Social Distancing the Draft Horse Way
April 8, 2020, 11:01 am
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April 8, 2020

This pandemic is unlike anything I have ever lived through. I am cautiously optimistic about it being less of a threat soon. I, like many, can’t wait to hug my family again! Let’s all do our part so that when we can all gather again…all of us will be there.

The horses and I continue their lessons. They are doing very well, just learning the routine here and I am learning their quirks and dislikes. We are bonding now. This feels very good. They have accepted me as the “leader” and like to be petted and fussed over.

They are doing so well, I feel humbled by their willingness to please. Abby’s due date is coming fast. It is tentatively April 15th. That date is an estimate. Foals come when they are ready. I am keeping Abby comfortable. She gets a big roomy stall at night and a nice slow walk every day.

Spending time with the animals, especially the horses, keeps me somewhat satisfied during the long days with no family. Sure we talk on the phone, wave from the windows and even “Facetime” with some, but nothing beats loving on them. This too shall pass!

Spring is making her presence known. The warm sun and green grass is wonderful. Families are getting out and enjoying nature. That is a wonderful thing. The horses and I are liking the warmer weather. The work year is about to bust open, but for now we will idle our time, wait patiently on the foal and watch the lambs play in the sheep pasture. This is social distancing the Farm way!

Kit and Kaboodle
May 1, 2016, 3:12 pm
Filed under: May 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,


May 1, 2016

It continues to show the signs of spring on the farm. Baby lambs jump and play in the pasture, kittens mew in the barn and the grass continues to turn bright green. Today after a night of drizzle, the cows and horses are all stretched out soaking up the warm sunshine. It’s too wet to do much farming right now, but it sure is a great day for stretching out!

Why is it that the grass in the lawn out paces the grass in the pasture? I guess its because we don’t eat it, but it sure eats into our time having to mow. I guess that is one more signal of spring and the freshly mowed grass sure smells good! So, no complaints, just the facts I guess.

We have started to prep the gardens. That season will be upon us soon. In fact, early crops like peas, lettuce, radish and even potatoes could already be planted. No worries however, the warm soil will catch us all up once it dries out again. I will be preoccupied for a little while getting this years corn crop out. That job too will begin soon.

I guess we have much to do, all sorts of jobs, with just enough down time mixed in for the whole kit and kaboddle , to make for a very happy life!

3 Cheers For Spring
March 29, 2016, 12:56 pm
Filed under: March 2016 | Tags: , , , ,


March 29, 2016

Carmella, one of our ewes had her lambs last night. She had triplets. So far mom and babies are doing great. Momma gets her name from her coloring, caramel and vanilla. I’m original like that…we have had three different black ewes named midnight!

It’s lambing time for us over the next few weeks. I didn’t think we had any due until very early April. I moved the ewes to this pasture for them to lamb in the fresh air and sunshine. They have been in this paddock for about a week. I am glad that I moved them when I did. Obviously, it was a good idea for these little ones. So, does this mean that March is going out like a lamb?

Living on the Edge
November 1, 2015, 8:59 pm
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
The edge of the spelt field

The edge of the spelt field

November 1, 2015

Wow, the calendar moves again! I am busily preparing for winter. We butchered our last flock of meat chickens this weekend. They have gone off to freezer camp. We also got over two and a half gallons of rich broth from the backs and necks. The chickens grew fast and will be delicious all winter long 😮

I spent part of the last few days putting equipment away. I like it all stored inside, only the manure spreader needs attended to, but first we will spread the autumn compost. I moved the cows to their last paddock before winter this evening. They will graze there for another two weeks at least. Then its time to start feeding hay. It was a great grass year in spite of the mid-summer drought.

Tonight, I put the ram in with the ewes. They were having a ball getting to know each other. April babies will be bouncing around the pasture next spring, a happy sight after maple sugaring is over. For now, I will keep working on firewood. I have quite a bit to bring out of the east end of the woods. I planted speltz in our far east paddock, but knowing that I had wood to bring out, I left a sod strip along the fence.

That sod strip will hold up to the horse’s foot traffic much better than newly turned soil. It is a method of good stewardship leaving this edge to use. Soil erosion will be at a minimum. I won’t have big ruts to fix and the horses get a good place to walk…everybody wins!

As the woodland creatures and I prepare for winter, I think we are all on the edge a bit. We scamper crazily, knowing that soon the land will be covered in snow, or worse yet, cold rain. I feel better after this weekend of work, but I’m sure that I forgot something. Oh well, I ‘ll cross that bridge when we get to it, in the meantime, I will make plans for skidding logs on that well planned strip of sod with my horses. Horse time is a great stress reliever, keeping them out of the mud keeps me off the edge.

Once a shepherd… Always a shepherd
June 16, 2015, 8:20 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , ,
4-legged mowers back on the pastures!

4-legged mowers back on the pastures!

June 16, 2015

I just couldn’t stand spring time pastures without spring lambs I guess. No really it all came to me a few days ago. It makes no sense to have to mow the pasture around the back pond and sugarhouse. I have worked a long time to get good forage to grow there. I don’t want the cows or horses punching holes all around the pond edge. Trimming there is simply a sheep job. The grass turns small lambs into tasty meat by summers end. The place looks neat and trimmed to boot!

These ewes are from my old flock. I didn’t have to be too particular for I just want the mowing job done. I have my old black nemesis “Midnight” back. She and I have exchanged many looks and one-sided cuss sessions. I swear a lot and she just eggs me on with a baa-baa, raspberry sound 😮 I also got a couple ewes who only had one baby this year. Lastly, one ewe is here because she had a “bad personality”, what ever that means?

They are not too friendly yet. They managed to hang out long enough by the door to the sugarhouse last night to leave me a landmine…which I of course stepped in first thing. They watched from a nearby hillside with big grins on their faces. I shook my shoe to no avail. The manure made from clover blossoms and orchardgrass apparently has the same bonding ingredient as super glue. I did get it off after a trip through the mud to a nearby stream. Thanks to the sheep I walked in a wet shoe most of the morning! Ahhh yes…and it was my idea!

Then, There Were None
June 19, 2014, 8:44 am
Filed under: June 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

The sheep boarding the trailer

The sheep boarding the trailer

June 19, 2014

After much consideration, thought and meditation, I sold our sheep flock. I have been a shepherd since 1999. I watched over, herded and took care of sheep for fifteen years. I spent countless hours watching baby lambs bounce around the fields of Riceland Meadows.

It is with a little bittersweet sadness that I close this chapter of our farming operation. I liked the sheep. They kept the pastures and fencerows neat and clean. They could mow around a building much easier than I, but I need to focus on other parts of our operation.

I raised my sheep and lambs on pasture. Lambing time came in May most years, when the demands for spring planting was licking at my heels. It followed closely the maple syrup season and pushed me hard to keep things in balance.

I want to do more farming with my draft horses. I want to focus here on my farm, giving up acres farmed for others. By sending the sheep to a new home, the need for hay and pasture will be less. I can focus on our cattle and hog operations.

The cattle are raised mostly to keep our family in beef. The hogs fit my busy life and the tillable acres of my farm. I can focus on the acres here, increasing fertility and the carrying capacity of our farm. Using the draft horses makes economic sense and pleases me very much.

My sheep have an excellent new home. I get to visit any time that I want. I will send my customers there next season. The lambs from this year will be fattened by me and fill orders already taken. I guess it is my way of “weaning” myself from having sheep. 😮

As I closed the trailer door after delivering the sheep, I realized that I had also closed a chapter in my life. I may one day have sheep again, but for now…. there are none.

Goodbye my friends.

Goodbye my friends.

And the Rains Came
June 18, 2014, 9:35 pm
Filed under: June 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Storm clouds loom in the southeastern sky

Storm clouds loom in the southeastern sky

June 18, 2014

After a couple of grueling days in the tractor seat, I beat the rain and got four acres of sorghum/Sudan grass planted. The rain chased me to the house, but the seed had all been planted 😮

It has been a very busy two days. I am pressed a bit, but making progress. I had to catch up, so no horse time on this job, but soon we will be in the hay fields, with the horses supplying the power.

I have been moving the cows every day to the horse pasture. The multi specie grazing makes use of the grass best this way. The cows eat what the horses leave. Soon we will mow the pasture to stimulate grass regrowth. The mowing also knocks back the weeds.

The cows are tonight, grazing the wooded pasture where the goats have been. Just like the horses, the goats leave lots of good grass for the cows to enjoy.

It has been a good two days too. The corn is peeking through the soil, the lambs are growing and the hay looks great. The rains are welcomed as is the little bit of rest that comes with it…although, there is always manure to take care of my down time!

Lambing Time
April 19, 2014, 6:13 pm
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: , , ,
April Babies

April Babies

April 19, 2014

It’s time for the 2014 lamb crop. The weather is beautiful. We lost three little ones born the night of the winter storm. So far, these babies are doing great. We have several more moms to lamb yet. Soon, the pasture will be jumping with cute little fluffy lambs.

The sugarhouse clean-up continues. I am very slow I guess. It seems that I have been working for a week, but it looks like I have only been a couple of hours. Maybe, I’m just too picky, but I want it clean, not sticky and neat…even the woodpile 😮

A walk through the woods revealed a whole list of things that I would like to do. I had a great walk. The ramps, wild onion, trillium and other small wild flowers were blooming. It warms my heart to see the signals of spring and the beginning of another life cycle.

The sun has been warm these last few days. The soil is drying out some. I can’t plow yet, but it won’t be long. I will keep working on my clean-up job while I plan for manure spreading and plowing. In the meantime, the lambs will play, racing and chasing one another around the pasture…. I will watch, laugh and remember my grandpa Rice.

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