RicelandMeadows


Haying Season 2021 is Finished

September 14, 2021

Last Saturday, 9/11/21, we finished up our haying season. That morning as the dew dried off the hay crop, I watched the tributes on TV of the brave souls who lost their lives 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks on our civilians. My heart was heavy as I watched and waited. I will not forget.

In the week prior to my last round of hay making, we were visited by our daughter and her husband from Maryland. You have to make hay while the sun shines, so even with visitors present, the hay making rolled on. I simply included our guests in the project. They got to drive the horses, even raking some of the crop as they learned about the process first hand. The horses worked well for the novice drivers and my visiting teamsters gained experience and understanding. The smiles were big and the workload was made smaller.

The hay tools have been gathered and will be cleaned and stored in the coming days. It is a bittersweet time as one season ends and another begins. Summer is a fleeting thing and autumn looms near. A few jobs that were delayed by wet, then very hot weather, still wait to be completed, but I’ll get them done soon.

We found out this week that we have been featured on the draft horse desktop calendar for 2022. There are so many teams and teamsters to choose from, gathered from events all over the country and only 12 months to display them. We are humbled to represent the Suffolk horse breed and thank Mischka Press for the privilege.

The little filly in the picture has now been weaned. She is learning all sorts of new things. She has bonded well with her stablemate. Those two young ladies have become great friends. Momma has returned to full work and all is well. The job of preparing the soil for our fall planting of speltz is at hand. Once that job has been completed, corn picking will commence. In any of the days not filled up, we will work on the last of the firewood needed for the upcoming maple syrup season. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all down, but it is simply a great life!



The Scramble Towards Fall

September 6, 2021

As we make the dash towards fall and the coming harvest, we still take some time for fun. Hank and Sam (the dog) play a game at turnout every night. Sam is not allowed to chase the horses. Hank knows that Sam is not allowed, so he plays tough guy showing off for his lady friends. Sam bolts to the gate, Hank kicks out in protest, a scene played out like teenaged boys full of vinegar!

Once the fake boxing match is over, peace comes to the pasture. Hank and his girls graze contentedly, the work of the day forgotten.

We are also using this recent warm, dry weather to make the last of our second cutting hay. So far so good!

I like this view! It is also nice to have less pressure from biting flies as we work.

The hay is a bit light due to our late harvest of the first cutting, but I am grateful for every mouthful.

The push towards fall is on. The training of our young stock continues. There are no dull moments around here and I wouldn’t have it any other way!



Home
August 23, 2021, 2:21 pm
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

August 23, 2021

This rainbow was a fleeting double one. No worries, its beautiful even as a single. God’s promise witnessed by us. Some say a pot of gold lies at its end. All I know is that when this display frames our barn, buildings or our home, I feel filled with blessings. “Home”, what a wonderful word and what an awesome place to have. I appreciate mine and the people who make it so.

We are working on the garden’s harvest. Just one more thing in which to be thankful. I also am grateful for my wife who makes this all come together. Next week we will celebrate 29 years together as man and wife. She shares my dreams, my life and makes our house a home. Just like the rainbow that comes after the storm…it is a beautiful thing!

Some folks doodle on a pad, some stare off into space, but I like to “doodle” with my forge. I turned a four foot rod into this hummingbird feeder. Its whimsical I know, way out of my comfort zone for sure. The humming birds love it. It is so neat to see them rest on the little perches that I twisted into the design.

The holder is set up for two feeders. Our visiting hummers are plenty. This set up helps us keep up with demand. It was a fun project, best thing is my wife likes it too! Soon, the hummingbirds will head south for the winter, but they are fun to watch in the meantime.

Rainy, hot, muggy weather rules these last few weeks. Second cutting grass waits to be cut, but the fields are saturated with water standing in places. I will do my best to be patient and wait for a little better weather for making dry hay. One last summer job before the autumn season work overtakes us. Soon plowing for spelt seedbed, cleaning and storing the hay equipment and spreading compost will lead the jobs. I guess for now, I will help with the garden, watch the birds and enjoy just being home!



Moving On
August 18, 2021, 11:25 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , ,

August 18, 2021

Summer is flying by, much like Hank in the photo above.

The hot, muggy, wet weather continues to challenge us. The calendar, however keeps right on rolling. It is true, “Time waits for no man.” Our county fair has come and gone for another year. The start of school is right around the corner and very soon the leaves will be changing color.

Hank is filling out fast. He is a few months over two years old. He is starting to take on a true stallion appearance. He is a good natured colt who pleases me very much.

Our first cutting hay and the spelt straw for 2021 has been made and stored. The straw sits along the fence row for use when needed. We hope to get some second cutting dry hay made once the weather pattern shifts a bit. The fields of second cutting hay will give peace of mind as it gets baled and put away. Its nice to have a little more than we will need. The pastures have been staying green thanks to the rains, but most all of our fields are saturated.

Its funny to me how our weather is extreme one way or the other. Lake Erie really does play a part in our growing season, not to mention our harvest seasons. It is also amazing how just a few miles in either direction can make such a difference. Its best just to smile and wait, because the current weather will change. Fretting about it doesn’t help the crops or the farmer.

As I look back, I can see it has been a fairly productive year. It is best to focus on the positives, because many things we simply can’t change, no matter how much we want. So, keep looking forward, we can impact change there. Good planning and preparation will help us capitalize on better days to come.



Here’s Looking At You Kid

August 12, 2021

Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace a little shy of 4 months old. She is growing fast!

These hot, sticky, muggy days of August have been producing almost daily showers making it tough to get things done. I spend a little time each day with our little filly. She is a good girl, but still has a bit of sass in her. She learns quickly. We are enjoying her. She will soon be turned out with Bree, last year’s filly. Grace and her have been spending time in adjoining stalls. Soon, Grace will get weaned from her mom. It is my hope that Bree and Grace become friends. They can romp and play, making the weaning process less stressful on all involved.

These young ladies and their mothers, will become part of our breeding program in the coming years. They will also power the farm, spending time in harness hitched to all sorts of equipment. My view of them is often the same. I took this next photo of Grace to be a sort of “baby picture” for reference later on.

Yep, this is usually my view! You can see the power that resides in her backside already. She is a good growing, thick, chunky horse. I look forward to seeing her become part of the “team”.

From the looks of these photos, I better clean my cobwebs down. I try to keep up with that job. I have discovered that an old straw broom works well for this purpose. Recently, I found out that a leaf blower works even better! You can blow those suckers down in a very few minutes. I suggest wearing a mask, safety glasses and an old shirt on the day you do it, but the leaf blower makes short work of that job. It is also a good job for a rainy day!



Homemade Horse Drawn Fertilizer Spreader
August 10, 2021, 9:05 pm
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , ,

August 11, 2021

Several years ago, we built this horse drawn fertilizer spreader. My uncle Fred was the main fabricator. The drive wheels are from an old Jeep axle. Channel iron and a sprocket were added to make the whole thing work. It is direct drive, but it works great. The original cone spreader that we used when we first built it, finally rusted out. I wash, oil and store it in a dry place, but this tool works in a hostile environment. Lime, fertilizer and soil amendments love to eat metal.

It is easy to tell which parts we used over when we replaced the spreader. I hope to get it painted before storing later this fall. The plastic hopper and stainless steel parts will hopefully add to its life. I use this piece of equipment to feed the soil, but also to plant our grass and hay crops. I simply mix the seed with pelletized lime and broadcast into a waiting seedbed. I have broadcast oats in this manner too for early or late season grazing. It is a handy, simple machine.

There are two seats on the forecart that we have hitched to this. Those are for training young horses. Its nice to have someone riding there in the event you need help. It also works well when raking or tedding hay. I can have a rider to keep me company at times.

Equipment such as this makes sense for a small farmer. The pto shaft turns at 540 rpm when the horses are walking at about 3.5 mph. It works well and has been tested again and again. We replaced the rusted out unit with one we purchased from Easy Trail Equipment in Mount Hope Ohio. I looked at a few other models, but settled on this one because of its rust and rot resistant materials of construction. I look forward to putting it into service soon.

In the background of the photos, a new windmill can be seen. It is enriching the back pond with oxygen. It hasn’t been in use long, but already we are seeing positive results.



Straw Boss
August 4, 2021, 9:01 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

August 4, 2021

I have been working steady trying to get our hay crop finished up during this wet summer of 2021. I am happy to report that our first cutting is finally done….30 days later than normal, but done none the less.

Now the horses and I are staying steady at getting the spelt straw ready to bale. The crop is almost dry enough to complete the job. The field however, is very soft, with standing water still found in places. I am fluffing and flipping the drying straw, hoping the field will dry out enough to hold the tractor and baler without making ruts.

The spelt grain came off very well. I combined over a week ago. The yield was very good, especially considering the wet year. The hay crop planted with the spelt had exploded with new growth. Some areas of the field, the timothy hay heads were taller than the spelt. The combine, thankfully, separated the grain from the weeds and timothy heads very well. Our bin will be nice and full, supplying horse feed for all of the coming year.

The golden windrows of straw are even pretty to look at. The weather is perfect right now, even the flies are tolerable for the horses.

You can see the yellow streak that was once under the straw windrow. I want this job complete soon. The windrows of wet straw can kill the growing hay underneath. I think this will all be fine. My main concern is to get the bales made and off the field without making a bunch of tracks and rutting up the field. It will all turn out OK … it always has. I may have to roll a few ruts or perhaps even disc and reseed a portion or two. Such is the life of a farmer and the reason why it is much better to work with nature, rather than being a “know it all” Straw Boss, demanding my own will. Mother Nature will humble the strongest man. Patience and persistence will get the crop in for sure.

I need to be more like Sam our Border Collie. He takes everything in stride. He relaxes when he isn’t working, yet he is always ready to pounce on a job. My pouncing days are few, but I am getting better at relaxing :o)



Blowing in the Wind
July 31, 2021, 11:26 pm
Filed under: July 2021 | Tags: , , ,

July 31, 2021

The answer my friend…. You know the old song.

What a month it has been! Horse Progress Days were held over the 3rd and 4th of July. It came right on the heels of our North American Suffolk Horse Association Gathering. I rested big time on the 4th. I entered into the next week hopeful that I could get caught up on farm chores and especially making our first cutting hay. It didn’t happen as the rains moved in, making for a very wet month.

I worked on all sorts of things including forging several large basket hangers to be used at the fairgrounds for floral displays. The horse all got their feet trimmed and shoes reset. Training went on for our young horses and Grace, this years Suffolk filly, too had a few lessons. The gardens were worked when the weather allowed us. The weeds are winning at the moment, but we are harvesting in spite of them.

The back pond was suffering from the lack of oxygen. It had become foul smelling and dark. Scum and vegetation floated on the surface. We have a large grass waterway at the entrance to the pond. The recent rains made it overflow often, but the ugliness continued. American Eagle Windmills installed an air bubbling windmill to cure our problem. It has only been a few days, but already we are seeing an improvement.

I really like to look of it in our landscape. Powered by the wind, it will work all by itself. It is very quiet and the animals have no fear of it.

I have worked very hard this last week of the month trying to get that hay made. After another 8 tenths of an inch of rain this week, I finished the hay job tonight at sundown. The hay got washed, but still looks pretty good for as late in the years as it is. We wrapped some silage bales and put a few squares in the haymow too. The whole farm needs its edges mowed and such, but the hay job being complete is a big relief.

Looks like firewood for the sugarhouse will be part of next weeks work, after I get the straw all baled from our speltz harvest. That job went very well. The grain is currently in wagons, but will be loaded into our bins as soon as I secure an elevator to use. Summer is fading fast and it sure is going quick!

Time is a fleeting thing. In fact you could say that it is blowing in the wind. Rest when you can, make memories as often as possible and love with all your heart.

Baby Grace, checking out the firewood plie on July fourth. She is a sweetie



Gathering for Summer Fun
July 7, 2021, 10:30 am
Filed under: July 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

July 7, 2021

We have had a busy start to this month of July! We all hosted and attended the North American Suffolk Horse Association summer Gathering, at the Ashtabula County fairgrounds. We had good attendance from our members and the public as well. It was a very hot sticky two days. The weather delayed a few things we did and cancelled others, but we had a good time in spite of it all.

From this Facebook post, you can see Connie and I driving the horses with our two month old filly in tow. Even the baby had a good time meeting strangers who grew to be her friends.

We had friendly competitions in the obstacle course and precision pull. Both events required confidence and trust between teams and teamsters. We all enjoyed stepping out of our comfort zones and just having fun. We had a morning of driving our teams and wagons. We even went to the local nursing home and paid the residents a visit. This visit put smiles on all of our faces.

We had people from 11 states attend the event. The local public too supported us. There were informative seminars held describing hoof care and shoeing , as well as, a demonstration of equine massage. We met many new people and put faces with names we already knew. The young Suffolk owners were well represented, as they worked their teams and laughed along with all of us.

Right on the heels of our summer gathering, came Horse Progress Days, held in Mount Hope , Ohio . We spent two days there too. There were countless vendors and teams of horses who showcased much horse drawn equipment. The horse Progress Days crowd numbered into the thousands, with over 20,000 attending on the Friday of the show.

The events were tiring but very fun. It felt real good to just decompress and relax this week. The weather and preparing for these gatherings has made it difficult, even impossible to get any hay made. No worries, it will all work out.

Our pastures are holding up very well. Our young stallion Hank continues to grow and fill out. He is learning well and has become a good babysitter for our young filly. He is relaxed and easy going, good qualities in any breed.

The rest of the month will keep us busy, as we make hay and will soon harvest our speltz. The job of firewood cutting and splitting is always there, but busy hands are a good thing. It is nice to be getting back into our routine after a hectic start to the month. Enjoy your summer and take some time to gather with friends and family!



Suffolk Punch Horse Gathering

July 1, 2021

The North American Suffolk Horse Association held it’s 2021 gathering at our local fairgrounds. Many folks from states near and far came to see, help and celebrate these wonderful horses. We had unseasonably hot and muggy weather that affected man and beast. The weather cut some of our events short and a few were taken off the schedule. We did however, accomplish quite a few things. We had some seminars in the cool and shade of the big barn. We had friendly competitions in the arena and endless conversations echoed in the aisleways.

My family and I were well represented by our horses. We took them all to make chore time much easier and to introduce our young stock to many strange sounds, sights and smells. We learned a lot! We gleaned ideas and suggestions for next time to boot. My thanks go out to the many folks who came with their horses, the spectators, the vendors and all the behind the scenes people who made this all work out. Our Canadian friends could not make it due to Covid concerns and the border closure, but we look forward to seeing them soon.

In the photo above, photographed by J Nidy and taken from Facebook, you can see the girls and I competing in an obstacle course. There were plenty of tight turns and unusual things for the horses. Mine did not want to step on the tarp, but they handled the spinning pool noodles like pros. Even our 8 week old baby took it all in stride. It was a fun event and I believe we all had fun.

As I was finishing chores last night and reflecting on the hectic three day event, I took a picture that sums it up for me perfectly. I will share that photo at the end of this blog.

We had lots of press coverage for our event. The local papers both covered us. Rural Heritage magazine came and interviewed and shot video and such for their magazine and for upcoming RFD-TV programs. We had a California company called Backyard Green Films attend. They do Podcasts and have a Youtube channel. I was featured in a podcast last night.

We had a get together that lasted several days and were without injuries beyond a scraped hand and a few bee stings. I thank God for the safe travels, our friendships and a safe and comfortable event.

On our last morning, three teams of horses and wagons, visited the local nursing home. The residents lined the big front porch as we drove into the parking lot for a drive by meet and greet. Smiles and laughter came from the crowd. We shared waves and hellos. I had a moment of blurry eyes as I wheeled the horses around to make my second pass by the smiling crowd. Our young filly trotted along by her mother’s side, prancing for the people. My heart filled with pride and thankfulness for being able to bring a bit of joy to a few well loved folks, entrusted to the care of others.

So, last night as I decompressed while doing chores here at home, with all the animals back in their familiar surroundings. I gave thanks for a good time, good people and a bright new beginning for us in our journey with the Suffolk Punch horse. I looked up the lane towards my home, made comfortable, clean and filled with love by my wife and I saw this…

I’d say that says it all