RicelandMeadows


Training and Working

Bree1haircut

August 1, 2020

Bree, our young filly got her first haircut with the noisy clippers. She is just over 3 months old. She was not impressed by the noise, but in just a couple of minutes, she let me trim her bridle path, without even flinching. I ran the clippers all over her body so she could hear the noise and feel the vibration. I talked to her the whole time in a calm voice. She took it all in stride, knowing that no harm was in store.

mheath1

Last week I spent time in a woods that I had worked in ten years ago. I did a timber stand improvement project using a worst first, crop tree release approach. This current harvest is a selective cut. We are removing large trees crowding the under story of growing trees, mostly hard maples. These bigger trees are mature and now prone to blowing over due to the next door neighbor clear cutting his forest.

mheath2

We are using logging carts and even a winch cart in this open woodlot. The winch cart handles heavy, long logs with ease.

mheath3

The horses enjoyed the cooler temperatures, worked steady and made it look easy!

I was very pleased to see the progression of the forest. This harvest is a big one, but in 15 years this woodlot will be ready to harvest again. Sustainable, restorative logging is the way to go. This woodlot owner also has the potential to become an Ohio maple syrup producer. He will have an outstanding sugarbush in 2 to 3 years. Just the right time frame to tap a few trees and work out the growing pains of the industry. In no time this woodlot will contain 500 plus maple taps with more coming into production every year.

If it turns out that maple syrup isn’t his, “thing”, then the hard maple lumber harvest in his future is promising too. All of the standing trees will have some clear, very desirable furniture grade lumber in them. In the meantime, he can enjoy nature, birdsong and the peace found in a woodland holding. I know I sure do!



Logging, Lessons and Leisure

MFskid2020

May 6, 2020

Its early spring. Everything is too wet for farm field work. We are filling our days with projects that fit the farm plan, the weather and the pandemic leisure time. I opened our maple sap woods to let in more sun for growing maple trees. This “crop tree release” harvest amounted to harvesting a bunch of ugly, low value trees. This “worst first” selection will lead to a beautiful sugarbush someday soon.

The trees were extracted using real horsepower. My horses are on maternity leave, so I enlisted the help of two Amish friends of mine. We had a fun time. Things went very well as we surgically removed the marked trees. I marked the trees using the following criteria; biologically mature, crooked or forked, distance to a growing hard maple sapling and density of the canopy. Biologically mature, means dying of old age. We also removed the last remaining Ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer.

logpile1

logpile2

These two piles are the result of six days logging.  I wanted them harvested before the leaves came out. This makes the big job of cleaning up the treetops a little easier. The treetops will be cut, split and stacked to boil maple sap and heat a few homes. We took out 60 trees in the wettest section of the woods. I am sure that I will see improvement very quickly. The horses made very little impact, even in the wet conditions. I will rework my sap roads that we used to skid the logs out. This will be an easy job thanks to the the horses.

logmud

We have also been working with our new horses. The two week old filly continues with her lessons in learning to lead and be tied up. She is a little sweetie and is learning very well. Hank, our stallion prospect also gets handled daily. He must learn to be a gentleman and a workhorse, before we use him for a daddy.

breetie

Spring is wet, but field work will start very soon. In the meantime we will work on manners, firewood and lessons in our leisure time.

 



Movie Stars

moviestars

March 24, 2016

Yesterday, the folks from Rural Heritage magazine were here to make a movie about my farm and draft horses. We spent the entire day filming. The horses pulled my sled, hauled the manure spreader with the power cart and skidded logs with our log cart. They performed beautifully, as expected…but you just never know…they are animals after all.

We will finish up this morning with the film crew. The movies will appear during the month of May on RFD TV. The videos will also be available from the Rural Heritage website. If you check out the Rural Heritage Facebook page, you can see some teaser photos taken during the filming.

They will be making two segments one geared toward our environmental and woodland stewardship. The other video will be about using draft horses for power on a mixed powered farm. The videos showcase our work horses Knight, Hoss and Duke. (each horse was played by himself) I am there too, but the real stars were the horses.

These are exciting and busy times here at Riceland Meadows. I’m sure glad you folks are along for the ride!