RicelandMeadows


Straw Boss
August 4, 2021, 9:01 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

August 4, 2021

I have been working steady trying to get our hay crop finished up during this wet summer of 2021. I am happy to report that our first cutting is finally done….30 days later than normal, but done none the less.

Now the horses and I are staying steady at getting the spelt straw ready to bale. The crop is almost dry enough to complete the job. The field however, is very soft, with standing water still found in places. I am fluffing and flipping the drying straw, hoping the field will dry out enough to hold the tractor and baler without making ruts.

The spelt grain came off very well. I combined over a week ago. The yield was very good, especially considering the wet year. The hay crop planted with the spelt had exploded with new growth. Some areas of the field, the timothy hay heads were taller than the spelt. The combine, thankfully, separated the grain from the weeds and timothy heads very well. Our bin will be nice and full, supplying horse feed for all of the coming year.

The golden windrows of straw are even pretty to look at. The weather is perfect right now, even the flies are tolerable for the horses.

You can see the yellow streak that was once under the straw windrow. I want this job complete soon. The windrows of wet straw can kill the growing hay underneath. I think this will all be fine. My main concern is to get the bales made and off the field without making a bunch of tracks and rutting up the field. It will all turn out OK … it always has. I may have to roll a few ruts or perhaps even disc and reseed a portion or two. Such is the life of a farmer and the reason why it is much better to work with nature, rather than being a “know it all” Straw Boss, demanding my own will. Mother Nature will humble the strongest man. Patience and persistence will get the crop in for sure.

I need to be more like Sam our Border Collie. He takes everything in stride. He relaxes when he isn’t working, yet he is always ready to pounce on a job. My pouncing days are few, but I am getting better at relaxing :o)



Hay What a Busy Week
July 16, 2018, 9:04 am
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

haymow1

July 16, 2018

The last week has been a whirlwind! Hay dried very nice in the sun. We raked and baled, hauled and stacked until we got it all in off the fields without any of it getting wet.

haymow2

I modified the the hay loft door and am able to set the hay bales up into the loft with the skidsteer. I can set 5 bales up before I have to go up and roll them out of the way. This makes haying much easier for me. Most importantly, I don’t need help. Hay help is getting harder and harder to find, having overcome this fact is awesome! I can store the equivalent of 400 small square bales by doing it this new way. I will unroll the bale at feeding time and fork the hay down chutes to the horse mangers below.

The speltz straw also had to be mowed and made ready to bale

hayted2018

The horses and I fluffed the straw with our hay tedder. There was a lot of nice, new seeded grasses in the straw. I treated this bounty as hay. The animals will get to eat anything they want, then sleep on the rest. It gives new meaning to “bed and breakfast”. It was a hot week. The temperatures were 90F and above for many of them. The horses and I both sweated together, but we made 42 nice bales. Those bales have all been hauled in and stacked near where they will be used.

We are now ready for some needed rain. We are thankful that it held off while we scrambled to get the last of the first cutting hay harvested, the speltz combined and the straw gleaned as well. Today, it’s hot and sticky, but all of us will rest and wait for the rain…while I make a new list of work for us all.



Oh What a Harvest!
July 9, 2018, 1:15 pm
Filed under: July 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

speltz2018

July 9, 2018

The 2018 Speltz harvest is done. It was a good crop. This will meet the grain requirements for my horses for the next year. The straw will be clipped and baled soon as well. The weather was perfect, the combine worked great and the field was in great condition.

2018harvest

The crop grew well with no lodging. (Lodging is when the crop goes flat to the ground) Wind can sometimes knock the crop over, but lodging usually comes from weak stems.  I am very pleased with the speltz crop, but also with the emerging hay that the speltz “nursed” through the winter. The new seeding hay is robust and doing very well.

I was busy combining the speltz, while my daughter-in-law was busy too. We welcomed a new baby girl to our family. She is sweet as ever…of course she is made from… ” sugar and spice and everything nice”!

Fernbday

 



Settled In
January 11, 2017, 11:21 pm
Filed under: January 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

nitenitepig

January 11, 2017

Tonight, after chores, I walked through the barns just to look at the animals. Stalls are cleaned during evening chores. I add fresh straw when needed. Usually I am on the run, feeding, cleaning, bedding and headed off to the next job…sometimes the one that pays most of the bills. Tonight, however, I took time to pause just to reflect on my simple farm life. I do love it so very much.

These pigs are almost ready to leave for freezer camp. They, of course, don’t know. They are just fixing their bed like every night. They had a good day eating, playing on the tire swing and rooting around. Now, it’s time for bed. They will continue to enjoy a stress free life. They are warm, fed and comfortable. I make sure of that, it’s my job, no…it’s my passion.

The results of my labors can be seen in my fields, my livestock and my smile. I appreciate this farm life. I thank God that he has let me find my place in the universe. I get to enjoy every single day surrounded by my animal charges and embraced with the love only a family can provide. So, talk about being settled in … I sure am!



Bedded and Shedded
November 19, 2016, 9:11 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

hdshop

November 19, 2016

After a cold rainy day, the snow is starting to swirl on the wind. The icy pellets stung my cheeks as I did chores tonight. It was nice to be in the warm barns feeding and caring for the animals. The pigs were all nestling down into their straw beds as I shut the doors and turned out the lights. The horses quietly munched on their hay as they stood knee deep in fresh bedding.

The cats were licking their paws and our dog laid in the hay watching me as I finished chores. I swept the aisle and hung up the broom. I sat down next to the dog and petted him on the head. I sat in silence, reflecting upon the last several days.

All of our farm equipment has been cleaned, lubricated and put away. Even the equipment that we will be using in the coming months has been given a space indoors for winter. I managed to store my horse drawn farm tools all together in my shop close to the horse barn. I can easily get out the pieces that I want to use and put them away when done.

The cows and sheep have been moved to their winter pastures. The horses have now started their rotation where they are inside at night and outside during the day. These cold nasty nights, when the winds and snows buffet the buildings , it is very peaceful to watch the animals enjoy the warmth of stall and stable. I listen to them chew, pet the dog and take comfort in knowing they are all bedded and shedded.



2016 Spelt Has Been Planted
October 7, 2016, 8:52 pm
Filed under: October 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

2016speltzplant

October 7, 2016

Wow, after pushing hard from dark until dark for the last three days, the spelt crop for this year has been planted. I had to use the tractor some, but the horses and I pushed through it. This back field is usually our pig herd pasture. I needed to renovate it. Spelt and hay is planted at the same time. I will frost seed clover into this field in February or March, but in the meantime, the spelt will nurse the fescue hay seedlings.

This is a field of about five acres including a small wooded section and several small groves of trees. I farm around the trees for the benefit of the animals and even for the look of the grassy hamlet. The spelt field is about three acres, so well worth the effort. Next July, the grain and straw from this piece will meet our farm needs for a year.

The straw when mixed with the animals manure, after providing them a warm bed, is the foundation for our compost providing much of the carbon source needed. The grain fuels” the horses for an entire year, providing all goes well with the crop. We have not had to buy commercial horse feed for over eight years. Spelt and salt and mineral are all that is needed to keep working horses in good condition, along with good hay of course.

As I type these words, I am tired from the last three days, but I am very satisfied. Now, I just have to clean up the grain drill, grease and put away the disc and other tools while I wait for the seed to sprout. :o)



Horses and Hay
July 20, 2016, 11:09 pm
Filed under: July 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

me&kh

July 20, 2016

As our harvest here on the farm continues, the horses and I raked some second cutting clover this morning. We waited until the morning dew had been burnt off by the sun. It was still pretty early and even a bit cool at about 60 when the job started. The cool morning made for a great time. We finished before the biting flies woke up and found us.

My grandson from Montana snapped this photo as we walked out to get the hay rake. He rode along while we worked. I am sure it will be a memory that he will take back home with him. The hot sun and dry ground pulled the moisture out of the curing hay pretty fast. We were able to bale it all before supper and mow it away after we ate.

2ndclover

This high protein feed will be fed to calves this coming late winter. It will be a great asset to have when the sucking calves start to pull the weight off of their mothers. I can make a feeder where only the small calves can eat. I can supplement their feed and keep a watchful eye on them too.

The speltz straw is drying and will be baled soon too. The horses will rake and “ted” the straw as we fluff it to dry. It will be next week’s work. Who knows? Perhaps even Miss Abby will get a chance to pull the hay rake as her training continues. It will just depend upon the weather and time…..both of which I have very little control over…but no matter, as long as I have hay and horses… I’ll be fine 🙂



On Top of the Heap

compost 2016

May 10, 2016

Yesterday, I finished applying the compost to my corn ground. This stuff was straw, manure, wood chips, manure, sawdust, manure, old hay and of course manure! It has been composting in my bunker since last October. It is awesome stuff with only an earthy smell of dirt…. well, okay, perhaps a hint of manure, but mostly dirt. It was in no way offensive to anyone’s nose.

This past fall we used wood chips for bedding. It proved to be a good addition. The small chips kept the pile open and airy longer. I didn’t see any “fire fang” or clumps of uncomposted hay from the absence of air. I also didn’t see many areas of compacted wet anaerobic places either. I was afraid the larger pieces wouldn’t compost well, but they did great and helped the whole pile to boot! I am sure the abundance of manure along with the diversity from several types of animals helps too.

No doubt, I will continue to use the wood chips in part of our bedding strategy along with traditional carbons sources like straw, sawdust, leaves and wasted hay. The wood chips are free. They are not real absorbent, but do work okay when used with one of the other products mentioned, especially straw. We add to the pile daily and I sort of turn it once a week with the skid steer when I push up the daily wheelbarrow loads.

Today, at 4:30 eastern standard time, our documentary from Rural Heritage magazine, airs on RFD-TV. It is weird to see your name in the TV guide! The show will replay on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Then next week , in the same time slots they will run a second episode. So, I guess like the wood chips… I am on top of the heap!



2015 Speltz Crop Has Been Planted
September 24, 2015, 10:46 pm
Filed under: September 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

One of Two fields

One of Two fields

September 24, 2015

After three marathon days of farm work, my speltz crop is in the ground. I worked until after dark the last three days, but it was worth it. These fields represent next year’s horse grain. It will last me for an entire year providing we get a decent crop. I have done my job, so now I patiently wait 😮

I plowed these fields last week. This week I spent lots of time harrowing them smooth. A hay crop is planted with the speltz. The speltz will nurse the growing hay. Once the grain has been harvested and the straw all baled, the hay will flourish. Harvesting hay a year later from these fields will be very nice on the smooth ground. Keep in mind, two winters will cover the hayfields with snow, helping to flatten everything out too.

I can now wash, lubricate and store my grain drill and the tillage tools. Only my horse plow will be kept near the front of the shed. The horses and I will be doing some fall plowing in a few weeks, but for now I will busy myself with putting things away for …winter (gulp)

It is looking like a maternity ward around here too. Sows and cows are heavy with young. Very soon farm babies will be born. It is always an exciting time. The best part of farming for me is seeing the new babies. I simply never get tired of looking at them. They are so dang cute. They don’t become a pain in the backside for a few months, so watching them and laughing while they are babies makes it all worth it!



Rejoicing, Bringing In The Sheaves
July 21, 2015, 11:57 pm
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,

Gleaner E...for Excellant

Gleaner E…for Excellent

July 22, 2015

The speltz harvest is finally underway. I got one field done. The yield is good. The machine worked great and I had a good time. We still have about three and a half acres to go. I hope to finish tomorrow. I am not bringing in the sheaves, but the grain is coming in nicely…so I am rejoicing!

I harvest my spelt when they are very ripe. I don’t drop the combine header low enough to gather in a bunch of weeds and grass. I don’t want the green stuff mixed in with the grain. I want the grain to be dry and not heat up from the grass and seed heads that would otherwise mix in. This is my horse’s feed for a year. It needs to be the best that I can grow and harvest.

This grain is the fuel that runs my farm. It provides the energy for the draft horses, who partially power this farm. It’s like growing a fuel pump in my fields 😮  I am very happy with this year’s crop. The rain has gone for now. The fields are dry. I hope to mow the straw and weeds by tomorrow evening. There should be lots of bedding to bale up in a few days. This is an awesome crop for us.

It provides feed, fuel and carbon for our compost in the form of straw. This coming winter when the cold winds howl, our animals will be all snuggled down in a deep bed of straw, warm and comfortable. I am rejoicing now, but they will be rejoicing then! The horses will also benefit from not only this awesome feed, but from the dry, clean bedding as well.

2015 speltz harvest

2015 speltz harvest underway