RicelandMeadows


Herd Sire Hank

May 23, 2022

Hank, quietly grazing with his small herd. The baby filly pays him no mind as she slumbers nearby.

Hank has a wonderful demeanor. He is always on the lookout for danger and also for flirty girls, but responds well to my voice. He brings the herd to the barn and is social with the farm’s visitors.

Our newest filly Maggee gets the run of the barn during the day. She visits Hank, who softly grooms the youngster.

Magee pays him back as she learns to also groom just the right spot.

This amazed me the first time that I saw it happen. Most studs may not think so kindly of a bothersome youngster, but Hank takes it all in stride. I think this action is just one more example of the Suffolk breed. I can say for sure that I am looking forward to seeing this level headed behavior in Hank’s offspring.



Busy Weeks for Seeding
May 14, 2022, 10:42 am
Filed under: May 2022 | Tags: , , ,

May 14, 2022

Yesterday, I planted this field to oats and pasture grasses. I don’t really care how well the oats do, the goal is to get this paddock back to grass. If we get a good crop of oats that will be a bonus.

Necessity is the mother of invention. After a very wet cold spring, this field finally dried out enough to work the soil. I used a new idea, opting for the tractor over the horses for this job. I lightly rototilled the corn stubble. I worked it just enough to chop the stubble and smooth ruts in just one pass.

This new to me technique, allows for minimal fuel use and sped the process up to beat the rain. After it was tilled, I used the cone seeder and spun on the oats and grass mixture with a little pelleted lime mixed in to keep the flow even. Once the field was covered, I rolled it all flat with a field roller. The roller smoothed things out even better, but also ensured for good “seed to soil” contact.

I had been fretting some over getting this field planted timely and between rains. It is a poorly drained paddock and is much better suited to grass than any other crop. We need the pastures to rotate our livestock through. This one will most likely remain in permanent pasture. We will mow, renovate and fertilize as needed, but for other row crops it will only be used as a last resort.

The other “seeding” we have been doing, is the job of our stallion Hank, breeding our mares. This causes a little disruption around here, as we keep the honeymooning couple mostly by themselves for a couple days. All is back to normal now, so real farm work can continue.

Hank, being wary as the girls give him signs

The plan is to plow our corn ground and get it planted in the next week. We will push hard to get it done. This will allow for training of our young horses on several pieces of equipment. Even our newest baby will get exposure as she walks alongside of her working mother.

We have planted a few garden vegetables, but are going slow. Frost is still a factor in our zone 5 climate. Lake Erie sometimes messes with Mother Nature, so we will be cautious. Spring is a wonderful time of year on the farm and I love it!



Attitude
May 12, 2022, 9:46 am
Filed under: May 2022 | Tags: , ,

May 12, 2022

Miss Maggee, giving me her over the shoulder “model” look. This little girl has ATTITUDE. She is very independent. Her mom was out in the pasture, while Maggee came to see what else might be going on. She makes me chuckle.

She is six weeks old. She halters, ties and loads in a trailer very well. She is learning to lead, but as expected, she wants to control the whole training session. I am persistent. I am kind and I am calm. She yields after a little resistance. She is going to be a gem, a very valuable asset to our breeding program.

The mud is drying fast. We were able to spread manure yesterday. The job of applying compost will take awhile. We are trying to get the fields we need to plow, done first. We made good progress yesterday and will continue for a while today…we just have to push hard and keep a good attitude!



Mama’s Day
May 9, 2022, 10:24 am
Filed under: May 2022 | Tags: , , ,

May 9, 2022

Yesterday, on Mother’s Day, we spent the day touching base with family and enjoying a little horse time. My wife Connie spent a little bonding time with our 5 week old filly Maggee.

We put most of the horse herd together. Our two year old and our yearling fillies are in in a different pasture. The rest of the herd, including little Maggee, is all together with the stallion Hank. He inspected all the ladies, chased a couple around for a minute or two, but then all was quiet.

The pastures are rich and the grass is fresh. The horses are enjoying it. The sunshine is wonderful after a dreary rainy month. The pastures are a bit wet, but we needed to get the horses out. Hay is running low. Plus Amee and Maggee need the added nutrition the growing grass provides. The sunshine too is good for all.

It was a wonderful day. Many successes, including the herd dynamics all working out. By this time next year, we hope for 4 new mamas here at Riceland Meadows, as we work to preserve this critically endangered breed.



Some Fun Days

May 1, 2022

We enjoyed a couple of sunny days…in a row! We set up and sawed out some lumber for a couple of projects that we hope to complete soon. This young man in the photo helps me out from time to time. He owns this small sawmill. It did a nice job as we made logs into lumber. The logs were from a few white pine trees we recently harvested here on the farm.

The day we sawed was sunny and bright. The north wind had a bite to it, but it dried up some mud for us. We spent the day sawing and dreaming of field days to come. It is time to be plowing and working in the fields, but we are staying busy in spite of the wet weather.

We spent yesterday at the 2nd annual Baldwin Percheron Plow Day, just outside of Ashtabula, Ohio. Amee stayed home with her new foal. Abby was teamed up with our son Jake’s horse Belle. The horses and I pulled a people mover giving rides much of the day.

The event was well attended with teamsters and 20 horses of all sizes, but mostly draft horses. Percherons, Belgians, Shires, Suffolks and a team of mini paints were all represented. The weather was perfect. The grounds were dry and plowed nicely. The field has a gravel base, lays nice and is of very mellow ground.

My girls were looking at the other horses. There are just a couple other teams in the picture, but much action was happening behind us. This was Belle’s second time out in the public, but she took it all in stride. Abby kept her calm and her mind on her work. It was a fun day for us as we hauled folks of all ages, especially the children. Kids love horses and those kids are our future. We were glad to be there and make a few memories for them.

Today, the sun and clouds are having an argument. The sun peeps out for small parts of the day, but then the clouds gather and dump rain on us. The grass is growing and everything is green. This makes for a pleasing view as we wait for the fields to dry out so spring work can commence.



Generations
April 28, 2022, 7:34 pm
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , ,

April, 28, 2022

This is a picture of our mare Abby (on the left) with her first born filly Bree on the right. Bree turned 2 years old last week. Bree will start her training in the next few days. The lessons are easy and short, but by next spring, Bree will be a valuable addition to our working horses. She will go to work, while several of the older mares will be on maternity leave.

It is hard to believe that just two years ago we had our first Suffolk Punch baby born on the farm. Our herd has grown since then too. The babies will all be trained to work. It is important that they can do any job on the farm from hauling manure to mowing hay. I can’t even imagine a maple syrup season without the horses pulling the sap sled.

I guess that is how it goes. My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father all farmed. I am farming and my sons all dabble in a part of agriculture. Some are syrup producers, one makes wood products, one raises goats, one got the “horse bug” , all have gardened and they all enjoy small parts of farming. All of our daughters raise chickens and flowers. I have at least passed on my passion for it. I see my grandchildren dabbling in the dirt too and it pleases me.

I love this life and all the rewards that come with it. I feel the love of generations when I go about my daily chores. To see the little ones helping makes my heart happy. So, as Bree starts to work alongside her momma, I will just smile, because that is what we do!



The Mud Continues
April 25, 2022, 10:16 am
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , , , , ,

April 25, 2022

It was such a nice day yesterday, that I simply had to let the horses out for a run, romp and roll. They did all of the above! They managed to find a very muddy spot to roll. They enjoyed the sun and the fresh green grass. Hank {our stallion) had to watch from the feedlot. He would very much like to be with his ladies, but we will wait a few more weeks. The plan is to have foals born in April or May….not March.

He is a good boy. He is very attentive and doesn’t miss much. He watched the girls playing for the entire afternoon. He too enjoyed some time out on the small jump lot where the grass is growing. He too found a muddy spot to roll, but he kicked up his heels and enjoyed the day. The pastures are drying up fairly well. Amee and Maggee are in the big pasture out front. It too is a bit soft, but the two of them shouldn’t hurt it too bad. Mom needs the fresh grass and the baby needs room to run!

Our yearling Grace got her first bath too. Her baby fuzz is slow to shed, but is finally giving up. Soon her coat will be the shiny chestnut that the Suffolk Punch are known for. She took it very well after the first squirt. I think it was the hissing noise more than the water itself that gave her pause. She eventually just stood quiet as I washed her with the warm water.

Farm work is idle for right now, but the coming week looks good. We shall see what the future holds. In the meantime, we will continue with training and brushing…lots of brushing. The shedding is in full swing as all the horses start putting on their summer coats. This grooming time allows for lots of personal contact and bonding for us all. Spring has sprung!



What a Difference a Week Makes
April 10, 2022, 5:22 pm
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

April 10, 2022

Magee ( I pronounce it Maggie) is a week old already. She is growing so fast it’s hard to believe. This was her first trip outside the barnyard. It was also her first day wearing a halter. She liked the freedom, yet stayed close to momma. The halter didn’t bother her in the least. She only wears it for special occasions and only under my supervision.

She is alert, smart, strong and growing well. Momma has lots of milk and Magee nurses often. Once the pastures dry up a bit more, Magee and mom Amee, will be moved outside to enjoy running, romping and grazing. In the meantime, I will keep my hands on her introducing her to all sorts of things. This makes for a great workhorse in the future.

Farm work is a bit stalled due to the April showers and soggy conditions. No worries, the work will all sort itself out. In the meantime we will enjoy farm babies, sunsets and rainbows!



Our 2022 Foal is Here!

April 4, 2022

We welcome our farm’s newest addition, Riceland Meadows Miss Magee. I pronounce it like (Maggie) She was born on April 1 at 11:15 pm. Momma and baby are doing great. She came after a few short nights for me as she and her mom teased me with her arrival time. The sleepless nights were worth it!

In this photo, Magee is about 2 hours old. She is a strong little gal. We like her very much. It pleases us that we are helping to preserve this endangered breed of draft horse. Miss Magee will hopefully help us continue to farm with, breed and raise Suffolk Punch horses. What a blessing to have another little girl.

Magee’s mom and our Abby, helping in the maple woods last month. Mom is now on maternity leave. Her job is to take care of Magee. Magee’s mom is named Amee and she is a honey too!



Foal Watch
March 31, 2022, 9:33 pm
Filed under: March 2022 | Tags: ,

March 31, 2022

Our Amee mare is about to have a baby. We are very excited. The youngster should be in a matter of hours now. I am sleepy tired as I check her progress often through the day and through the night. The small droplets of “wax” forming at the end of her teats is telling me that things are progressing steadily. My excitement grows along with my anxiety. Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead.

We have been busy. The sugarhouse and all the maple equipment has been cleaned as far as we can go until warm weather allows us to pressure wash the main pans and give them a good scrubbing. It takes a while to put things all in order and be ready for next year. Filling the woodshed is now a priority too.

Grace and Bree will turn one and two respectively in April. Miss Bree will begin her light training to harness in the coming days. Most all work has stopped as we all watch and wait for the new foal to arrive.

As we head into the month of April, there will be lots of exciting news to share. We hope that you will visit often, like and share