RicelandMeadows


Some Fun Days

May 1, 2022

We enjoyed a couple of sunny days…in a row! We set up and sawed out some lumber for a couple of projects that we hope to complete soon. This young man in the photo helps me out from time to time. He owns this small sawmill. It did a nice job as we made logs into lumber. The logs were from a few white pine trees we recently harvested here on the farm.

The day we sawed was sunny and bright. The north wind had a bite to it, but it dried up some mud for us. We spent the day sawing and dreaming of field days to come. It is time to be plowing and working in the fields, but we are staying busy in spite of the wet weather.

We spent yesterday at the 2nd annual Baldwin Percheron Plow Day, just outside of Ashtabula, Ohio. Amee stayed home with her new foal. Abby was teamed up with our son Jake’s horse Belle. The horses and I pulled a people mover giving rides much of the day.

The event was well attended with teamsters and 20 horses of all sizes, but mostly draft horses. Percherons, Belgians, Shires, Suffolks and a team of mini paints were all represented. The weather was perfect. The grounds were dry and plowed nicely. The field has a gravel base, lays nice and is of very mellow ground.

My girls were looking at the other horses. There are just a couple other teams in the picture, but much action was happening behind us. This was Belle’s second time out in the public, but she took it all in stride. Abby kept her calm and her mind on her work. It was a fun day for us as we hauled folks of all ages, especially the children. Kids love horses and those kids are our future. We were glad to be there and make a few memories for them.

Today, the sun and clouds are having an argument. The sun peeps out for small parts of the day, but then the clouds gather and dump rain on us. The grass is growing and everything is green. This makes for a pleasing view as we wait for the fields to dry out so spring work can commence.



Generations
April 28, 2022, 7:34 pm
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , ,

April, 28, 2022

This is a picture of our mare Abby (on the left) with her first born filly Bree on the right. Bree turned 2 years old last week. Bree will start her training in the next few days. The lessons are easy and short, but by next spring, Bree will be a valuable addition to our working horses. She will go to work, while several of the older mares will be on maternity leave.

It is hard to believe that just two years ago we had our first Suffolk Punch baby born on the farm. Our herd has grown since then too. The babies will all be trained to work. It is important that they can do any job on the farm from hauling manure to mowing hay. I can’t even imagine a maple syrup season without the horses pulling the sap sled.

I guess that is how it goes. My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father all farmed. I am farming and my sons all dabble in a part of agriculture. Some are syrup producers, one makes wood products, one raises goats, one got the “horse bug” , all have gardened and they all enjoy small parts of farming. All of our daughters raise chickens and flowers. I have at least passed on my passion for it. I see my grandchildren dabbling in the dirt too and it pleases me.

I love this life and all the rewards that come with it. I feel the love of generations when I go about my daily chores. To see the little ones helping makes my heart happy. So, as Bree starts to work alongside her momma, I will just smile, because that is what we do!



The Mud Continues
April 25, 2022, 10:16 am
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , , , , ,

April 25, 2022

It was such a nice day yesterday, that I simply had to let the horses out for a run, romp and roll. They did all of the above! They managed to find a very muddy spot to roll. They enjoyed the sun and the fresh green grass. Hank {our stallion) had to watch from the feedlot. He would very much like to be with his ladies, but we will wait a few more weeks. The plan is to have foals born in April or May….not March.

He is a good boy. He is very attentive and doesn’t miss much. He watched the girls playing for the entire afternoon. He too enjoyed some time out on the small jump lot where the grass is growing. He too found a muddy spot to roll, but he kicked up his heels and enjoyed the day. The pastures are drying up fairly well. Amee and Maggee are in the big pasture out front. It too is a bit soft, but the two of them shouldn’t hurt it too bad. Mom needs the fresh grass and the baby needs room to run!

Our yearling Grace got her first bath too. Her baby fuzz is slow to shed, but is finally giving up. Soon her coat will be the shiny chestnut that the Suffolk Punch are known for. She took it very well after the first squirt. I think it was the hissing noise more than the water itself that gave her pause. She eventually just stood quiet as I washed her with the warm water.

Farm work is idle for right now, but the coming week looks good. We shall see what the future holds. In the meantime, we will continue with training and brushing…lots of brushing. The shedding is in full swing as all the horses start putting on their summer coats. This grooming time allows for lots of personal contact and bonding for us all. Spring has sprung!



What a Difference a Week Makes
April 10, 2022, 5:22 pm
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

April 10, 2022

Magee ( I pronounce it Maggie) is a week old already. She is growing so fast it’s hard to believe. This was her first trip outside the barnyard. It was also her first day wearing a halter. She liked the freedom, yet stayed close to momma. The halter didn’t bother her in the least. She only wears it for special occasions and only under my supervision.

She is alert, smart, strong and growing well. Momma has lots of milk and Magee nurses often. Once the pastures dry up a bit more, Magee and mom Amee, will be moved outside to enjoy running, romping and grazing. In the meantime, I will keep my hands on her introducing her to all sorts of things. This makes for a great workhorse in the future.

Farm work is a bit stalled due to the April showers and soggy conditions. No worries, the work will all sort itself out. In the meantime we will enjoy farm babies, sunsets and rainbows!



Our 2022 Foal is Here!

April 4, 2022

We welcome our farm’s newest addition, Riceland Meadows Miss Magee. I pronounce it like (Maggie) She was born on April 1 at 11:15 pm. Momma and baby are doing great. She came after a few short nights for me as she and her mom teased me with her arrival time. The sleepless nights were worth it!

In this photo, Magee is about 2 hours old. She is a strong little gal. We like her very much. It pleases us that we are helping to preserve this endangered breed of draft horse. Miss Magee will hopefully help us continue to farm with, breed and raise Suffolk Punch horses. What a blessing to have another little girl.

Magee’s mom and our Abby, helping in the maple woods last month. Mom is now on maternity leave. Her job is to take care of Magee. Magee’s mom is named Amee and she is a honey too!



Foal Watch
March 31, 2022, 9:33 pm
Filed under: March 2022 | Tags: ,

March 31, 2022

Our Amee mare is about to have a baby. We are very excited. The youngster should be in a matter of hours now. I am sleepy tired as I check her progress often through the day and through the night. The small droplets of “wax” forming at the end of her teats is telling me that things are progressing steadily. My excitement grows along with my anxiety. Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead.

We have been busy. The sugarhouse and all the maple equipment has been cleaned as far as we can go until warm weather allows us to pressure wash the main pans and give them a good scrubbing. It takes a while to put things all in order and be ready for next year. Filling the woodshed is now a priority too.

Grace and Bree will turn one and two respectively in April. Miss Bree will begin her light training to harness in the coming days. Most all work has stopped as we all watch and wait for the new foal to arrive.

As we head into the month of April, there will be lots of exciting news to share. We hope that you will visit often, like and share



All Done for 2022 Maple Season

March 21, 2022

Last Thursday, we untapped our maple trees. The warm weather, with no freezing nights has brought an end to our maple syrup season. We pulled the taps from the trees, gathered up our bags for recycle and said thank you to the trees.

Today, I boiled water and started the big job of cleaning up the sticky pans and equipment. It is a job that is sweet, bittersweet! It means putting everything to bed until next year. This year’s season was only 19 days long for us. We did make some very nice syrup, but the season was about half what is normal. That is okay, we will be thankful for what we made.

Our son’s young team of Suffolk horses, Anna and Belle have learned quite a bit this season. They are looking forward to the next jobs of field preparation for the coming crops. It is a busy time, but we take time to listen to the “peepers” and watch for spring flowers. I love this life!



A Road Less Traveled

March 15, 2022

Our maple season is in full swing It came upon us fast. It has been a crazy year with extreme highs and lows. Usually that is just what we need, but the sun too has been a bit fleeting. Warm days with no sun, makes the trees stingy with their sap. Then several days of below freezing stops the flow as well. No matter what, we will be thankful for what we get.

The road in the picture above has been used to collect sap for over twenty years. We even dragged logs on this road during a small timber harvest two years ago. The light impact of our horses feet compared to the ruts of a tractor or other wheeled vehicle can easily be seen. Real horsepower in a woods, even at this most sensitive time of year, is a very positive thing.

The sap is running after a very cold weekend. I like this time of year. It is like waking up in the morning. First you open your eyes and stretch, perhaps roll over and just rest a bit. Then you rise up and start your day. I think mother nature is just waking up, nodding off a bit, but will soon rise up and it will be full blown spring! The warm days and plentiful rains will make the grass green, the trees bud and the soil warm.

But for now a little cold a little ice will rule the time. I agree that I am ready for spring, but a few more days of late winter and perfect sap running weather suits me just fine. I really do travel down a road less traveled.



March-ing Forward
March 6, 2022, 7:48 pm
Filed under: March 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

March 6, 2022

The maple season is upon us. Last week we got our pans sweet. This next run will start to yield 2022 maple syrup. It is a crazy, wonderful time of year. I love it.

We spent time today gathering the sap, going tree to tree and collecting from the clear bags. We had all sorts of friends and family helping. We used our youngest son’s horses today to pull the sap gathering sled. They are still youngsters, still in training, but they did an outstanding job.

Our girls watched Jake’s horses as we hooked to the sap sled. Watching are Amee, Abby, Grace and Bree.

Our stallion Hank will soon be on the sap sled too. He works best with our Abby. Since Abby got the day off, so did Hank. He will soon be working and taking it all in stride.

He is growing well. He turns three in April

Sometimes he looks at me as if to say, “What do you want?” I can’t wait for him to change that look to “come on , let’s go!” Soon he will be hauling sap, pulling a few logs and getting plenty of wagon time. The plow is ready and the days of spring are coming fast.

This is our filly Grace. Some of you will remember that she fell down an old hand dug well late last year. She lost about half of her mane in that accident. That was about five months ago. The hair is growing back in quite well and remarkably, it is coming back in her natural color. I was afraid that It might come in white, but nope. It healed very well along with her other bumps and scrapes. God is good!

So, we are marching forward in this month of March Stay tuned for updates and information regarding the farm, maple syrup, horses and our family adventures.



2022 Maple Season Underway
February 28, 2022, 2:35 pm
Filed under: February 2022 | Tags: , , ,

February 28, 2022

We tapped the trees last Saturday. Now we wait for the first run of sap. This has been a crazy spring so we expect a roller coaster of a season. We need the freeze and thaw weather to make the sap run, but we need it to do both! Lately we get very cold weather and no warm or a day or two of warm with no cold. Time will tell how our season turns out, but it looks good for this coming week.

Abby and Amee did an awesome job pulling the sled while we tapped. A four wheeler or tractor would not have worked too well for us this year. The four wheeler would have gotten stuck in the mud and ice or perhaps even in the deep snow. A tractor would have made some awful ruts in places. The horses were steady and traversed the sap roads with ease.

I did take a tie rope along and even tied it to small trees when we stopped. They stayed standing and never tightened the rope. Often I was a hundred yards away or more. They couldn’t see us at times, but they waited patiently for us to return and move them and the sled to a new area. I am very pleased with them and their work ethic. They are indeed my partners.

Now, we wait for the sap to run and fill the plastic bags. We will gather the sweet liquid and take it to the sugarhouse to be boiled. Everything is almost ready and what isn’t, soon will be. Our sweet reward for the hard work will soon flow…and very soon flow over some hot pancakes! Here we go! Thanks to my grandparents and parents for teaching and sharing this love for the maple woods!