RicelandMeadows


Gathering for Summer Fun
July 7, 2021, 10:30 am
Filed under: July 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

July 7, 2021

We have had a busy start to this month of July! We all hosted and attended the North American Suffolk Horse Association summer Gathering, at the Ashtabula County fairgrounds. We had good attendance from our members and the public as well. It was a very hot sticky two days. The weather delayed a few things we did and cancelled others, but we had a good time in spite of it all.

From this Facebook post, you can see Connie and I driving the horses with our two month old filly in tow. Even the baby had a good time meeting strangers who grew to be her friends.

We had friendly competitions in the obstacle course and precision pull. Both events required confidence and trust between teams and teamsters. We all enjoyed stepping out of our comfort zones and just having fun. We had a morning of driving our teams and wagons. We even went to the local nursing home and paid the residents a visit. This visit put smiles on all of our faces.

We had people from 11 states attend the event. The local public too supported us. There were informative seminars held describing hoof care and shoeing , as well as, a demonstration of equine massage. We met many new people and put faces with names we already knew. The young Suffolk owners were well represented, as they worked their teams and laughed along with all of us.

Right on the heels of our summer gathering, came Horse Progress Days, held in Mount Hope , Ohio . We spent two days there too. There were countless vendors and teams of horses who showcased much horse drawn equipment. The horse Progress Days crowd numbered into the thousands, with over 20,000 attending on the Friday of the show.

The events were tiring but very fun. It felt real good to just decompress and relax this week. The weather and preparing for these gatherings has made it difficult, even impossible to get any hay made. No worries, it will all work out.

Our pastures are holding up very well. Our young stallion Hank continues to grow and fill out. He is learning well and has become a good babysitter for our young filly. He is relaxed and easy going, good qualities in any breed.

The rest of the month will keep us busy, as we make hay and will soon harvest our speltz. The job of firewood cutting and splitting is always there, but busy hands are a good thing. It is nice to be getting back into our routine after a hectic start to the month. Enjoy your summer and take some time to gather with friends and family!



Suffolk Punch Horse Gathering

July 1, 2021

The North American Suffolk Horse Association held it’s 2021 gathering at our local fairgrounds. Many folks from states near and far came to see, help and celebrate these wonderful horses. We had unseasonably hot and muggy weather that affected man and beast. The weather cut some of our events short and a few were taken off the schedule. We did however, accomplish quite a few things. We had some seminars in the cool and shade of the big barn. We had friendly competitions in the arena and endless conversations echoed in the aisleways.

My family and I were well represented by our horses. We took them all to make chore time much easier and to introduce our young stock to many strange sounds, sights and smells. We learned a lot! We gleaned ideas and suggestions for next time to boot. My thanks go out to the many folks who came with their horses, the spectators, the vendors and all the behind the scenes people who made this all work out. Our Canadian friends could not make it due to Covid concerns and the border closure, but we look forward to seeing them soon.

In the photo above, photographed by J Nidy and taken from Facebook, you can see the girls and I competing in an obstacle course. There were plenty of tight turns and unusual things for the horses. Mine did not want to step on the tarp, but they handled the spinning pool noodles like pros. Even our 8 week old baby took it all in stride. It was a fun event and I believe we all had fun.

As I was finishing chores last night and reflecting on the hectic three day event, I took a picture that sums it up for me perfectly. I will share that photo at the end of this blog.

We had lots of press coverage for our event. The local papers both covered us. Rural Heritage magazine came and interviewed and shot video and such for their magazine and for upcoming RFD-TV programs. We had a California company called Backyard Green Films attend. They do Podcasts and have a Youtube channel. I was featured in a podcast last night.

We had a get together that lasted several days and were without injuries beyond a scraped hand and a few bee stings. I thank God for the safe travels, our friendships and a safe and comfortable event.

On our last morning, three teams of horses and wagons, visited the local nursing home. The residents lined the big front porch as we drove into the parking lot for a drive by meet and greet. Smiles and laughter came from the crowd. We shared waves and hellos. I had a moment of blurry eyes as I wheeled the horses around to make my second pass by the smiling crowd. Our young filly trotted along by her mother’s side, prancing for the people. My heart filled with pride and thankfulness for being able to bring a bit of joy to a few well loved folks, entrusted to the care of others.

So, last night as I decompressed while doing chores here at home, with all the animals back in their familiar surroundings. I gave thanks for a good time, good people and a bright new beginning for us in our journey with the Suffolk Punch horse. I looked up the lane towards my home, made comfortable, clean and filled with love by my wife and I saw this…

I’d say that says it all



Summer in Full Swing
June 20, 2021, 3:50 pm
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

June 20, 2021

The other night, as I sat on the patio after a long work filled day, I was treated to this beautiful sunset. I sat a while soaking up the beauty. I thought of my middle sister who loved sunsets of all kinds. She has passed from this world now, but scenes like this often remind me of her. It is not a sad time for me, but rather a time of celebration, just to remember her.

I have been helping a farming friend. He has some very large equipment that chews up ground on a scale that amazes me. The other day, I sat down inside of one of the tractor tires for a short break.

I’m not much of a “selfie” guy, but you get the idea…these tractors are mammoth!

Our barn renovation is complete. Thanks to my dear wife, friends and family it went very well in spite of several delays waiting on materials as we built. It is a striking difference in the barn. The air flow and light found in the new stalls and even out into the old part of the barn, is wonderful. I am sure that we will enjoy it for years to come.

Pasture mowing and hay making is in full swing. The crops are growing quite well. Last night we received almost 2 inches of rain. Things are damp and humid on this Father’s Day, but a day of rest is welcomed.

So, as I enjoy this day off, I will reflect on the barn build, sisters and sunsets and the busy days of summer coming fast.



Holy Horsepower!
June 11, 2021, 8:46 am
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , ,

June 11, 2021

I have been helping a friend do some field work. He farms many acres. The tractor and plows in the photo above have been my office for the last several days. The tractor is 350 horsepower. The plows are seven bottoms. This is much different than plowing with real horses!

This thing is big! He owns two such units. We can plow over ten acres an hour. The articulating beasts roll over the ground just above an idle, turning over the soil very efficiently. It takes a large area just to turn around. The reason he switched back to moldboard plowing is to help control weeds in his organic farming operation. The plow buries weed seeds to allow the growing crop to get ahead of them. The job of cultivation begins after that, avoiding costly sprays and the chemicals that come with them.

I plow for the same reason. I just farm on a much smaller scale. I do use some limited spray on fields where weeds are a problem, but only some years and only when needed. Its fun to drive this giant tractor and see what all that horsepower can do. I will say though, that my heart enjoys the real horsepower better. The methods and caring for crops are the same…only the size of the operation is different.

Our newest baby, Amazing Grace, stands resting in her stall. She is learning all sorts of things, during short daily lessons. She is taking them in stride. She trusts me. She knows that no harm will come to her. She also knows that after her lessons are done, she will spend the rest of the day roaming the cool barn, napping and nursing whenever she likes. This living breathing horsepower fills my soul and keeps me grounded.

I will drive the giant monster and help my friend. I will do the best job that I can do. In the seat of the tractor, as I operate a machine large enough to plow all of my farm fields before lunch, I will long for holding the lines in my fingers and the quiet in my ears.



Signs of Summer

June 1, 2021

Our gardens have been planted. Our grandchildren are walking down the corn row, following the hand seeder. They took this job very serious. They wanted to ensure good soil to seed contact! Now we wait for the plants to emerge.

Our little filly is growing fast too. She is getting used to my antics and the daily grind. She wasn’t fond of halter training or being tied up, but each day she gets better and takes it in stride. Our farm work will soon get very busy as we move into haying season, cultivation and wood splitting. These days with Grace are fun, watching this little Suffolk filly grow.

The old part of the barn got a facelift as part of the new renovation.

The new box stalls are almost completed.

One more partition to go along with latches and the project will be completed. One more job wrapped up before the flush of summer work. Thanks to my wife for all of her help, this install has gone smooth.

The barn renovation will make things much easier on us as we move towards becoming breeders and trainers of the Suffolk Punch Horse. We got the news last Thursday that both of our mares are in foal for 2022. Our Abby mare is carrying our stallion “Hank’s” baby. So it begins :o)



Barn Renovation Work
May 15, 2021, 10:42 am
Filed under: May 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

May 15, 2021

My work on our horse barn continues. The new hay mow doors are on and finally weather tight! The large door is made that way on purpose to allow for putting big round bales in there. A labor saving job, that requires only our skid steer and one other guy.

The renovation work is almost complete. The steel work for window guards and doors should be installed in the coming days.

Each new box stall will have its own window for light and air movement. Native hardwood planks ensure safety and durability for the stalls.

Stall doors with a width of four feet, will accommodate our wide bodied horses as well as a wheelbarrow. I look forward to the ease of use this new renovation will allow.

Spring work is getting started again after some wet, cold rainy weather. It has been good to have this job to work on while we waited. I am ready for the spring field days and our planting season. Farm life stays busy, but the rewards are wonderful.

Our new filly is growing fast. She is fun to watch. Soon, her mom will return to the workforce, but for now they are enjoying the fresh grass and the warm sun.

We really like these two!



The Boy Is Back In Town

May 3, 2021

Orchard Hill Red Blaze, the Suffolk stallion pictured above is the daddy of our newest addition Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. He is a chunky boy with a great disposition and he helped make a beautiful filly. We leased him again for Amee.

Amee was delighted to see him again. It looks as if we should have another “Red” baby on the ground next year.

You can see from the photo, mom Amee, watching over the sleeping Grace while Red snoozes, as they all soak up the warm April sun.

The little family grazes in the pasture. Amazing Grace runs circles around both dad and mom. She gains strength and power daily thanks to mom’s milk. It is delightful to watch the baby girl run and play.

“Red”, is part of our breeding program because his foals are not related to our stallion Hank. As we build a solid breeding program for working Suffolk horses, it is imperative that we focus on DNA in this critically rare breed. We want to expand the gene pool, while breeding for the punchy, solid, powerhouse found in these horses. In other words, I want to breed true, following the like minded breeders of the last four centuries, not changing the breed, only enhancing it.

They are truly beautiful!



She’s Here Too

April 24, 2021

Our new filly was born yesterday! Her name is Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. She is a leggy one, but very strong.

I imprinted her and talked to her. Today, her and mom were mostly just left alone to bond and enjoy the sunshine.

They had an outside picnic while we watched from the fence.

My grandma Rice was named Grace. She was a strong woman with a big heart. It is my hope that this filly exhibits those same traits. Enjoy the photos for now and stay tuned for updates. I’m overloaded with thankfulness for this potential broodmare. She is not related to our stallion prospect Hank. It is one more important step in helping to promote and preserve this rare and endangered breed. I think gramma would be proud to have her share her name.



Barn Renovation 2021
April 21, 2021, 11:24 am
Filed under: April 2021 | Tags: , , ,

April 21, 2021

Our busy spring continues to roll on. The barn renovation project too is going well. The old overhang has gotten a facelift. The overhang will be divided into thirds. Each third will become a large box stall. The stalls will be safe, warm and well lit.

Each stall will have a door that opens into the main part of the existing barn aisleway. The new arrangement will allow for great air flow, very important to horses. It will also give me the advantage to see each horse at a glance. The entire herd will be able to see and interact with each other. Feeding, cleaning, harnessing and any daily chore will be made easier by these new changes.

The box stalls will be a size of about 16 by 10 feet. There is a lot remaining to do, but we are well started on this new project. There are lots of behind the scenes things going on. These little things help to keep the project moving along well. Things like ordering special trim, figuring how to best utilize our native lumber during the high cost of conventional lumber prices and keeping the work area cleaned up ready for the next part of the project. This attention to detail, keeps the project moving along even when the job looks idle.

This project has to take a backseat to daily chores, fence line cleaning, and the ever present firewood job that maple syrup making demands. We are also waiting, somewhat patiently, for our new Suffolk foal who is due any day. Stay tuned for updates.



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!