RicelandMeadows


It’s Dinner Time
May 25, 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: May 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

4dinner

May 26, 2020

As we celebrate Memorial Day with a picnic, good food, friends and family, lets not forget the men and women who died making it all possible.

My gang of four, all of them grabbing a bite to eat on the way to the big pasture. It has been a crazy time with babies, weather and heat cycles. Heat cycles in the weather and in our open mare Amee. We got her an ultrasound to make sure that all was well with her female parts. We got the green light to move towards breeding her.

Orchardhillredblaze

So, this handsome redhead came to visit. I am pleased to say that their honeymoon went well. They are now just enjoying vacation time as the calendar days count down to 21. Once we know that Amee is settled and in foal, this redheaded stranger will be headed back home. His name is Orchard Hill Red Blaze

Hopefully, we will see another Suffolk Punch baby here on the farm next April.



Repairs and Renovations
May 21, 2020, 7:30 am
Filed under: May 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

feedlotfence

May 21, 2020

Our recent wet weather has field work stalled, but there is still plenty to do. Last week, we renovated the horse’s stalls. This week, I repaired the back fence of the feedlot. The fence had fallen into disrepair, from horses reaching over the fence panels to nibble grass. It was almost a game for my Percherons!

The old fence had stock panels for the top section. The horses mashed it down all the way to the middle guardrail. The top section of guardrail is new to this spot. It is re-purposed from another project.

I even added brace poles to straighten the fence up. The effects of twenty years of livestock pushing on it could really be seen. The horses can’t reach over it anymore. The rubbing from cattle and sheep shouldn’t hurt a thing now that the brace posts have been added.

The drying winds of the last two days are making the fields look much better. Hopefully we can get busy fitting them up. It’s time to plant our field corn for the animals. We may be able to make progress on that job very soon too.

littlesled

I built this little sled for the young horses in training to pull around. It measures four feet long and thirty inches wide. It is made from leftover lumber, a recycled horseshoe and a chunk of log chain. The runners were made from a recycled treated 4×4, but I added some replaceable hardwood soles. This will make a light load for training young horses. It is large enough to stand upon. It’s just big enough to haul a few light loads. This builds confidence in a young horse as they learn to work.



Tie Stall Redesign for Draft Horses

stalltearout

May 18, 2020

It was time to remodel our old tie stalls. The double ones (for two horses) were showing the wear and tear of many years of use. The recent change of breeds and the addition of a stallion, led to my decision to rebuild. My Percheron horses were large even for their breed. They were 18 hands (6 feet tall at their withers) and weighed in at nearly a ton.

We now have switched to the Suffolk Punch breed. These horses are shorter 16 hands (5 feet 3 inches tall) The Suffolk horses are also “shorter coupled” too. This short coupled means their body length is on the short side. This makes them a sturdy, chunky, powerful horse. This also mean that they were short enough that they pooped on the back of their stalls. The manure didn’t fall over the curb, making a mess underneath the horses.

As part of the rebuild, I made the mangers wider, pushing the horses back in their stalls so manure will fall into the curbed area. This makes for a clean bed and easy clean up.

a&astalls

I also decided to go back to single stalls with a dividing wall. The stalls measure 5 feet wide, 6 feet deep from manger to curb. The mangers are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The height of the manger is 32 inches from the floor to the top.  The dividers keep horses kicking at each other to a minimum. The mares seem to squeal and pick at each other more than my geldings ever did :o)

The stall design for our stallion is a bit more robust with higher sides.

hankstall

The posts have a metal socket with a 4 inch pin welded to a plate on the bottom. I drilled a hole in the concrete to receive the pin. The socket also has a “U” channel running up from the floor to receive the stall planks. Lots of screws and well placed cleats make the structure strong and serviceable. All the corners and edges are made smooth without anything to injure the horses.

stallpinsocket

The steel and welding for both stalls cost me one hundred dollars.

stallwall

The stall walls are strong, smooth and easily replaced if ever needed.

This project took two full days to complete. Shout out to my wonderful wife for her help. She worked like a master craftsman, lending a hand wherever she could. It would have taken much longer to finish without her help, conversation and insight.

I believe that we will add stall guards on top of the dividing walls to complete our separation efforts. New guards for the windows will be added as well. The guards will provide function, a little style and a neat appearance too.



Patience and Fun
May 11, 2020, 12:39 pm
Filed under: May 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Belleamee

May 11, 2020

My son’s horse, the right side in the photo, on her maiden voyage as a teammate. She did very well for her first time. My son has been training her for several months. She just turned two-years old.  She walked off quite well and only fidgeted a couple times. She is well on her way to being a great workhorse.

firsttime4

Our Suffolk herd are all grazing together. After a couple of weeks making all the introductions over a farm gate, peace fills the pasture. The pecking order has been established. Abby has made it clear to the other horses just what the social distancing space should be between them and her baby. No fighting, no squealing, just subtle reminders with laid back ears.

We are counting the days of this crazy spring waiting patiently for warmer weather and planting season. We made some progress last week. we managed to get a large portion of the winter manure spread on ground that will be planted to ear corn for the animals.  I even got those three acres plowed. I used the tractor due to maternity leave for Abby.

Mother'sday2020

This past Mother’s Day, my wife pets and talks to the new foal. Bree’s momma watches over the scene. Isn’t that what momma’s do? Watch from afar, but ready to jump in when needed. I miss my mom, but I believe that she is still watching over us.



Logging, Lessons and Leisure

MFskid2020

May 6, 2020

Its early spring. Everything is too wet for farm field work. We are filling our days with projects that fit the farm plan, the weather and the pandemic leisure time. I opened our maple sap woods to let in more sun for growing maple trees. This “crop tree release” harvest amounted to harvesting a bunch of ugly, low value trees. This “worst first” selection will lead to a beautiful sugarbush someday soon.

The trees were extracted using real horsepower. My horses are on maternity leave, so I enlisted the help of two Amish friends of mine. We had a fun time. Things went very well as we surgically removed the marked trees. I marked the trees using the following criteria; biologically mature, crooked or forked, distance to a growing hard maple sapling and density of the canopy. Biologically mature, means dying of old age. We also removed the last remaining Ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer.

logpile1

logpile2

These two piles are the result of six days logging.  I wanted them harvested before the leaves came out. This makes the big job of cleaning up the treetops a little easier. The treetops will be cut, split and stacked to boil maple sap and heat a few homes. We took out 60 trees in the wettest section of the woods. I am sure that I will see improvement very quickly. The horses made very little impact, even in the wet conditions. I will rework my sap roads that we used to skid the logs out. This will be an easy job thanks to the the horses.

logmud

We have also been working with our new horses. The two week old filly continues with her lessons in learning to lead and be tied up. She is a little sweetie and is learning very well. Hank, our stallion prospect also gets handled daily. He must learn to be a gentleman and a workhorse, before we use him for a daddy.

breetie

Spring is wet, but field work will start very soon. In the meantime we will work on manners, firewood and lessons in our leisure time.

 



Life Lessons
April 28, 2020, 10:17 am
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , ,

breehaltertie

April 28, 2020

As this pandemic continues and we get used to a new “normal”, I feel about like the foal in the picture. I am staying put , but I don’t have to like it!

Bree our new foal, is learning new things. This first lesson was all about being tied up. She needs to learn to accept this. She will learn to lead soon too. Once we have mastered these things, she will be able to accompany mom while we work. Bree will be tied to her mom at a safe distance where she can walk alongside, but not get behind or in front where she could get hurt. Social distancing at its finest.

All of us here on the farm are learning new life lessons. It is best to find the positives, look toward the future and make plans. Continue to live! This will pass, things may change, but we will adapt. We can do all things through God who strengthens us!



A Yearling and Growing
April 26, 2020, 2:02 pm
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , ,

hankbirthday20201

April 26, 2020

Our stallion prospect “Hank” had his first birthday last week. He is growing very well. He continues to learn manners and all things “workhorse”.  The lessons are short but daily. I handle him often and consistently. He is a quick learner. We are very hopeful that he will be a good fit to our farm and breeding plan.

hankbirthday20202

I stood him beside our 16 hand mare Amee. He is catching up to her height quickly. He eats much like a teenage boy…constantly.  He is shedding out his baby hair and looks ragged at times, but under all that mud, manure and hair there is a handsome young boy!



Bree of Riceland Meadows
April 25, 2020, 9:27 am
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Bree1week1

April 25, 2020

Our filly is now one week old. She is growing very well. It is so much fun to have a baby horse here again. She is an independent little girl! Strong willed for sure.

We are seeing many good traits from her breeding.

Bree1week2

Once she grows up, I am sure that she will make a great work horse.

In the meantime, we will just enjoy watching her grow up. To see her run and frolic makes us smile. This is a good distraction these days…and unlike our children and grandchildren…we can get our hands on her!



She’s Here!
April 18, 2020, 11:39 pm
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , ,

bree2

April 18, 2020

Our Suffolk Punch filly was born at 10:30 pm on April 17, 2020. In the photo above she was about a half hour old. She was just finding her feet and standing up. Both mother and daughter are doing well.

It is a nice distraction to watch the baby!

Today she was walking and bouncing all around the stall. She is full of energy. Momma has settled in to putting up with her antics and ever increasing appetite.

On a side note, our Percheron mare “Abby” has been sold. We found her a wonderful home. It has been a roller coaster ride, as we transition from Percheron horses to Suffolk horses, to power our farm, but it is exciting too. Knowing that all three of my old pals got great homes is just icing on the cake!

Now, we can really focus on our future with these wonderful, rare, calm horses.



Late Spring
April 17, 2020, 2:57 pm
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: ,

4162020

April 17, 2020

Late spring snows are always a shocker. The bright green grass lays just below the covering of white. It is much like the silver lining in every cloud.

The pandemic is waning, summer is coming and bright sunshine will soon rule the skies.

Look for the good is every situation and all people and you will find it. Spring may seem a bit late, but it is here. Fear not.