RicelandMeadows


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!



March-ing Forward
March 6, 2022, 7:48 pm
Filed under: March 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

March 6, 2022

The maple season is upon us. Last week we got our pans sweet. This next run will start to yield 2022 maple syrup. It is a crazy, wonderful time of year. I love it.

We spent time today gathering the sap, going tree to tree and collecting from the clear bags. We had all sorts of friends and family helping. We used our youngest son’s horses today to pull the sap gathering sled. They are still youngsters, still in training, but they did an outstanding job.

Our girls watched Jake’s horses as we hooked to the sap sled. Watching are Amee, Abby, Grace and Bree.

Our stallion Hank will soon be on the sap sled too. He works best with our Abby. Since Abby got the day off, so did Hank. He will soon be working and taking it all in stride.

He is growing well. He turns three in April

Sometimes he looks at me as if to say, “What do you want?” I can’t wait for him to change that look to “come on , let’s go!” Soon he will be hauling sap, pulling a few logs and getting plenty of wagon time. The plow is ready and the days of spring are coming fast.

This is our filly Grace. Some of you will remember that she fell down an old hand dug well late last year. She lost about half of her mane in that accident. That was about five months ago. The hair is growing back in quite well and remarkably, it is coming back in her natural color. I was afraid that It might come in white, but nope. It healed very well along with her other bumps and scrapes. God is good!

So, we are marching forward in this month of March Stay tuned for updates and information regarding the farm, maple syrup, horses and our family adventures.



Here Comes the Cold
January 15, 2022, 1:43 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 15, 2022

Hank, our herd stallion and me clowning around for the camera. He wasn’t impressed with the flash too much. We have been busy training with Hank, keeping him on track to become a great work horse.

He is growing well and will turn three years old in April. He has a deep, wide chest. I like this quality in a horse. It is our hope that Hank will pass this trait along to his offspring.

His best quality is his mind. He is a very likeable horse who has great manners. He doesn’t bother the ladies. Well, he may walk by close enough to get a squeal out of them, but he is just teasing. The mares are serious about no monkey business. He just walks away and minds his own business. When we work, he keeps to himself too. I really like this guy. He is a model stallion for any breed, but exemplifies the Suffolk Punch breed.

I expect him to reach 17 hands tall, with plenty of bone. He will start expanding into his body over the next two years as he matures. He has been a good horse to raise. I hope that our progress remains positive. I wouldn’t recommend a stallion for everyone, but this guy has been good for us. His first baby is due in April. We are getting excited to see what he passes on to his children.

The January cold is upon us. It is nice to have the mud frozen. The ground can be driven on anywhere on the farm. This moves many of our projects along well. I spread some compost last week and will complete that job later today. We are spreading only on paddocks with good green buffers on all sides to ensure our runoff stays put. We wouldn’t normally spread on frozen ground, but our manure pile is huge and we are simply out of room.

We plan to harvest a few trees next week for the lumber for a project we are working on. The frozen ground makes that job a joy to do. We must dress for it. I take a few extra breaks in to warm shop to warm fingers and hands, but I sure am enjoying being out of the mud!



Celebration Day
December 30, 2021, 10:58 am
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 30, 2021

I enlisted a little help, but the woodshed is now full! I am ready to boil maple sap for the upcoming 2022 season. This is much later than I usually complete this job, but I will celebrate anyway. It was muddy when we got off the driveway, but Abby and Amee handled it all in stride.

We have more wood that has been split, so a good start on the wood for 2023 season. It is my plan to fill the woodshed at the completion of the 2022 maple season. Once the woodshed has been filled, I want to continue with the cutting and splitting. The goal is to get to the point where we will be almost 2 years ahead on the wood supply. I already have the next 2 years worth of logs piled in a sunny place making this goal easily attainable.

After a day of wet, cold, rain and snow, it feels good to bed down. I don’t care if you are two-legged or 4-legged a warm dry bed is a beautiful thing!

We here at the farm hope all of our readers had a wonderful Christmas. We are also wishing you a Happy New Year. We look forward to each day gifted to us. We make plans, prepare and execute work, but first we ask for our endeavors to be blessed. It is hard at times to wait for things to fall into place, but thankfully they usually do. If things don’t go well, it is best to pause, examine our plans and even our hearts. One thing that I know for sure… God will make a way where there is no way! We just need to focus on the destination and not the journey…. for the journey rests in God’s hands.