RicelandMeadows


Peace, Food and Beauty

shadylea

October 16, 2018

This picture was taken in one of our north pastures this week. The leaves are late displaying their colors this year, but the scene, to me, is still beautiful. The pasture was grazed down in September. This same field was cut for hay in late June. It is a bit of a nuisance to farm around trees, but for my small farm, it is worth it.

The tree in the foreground is a volunteer maple. I saved it a few years ago. Soon it will be big enough to tap for maple syrup. The larger tree on the left is a large hickory tree that was once a corner post for an old farmer. The wire marks are on the tree where the tree grew around the steel that had been stapled to it’s trunk. The saplings to the left of the larger tree are part of a row of brush left as a windbreak.

The livestock who graze this paddock gather under the large tree for the summer shade it provides. They nestle up in the brush row to escape the biting flies in summer and the biting winds in winter. The animals and the trees both benefit. The animals get some protection in exchange for their manure. The manure enriches the trees. The trees are located near the center of the field, so any runoff from the rains or snow, must travel across several yards of sod before it reaches a stream, keep water quality safe.

The “mast” or food crops from the large hickory trees and her daughters, is abundant. Old wild apple tress are also found in the brush row. The fruit and nuts are eaten by wildlife and my pigs. One more good reason for the existence of the brush row. A couple years ago, five gestating sows spent almost three weeks here. Ear corn was offered , but they only nibbled at the corn. The lived on the wild fruit and nuts until the mast had been consumed. Just one more way to show the value of the trees and brush, that I choose to farm around.

On a small farm, any way to add value should be considered. I find much value in having a few wooded paddocks. They provide comfort, food and beauty. If that isn’t adding value…I don’t know what is?!



Nature’s Bounty

casperapple

August 31, 2017

Where did summer go? This last day of August, I am pleased to have plenty of grass left in our pastures. The cattle and all of the farm’s livestock are looking great. Now, we are getting another nice bonus as we share in Nature’s Bounty. Wild apple trees are dropping their fruit. The cattle love the sweet treats. Our dairy steer in the picture above seems to delight in eating them.

When I was a boy, the old farmer that I worked for thought apples would make his cows choke. So, we cut every wild apple tree we saw. It has been my experience that the livestock, as well as, the wild animals benefit from this wild fruit. I think there are enough nice apples to make applesauce or cider for us. The trees could be trimmed to enhance the fruit, making them grow bigger and easier to peel. Sounds like a great idea, especially by selecting the trees with the best tasting fruit.

The hickory nuts are dropping in the woods as well. I have one wooded pasture where the hickory trees are plentiful. There are apple trees there as well. My sow herd really enjoys spending a couple of weeks in that pasture. They munch on clover, nuts and apples, barely eating the corn I give them for those two weeks. There is much to be said about farming “with” nature instead of trying to fight “against” her. She is the boss and when you respect her, the bounty abounds.