RicelandMeadows


Dashing Through the Snow
January 19, 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: January 2023 | Tags: , , , ,

January 19, 2023

This week we had some old fashioned fun. We hooked our new to us mare with our Amee and went for a sled ride. We haven’t had much snow this year, so it was nice to not be playing in the mud! Rosie, our new mare did great. She worked as good as I could have hoped. We pulled our laughing grandchildren behind the sled on their own little sled. All the noise, squeals and laughter made for a good time for me and bothered the horses not one bit.

We used the beautiful day to further Hank’s training some too. Hank, with the stripe, is our coming 4 year-old stallion. Here he works with Abby, pulling a training tire and my grandchildren on their sled. The noise didn’t bother Hank either. He took the day in stride too It was a wonderful time for us all.



New Year, but Where is Winter?
January 9, 2023, 10:58 pm
Filed under: January 2023 | Tags: , , , ,

January 9, 2023

After a very cold Christmas season, we have been enjoying some unseasonable weather. We have had plenty of rain and LOTS of mud. All the mud makes it hard to keep the horses exercised. We have been hitching as often as possible. In the photo above, my multi-tasking son leads his filly over to be worked. He was hauling over some manure and drinking coffee and listening to music, while this wild steed walked along beside him.

This says a lot about the Suffolk horse. She was not bothered by the running motor, the rattling cart or anything for that matter. All of this going on and she hasn’t been out of her loose box stall for 2 days. She worked good alongside my Abby mare. This is Belle. She and Abby have worked quite a bit together, but she will work with any of our horses. In the coming days we will be working many different pairs. The young horses in training will soon be paired up to start actual meaningful work.

The weatherman says that we will see a dip in the temperature, by the end of the week. I just hope for a freeze up. We have quite a bit to do before the maple season starts. I’d like to have horses ready, willing, trained and able to work the sugarbush by the end of February. It will all work out, but for now we will wait on winter and play in the mud a bit.



Winter Storm Brewing

December 20, 2022

It is a beautiful day today. It is wintery and cold, but the sun keeps peeking through the clouds. We don’t have as much snow as in this picture from a couple years ago, but it is coming. The weatherman says our high’s will be in the single digits F. Brrr, I have been making preparations, but still have a ways to go. I am still battling from the winter virus, so I am weak and get winded easily. It makes me wonder how Santa does all that jumping in and out of a sleigh with his big belly?!

Looks like we will be trapped indoors a bit while the cold snap wreaks havoc outside. It is a good time for training youngsters and socializing babies. The winds can howl while we enjoy the warmth and comfort of the barn, mixed with the wonderful smell of horse!

Soon we will be playing in the snow, but for now it is a rest, drink and heal kind of day. We will take the storm head on and find much to be thankful for as we watch the weather outside and listen for sleighbells in the air!



New Driver, Maybe?

July 20, 2022

Two years ago this past April, this little filly was born. We have worked with her and welcomed her into our daily routine. She is a sweetie. Today was her first time being driven. She walked off like a professional. She has a long way to go, but we overcame leaving the barn by herself, starting, stopping and turning on command. We kept her lesson short and positive.

Her training begins to get serious now. She will be driven like this a few more times. The next step is for her to pull a light but noisy weight of some kind. We switch the weight up often. Sometimes the weight is just a log chain dragging behind, sometimes a small wooden sled, perhaps a tarp or child’s plastic sled. Then a tire will be dragged around. Finally, she will be worked alongside one of our broke horses and used on the wagon or other light implement. She is a big girl now and by next summer will be a valuable part of our horsepower here at the farm.

Today, Abby and Amee and I clipped a small piece of second cutting hay. The area we mowed is an odd shaped field, that needs some attention. We will take this little bit of hay off, then plow this area. We will use this little field as a “playground” for a couple of months.

The young horses being trained (except Bree above) will learn to use all sorts of equipment here. We will plow, disc, harrow, use cultivators, spread manure etc. Then in mid-September, this small field will be planted to speltz and reseeded to hay. There will be much education here for both teams and teamsters. We will also be introducing a few interns to draft horse field work. This area will teach and build confidence in both the horse and the person.

Having a training ground should work out very well. If our youngsters learn to be as good as Abby and Amee, I will be one very pleased farmer! These two are my main team. They get better every time I drive them. I enjoy this small farming life. Working and driving such calm, smart animals increases my pleasure. So, yes, I’ll put the time into our “new drivers” and smile big as I walk and work behind them.



Stunning Gentleman

July 10, 2022

The sun shines on our stunning herd sire Hank. This picture was snapped by our daughter Lisa. He is growing into a real workhorse. His qualities of mind and body are excellent. He is a gentleman both in the field and in the barn. He watches over his herd and all the goings on around the farm.

In the barn, he watches all the visitors, but greets them with a confident, quiet attitude. We are proud of this guy. He will have babies of his own next spring. All of us are looking forward to see just what he puts into his progeny. I expect good things and if he is any example, I know that we won’t be disappointed.

These gals are both expecting babies next April. Currently, they are doing farm work, greeting and hauling children and making me smile often. I cannot say enough good things about these Suffolk Punch horses! It may seem a bit strong, but I love them!



A Good Day for Training

May 30, 2022

Today was a good day for training. Hank, our stallion, is on the right. He is sweating from a little work, but mostly nerves. Look at Abby on the left. She has done the same amount of work, but she just walks along taking it all in stride. Hank wanted to fuss a little and be out in front pulling much of the load. He was wide awake and looking for anything to be mad about.

After about a half hour of him fussing, he decided that it was much easier to just relax and do what I asked and what Abby did. He was a real good horse by the time the lesson ended for the day. I don’t fight with him, I just let him have a little more of the load and talk softly to him to build trust and confidence. He does better at every lesson.

I had been using a jockey stick on him. The jockey stick is a pole about 48 inches long. I fastened it to Abby’s bottom hame ring and then to Hank’s halter. The purpose of the stick was to keep him n his place and to keep him from reaching out to her exhibiting stallion behavior. In other words it kept him minding his P’s and Q’s.

If you look close you will see that there is no stick being used. He has learned that he must behave when in harness. I kept a rope from her hame ring to his halter as a sort of safety rope in the event he rubbed his bridle off. He isn’t going to run off with my big anchor Abby standing where I say whoa. He never tightened the rope and he kept in his place like a true gentleman.

We have a long way to go to make him a trusted workhorse but he is well on his way. He turned three years old in April. I can now use him for meaningful work. Those sessions will be kept short and the loads still a bit light, but he will be contributing to the farm and his upkeep.

My voice and time together coupled with some sweat, makes for good, well broke, trained animals. Nothing beats daily use to keep draft animals working and working well.

Our newest filly Maggee has become a friendly little gal. All of us pet her and make her welcome. My wife Connie greets all the babies and makes them feel at home. Her soft voice lets them know that no danger will befall them in our presence. This same direction is used when training our youngsters. We want them comfortable, safe and secure. They will be asked to work and expected to do their share, but kindness prevails at all times.



Looking Ahead

May 27, 2022

We are getting a few things done, but the wet weather continues. Earlier this week, we made videos for Rural Heritage on RFD-TV. We spent two days filming. The videos will appear on RFD-TV in to coming months. Hank, who is enjoying the mineral tub in the photo above, worked with Abby hitched to our training tire in one of the films.

The mineral tub is like a candy bar to the horses. They lick and eat the molasses covered minerals free choice. This year we are trying a tub that includes garlic. The hope is that the garlic helps with fly control. We are only a few weeks into using it, so we will see how well it works. All of the horses like the lick, even our filly Maggee.

After getting their fill from the mineral tub, Amee, followed closely by Maggee, head out to the big pasture to graze. Amee is starting to do light work with Maggee tied beside her. Amee’s maternity leave is almost over. She will still nurse Magge for a few more months, but she will work in the hay fields. Amee is getting extra feed and the best pasture grasses we have to keep her in good condition. Maggee too is getting grain, grass and mama’s milk. She is growing very well. The minerals help all the horses keep in good condition.

We got chased out of this years corn field yet again by rain. We are making progress and hope to be planted by the end of next week weather permitting. We just keep taking care of business and looking ahead.



Herd Sire Hank

May 23, 2022

Hank, quietly grazing with his small herd. The baby filly pays him no mind as she slumbers nearby.

Hank has a wonderful demeanor. He is always on the lookout for danger and also for flirty girls, but responds well to my voice. He brings the herd to the barn and is social with the farm’s visitors.

Our newest filly Maggee gets the run of the barn during the day. She visits Hank, who softly grooms the youngster.

Magee pays him back as she learns to also groom just the right spot.

This amazed me the first time that I saw it happen. Most studs may not think so kindly of a bothersome youngster, but Hank takes it all in stride. I think this action is just one more example of the Suffolk breed. I can say for sure that I am looking forward to seeing this level headed behavior in Hank’s offspring.



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.



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!