RicelandMeadows


Pastured Piggies
August 14, 2016, 5:16 pm
Filed under: August 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

sowbaby

August 14, 2016

As a child, I ran barefoot through the grass without a care in the world. Today, I watched my piglets and their mother foraging in the pasture, playing in the mud and eating from their dish. They watched me without caring. The little ones grow quickly in this wide open pasture. They eat, drink, play and rest in the shade of some trees and brush. They are healthy and happy. This is a great way to raise pork!

In the next day or so, I will move the herd up to the barnyard. The boys will be sorted and castrated. The herd is moved right back to the pasture for another ten days. Once that time has passed, the boys will have healed up. All the babies will be sorted again. This time they will be given de-worming shots and weaned from mom. The babies will all be left together for comfort and to compete with each other for their food. A few days after that, they will be sorted by size and penned together on full feed rations. Some will be sold to other farmers to be raised by them. The rest will be raised here.

The ones who stay here will be given a big pen, a clean bed and all they want to eat and drink. Twice a day they will be given “recess” in a big lot where they can run and play. In the space of about four months, they will gain enough weight to be ready to butcher. By then, another batch of little ones will almost be ready to occupy the pens that will be vacated by these. It’s the cycle of life on a farm. It’s my job to make all the animals as comfortable as possible. I treat them with respect and I handle them humanely until the very end.

I can only hope to pass my ways onto my children and their children. That is what makes farming sustainable too. It is not just the soil and the animals. There must be profit and desire. Without profit a farm cannot continue to operate. Without the desire of the next generation to operate, a farm cannot survive. So, sustainability comes from people, animals and the land all working in harmony. It is that harmony that makes great pastured piggies!



A day for good Stewardship
One of our woodland sap roads

One of our woodland sap roads

May 4, 2015

Last year we fixed a couple of road sections in the woods. Today we fixed a few more. The trouble spots we worked on today were stream crossings. I was able to get a culvert pipe installed. The trouble spot has been a thorn in my side for twenty years. It felt very good to cross it off the list! I would have taken a picture, but it was close to dark when we finished and I was too tired to walk back there ­čÖé

Sap roads hold up pretty well because of using the horses for gathering the maple sap.I am going to build a road repairer from an old disc my friend Bill gave me. I have narrowed it down so it fits the roads better. I am adding a piece of railroad rail to drag behind the disc. My hope is that the disc will cut the ruts and the dragging rail with level them all off. I has to make a difference!

In maple syrup season, we are using the roads when the soil is unstable…in fact muddy is a better word. Once in a while we have snow, but more often it is mud. As we slog through a stream, we drag mud with us, but worse than that we make small ditches. The sled runners cut grooves in the dirt where water makes a fast exit to the stream. The silt soon fills the stream with soft mud. It is not good for the stream or any water down stream of it either. I is my goal to have all my problem areas fixed by this time next year…I only have two more places to go.

When water can trickle or even run onto a place littered with leaves before making it to the stream, the dirt settles out and only clean water enters the stream bed. By building bridges and installing culverts at stream crossings, I am improving water quality here on my farm and even more importantly, downstream from my farm!

The job of environmental steward is one I don’t take lightly. I want to be a good neighbor, it’s the right thing to do and I believe it is my responsibility. I also like the way it looks. I can see that it will be a life’s work. It is noble and it pleases me. I am teaching others as I go along and setting an example for my heirs to boot. If my heirs don’t get it…they will get the boot! I am a true believer in sustainability for a farm and for a woodland. Here at Riceland, it’s the way we do business.



A Celebration!
October 3, 2014, 6:39 pm
Filed under: October 2014 | Tags: , , , , ,

One of the planted spelt fields

One of the planted spelt fields


October 3, 2014

Against many odds, after losing sleep and pushing through, my eight acres of speltz are planted and fertilized. I worked into the darkness last night after a long day of field work to get the planting all done. I ran out of steam a little after nine pm last light. I closed the barn doors and headed for a shower and a soft bed.

This morning, with rain looming, I attacked the task of spreading soil amendments onto the recently planted seedbed. My younger sister gave me a hand. I would not have beaten the rain without her help. As I made the last round, the rain started to fall. My shirt got wet, my glasses got spotted, but nothing could dampen the jubilation I felt in my soul! All that hard work and loss of sleep, was worth every minute!

I cannot take all of the credit. My son helped me plow. My sister helped me beat the rain. My wife had meals ready, lunches packed and a thousand other details in order, so that I could focus on getting this crop in the ground. This crop provides the horses grain for the entire year. It gives us valuable straw for the animal’s bedding. The carbon source of this straw is the foundation of our compost pile, the main fertility of our farm.

Last year, the fall rains made getting a crop of speltz in impossible for me. I had to buy horse grain. We are running short on straw and are in search of some. It is hard to believe just how important this crop is to our operation. The grain is the fuel source for our horse powered farm. The straw a key building block in our sustainability. To say that I am happy is an understatement.

Even Cinch is Smiling

Even Cinch is Smiling