RicelandMeadows


Dam Beavers

dam beavers

March 22, 2016

We manage our woodlands in a three pronged approach. Our first consideration is for for maple syrup production. We open up the canopy for growing sugar maples using a method called “crop tree release”. Other undesirable trees are taken out to provide sunlight and nutrients for the growing maple trees. The trees taken out are used for lumber or firewood.

Our second consideration for our woodlot is for wildlife. We are all hunters, so we try to manage and enhance our white tailed deer and wild turkey numbers. We also look out for small game like squirrels and rabbits, as well as song birds. We don’t eat song birds, but we try to maintain three levels of forest canopy for them. Song birds nest at different heights, so having the three levels enhances their habitat.

The third part of our forestry management plan is for timber production. I don’t see our woods as ever being real valuable due to the species of trees growing there. It will however be a constant source of income over my lifetime. If managed in this way, the next generations will benefit as well. I’m talking about very light harvests generating a thousand dollars a year. The revenue coming mostly from undesirable trees that are removed for reasons listed.

Now, sometimes my best efforts get a set back. I babied the tree in the photo. It was selected and given space to grow, only to have the beavers decide it was a tasty treat. That was last year’s casualty.  A couple years ago, a big wind storm decided which trees would be culled. I worked in the down limbs and tangled mess for quite a while and still the effects from that wind storm can be seen.

dead matron

This big old fallen , long dead hard maple tree was dying when we moved here almost twenty five years ago. I left her stand to put down seed and provide a place for raccoon to live. The area is now littered with hard maple saplings and seedlings. The raccoon palace came crashing down just this spring. The wood is brittle and “punky” with no value for firewood, but the nutrient rich wood will be left to rot and enrich the soil.

Woodlot management is best done with a plan. I had my own, but did get the state forester to walk and talk with me. We agreed on my ideas and put a plan in place that I have been following since we took ownership of the land. My impact is light but the results are huge. Sugar maples are growing everywhere, wildlife co-exists with my farming and every now and then we get a little paycheck from our woodland savings bank.

 



Pathways and Footprints
May 26, 2015, 10:33 pm
Filed under: May 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Summer Sap Road

Summer Sap Road

May 26, 2015

In my woods there are sap roads and pathways. On these trails you will find footprints, mine and those of woodland animals. I go there sometimes to think, to pray or just to be alone. I find this place to be magical. I have watched it change in many ways since I became the owner and caretaker. I appreciate having all this green space to enjoy and share. I salute people who also place value on places such as these.

Among my friends is a man named Mark who is a champion for Ashtabula County. He has been in charge of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. He will be leaving that post and taking over the helm at the 503 Corp. I am sure he will do an awesome job there as well, but my thoughts tonight revolve around his energy for open space, parks, vineyards and damn near anything Ashtabula County.

I share his passion for gardening, homesteading, family and self reliance. We have shared many conversations regarding market gardening, the greenway trail, connections, networking and apple cider! I helped him learn to raise and butcher home grown pork. I has been a fun journey to watch, but better still, to be along for the ride. I am pleased the Mark has found another niche for himself here in our county. It is good for him and it is good for us!

I will walk in my woods. I will share this farm through word and deed. I will get my energy from the footprints and pathways in my woods and on my heart. This farm touches me and restores me. I find peace here. I make friends here. I am proud to say that I was able to help a young man embrace the values he had all along. I am proud to be a mentor, a friend and a fellow small farmer. Congratulations and good luck Mark Winchell



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 🙂

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.



Drinking and Driving
February 21, 2015, 5:43 pm
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Even on a cold day, water tastes very good!

Even on a cold day, water tastes very good!

February 21, 2015

Once again, we are getting snowed upon. They said we would just get a couple of inches, they were wrong. We got six or seven inches so far, but it’s still snowing. The snow had settled some, but today, it is back to almost thirty inches on the flat. That is too deep to walk in for very long. Working on firewood is at a standstill because it’s just too tough to get around in the woods.

The extreme cold has delayed the maple syrup season. The next ten days still look too cold to start the sap running. The season will come. I am just trying to be as ready as possible. I have lots of plans and a long list of stuff to do, but the weather and the deep snow, have us in a holding pattern. Even driving the horses is tough any place other than the driveway.

Luckily, I can relax and drink coffee and tea. I have become an expert this year, at drinking coffee and looking out the window. I am working on my writing project since I have been forced inside. This is probably a good thing because my deadline is just five weeks away….so I must drive hard to finish. The syrup season will soon take up much of my time, so drinking hot coffee while I drive to the finish line, is working out perfect!



The Benefit of a Good Outlet
April 10, 2014, 9:10 pm
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Clear water from our drainage tile

Clear water from our drainage tile

April 10,2014

The importance of a good outlet can not be overstated. Of course it is important for farm tiles and culverts, but a good place to drain the stress of life is awesome! I like to think that I have several, but when it all comes down to it…there is just one place. That place is here on my farm.

Sometimes it is the woods where my problems are sorted and drained away. Other times it is under the shade of the porch where the stresses of the day melt away. Usually, I am talking to an animal or a whole bunch of them. They listen well and almost never talk back. One in a while a horse will say … “neigh”, but not often 😮

I don’t care where you live or what you do, a place to blow off steam or perhaps just sit and have a good cry should be in everybody’s life. I think holding too much stuff inside is unhealthy and will lead to an early death. We humans, simply have to let go…otherwise we eat ourselves up.

I had to wake up two times in a hospital bed, before I realized to let things go that I cannot change. Some people simply can’t find that realization…the cemetery is full of them. They leave behind family and friends, because they couldn’t let work issues or changes in government or politics roll off their backs.

Just life and family can give you stuff to fuss about. Reach out, try, it will work out or not…you cannot change it. You have to just let things go. Destiny will be whatever it will be. We can’t change it, but we can let it go, hope for the best and forget about it.

The main thing, is to learn to give up what you cannot change. Turn over your concerns to a higher power and quit worrying about it yourself. I give my problems to God. Sometimes things work out and I get what I wanted, other times I don’t. I just have to trust that however it works out… that is the way it is supposed to be… I will leave it alone.

The best thing in my case is that I have several places where I can go and think. I guess that it is also good that I have learned to let things go. Of course, it wasn’t easy…but I did learn it! I encourage you to find a special place where you can go, relax and think. Perhaps it is the beach or a park or just a quiet place in your house…it is not important where it is…it’s only important that you find it!