RicelandMeadows


Signal of the Coming Months
November 6, 2021, 9:15 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , ,

November 6, 2021

We have had a couple mornings of cool temperatures with frost on the rooftops and even one morning with a skiff of snow. Today was different. The water puddles were frozen over and the whole scene was white. The killing frost that signals the end of the growing season is here.

After a six day stretch of rainy weather, where the rainfall total was over five inches, we are finally enjoying some dry weather. The harvest is continuing. The fields are saturated making it difficult for large machinery. I am getting along slow but steady using the horses. They are making some deep hoofprints, but the wagon ruts are minimal. I am husking 2 rows at a time. This lets me move over a wagon width each time I make a round. I am keeping the loads light which also helps to make less impact on the field.

If everything goes well, we should finish picking the corn by supper time tonight. We used one of the young horses yesterday as part of her education. There is a lot of starting and stopping during this job, making it a good teaching opportunity. The youngster did well and we kept her lesson short. She will make a work horse very soon.

The growing speltz looks sleepy covered in this frosty blanket. The leaves are falling quickly and the deer breeding season is in full swing. This tells me to get my butt moving because winter will soon be upon us. I have just a little more wood to cut and split for next years maple syrup season. I think I will finish just in time. One thing for sure, Mother Nature is showing her signs and signals. I just need to pay attention! Oh yeah, and the clocks turn back an hour tonight too.



Spooky How It All Started
October 31, 2021, 9:04 pm
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

October 31, 2021

In the photo above, Hank my 30 month old Suffolk stallion stands with the couple who sold him to me. The Pidcock’s from Nelsonville, Ohio sold me Hank as a weanling over 2 years ago. It plunged me headlong into loving this rare breed of horse. It’s almost spooky how it all started and how things continue to fall into place.

As October comes to an end ad winter looms, I am busy wrapping up projects. It seems that I have too many left over from summer! This past week we got almost 5 inches of rain. The ground is way beyond soggy! The corn harvest is on hold for a little while.

Next week looks much better. I hope to be able to finish the job of hand picking our field corn for the animals. The only other job pushing me hard is the job to finish filling the woodshed. In a mere two full days I can have that done too. I am mostly pleased with my progress but there is always room for improvement!

It will soon be time to start our fall butchering for our family. I like this time of year. Once the work is wrapped up, then rest and fun begins. It is getting hard for me to tell work from fun. Each day has a horse and something I like to do in it. Who could ask for anything more?



Introductions, never too soon!
October 25, 2021, 10:31 am
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , ,

October 25, 2021

We were able to introduce our newest great grandson to our farm and horses. Here Owen got to meet Hank our budding stallion. You could almost hear the thoughts they shared.

Owen wasn’t quite big enough to help with chores, but he made no protest as we walked from pen to pen and animal to animal introducing him to everyone. This type of introduction can never come too soon. The mind processes things early. No fear, just kindness and calmness shared… it is a beautiful thing!

The dynamics in this photo are many. A young stallion meets a baby boy, held by his momma, while grandpa takes the picture. I as great grandpa, get to watch the scene unfold. It is a crazy quick life that we get to enjoy. It is moments like this that make me smile.



Community Outreach

October 25, 2021

Ambassadors Amee and Abby, helped me share our farm with a group of school children last Friday. The little ones learned about farming, animal husbandry and the power and grace of the Suffolk horse. They fed the hogs and chicken, raced and chased, squealed and shrieked as they scrambled from one pen to another.

I talked to them about safety and caring. They were impressed by the large horses, smitten by a crazy cat and amazed at the oinking hogs. The children had a wonderful day and managed to stay dry between rain storms.

We all got real cozy as we squeezed onto my wagon for a horse drawn hayride. Abby and Amee took it all in stride. The noise from the excited kids, the urging from other horses in the pasture didn’t bother them at all. We made several trips around the farm lane. I discovered this was the easiest way to keep them engaged, contained and happy. A few little ones got to “drive” the horses as they pulled the wagon around the farm.

I don’t know if any of these young people will go into a vocation in agriculture, but they had a great experience. They made a few memories and they had a good time. We are blessed to be able to share. I have been given a gift to talk with kids and help them understand the farming cycle. They may never do it themselves, but they will have a little more understanding for those of us who farm. This outreach makes me happy because I believe, with understanding comes tolerance. Hopefully, these youngsters will be patient when they have to follow a combine or slow tractor on the road. They will remember that their food comes from farms and somewhere behind the scenes, there is a farmer just trying to do the right thing.



Stallion Training Day

October 13, 2021

Yesterday was a very good day. We worked with Hank, our young Suffolk Punch stallion. He just turned 2 last April. We were pulling an old tire around the field for awhile. He has done this job before, but yesterday his brain “clicked”. He figured out how to start the load, but also how to enjoy a break. You can see a little sweat coming from under his harness. That sweat along with breaks at the right time, lead to just standing still, minding your own business and listening for me to give direction. He is getting it. I am very happy with his progress.

I won’t push the young guy too hard. He only gets light loads for now. We are more training his mind than his body. He likes the ladies, so we need to make him understand that life has other things in it too. Some of you may notice the “jockey stick” running from his halter to his partner Abby’s harness ring. This spacer keeps him from trying to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. He stays in his place and she is not bothered by his nonsense this way. Abby is a wonderful partner. She moves and stops when I ask. She teaches him stuff by just being there and she is one big anchor if I need one!

I snapped this picture of the growing speltz yesterday. I am pleased with these results so far. The crop should be well rooted before winter sets in and freezes the ground.

All I can say is that it was a very good day!



Computer Trouble / Farm Success

October 10, 2021

We have been fighting with our computer for almost a month! Finally we have been repaired. We didn’t lose anything and I am back to communicating and blogging.

In the photo above, Abby , Amee and I were plowing at Lake Farm Park. The park is located in a neighboring county. They host a horsepower weekend. Old tractors and of course, real horsepower are showcased. We had a fun time visiting and plowing. The event was well attended by other teams of horses and the public. We struggled a bit with old vegetation plugging the plow, but we did make some loose dirt.

This is a picture of my old Oliver plow. I haven’t used it for years. My knees got too sore to use it. I got them replaced and decided that I wanted to try plowing this way again. The horses had not done this ever in their lives either. We worked on it for a few evenings before we went out in public. I am not the plowman that I once was, but we got it done.

There is a lot to this job. Once things are all set up and understood, it is a joy to plow this way. We are not there yet! I managed to drag along the ground a few times as The horses learned where to walk and I learned to pick my feet up higher. It was still fun. I will plow like this a few times each year just to keep my memories alive. This old plow belonged to a mentor of mine…I think he would be pleased too.

Over the last month, we continued to work with Hank, our two-year old Suffolk Punch stallion. He is doing good, but the training will continue for the coming months, even years. He is growing fast and well. He is pictured with our 7 year old mare Abby in the photo below.

It is my hope to have Hank plowing in a three-horse hitch before the snow flies this fall. He is not shy about pulling and keeps his mind on his work. I will call that a success!

The speltz have been planted. This horse grain is up and looking good. I have opened the corn field by picking two rows closest to the fence and down the middle. The main harvest will commence as I begin hand picking the dry ears in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me in my absence. Its good to be back sharing our success with all of you. There is much to catch up on, so ride along with me as I bring you a glimpse of our small farming life.



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.