RicelandMeadows


Summer in Full Swing
June 20, 2021, 3:50 pm
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

June 20, 2021

The other night, as I sat on the patio after a long work filled day, I was treated to this beautiful sunset. I sat a while soaking up the beauty. I thought of my middle sister who loved sunsets of all kinds. She has passed from this world now, but scenes like this often remind me of her. It is not a sad time for me, but rather a time of celebration, just to remember her.

I have been helping a farming friend. He has some very large equipment that chews up ground on a scale that amazes me. The other day, I sat down inside of one of the tractor tires for a short break.

I’m not much of a “selfie” guy, but you get the idea…these tractors are mammoth!

Our barn renovation is complete. Thanks to my dear wife, friends and family it went very well in spite of several delays waiting on materials as we built. It is a striking difference in the barn. The air flow and light found in the new stalls and even out into the old part of the barn, is wonderful. I am sure that we will enjoy it for years to come.

Pasture mowing and hay making is in full swing. The crops are growing quite well. Last night we received almost 2 inches of rain. Things are damp and humid on this Father’s Day, but a day of rest is welcomed.

So, as I enjoy this day off, I will reflect on the barn build, sisters and sunsets and the busy days of summer coming fast.



Holy Horsepower!
June 11, 2021, 8:46 am
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , ,

June 11, 2021

I have been helping a friend do some field work. He farms many acres. The tractor and plows in the photo above have been my office for the last several days. The tractor is 350 horsepower. The plows are seven bottoms. This is much different than plowing with real horses!

This thing is big! He owns two such units. We can plow over ten acres an hour. The articulating beasts roll over the ground just above an idle, turning over the soil very efficiently. It takes a large area just to turn around. The reason he switched back to moldboard plowing is to help control weeds in his organic farming operation. The plow buries weed seeds to allow the growing crop to get ahead of them. The job of cultivation begins after that, avoiding costly sprays and the chemicals that come with them.

I plow for the same reason. I just farm on a much smaller scale. I do use some limited spray on fields where weeds are a problem, but only some years and only when needed. Its fun to drive this giant tractor and see what all that horsepower can do. I will say though, that my heart enjoys the real horsepower better. The methods and caring for crops are the same…only the size of the operation is different.

Our newest baby, Amazing Grace, stands resting in her stall. She is learning all sorts of things, during short daily lessons. She is taking them in stride. She trusts me. She knows that no harm will come to her. She also knows that after her lessons are done, she will spend the rest of the day roaming the cool barn, napping and nursing whenever she likes. This living breathing horsepower fills my soul and keeps me grounded.

I will drive the giant monster and help my friend. I will do the best job that I can do. In the seat of the tractor, as I operate a machine large enough to plow all of my farm fields before lunch, I will long for holding the lines in my fingers and the quiet in my ears.



Signs of Summer

June 1, 2021

Our gardens have been planted. Our grandchildren are walking down the corn row, following the hand seeder. They took this job very serious. They wanted to ensure good soil to seed contact! Now we wait for the plants to emerge.

Our little filly is growing fast too. She is getting used to my antics and the daily grind. She wasn’t fond of halter training or being tied up, but each day she gets better and takes it in stride. Our farm work will soon get very busy as we move into haying season, cultivation and wood splitting. These days with Grace are fun, watching this little Suffolk filly grow.

The old part of the barn got a facelift as part of the new renovation.

The new box stalls are almost completed.

One more partition to go along with latches and the project will be completed. One more job wrapped up before the flush of summer work. Thanks to my wife for all of her help, this install has gone smooth.

The barn renovation will make things much easier on us as we move towards becoming breeders and trainers of the Suffolk Punch Horse. We got the news last Thursday that both of our mares are in foal for 2022. Our Abby mare is carrying our stallion “Hank’s” baby. So it begins :o)



Barn Renovation Work
May 15, 2021, 10:42 am
Filed under: May 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

May 15, 2021

My work on our horse barn continues. The new hay mow doors are on and finally weather tight! The large door is made that way on purpose to allow for putting big round bales in there. A labor saving job, that requires only our skid steer and one other guy.

The renovation work is almost complete. The steel work for window guards and doors should be installed in the coming days.

Each new box stall will have its own window for light and air movement. Native hardwood planks ensure safety and durability for the stalls.

Stall doors with a width of four feet, will accommodate our wide bodied horses as well as a wheelbarrow. I look forward to the ease of use this new renovation will allow.

Spring work is getting started again after some wet, cold rainy weather. It has been good to have this job to work on while we waited. I am ready for the spring field days and our planting season. Farm life stays busy, but the rewards are wonderful.

Our new filly is growing fast. She is fun to watch. Soon, her mom will return to the workforce, but for now they are enjoying the fresh grass and the warm sun.

We really like these two!



The Boy Is Back In Town

May 3, 2021

Orchard Hill Red Blaze, the Suffolk stallion pictured above is the daddy of our newest addition Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. He is a chunky boy with a great disposition and he helped make a beautiful filly. We leased him again for Amee.

Amee was delighted to see him again. It looks as if we should have another “Red” baby on the ground next year.

You can see from the photo, mom Amee, watching over the sleeping Grace while Red snoozes, as they all soak up the warm April sun.

The little family grazes in the pasture. Amazing Grace runs circles around both dad and mom. She gains strength and power daily thanks to mom’s milk. It is delightful to watch the baby girl run and play.

“Red”, is part of our breeding program because his foals are not related to our stallion Hank. As we build a solid breeding program for working Suffolk horses, it is imperative that we focus on DNA in this critically rare breed. We want to expand the gene pool, while breeding for the punchy, solid, powerhouse found in these horses. In other words, I want to breed true, following the like minded breeders of the last four centuries, not changing the breed, only enhancing it.

They are truly beautiful!



She’s Here Too

April 24, 2021

Our new filly was born yesterday! Her name is Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. She is a leggy one, but very strong.

I imprinted her and talked to her. Today, her and mom were mostly just left alone to bond and enjoy the sunshine.

They had an outside picnic while we watched from the fence.

My grandma Rice was named Grace. She was a strong woman with a big heart. It is my hope that this filly exhibits those same traits. Enjoy the photos for now and stay tuned for updates. I’m overloaded with thankfulness for this potential broodmare. She is not related to our stallion prospect Hank. It is one more important step in helping to promote and preserve this rare and endangered breed. I think gramma would be proud to have her share her name.



Barn Renovation 2021
April 21, 2021, 11:24 am
Filed under: April 2021 | Tags: , , ,

April 21, 2021

Our busy spring continues to roll on. The barn renovation project too is going well. The old overhang has gotten a facelift. The overhang will be divided into thirds. Each third will become a large box stall. The stalls will be safe, warm and well lit.

Each stall will have a door that opens into the main part of the existing barn aisleway. The new arrangement will allow for great air flow, very important to horses. It will also give me the advantage to see each horse at a glance. The entire herd will be able to see and interact with each other. Feeding, cleaning, harnessing and any daily chore will be made easier by these new changes.

The box stalls will be a size of about 16 by 10 feet. There is a lot remaining to do, but we are well started on this new project. There are lots of behind the scenes things going on. These little things help to keep the project moving along well. Things like ordering special trim, figuring how to best utilize our native lumber during the high cost of conventional lumber prices and keeping the work area cleaned up ready for the next part of the project. This attention to detail, keeps the project moving along even when the job looks idle.

This project has to take a backseat to daily chores, fence line cleaning, and the ever present firewood job that maple syrup making demands. We are also waiting, somewhat patiently, for our new Suffolk foal who is due any day. Stay tuned for updates.



The Show Goes On

April 14, 2021

Yesterday, we completed filming for a few more videos that will appear on RFD-TV. One will be shown in late June. We had a good time. The weather was perfect and things went very well. It was a fun day.

I drove our mares and explained our newly built “sap rig”. Shout out to Joel Baldwin for all of his help in the build. The mares showed how well it travels, as well as, how easy it pulls. Our cows stood by the fence nodding their approval.

We explained our thoughts on the training methods that we use, gave a few grooming tips and even touched on the current barn renovation . Jake, our son, and I both hitched our young, in training, horses too.

These programs and the writing that I do for Rural Heritage magazine, gives me an outlet to share my experiences and knowledge with others. I do this to help pass along information given to be by others or learned through my own experiences. I want to be resource for those searching for knowledge on how to farm or garden. I like to share ideas with other draft animal folks. I will do my best to share this life that I love so much. Thanks for reading and watching!



Safe at Home

April 12, 2021

After 21 years, our barn needs some upgrading and renovation. This is our hay mow floor. The original one, made form OSB plywood, had a few spongy spots and even a couple holes. I didn’t want anyone to fall through or even step through the declining wood. We laid new boards right over the top of the OSB after fixing the holes. The new lumber is native hardwood Beech with a section of white pine. The floor is safe, stable and will last me for a very long time.

New doors will be one of the next projects. I am also removing a door on one end. I will install a window in its place. Things change as the years go by. We now fill our mow with 4×4 round bales of hay instead of the labor intensive small square bales. Finding help to put up the small squares had become a problem. The round bales I can put in with our skid steer. I just need a guy upstairs to roll them into place. The mow will hold 30 bales. It supplies the hay needed for the worst part of our winter. I simply stand the bales on end and peel off what I need. Its almost like feeding loose hay.

I am also making changes to our east overhang. This has been a run-in shed for cattle and sheep for 21 years. I have decided to house those animals in other areas around the farm. This will allow for big roomy box stalls to be built under the overhang. We need them for our Suffolk mares and foals. The barns footprint won’t change, but its usefulness will be much enhanced.

It will be quite an upgrade once the project is complete. We sold our flock of sheep to help finance the project. Sheep may be back in our future especially young lamb for our customers. We will continue to finish lambs on our pastures seeded for that purpose, but the ewes are gone…for now.

The farm is evolving as we transition into breeding and preserving this rare breed, the Suffolk Punch horse. I want to ensure their safety and mine as we go. :o) Stay tuned for updates as this project progresses.



Training Day, One of Many

April 5, 2021

Our nice weather continues. April Fool’s day and Easter are behind us. We are training our young horses. We hitch them as often as we can, daily when possible. Hank, the horse with the white stripe on his face, is doing great. This was his first time hitched in a team. We have used him in a 3-horse hitch several times, but today was his maiden voyage hitched this way. He did very well thanks to his teammate Abby. She is showing him “the ropes”.

We use a two wheeled cart pulling a tire for these lessons. The tire provides some weight, noise and resistance. It makes weird noises as it drags along behind. These noises help to get young horses to pay no attention to what’s behind them. All they have to do is just listen to the direction and confidence in their master’s voice. Perhaps, all of us should take note ?

Spring plowing has started. Hank will take his turn soon for a few short lessons. Hank will turn 2 later this month. This training is to help him grow and learn for now. Later, as he matures, the work load will increase, but for now it all about learning the job and getting his mind right. He is a gangly teenager now with a few raging hormones. Work helps to keep things under control.

What a pair!

My son Jake is making good progress with these fillies of his. They too are in the learning stages. It takes time and patience to make a good draft horse. They need to work, stand, listen and be willing to do any job when asked. This early training makes all those things possible. It keeps the horses in a safe learning environment. It also builds the bond between them and us. We all learn to rely on each other in a harmonious relationship. These horses too will soon celebrate birthdays. They will turn 3 and 2 in the next few weeks. Belle, the three year old, will soon join my team of mares for more in-depth training on other equipment used in the farming operation. She will learn to be prompt and she will build endurance, as the jobs get longer and the loads get heavier at times.

This window for this intense training is due in part to my main team member, Amee, going on maternity leave. She is due to foal by the end of the month. We are getting excited about that too. We are closing up the maple season by cleaning and storing equipment. This job takes a while, mostly because it is a heavy, sticky job that requires help. I guess also because this weather has been wonderful and its hard to keep inside where the cleaning takes place. The good news is that the worst of that job is over. I will have it completed by the end of the week. In the meantime, I will continue to train the youngsters and think spring!