RicelandMeadows


First Cutting Hay 2022
June 20, 2022, 11:55 pm
Filed under: June 2022 | Tags: , , ,

June 20, 2022

We are done with our first cutting hay for 2022. There is one small field that remains. We didn’t cut it yet due to an abundance of nesting birds. We will cut it in another couple of weeks. It is just one acre. It will be a small job so I consider our job completed for now.

Our son Jake and I split our teams up. We put each one of his younger horses with each one of mine. This made for two great teams of working partners. Belle and Abby are pulling the tedder, fluffing the hay to cure and dry.

After the tedding was done, Amee and Anna pulled the hay rake, making fluffy windrows to finish drying in the sun.

I followed up the next day with the tractor and baler. We are far from having all of our winter hay stored away yet, but we are off to an exceptional start.

We will haul these bales off the field in the next few days. The horses easily pull 5 at a time on the wagon like in the photo at the top. I look like it was more work for me than them and it is! Climbing up the hay rack with two steel knees, carrying an extra few pounds makes the age show on this teamster!

It was a great few days. The weather held. The temperature was actually cool with a stiff, hay drying wind. The flies were almost non-existent! We have more work to do, but wow, what a great few days this was. The horses all worked great and barely worked up a sweat in the cool air.

This evening we got a brief rain shower. The corn and recently cut hay were all grateful. I am satisfied and well pleased. God is good…all the time!



Life’s Treadmill
June 17, 2022, 7:35 am
Filed under: June 2022 | Tags: , , , , ,

June 17, 2022

I built this little amusement ride for our hens. This flock of young pullets sit on it and even take it for a spin now and then. Our old flock were afraid of the strange contraption made from a bicycle wheel. The new gals however see it as a challenge and something to do.

Once in a while, we all find ourselves on life’s treadmill, just grinding away each day as if stuck in a rut. This is when we need to stop, take a look around us and just be thankful. When we pause, if only for a few minutes, things become clearer. Our focus will shift away from ourselves and the mundane. We can reflect on others and their problems and accomplishments.

This is graduation open house season. We are offered a chance to congratulate a young person and offer suggestion and guidance. They are about to embark on their life’s journey. Some young folks will have a plan all worked out. Others will have no idea where they are headed, they just know they are headed away from the status quo. Away from mom and dad and childhood responsibilities, where life offers freedom. All of us fit into one of those categories.

I remember having big plans. I remember running towards freedom with those big plans, hopes and dreams. I remember too getting smacked in the face with bigger responsibilities and reality. I floundered for a bit. I dug myself out. I hurt a few people along the way. I finally discovered what I had probably always known, life for me, needs to be simple.

By simple, I mean without glitz and glamour. I don’t need, nor do I want, late nights in the big city, people pushing and shoving me literally or figuratively. I thrive on peace, contentment and perhaps the mundane. I enjoy this life of farming, being surrounded by nature and all of its wonder. There is beauty everywhere that I look. We need to remember that when we pause, God speaks to our hearts. Our hearts will let us know if we are doing the right things, hanging out with the right people or following the right dream.

The Bible tells us that “Man plans his way, but God directs his steps.” It took me a while to understand this and even longer to go with what my heart told me. I was stubborn and willful thinking that I was in charge of my destiny. I plunged into what I thought were great plans. I pushed myself hard, right up against the brick wall of life, but then thankfully, I paused. It all became crystal clear.

As I rest in the barn listening to the animals chew, or sit on the seat of the plow and listen to birds singing I realize that this is what I was born to do. I was made to steward the land, care for animals and share my experiences with others. I help them learn. I offer suggestion based upon my experiences. I nurture, I care and I am filled with peace.

As you talk with the young men and women over a piece of graduation cake, listen to them and share with them. Listen to the excitement in their voices and share what you know. Planting seeds of encouragement will go a long way. You never know just how far your kind words may take someone. Like a ripple on a pond, the little wave eventually reaches the other shore. Be the ripple in someone’s pond. Who knows, you may help them find the way off of life’s treadmill and on to the path of their true destiny.



Our Fillies Are Growing!

June 13, 2022

The photo above is of Bree of Riceland Meadows. She just turned 2 in April. She is filling out and growing well. Her training has started. We plan to be driving her single by the end of the week. She is a good girl with a great mind. She recently starred in a video of getting her harness fitted. The video will appear in an upcoming Rural Heritage show on RFD-TV.

This is a picture of out two fillies side by side. Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace is in the foreground. She just turned a year old in April. She is gaining on her older pasture mate quickly. In height they are very close, but Bree is a chunkier gal. The breeding lines are a bit different, but both fillies will make good workhorses and great broodmares.

The girls are growing and filling out nicely. They are fast friends who don’t stray far from each other. The green grass is sure doing them good. It is fun watching them grow. They were both born here on the farm. Grace’s full sister Miss Maggee, is still nursing on mom and will be for a couple more months. She to is growing like a weed too.

Haymaking is starting, weather permitting. Watch for Bree pulling the hay rake by late summer. We are blessed in this life we choose!



It’s June Already
June 6, 2022, 7:49 am
Filed under: June 2022 | Tags: , , ,

June 6, 2022

After a very wet and cool spring, I managed to get the corn planted on June 1, 2022. I was not real happy with the seedbed preparation, but it wasn’t too bad for the way the rains came. I finished up just before we got another half of an inch.

This morning, I see little green shoots peeping through the dirt. The warm moist soil helped the seeds to sprout and grow. This field of about 2.5 acres should yield plenty for us this year…unless the wildlife hit us hard, growing next to the woods like we are.

Our gardens are doing well in spite of the wet weather. Somehow, I managed to get them off and growing a bit earlier than normal. The raised beds are doing well too. Connie worked on freezing strawberries yesterday, so that job is done for the year.

We got our hay equipment mostly ready to go. We even cut a couple rounds to make sure things are in order and will use that hay, put up loose, to feed the horses when they are in the barn. We bring them in to help dodge the flies during the day.

Training continues for our younger horses and they will be helping in the hayfields soon. The filly Maggee continues to be a delight to watch and be around. Its June already, half the year is gone but half is left to go. We plan to make the absolute best of it!



A Good Day for Training

May 30, 2022

Today was a good day for training. Hank, our stallion, is on the right. He is sweating from a little work, but mostly nerves. Look at Abby on the left. She has done the same amount of work, but she just walks along taking it all in stride. Hank wanted to fuss a little and be out in front pulling much of the load. He was wide awake and looking for anything to be mad about.

After about a half hour of him fussing, he decided that it was much easier to just relax and do what I asked and what Abby did. He was a real good horse by the time the lesson ended for the day. I don’t fight with him, I just let him have a little more of the load and talk softly to him to build trust and confidence. He does better at every lesson.

I had been using a jockey stick on him. The jockey stick is a pole about 48 inches long. I fastened it to Abby’s bottom hame ring and then to Hank’s halter. The purpose of the stick was to keep him n his place and to keep him from reaching out to her exhibiting stallion behavior. In other words it kept him minding his P’s and Q’s.

If you look close you will see that there is no stick being used. He has learned that he must behave when in harness. I kept a rope from her hame ring to his halter as a sort of safety rope in the event he rubbed his bridle off. He isn’t going to run off with my big anchor Abby standing where I say whoa. He never tightened the rope and he kept in his place like a true gentleman.

We have a long way to go to make him a trusted workhorse but he is well on his way. He turned three years old in April. I can now use him for meaningful work. Those sessions will be kept short and the loads still a bit light, but he will be contributing to the farm and his upkeep.

My voice and time together coupled with some sweat, makes for good, well broke, trained animals. Nothing beats daily use to keep draft animals working and working well.

Our newest filly Maggee has become a friendly little gal. All of us pet her and make her welcome. My wife Connie greets all the babies and makes them feel at home. Her soft voice lets them know that no danger will befall them in our presence. This same direction is used when training our youngsters. We want them comfortable, safe and secure. They will be asked to work and expected to do their share, but kindness prevails at all times.



Looking Ahead

May 27, 2022

We are getting a few things done, but the wet weather continues. Earlier this week, we made videos for Rural Heritage on RFD-TV. We spent two days filming. The videos will appear on RFD-TV in to coming months. Hank, who is enjoying the mineral tub in the photo above, worked with Abby hitched to our training tire in one of the films.

The mineral tub is like a candy bar to the horses. They lick and eat the molasses covered minerals free choice. This year we are trying a tub that includes garlic. The hope is that the garlic helps with fly control. We are only a few weeks into using it, so we will see how well it works. All of the horses like the lick, even our filly Maggee.

After getting their fill from the mineral tub, Amee, followed closely by Maggee, head out to the big pasture to graze. Amee is starting to do light work with Maggee tied beside her. Amee’s maternity leave is almost over. She will still nurse Magge for a few more months, but she will work in the hay fields. Amee is getting extra feed and the best pasture grasses we have to keep her in good condition. Maggee too is getting grain, grass and mama’s milk. She is growing very well. The minerals help all the horses keep in good condition.

We got chased out of this years corn field yet again by rain. We are making progress and hope to be planted by the end of next week weather permitting. We just keep taking care of business and looking ahead.



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.