RicelandMeadows


Wood Work
November 26, 2022, 9:26 am
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November 26, 2022

We took advantage of a warmer day yesterday to haul wood. The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up. We have a ways to go but made a good amount of progress again yesterday. We set the log splitter up right at the woodshed. We can cut and split as we go, stacking the wood as it comes off the splitter.

A wagon load like this makes for quite a bit of split wood. I would say that we have less than a third to go. I hope to finish up this coming week. The mares had a good day and did a great job as usual. They sure are good working partners. I am glad to have them for my work…especially wood work!



November Highlights
November 23, 2022, 10:52 am
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November 23, 2022

Here in northeast Ohio, we get some fantastic sunsets in the autumn and early winter. My sister Mindy, loved them. She had many photos she had taken over the years in scrapbooks. Mindy has passed from this world, but every time I see a pretty sunset, I feel her in my heart.

That feeling fills my world for just a brief second, but resonates across my soul. Her birthday was yesterday. I captured these shots then. How fitting!

In other news, I have been busily working to get my younger sister Charlie’s house built. Getting materials and services has been a challenge, but things continue to move forward. We were able to finish the exterior siding Monday. The house is now closed in. What a relief. After a nine week lead time, we even got the garage door installed.

The back of the house.

The garage door, simple yet attractive.

The front porch, with vinyl stone entryway. It is a low maintenance option that won’t need paint and should last a lifetime.

The walkout deck and covered patio is taking shape. A few jobs, like pouring the patio and sidewalks, will wait until spring. My hope is to have her in soon with a few plans for next year once the weather breaks again.

This has been a big project. I am a jack of all trades, but master of none. I have been humbled several times, but I keep moving forward. We can now move to the inside where insulation and drywall are the next efforts. I am satisfied so far. We broke ground on July 5th. I’m pushing hard to be able to have her in by Christmas time.



Well That Stinks!
November 12, 2022, 11:33 am
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November 12, 2022

What a fabulous November we have enjoyed so far! The temperatures here were in the lower 70’s F. It dried out enough for the harvest to continue at a rapid rate. Our corn crop is in and all the summer hay tools have been stored away. Yesterday we received almost 3 inches of rain. Today snow is in the forecast. Gone are those 70 degree days…boy does that stink.

Many of the outside jobs at my sister’s house are wrapping up too. The siding is the biggest job that remains, but it too is on schedule. There is a lot of planning and work to build a house. I have been reminded of this fact almost daily as I chase materials, parts and manpower. It is coming together and completion looms on the near horizon.

I have quite a few people watching my progress. Many have lent a hand and I appreciate it very much.

The woodshed filling for the sugarhouse, though well started, is still progressing. The hope is to have it full by next week. I just made more projects than I could complete during the good weather, but no worries, I will get it done.

The snow and winter will come if we are ready or not. I can do a lot of work on cold days, as long as it isn’t raining. I hate getting wet, especially working in a cold rain. I would say that stinks too!

Happy Mid-November everyone. Get your outside water hoses in, the air conditioners inside, your tools put away and your firewood finished up. The winter winds will soon blow hard. It will be nice to be able to sit inside on those nasty days, looking out the window drinking a hot beverage, while smiling because all of your work is caught up.



Beautiful October Day

October 29, 2022

We debuted our 3-seat Limo. We escorted our granddaughter on her wedding day. It was a beautiful day.

The horses were pretty in their braids and shiny coats, but the bride was stunning. She was the star of the show.

We swung around in between the trees and delivered the bride to an aisle raked from the leaves. Lanterns hung on shepherd hooks and lit her path. Traditional words were spoken, vows were said and tears were shed…it was a beautiful day. Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Zach Fraily (Our little Brittany)



This Guy
October 25, 2022, 6:47 am
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October 25, 2022

Every now and then I get to see something that moves me. I understand the wonder and majesty that this world holds. Newborn babies always give me pause, as I ponder the miracle of birth. Lately, as our stallion Hank matures, I see our future. Thanks in part to him, our future is looking bright. As we work towards helping to preserve this critically endangered breed, I see the genetic diversity that I am looking for in “This Guy”.

Hank continues to learn his job as a workhorse. He will be starting some intensive “every day” work. This work is meant to put the finishing touches on lessons that he already knows. It will help him learn to pull steady, stand quietly and listen for ques in my voice and through the lines in my hands. He is a good boy. This new phase of training will hopefully endear him even more to me. I do hope he will pass his good mind and behaviors on to his foals. He is quite a horse!

He is a wide awake and handsome dude.
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Autumn 2022

October 17, 2022

The colors of the leaves has been beautiful over these last few days. The weather too has been seasonable with a few very nice warm days along the way. This morning, the weatherman said we will have wet snowflakes in the forecast. I know winter is coming, but I am not ready.

There is sugarwood still to split and get put away. It is not a big job, but one that needs completed. On the upside, our speltz have been planted and the pastures are mostly put to bed for winter.

Last weekend we once again shared our draft horses with kids and adults at the Camp Koinonia autumn carnival. It was a nice time. The morning was cool and windy, but the sun came out and warmed us all in the afternoon.

The foliage was beautiful. The smiles were everywhere. We were glad to have been invited. It gives us the opportunity to share our blessings with others. Abby and Amee, our Suffolk mare were a hit. They worked well as usual. It was a wonderful day.



What A Wonderful Weekend

October 12, 2022

We spent the weekend at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds at the Suffolk Gathering. Our group Saving Suffolks Northcoast Chapter, along with the North American Suffolk Horse Association, held a get together and annual meeting. We had a great time. 28 horses and folks from 16 states and 3 Canadian Provinces were represented.

Much of the week before last weekend and these last three days were spent moving in, then moving out of the fairgrounds. Horses, equipment, feed, harness and a whole bunch of other stuff made the trip.

Our boy Hank watched over the people and horses.

Saving Suffolks held a raffle for a draft forecart and a couple cash prizes.

Joe and Cindy won the forecart

Chris and Lavada won some money, but donated it back to our non-profit Saving Suffolks

Zelda was awarded a big Thank You for all of her help as we put this shindig on!

We look forward to next year, as well as, some upcoming promotions as we present and promote this wonderful draft horse. It was a wonderful weekend. Even the trees turned color as if to join the celebration!



Oh My the Years!
October 4, 2022, 10:04 pm
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October 4, 2022

Time is a fickle fleeting thing! I wore this jacket in my junior and senior years in high school. So, 1975 through 1977 when I was apparently much smaller. I even wore a hooded sweatshirt underneath it.

I pinned all my medals on it many years ago, just to keep from losing them. I have wanted to be a farmer all of my life. This jacket was a declaration of my path forward. I can honestly say, that I have been engaged in some for of agriculture all of my life.

I never strayed far from my boyhood home. I still am a mere 12 miles from there. I moved to Jefferson in 1978 and found my spot in the world. I have no desire to ever move and my roots grow deeper and hold stronger with every breath I take.

It is comforting for me to know that I am in the place that I was born to be. I still get my hands in the dirt every day. I can hold in my hands and my heart, the life I was meant to live. Fleeting though it may be, I am enjoying the ride!

My shirt a little bigger, my heart a little fuller I am still declaring what I want to be when I grow up. I even am still comfortable with where! I do wonder where time has gone, but as they say, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage”. I am thankful for every mile and for every year. It is my prayer that I have many more of both.



Harvesting and Waiting

September 27, 2022

We went to a local Metro Park in neighboring Lake county. We went to support their annual “Horsepower” days. We went to show our Suffolk Punch draft horses to a welcoming crowd. We made it a learning session for our son Jake’s youngest horse, Anna. She is the smaller one in the photos. She is a 3-year old and learning fast. The people, flags, balloons, noise and other horses were new to her. She looked and learned. She stayed calm and watched her teammate Amee for clues. She/We had an outstanding day.

We raked the brush hog debris off of the field that we would be plowing. It was Anna’s second or third time on that piece of equipment. She was confident and willing while we raked. We next hauled bundles of corn shocks off the corn field following a corn binder demonstration. The horses had to stand, wait and move up as the volunteers loaded the wagon. The chattering binder being pulled by a team of Belgians, went by us several times. Our horses made no move, other than to watch them go by.

We were just one team among many. The Belgians, Percherons and Suffolk breeds were well represented. The following day (Sunday) was a bit rainy, but the fun moved inside at times. We did not attend the second day. The weather looked ominous, so we went to church instead. The horses stayed home, but we harvested the Word and mingled with a different flock.

We are making plans to attend again next year and take at least 2 teams of horses. There were many things to see and do. We had fun. We met some new friends and cemented relationships with old ones. We represent different breeds. We all choose to do different things with our horses, but all of us come together to play and learn.

As we train our young horses, we expose them to as many things as we can. We do this first at home where things are familiar. Slowly, as the horses gain confidence, we introduce them to even more outside noise and situations. This training is to build confidence, character and to help eliminate fear. When a fearful thing does happen, they look to us for clues. We can calm them with our voices and line pressure. The training, teaching patience, and consistent methods, pays off big dividends in times of trouble or insecurity.

Our rain total yesterday afternoon. The rains continue to fall as a big storm comes to us from Canada. The storm moves over lake Erie, then dumps the moisture on us. We had a dry summer, but we are now starting to get a bit soggy. They say we still have another rainy day coming after today. No worries. The trees and grasses are gulping up the moisture in the waning days of the growing season. The other benefit is that we don’t have to shovel rain! The almost three and a half inches of rain that fell yesterday has been added to significantly over night. The sun is shinning for the moment, so I am headed out to do all things “Riceland”.



Pasture Management for All

September 25, 2022

Autumn is here. We are managing a few of our hay fields differently this year. In the photo, we are grazing multiple species of livestock in what would have been second cutting hay. We are not burning any high priced fuel. We are not waiting on perfect weather to make dry hay.

We have our steers, rams and young fillies, grazing off the knee deep emerald green grasses. Each animal prefers a different forb. This makes for perfect use of the growing crop. We have to keep the water trough full of fresh clean water, Mother Nature does the rest.

There is much going on in the photos. The grasses are being grazed. The animals are all getting used to each other. A natural pecking order is taking place among the animals as well as, among the different breeds. The horses seem to rule, but they are not cruel. They are just first in line. The cattle are next, followed by the sheep. The cows are watching my border collie “Sam” on the other side of the fence. They seem to always be on guard for any outsider in the pasture.

Once all the animals have had their fill, we top off the water tank. The sheep seem to know to get all they want, then a little later get a little more to hold them until chore time later in the day.

Using the hay field in this way gives us another month of grazing and not feeding hay. We monitor the grass and field conditions. We don’t want the animals poking holes with their feet if it gets too wet. This is great feed for fattening animals like the cows. It also helps to meet the protein requirements for growing horses. The rams get in great condition for the upcoming breeding season.

This is not the first time we have used this method. It is a proven way to make the best use of pastures. It keeps animals in great condition, makes introductions and introduces growing foals to strange smells, strange (to them) creatures and establish a farm pecking order that makes all things run smooth.

Missing from the photo above are the horses who were standing in the shade. They are all in there, cows, hogs, and horses. When I call the horses, the other animals move away from the gate. The horses come through and go to the barn. When I call the cattle, the hogs back away until all the cattle are through the gate. The pecking order makes this happen. The farmer benefits from the natural order of things. I encourage my readers to give this a try on your own homestead.

This makes the best use of abundance, creates a social aspect to farming and leaves a very low carbon footprint. Lastly, it makes things easy for the farmer who manages pasture for all.