RicelandMeadows


Snowvember 2021
November 30, 2021, 11:13 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

November 30, 2021

It has been another moist month! Rain and drizzle fell until the middle of the month, when the precipitation turned to sleet and snow. The moisture has made things difficult for most farming operations. Thankfully our harvest is done. We just struggle with wet pastures.

The cattle are in their winter pasture, complete with a shed and added feed. I just don’t like it that they are making too many hoofprints. The good news is that our number of steers is down. The animals are young so they are small and weigh less than the ones headed to freezer camp. Those are on the feedlot concrete.

The horses too have been only let out on their pasture sparingly. I work them for exercise. The young horses have box stalls and all get daily turnout on a portion of the concrete feedlot. I am keeping them up out of the mud not only to give our pastures a break, but to keep them healthy too.

They get to munch hay and wander around as they like. Hank gets scolded a little as he “checks” the girls. They are both in foal and do not want any of his nonsense. They lay their ears back and squeal. He is smart enough to walk away and just munch hay. He is a good boy.

A couple mornings in a row we had frozen ground for a couple of hours. I let all the horses out to really run, romp and roll. I think they enjoy those times, or perhaps they just enjoy the added brushing it takes to get them clean.

We continue to train the young horses like Hank. It is a bit of a challenge due to the wet fields. We stay on the long drive and lane way. It works ok, but I would like to get to some other jobs such as hauling logs and firewood. Exposure to work, noise and different things is vital when teaching the youngsters.

One thing about the snow….it sure makes things pretty!



Training Day, One of Many

April 5, 2021

Our nice weather continues. April Fool’s day and Easter are behind us. We are training our young horses. We hitch them as often as we can, daily when possible. Hank, the horse with the white stripe on his face, is doing great. This was his first time hitched in a team. We have used him in a 3-horse hitch several times, but today was his maiden voyage hitched this way. He did very well thanks to his teammate Abby. She is showing him “the ropes”.

We use a two wheeled cart pulling a tire for these lessons. The tire provides some weight, noise and resistance. It makes weird noises as it drags along behind. These noises help to get young horses to pay no attention to what’s behind them. All they have to do is just listen to the direction and confidence in their master’s voice. Perhaps, all of us should take note ?

Spring plowing has started. Hank will take his turn soon for a few short lessons. Hank will turn 2 later this month. This training is to help him grow and learn for now. Later, as he matures, the work load will increase, but for now it all about learning the job and getting his mind right. He is a gangly teenager now with a few raging hormones. Work helps to keep things under control.

What a pair!

My son Jake is making good progress with these fillies of his. They too are in the learning stages. It takes time and patience to make a good draft horse. They need to work, stand, listen and be willing to do any job when asked. This early training makes all those things possible. It keeps the horses in a safe learning environment. It also builds the bond between them and us. We all learn to rely on each other in a harmonious relationship. These horses too will soon celebrate birthdays. They will turn 3 and 2 in the next few weeks. Belle, the three year old, will soon join my team of mares for more in-depth training on other equipment used in the farming operation. She will learn to be prompt and she will build endurance, as the jobs get longer and the loads get heavier at times.

This window for this intense training is due in part to my main team member, Amee, going on maternity leave. She is due to foal by the end of the month. We are getting excited about that too. We are closing up the maple season by cleaning and storing equipment. This job takes a while, mostly because it is a heavy, sticky job that requires help. I guess also because this weather has been wonderful and its hard to keep inside where the cleaning takes place. The good news is that the worst of that job is over. I will have it completed by the end of the week. In the meantime, I will continue to train the youngsters and think spring!



Bye Bye January

January 31, 2021

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of January 2021. It has been a full month. Our Christmas gatherings were pushed into this month as we celebrated in small groups. We, of course, had lots of chores and work to do, but we found plenty of time for some fun too. In the photo above, Hank (in the center), got hitched with the mares for the first time. He did remarkably!

I have been driving him single for a while. We would take walks around the farm as he got used to the harness and being driven. His progress is steady. He is a baby , so we are going slow. Hank won’t be two years old until April. Hank is a stallion. I hope to keep him busy with daily work, to keep his mind busy, as his body struggles with all those teenaged hormones.

I didn’t expect any problems, but I still enlisted the help of my buddy’s boys. They are driving in the picture while I took the photo. It was good insurance to have the help, even though I didn’t need it. One can never be too cautious. Hank learned fast what to do. The mares beside him did amazing, as they worked and paid him no mind. The noise behind him and the weight they pulled, did not cause any concern for Hank. He just did what the girls did. We have many more days of training in our future, but this was a wonderful “first time out”.

February, brings us maple syrup season. I have been busy preparing for this time too. Things are getting completed and a few blog posts in the coming days, will show and explain my efforts.

The last of the pig butchering is behind us now too. We worked up the last smoked meat last week. It is a blessing to have the knowledge, the ability and the equipment to do our own processing. This year small processors are backed up for months on end. We, by law, can’t process for others, but we can do our own. The place smells wonderful as the hickory smoked bacon gets sliced…and fried :o)

Bye bye January, thank you for the harvest, the accomplishments and the gathering of family and friends!



First Steps
Sorry about the manure in the foreground

December 10, 2020

All of us remember our first steps, perhaps not when learning to walk, but for sure starting a new venture like a job or relationship. Hank is taking his first steps in learning how to be driven. He is doing very well. His biggest problem on lesson one, was being very relaxed. This made it a wonderful problem for both of us. He much preferred to just stand and look around, rather than walk on. My son led him a bit. Hank was very content to just follow him. Once my son would let Hank take the lead, Hank would just stop and wait for him to catch up.

I encouraged him from behind with words of encouragement and clucks from my mouth, but Hank simply rested on three legs waiting on my son to give him direction. It took awhile, but he finally caught on, that I was guiding him from the rear. I have driven him every single day since. We keep the lessons short. He is responding well and allows me to be in control from the back. He is gaining confidence and learning to walk on, turn and stand when told whoa. He is very patient with me.

Our only issue came when Hank saw his reflection in the barn door window. He made a sideways jump, then turned his head to look. I let him stand a minute to process what he saw. We then walked away. On the next round, he looked at the window again, slowed but didn’t stop. Now, when we go by the window he pays it no mind. I walked him near my truck to again catch his reflection in the mirror or windows. He does see it, but is not frightened by it. Progress is a wonderful thing

Soon, he will be hitched as part of a team. First he needs to hear and understand basic commands. He needs to hear strange noises and feel things drag behind him. I will introduce him to all of these things, slowly and safely. I want to continue to be able to keep him learning in his relaxed, calm manner. He is a big boy who won’t be two years-old until next spring. This early training is to keep his mind on something other than the ladies. Hank is and will remain, a stallion. It is very important that he respects me, trusts me and becomes a working member of our farm. I will say that he is off to a great start…even though we are just taking our first steps.



Training a Yearling

hankharness1

July 31, 2020

I continue to train our young stock. Hank, our yearling stallion, is learning to wear his harness. I put it on and off. I rattle the chains and fuss with the straps. I make him move from side to side as I walk around. Most importantly, I make him wear the gear for longer and longer periods. We are now up to about an hour of just standing with the harness on in a safe environment.

Today, I introduced him to the bridal and bit. He had to keep it on for about a half hour. I let him learn about it,  by just staying near as he fumbled with it in his mouth.

hankbit

He played with the bit with his tongue and teeth. I lead him around a while, then put him in his stall. I did a few other things as he stood in his stall, wearing his complete harness and bridal. After a little while, he just relaxed stood on three legs and rested. I left him stand and talked to him as I did other work around the barn.

He listened to my voice, but didn’t try to look over his blinders. He just stood like a perfect gentleman and waited for whatever was coming next. After he had stood relaxed for fifteen minutes or so, I brought him out of his stall and unharnessed him.

I started with his bridal first. As I took the bit out of his mouth, he just let it slip right out. I rubbed his ears and talked softly to him. He nuzzled me. I then took his harness and collar off. I made plenty of extra noise and made a few extra, unneeded movements, just to reinforce that all is well.

I brushed him for a while after removing his harness. He is a great student. Next we will begin line driving him on long lines teaching him to go, stop and turn. Very soon he will be going with the team, not to pull a load, just to learn commands and patience.

Hank is an April baby.  He will soon be 16 months old. It is a bit early for training to start, but he will be a stallion, so I want his mind busy with something other than breeding. He must learn to be a workhorse first. He will one day be our centerpiece.  This early learning is crucial for his development. Daily handling and good manners at all times is a must. So far, he is passing with flying colors!

 



Anchorman

KNIGHT10819

February 17, 2020

This guy right here is a rock star! He has been my buddy for many years. He can be counted on always! Today, he worked with me testing and training our new Suffolk Punch horses.

redameeknight

Here he is working on the left side with our mare Lakeview Amee as a partner. THey both did great. He does everything I ask. She was good too, but with a big anchor like him beside her, what choice did she have?

redabbyknight

This time, Knight is on the right side. He is an old pro. It makes no difference where he works. He can be counted on to be steady, prompt and reliable.

These new horses are supposed to be broke. I just wanted to be sure that they met my definition of broke. Knight made sure that I didn’t get into any trouble. Once again, I am in his debt.

He and Hoss will soon move to their new home. I am glad that they will be close enough for me to visit. Their new home is a good one, but it is bittersweet that I will say goodbye.

We had a great day of training. Things could not have gone better. Thanks to my son Jake for his help and most especially…thank you to Knight for being my anchorman!



Great Day for Three

abby3

January 17, 2019

Yesterday, I hitched my young filly “Abby” in a three abreast hitch, for the first time. She has been learning very well. Her training has been going very well. This is just part of the training program. She will soon learn to work single too. She is doing well and I am very pleased.

She is the middle horse in the photo above. She is paying attention and learning from me and from her teammates. The nice thing about having Knight and Hoss to teach her, is they can become two very big anchors if needed. She must go where they go, when they go. When I want them to stop and stand, she must do that too. Sometimes, she thinks she’d rather do something else, but good teamwork prevents her from getting into trouble.

I worked earlier this week butchering a steer for my Amish buddy. We had a good day of socializing, and coffee drinking. The steer will be worked up into cuts and burger in the coming days. I traded work with my buddy’s son, for my pat of the butchering. He in turn helped me finish filling the sugarhouse woodshed, yesterday afternoon, just before dark. What a great day!

marvsteer

Our weather is about to turn very cold, close to 0 degrees F. It will be nice to have a good day, inside cutting the meat and visiting. There isn’t much work to that job when many hands help. Good food and conversation is enjoyed by all.

Maple syrup season is under a month away. Abby will help this year. Three on a sap sled is a bit overkill, but having plenty of horsepower is much like cutting meat…many hands make light work. The sled can pull hard at times, but with three horses, leaning into the work together, it’s no job at all.



Almost Screwed Up
March 14, 2017, 6:25 pm
Filed under: March 2017 | Tags: , , ,

abbyharnessnew

March 14, 2017

Abby and I have been working on her training. She is doing very well. I decided that since I had my son’s help, I would hitch her with Duke to a sled. Everything went well as we hitched up…everything that is, until we forgot to hook Abby’s outside line. (it would be like trying to ride a horse with just one rein)

Abby didn’t like the sound of the sled on gravel behind her. She took off and even made Duke run for a minute. I had almost no control, other than a right hand turn. It happened quick ans was over almost as quick. I got them stopped and unhooked from the sled. That is when we discovered what had happened. We fastened her line to her bit and drove off again. Everything went much better. We stayed at it awhile so as to end her training on a positive note.

I was glad to have my son there, as well as, Duke who made it all end quickly. He was a little rattled, but know what whoa means. Having brakes is a wonderful thing! The training will continue, hopefully without any more rookie mistakes! That much excitement is rough on an old man’s underwear!



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.



Dress Rehersal
June 14, 2016, 7:17 am
Filed under: June 2016 | Tags: , , ,

Abbydressup

June 14, 2016

Yesterday evening, Abby got to play dress up. I have been putting this old collar on her for a few days now. The collar slips over her head like a t-shirt. She wasn’t too sure at first, but now actually pushes her head into the collar to help get it on. Last night, I put the rest of the harness on her back.

It is good for her to get used to the smell and feel of the harness. The straps hang down and touch her in different places. The tug chains rattle and jingle and even just the weight of the harness, is a different feeling for my young lady. She did great.

You can see by looking at her eye, that there is no fear. She trusts me to keep her safe. I put the harness on and off several times. She paid me no attention except for nuzzling me as I talked to her. This is a big deal, a benchmark in her training. Soon, she will be hitched alongside Duke, as she learns to be driven. It’s hard to say how that may go, but from everything I have seen so far, I think she will be a quick, calm learner.