RicelandMeadows


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!



New Month, New Project

April 1, 2021

I took this picture yesterday. Today, the snow is an inch deep with cold wind blowing it around! Oh well, that is spring in northeast Ohio.

I acquired this manure spreader from a friend who made a wonderful purchase. He bought two of them and sold me one. It was encased in about an inch layer of dried manure. All the moving parts had been well greased. I think the dried manure and being stored inside may have preserved this wonderful old piece of equipment. We scraped on it a while. Then we pressure washed it. Next comes some needed small repairs and adjustment, but it will soon be spreading manure and compost here on the farm.

The web needs some adjustment and the box will get a liberal coating of linseed oil, but all in all she is in great shape.

The beaters and crossbars are in good shape too. I look forward to training our young horses to pull this machine. The load decreases as they pull it. Flying poop makes for a few unexpected things for the colts to see. The noises it makes bumping along also helps the young horses learn that the “boogyman” will not hurt them. I will be there, encouraging them from the driver’s seat keeping them safe and confident.

Amee will foal by the end of the month. She is enjoying maternity leave. The young horses will have lots of opportunity to learn while she rests. Having this manure spreader to use, makes for another training tool that will help them become good farm horses.

We got our new farm sign. Hats off to “Get your Graphics” in Jefferson Ohio. We are letting people know what breed of horse now powers our farm. We sure like these critically endangered rare breed horses! They are wonderful, willing, powerful horses, with a mind like no other. Stay tuned as we grow.