I am healing well and very soon will resume winter farm work. I will be careful. I will have help, but I will soon be working horses again and I can’t wait!

The donkey has bonded with the draft horses. He much prefers to be with them instead of the sheep. He still patrols the sheep pasture, but stays with the horses. He has his own “stall” which is just the spot where he eats his grain, but he goes there every time! He makes me chuckle. I like the little guy.

I actually wonder if he will follow us while we work. I think it will be much easier to take him along, than to have him lonely in the barn. It will be a hoot for sure but time will tell. If I would have known how sweet these critters can be… I would have had one a long time ago!



Bird’s Eye View
December 22, 2017, 12:03 pm
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dronefarmblds

December 22, 2017

Last October during a family harvest party, our grandson Jonathan brought his drone and took pictures of the farm. As I look at the pictures, I am very pleased. The harvest is complete. The compost has been spread on the fields where needed. The speltz crop is up and growing well. The pastures have all been clipped and stand ready for winter.

I am very thankful to family and friends who helped to get the farm ready for winter. My knee replacements are healing and doing well. It helps me mentally to know that things are well, jobs are complete and the promise of spring can be seen all over the farm.

The back of the farm too shows the work that has been done and the beauty that is this farm. A pile of lumber in the photo, is now a barn addition that houses the last of the equipment that once had to sit outside all winter long. Again, friends and family pitched in to make this all happen.

drone 2

As we close in on Christmas and the end of the year, I am very happy to share the gift of this farm with everyone. We are blessed, I, most certainly am! I pray that this farm and the example I set here, helps not only the people closest to me, but reaches out to others too. These photos are not meant to brag, but rather to say thank you to many and to show that anything is possible….Dream, Believe, Achieve!



It’s Kind Of Like This!
December 15, 2017, 6:35 pm
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

sugarhousesnow

December 15, 2017

Snow on the ground, snow piled up and more snow falling. I think winter is here. Christmas is just around the corner. My birthday for another year has come and gone. Work on the farm is greatly reduced, mostly made up of animal care. Those jobs are my most favorite.

I am still pretty much housebound due to knee replacement surgery, but walking in the barn at the end of the day, listening to my animals chew, is great therapy. These creatures who depend upon us, complete my life. The snow is falling, yet all the animals are well fed, warm and dry. This farmer has a warm grateful heart to all of the folks helping to make their comfort possible.

Soon, I will be back in usual form, pitchfork in hand. I will say, it will be a good trade for the cane I’ve been using. In any case, my recovery is made much easier, by breathing on my four-legged friends, on this dark and snowy night. Yep, it’s kind of a day like that!



Winter Hay Feeder

hayfeed

December 5, 2017

We have been trialing the newly built hay feeder. The cows like it well. We had to turn one gate around on the feedlot for animal movement, but the feeder is working out very well. The cattle stick their heads through to eat. They eat at different times, but even when most of the herd east together, even the most timid animal can get a spot at the table.

They do eat some from the ends where the green gates are located, but mostly just clean up what ever has spilled out. There has been very little waste feeding the cattle this way. I can click the “success” button on this project! The feeder is easy to fill using the skid steer. The animals use it very well. The percentage of wasted hay is minimal. Lastly, I only have to move hay once a week or less, so it is a great time saver too!

This feeder is permanent, but building one on skids would be a great option for many small farmers. You provide some protection for the hay, as well as, the animals. This could even provide shade from the hot summer sun, while feeding hay when pastures are declining. I recommend trying one on your small holdings in some form or another. The benefits far out weigh the costs.



Stockpiled Pasture a Beautiful Thing

stockpiled

November 28, 2017

One of the geldings munching on stockpiled pasture. They are still grazing as November comes to a close. Let’s face it, making a small farm profitable is not always easy. Keeping horses can be a drain on a man’s wallet. Using grass and working with Mother Nature is a wonderful, profitable option that often gets overlooked.

We made hay while the sun shined this past summer. We mowed the pastures as the animals grazed them down. The mowing keeps weeds in check and encourages growth in the grasses and clover. The paddock in the picture was allowed to grow after the last mowing in late August. The cattle grazed it once in mid-September for about 36 hours. Yesterday, the horses were turned in to this pasture to graze until the autumn rains or snow make the soil soft.

Most of the regrowth that the horses are eating is endophyte free fescue. This warm season grass gets more palatable and sweet after it has been frosted. The cold nights in the past few weeks ended our growing season, but made this magic grass sweet and much more to the horse’s liking. I will be able to graze this for about two weeks. So, that is feed for four draft horses for fourteen days! No fuel to harvest it. No time invested to harvest it and the horses are spreading their own manure!

I have one more paddock of stockpiled grass. It is a stand with lots of trefoil in it. The sheep will spend the winter there. They will graze much of the winter as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep. Again, no fuel to harvest the hay for the sheep. They can eat at their own pace, spreading their droppings as they go. I will have to feed a little hay I am sure, but our flock of ten ewes should have eighty to ninety days of grazing in that paddock. I will pull the sheep off in late February or early March, but the worst part of winter should be over by then…and the sheep will have pretty much fed themselves all winter!

I encourage the small farmer to look for opportunities such as this to increase profits or at least increase efficiencies in your daily labor. Think outside the box and … stockpile a few ideas of your own!



Had a Little Help
November 25, 2017, 2:40 am
Filed under: November 2017 | Tags: , , ,

lilwheel

November 25, 2017

Today, my grandson helped his daddy clean the horse stable. I am itching to help myself, but progress is slow on the new knee. I couldn’t help but snap a picture of his little wheel barrow ready to head for home, once the chores were done.

I remember helping my grandpa with things, sometimes even when he didn’t ask. I remember using and losing tools as I fooled around making his job easier. I probably dropped nails in the driveway or put things away that he couldn’t find for weeks, but I was helping! This little guy pays attention to detail. He knows where things go and doesn’t like to see anything out of place or gates left open.

Another grandson is helping his daddy catch the raccoons that mob the corn fields. They have been successful too. It truly is nice to be getting the help I need while I recover. My dear wife too, has taken on additional chores. I hope that I can at least take over for her before the bad weather sets in. The chickens, cats and dog appreciate her efforts as she is their main caretaker…along with the daily water tank filling.

So, the farm continues to run, thanks to everyone helping out.



Here We Go Again!
November 8, 2017, 8:35 pm
Filed under: November 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

leftkneereplacement

November 8, 2017

After a crazy summer recovering from right knee replacement surgery…you guessed it…Now, I am recovering from left knee replacement surgery. I had hoped to put this off for several months, perhaps even a year, but my knee was too bad to wait. They tried several things to get me by, the last attempt was a sort of stabilizing gel. They say it works for 7 out of 10 people, but I was one of the other 3 I guess. I wore through that gel in seven weeks.

This recent surgery also required lots of extra work thanks to my waiting a bit too long. I had ground down the joint to the point where my leg was crooked, the cartilage was gone and the only constant was the re-occurring pain. Hard to walk a furrow behind a horse drawn plow or dang near anything else!

The farm is ready for winter, but I still will be relying on family and friends to keep everything running smooth. I am thankful for my support group including the doctors, nurses, aides and farmhands. I am especially thankful for a patient and loving wife.  This journey has been a bit longer than we first thought, but the destination is in sight. Even as I recover today, just three days post surgery, my knee is more stable than it has been in years. The pain currently is a bit rough, but I know in a few weeks the pain that I have endured for years will be much improved.

A life of hard work, carrying beef on my shoulders, rolling logs, walking rough ground, running stairs and walking on concrete took a toll on my joints. I wouldn’t have missed a single day of the life that I have chosen so far….but I do look forward to wearing out this new set of “pegs” by farming and working horses, playing with small children and walking arm and arm through the rest of my life.