RicelandMeadows


2020 Maple Season is History
March 21, 2020, 11:10 am
Filed under: March 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

boils2020

March 21, 2020

Our maple season came to a close last Tuesday. It was a short, yet wonderful season. We made plenty of nice syrup. We sold our darkest syrup (in the right of the picture) to some candy makers.

I love this time of year. The late winter cold mixed with the promise of spring stirs my soul. Perhaps it is my childhood memories of my parents and grandparents making maple syrup that stirs me? Whatever it is, it is born into me. I will do this sweet job as long as the good Lord allows.

lasthitchKH2020

This picture was taken on the last day that I gathered sap in 2020. It is a bittersweet photo, because it was also the last time that I hitched Knight and Hoss. They have moved to their new home. I spent the next day brushing and grooming them. We shared conversation and I shed a few tears, as I told my big boys goodbye.

Ateam

I used the new Suffolk mares to pull the sled while we untapped the trees. They drove well and will pick up where my boys left off.

untap2020

The taps and bags have all been removed. The evaporator pans have been disassembled for final cleaning. There is much to do to clean, store and organize until next year, but we are off to a great start. I should finish that job in a couple days.

I continue to work with the new Suffolk horses. I even allow myself some playtime for just riding around hooked to the forecart or wagon. It’s good for the new red horses and me to continue to get comfortable with each other.

hank3212020

Hank, our yearling stallion prospect, continues to grow and learn. He is a good little guy. His training continues daily. We work on manners and all sorts of ground skills. I also keep introducing him to “scary” things. I do it in a safe place for him. He takes it all in stride, knowing that I will keep him safe.

hankpressurewash

Here I am showing Hank that the pressure washer is nothing to fear. He took it all in, without any panic. He almost quit eating hay while I hosed him, but showed no fear or discomfort. This breed of horse has a very good mind. He is used to me introducing him to “boggymen”. Generally, he pays me no mind. Once in a while he shows me some white eye, but calms down quickly as I speak to him. I am enjoying these horses more than any I have ever owned.

There are some exciting and interesting times ahead for us here at Riceland Meadows. Stay tuned for our exploits and adventures!



A “Husband” for Abby

Firestorm3

May 2, 2019

Meet H&M Firestorm, a registered Percheron stallion. He and our Abby will soon share a baby together, if all goes well. I have searched for quite a while looking for what I wanted in a mate for her. Size, disposition, confirmation, attitude and breeding, all played a part in picking this guy out.

Firestorm2

He is a handsome fellow.

Firestorm1

He has great “assets”! He is a quiet guy with very good breeding behind him. He is sensible and broke to work on farm machinery. He is on the smaller size as draft horses go, but that is what I want. As I get older, I’d like to one day have a small farm team, easy to harness, but still able to do all the farm’s work.

Abby is also well bred. She too is a sensible horse to work and in the barn. I believe the foals from this mating should make for some great work horses. Only time will tell of course, but that is my hope. We should know a lot more by this time next year. It is my hope to raise several foals out of these two horses. Nothing in farming is “for sure”, but the promise in new life can be found easily on a farm.



The Stars Are Out Again!

Hosknisap2018

March 22, 2018

My horses are stars again! They just had the role in a video showcasing our farm’s maple syrup operation. The footage was shot by Rural Heritage magazine and will appear in the future on RFD-TV. The CD will also be available for purchase from Rural Heritage magazine. You can look for this and other episodes made here at the farm by going to their website Ruralheritage.com 

It was an amazing day. We gathered maple sap. We tapped a tree and we boiled the sap and made some syrup all while being filmed. The horses gave me a little “push back” at first , but soon settled into their routine and worked perfectly…. as expected.

Maple season has been hit and miss, but these last few days we have been very busy. We boiled for the 7th time yesterday. The next few days look pretty good too. We will be in a rush as the season will soon be at its end, but for now we will work hard, even into the night….working at times, when the stars are shining!

Special thanks to Susan Blocker for the amazing photo of Hoss and Knight pulling the sap sled!



Abby On The Grow

abby-first-day

December 13, 2016

We bought Abby this year in April. She has fit in very well. Her training continues and will continue for at least another year. I still have to remind her now and then that I am the boss, but she learns quickly. She has come to understand that I will win every argument without violence, but I will win.

Tonight, as I finished chores, I snapped this picture below. Yes, that is Abby on the left. She is growing well and quickly, like most youngsters.

abduke12-12

All horses turn a year older on January first, so Abby will be considered a three-year old. She will get to do meaningful work by spring. This winter, she will pull a sled and a wagon, as we do redundant training. She will stop, she will turn, she will stand and wait. She will go when asked and learn to pull steadily and consistently. The geldings will teach her as much, perhaps even more, than I will.

She is a special lady who pleases me very much. She is strong willed, yet lets me be in charge. She is steady and calm. She is trusting and friendly. She is graceful when she moves. She is my little girl and I think she is beautiful. Soon, she will fill her role as a team member and be an important power source for the farm. For now, her training continues while she learns and grows.



Parallel Lines
Another logger ... doing it right

Another logger … doing it right

 

May 21, 2013

Last weekend I attended a forestry conference. It was very well attended by young people in the study of forestry, landowners and consulting foresters. I went to meet Wendell Berry, a guest speaker. I also went to see some old friends. The program was top notch and I learned a little and re-affirmed much.

The conference was put on by the “Foundation for Sustainable Forests and the Forest Guild”. The program was to show sustainable forestry methods. We, as participants, had the opportunity to walk two side-by-side parcels of woodlands. Each parcel had been managed for 40 years.

The parcels had been managed on two very different ways. The first one was managed in a conventional way using big equipment and cutting the big trees. A large stand of hemlock, growing along a stream, had been removed. That parcel had been cut four times over the forty years. Some nice big trees remained, but they were spaced wide and brushy undergrowth crowded the forest floor.

The other parcel has been managed using draft animal power and a method of harvesting called “Worst First”. This parcel has been harvested twelve times in the past forty years. Undesireable tress were removed, storm damaged trees were harvested, and some pole timber was taken to enhance the understory.

The trees in this parcel were amazing. Several trees, numbering into the thousands were tall, straight, veneer quality specimens of Black Cherry and Oak. Sugar Maples were beautiful big trees that will dominate the landscape as the Oaks and Cherry trees are removed. The mid-story and under story trees were healthy and vibrant.

Looking at the two parcels, comparisons could be made in several areas. The roads made by the big equipment were compacted so hard, no trees and very few woodland plants grew in the hardened pathways. The skid roads left from horse logging resembled a hiker’s path. Flaura and Fauna grew everywhere, leaf litter was deep and trees along the roads were not scared from being hit by logs and equipment.

One part of the stream looked like a road ditch, where the Hemlock trees had been removed. The soft, damp ground was a mess of ruts and disturbed soil. The water struggled to find its way through the maze of tangled brush and old machine tracks. The parcel where the Hemlocks still guarded the stream, showed no silt in the water. The stream was free flowing along a rocky bottom. The actual temperature of the water was four degrees different. The cool waters under the branching hemlocks is home to brook trout and other water species.

I am an advocate for sustainable forestry. I learned more and I saw what a well managed forest looks like. I am very pleased to be doing this very thing. I didn’t know this logging company or it’s manager until this past weekend. Troy Firth Logging is the man and business who manages the woodlands in the sustainable way. I did not know him, but we are sure on parallel lines!