RicelandMeadows


A New Day Dawns
January 10, 2021, 3:21 pm
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January 10, 2021

What a beautiful sunrise. If you look close you can see the steam rising above the compost pile. Perhaps a fitting tribute to recent events? Well, wherever you stand, keep your eyes on the sunrise and not the compost!

It has been an unseasonable January so far. The temperatures are warmer than usual for this time of year. The whole farm is muddy, but today, the entire landscape was frozen solid. What a relief to walk on firm ground, no matter where I stepped. It was wonderful.

I turned the horses out to run, roll and romp. They did just that. Then, once the sun came out and warmed us all, the frost left the ground. In celebration, the horses promptly rolled in the softening soil. In other words, they rolled in the mud! Their coats will be thick with the mud, but it must feel good to them. Oh well, it’s not the first time that I have worn a mask, to brush them clean.

It takes a little effort to keep them clean and make them shine, but to me it is worth it. I get to talk with them. I get to feel their whole body, watching out for any new bumps, cuts or potential problems. I also get to let my mind wander, far from anything that bothers me. I get to enjoy a peace not found in many places.

Maybe for me, clean stalls and clean coats make for a clean heart? All I know is that I am at peace with myself, in tune with my animals and in the right spot in the universe. I am a man truly Blessed.



New Year, Old Challenges
January 5, 2021, 12:32 pm
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January 5, 2021

We welcomed in a New Year a few days ago. I honestly don’t expect things to magically change, but I have no fear. God is in control, I just need to remember this in all things.

We had just enough freezing temperatures at night to freeze the chicken poop in the coop. The recent thaw in the last few days made it possible to finally clean things out. It is amazing how much manure 20 hens can generate. The compost pile loves the manure, I like a clean coop, so I guess its a win win.

We are working steady with the young horses, as their training continues. The fields are wet, muddy and simply a mess. This makes for a few jobs to be put on hold, but no worries there is always stuff to do.

A recent wind storm laid a few trees across our fences. I am still working to clean up and repair the mess it made. I am salvaging the logs and firewood, as well as, fixing the fences as we go.

Daily chores, a little butchering and repair work keep me busy. I also manage a little time at my forge, just for fun. Soon, maple syrup time will be upon us, but for now I will enjoy the daily grind and the normalcy that comes with it.



Let it Snow, Let it Snow!
December 26, 2020, 1:05 pm
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December 26, 2020

Wow! We just got buried in another winter blast of snow. The temperature dropped big time too! I will take credit for the madness. My friend Marvin and I reworked my old sled. I made the remark that now all we need is some snow! Holy Cow did we ever get some! Last night at chore time it was twenty inches deep on the flat!

I had cleared the drive on Christmas morning. I had to be very careful because the water, mud and gravel under the snow was not frozen. In fact, it was mush! I cleared just the main parts and will try to do a better more complete job later today.

The sled is a “Pioneer” style, with a steel frame, including the runners. I added the chains in front for times when the sled needs help staying in place. The ones in the picture need to be just a bit longer to allow for a more sweeping turn. We also added high density plastic to the runners to increase the sliding efficiency of the sled. I will use this for general purpose stuff like hauling wood, bales and children.

So, I guess its okay to say “Let it snow!… but maybe no need to say it twice :o)



The Seeds in an Apple
Bree of Riceland 12-12-2020

December 15, 2020

The old saying goes; Anyone can count the seeds in an Apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. That is a profound statement. I believe it to be true. Apply it to daily life. As I look at my young horses, I wonder how they will turn out. I do my best to train and nurture, but things can happen. I hope for the best as I work hard to instill trust and confidence into the young ones. I maintain that level of trust in my broke teams. Patience is not always easy, but it is always necessary.

In the above photo taken of Bree of Riceland being led by our son, I can’t help but be amazed at her growth. Nine months ago, she was a little girl learning to wear a halter and stand tied just a few days after her birth.

She learned to tie and lead very quickly. She has been a challenge at times because of her intelligence. She is a very smart horse who learns quickly. She also tries to outsmart me once in a while. As long as I correct bad behavior quickly, she yields. If I let her do something even twice, then she thinks that she is in charge and never has to do it my way again! She will be a great addition to our working horses because she likes routine. Do it the same every time and she is happy…change things up…not so much!

In this photo, my current main team, Amee and Abby taken when they were young fillies. Their owner at the time Joe Cervanka stands proudly with his “Lakeview” babies. I am sure that he wondered how these girls would turn out and where they would end up. Well Joe, they turned out great and ended up as foundation mares for our breeding program at Riceland Meadows. They are more than that though; they are my partners in powering the farm!

They are a joy to work. They make my farm days fun. I look forward to a bright future working these fine animals. It is my hope to help advance and promote these rare Suffolk horses. The farmers, who for over 400 years, have bred and preserved their fine qualities could obviously see “the apples in the seed”. I am grateful to those visionaries. I hope to continue in their strict adherence to old style qualities, to breed, train and love these great beasts of burden. They deserve every effort that I can manage to give them.



First Steps
Sorry about the manure in the foreground

December 10, 2020

All of us remember our first steps, perhaps not when learning to walk, but for sure starting a new venture like a job or relationship. Hank is taking his first steps in learning how to be driven. He is doing very well. His biggest problem on lesson one, was being very relaxed. This made it a wonderful problem for both of us. He much preferred to just stand and look around, rather than walk on. My son led him a bit. Hank was very content to just follow him. Once my son would let Hank take the lead, Hank would just stop and wait for him to catch up.

I encouraged him from behind with words of encouragement and clucks from my mouth, but Hank simply rested on three legs waiting on my son to give him direction. It took awhile, but he finally caught on, that I was guiding him from the rear. I have driven him every single day since. We keep the lessons short. He is responding well and allows me to be in control from the back. He is gaining confidence and learning to walk on, turn and stand when told whoa. He is very patient with me.

Our only issue came when Hank saw his reflection in the barn door window. He made a sideways jump, then turned his head to look. I let him stand a minute to process what he saw. We then walked away. On the next round, he looked at the window again, slowed but didn’t stop. Now, when we go by the window he pays it no mind. I walked him near my truck to again catch his reflection in the mirror or windows. He does see it, but is not frightened by it. Progress is a wonderful thing

Soon, he will be hitched as part of a team. First he needs to hear and understand basic commands. He needs to hear strange noises and feel things drag behind him. I will introduce him to all of these things, slowly and safely. I want to continue to be able to keep him learning in his relaxed, calm manner. He is a big boy who won’t be two years-old until next spring. This early training is to keep his mind on something other than the ladies. Hank is and will remain, a stallion. It is very important that he respects me, trusts me and becomes a working member of our farm. I will say that he is off to a great start…even though we are just taking our first steps.



Beautiful End to a Training Day
December 5, 2020, 2:26 pm
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December 5, 2020

I took this picture last night at sunset. It was a beautiful exclamation point. Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She celebrates with the angels now. It was her 80th. I though about her many times yesterday. This sunset just seemed to signify that all is well.

I visited her gravesite, hot coffee in hand. I shared with her stories, tales of life events and happenings here on the farm. It makes me feel better. Mom passed too soon. I hope to keep her memory alive, as long as, I can share her stories, she can live through me.

First time out

Later in the day, our son Jake came by driving his yearling for the first time. She did great. He was all smiles too. I watched them walk up and down the driveway, as I cleaned the pig pens and horse stable. When he put the yearling “Anna” away, he was soon dashing through the snow with his horse “Belle”. That scene was made sweeter because he was pulling his kids behind him in a sled. They swooped around the farm lane and made a pass near mom’s resting place. The laughter was easy to hear as it echoed off the snow. It truly was a beautiful day…from beginning to end.



Seasons First Snow
December 3, 2020, 3:46 pm
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December 3, 2020

The first snow storm of 2020 dumped about 18 inches of snow on us. I snapped this picture during a short lull as I scraped some of it away. Here we go!

The wet weather followed by the big snow storm, allowed me time to work in the shop. I have been reworking an old pony wagon. I am switching it over for one horse to pull. I will use it to train my stallion. I can hook a tire behind it to add more weight when needed too. I think it will be a handy size for all sorts of jobs.

I had to make tire repairs and I switched the seat to this old school bus seat. I next forged the decorative buckboard rail to add some function. I hope it keeps stuff from rolling off. I forged the rails and made the brackets. Our grandson, visiting from Montana, welded the rails and brackets together. Then we installed them on the wagon.

Now…to just get the colt trained to pull it! He is doing well, so he should be pulling it soon.



Enjoying a Little Rest
November 12, 2020, 11:10 am
Filed under: November 2020 | Tags: , , ,
Break time!

November 12, 2020

Whew! We had an amazing stretch of warm sunny weather in the mid and upper 70″s. This is very unusual for us here in northeast Ohio at this time of year! We worked on several projects as we prepare for winter. Hard stuff like; putting away patio furniture, rolling up hoses, mowing the lawn for the last time and putting garden tools away. Ok it wasn’t hard, but the hot weather made us sweat like it was still summer!

The horses weren’t impressed with the hot weather either. They are putting on their winter coats. I kept the jobs light for them. It will cool down soon and our outside will continue and be more comfortable to boot.

Rain felt a little good

The girls and I spent time working with the wagon. Daily work keeps us all fit and in tune. We hope to do a little plowing next week. We will try out our walking plow. The first time since having my knees replaced two years ago. Stay tuned for details.

It has been an amazing autumn. The recent rains, before the dry stretch, caused much concern, as farmer scrambling to harvest crops came to a stop. The welcomed wonderful weather, got everyone back into their fields. You could almost hear the big sigh of relief, as the combines roared to life again.

It is a wonderful feeling to have our harvest complete and be working on the little things. It is even better to be able to slow down, take breaks and enjoy the season. Thanksgiving will soon be here and what a great year to be thankful!



Autumn Bounty
November 3, 2020, 1:12 pm
Filed under: November 2020 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Yum

November 3, 2020

Autumn brings much bounty. The last of the harvest is gathered. I accidently tripped the breaker on our freezer, causing some chicken parts to thaw. We spent a day cooking chicken and making broth. The shredded chicken will be nice too, but I am sure that it wasn’t on my wife’s agenda for that day. Oops!

Our apple order came in last week. We are busy getting them put up. The eating part is wonderful, but I look forward to pies and applesauce. It makes for a few long days in the kitchen, but it is well worth it! I pitch in quite a bit. My wife even praises me, telling me she wonders how she ever got along without me…telling her how to do everything!

A few jars of pie filling hot off the stove

The deer are starting to move, as their breeding time is here. Hunting season is in full swing for archery. Hunters are bagging a few. We haven’t been out much, but we hope to get some venison for the freezer this fall.

We had a skiff of snow on the ground yesterday. My great grandpa called it “squaw winter” and now we should get some very nice “Indian summer” days. The days for putting the lawn and porch furniture away, rolling up hoses and tipping unused water troughs over. All in preparation for the coming winter.

We have had a very rainy period. We got 7.25 inches of rain in 15 days. We are wet now for sure. I am glad to have our fall harvest all in. The blessings abound and for that we are thankful.



Gleaning The Corn Fodder
October 28, 2020, 11:05 am
Filed under: October 2020 | Tags: , , , , ,
Yum

October 28, 2020

We finished husking/picking our corn last week. We got done just in time to beat a whole lot of rain. We have gotten six inches of rain the last ten days. The dry ground sucked up quite a bit of the moisture, but now the ground is saturated. I am glad that I don’t have to navigate the the mud!

We turned five growing pigs into the corn field. They are gleaning any missed ears and those knocked to the ground by raccoons and deer. They are happily munching and rooting. They have a shed, where dry bedding is supplied, to lay in to sleep. They are also fed additional grain as needed, but so far are mostly just eating from the corn field and surrounding pasture and fence line weeds.

laying flock

Our hens are still enjoying their lot even though it too shows the effects of the recent rains. They have been eating the last of our cull garden produce as treats to supplement their diets. They reward us with nice brown eggs for our efforts.

pig carcasses cooling

Autumn and cool weather allows us to start butchering our hogs. The family’s meat for winter, grown here, processed here. We have been blessed with an amazing autumn. The crops did well all summer, in spite of the mid summer drought. Now, the wet, cool, days of late autumn, are proving beneficial too.

Winter is just around the corner. A few outside jobs remain, but for the first autumn in a long time, I am caught up. I owe this success to a great wife, wonderful family, good weather and good work horses to help me get the crops out and the harvest gathered. To everyone involved, I say Thank You!