RicelandMeadows


First Cutting Hay 2022
June 20, 2022, 11:55 pm
Filed under: June 2022 | Tags: , , ,

June 20, 2022

We are done with our first cutting hay for 2022. There is one small field that remains. We didn’t cut it yet due to an abundance of nesting birds. We will cut it in another couple of weeks. It is just one acre. It will be a small job so I consider our job completed for now.

Our son Jake and I split our teams up. We put each one of his younger horses with each one of mine. This made for two great teams of working partners. Belle and Abby are pulling the tedder, fluffing the hay to cure and dry.

After the tedding was done, Amee and Anna pulled the hay rake, making fluffy windrows to finish drying in the sun.

I followed up the next day with the tractor and baler. We are far from having all of our winter hay stored away yet, but we are off to an exceptional start.

We will haul these bales off the field in the next few days. The horses easily pull 5 at a time on the wagon like in the photo at the top. I look like it was more work for me than them and it is! Climbing up the hay rack with two steel knees, carrying an extra few pounds makes the age show on this teamster!

It was a great few days. The weather held. The temperature was actually cool with a stiff, hay drying wind. The flies were almost non-existent! We have more work to do, but wow, what a great few days this was. The horses all worked great and barely worked up a sweat in the cool air.

This evening we got a brief rain shower. The corn and recently cut hay were all grateful. I am satisfied and well pleased. God is good…all the time!



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.



Mama’s Day
May 9, 2022, 10:24 am
Filed under: May 2022 | Tags: , , ,

May 9, 2022

Yesterday, on Mother’s Day, we spent the day touching base with family and enjoying a little horse time. My wife Connie spent a little bonding time with our 5 week old filly Maggee.

We put most of the horse herd together. Our two year old and our yearling fillies are in in a different pasture. The rest of the herd, including little Maggee, is all together with the stallion Hank. He inspected all the ladies, chased a couple around for a minute or two, but then all was quiet.

The pastures are rich and the grass is fresh. The horses are enjoying it. The sunshine is wonderful after a dreary rainy month. The pastures are a bit wet, but we needed to get the horses out. Hay is running low. Plus Amee and Maggee need the added nutrition the growing grass provides. The sunshine too is good for all.

It was a wonderful day. Many successes, including the herd dynamics all working out. By this time next year, we hope for 4 new mamas here at Riceland Meadows, as we work to preserve this critically endangered breed.



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.



Generations
April 28, 2022, 7:34 pm
Filed under: April 2022 | Tags: , , ,

April, 28, 2022

This is a picture of our mare Abby (on the left) with her first born filly Bree on the right. Bree turned 2 years old last week. Bree will start her training in the next few days. The lessons are easy and short, but by next spring, Bree will be a valuable addition to our working horses. She will go to work, while several of the older mares will be on maternity leave.

It is hard to believe that just two years ago we had our first Suffolk Punch baby born on the farm. Our herd has grown since then too. The babies will all be trained to work. It is important that they can do any job on the farm from hauling manure to mowing hay. I can’t even imagine a maple syrup season without the horses pulling the sap sled.

I guess that is how it goes. My great grandfather, my grandfather and my father all farmed. I am farming and my sons all dabble in a part of agriculture. Some are syrup producers, one makes wood products, one raises goats, one got the “horse bug” , all have gardened and they all enjoy small parts of farming. All of our daughters raise chickens and flowers. I have at least passed on my passion for it. I see my grandchildren dabbling in the dirt too and it pleases me.

I love this life and all the rewards that come with it. I feel the love of generations when I go about my daily chores. To see the little ones helping makes my heart happy. So, as Bree starts to work alongside her momma, I will just smile, because that is what we do!



Our 2022 Foal is Here!

April 4, 2022

We welcome our farm’s newest addition, Riceland Meadows Miss Magee. I pronounce it like (Maggie) She was born on April 1 at 11:15 pm. Momma and baby are doing great. She came after a few short nights for me as she and her mom teased me with her arrival time. The sleepless nights were worth it!

In this photo, Magee is about 2 hours old. She is a strong little gal. We like her very much. It pleases us that we are helping to preserve this endangered breed of draft horse. Miss Magee will hopefully help us continue to farm with, breed and raise Suffolk Punch horses. What a blessing to have another little girl.

Magee’s mom and our Abby, helping in the maple woods last month. Mom is now on maternity leave. Her job is to take care of Magee. Magee’s mom is named Amee and she is a honey too!



All Done for 2022 Maple Season

March 21, 2022

Last Thursday, we untapped our maple trees. The warm weather, with no freezing nights has brought an end to our maple syrup season. We pulled the taps from the trees, gathered up our bags for recycle and said thank you to the trees.

Today, I boiled water and started the big job of cleaning up the sticky pans and equipment. It is a job that is sweet, bittersweet! It means putting everything to bed until next year. This year’s season was only 19 days long for us. We did make some very nice syrup, but the season was about half what is normal. That is okay, we will be thankful for what we made.

Our son’s young team of Suffolk horses, Anna and Belle have learned quite a bit this season. They are looking forward to the next jobs of field preparation for the coming crops. It is a busy time, but we take time to listen to the “peepers” and watch for spring flowers. I love this life!



A Road Less Traveled

March 15, 2022

Our maple season is in full swing It came upon us fast. It has been a crazy year with extreme highs and lows. Usually that is just what we need, but the sun too has been a bit fleeting. Warm days with no sun, makes the trees stingy with their sap. Then several days of below freezing stops the flow as well. No matter what, we will be thankful for what we get.

The road in the picture above has been used to collect sap for over twenty years. We even dragged logs on this road during a small timber harvest two years ago. The light impact of our horses feet compared to the ruts of a tractor or other wheeled vehicle can easily be seen. Real horsepower in a woods, even at this most sensitive time of year, is a very positive thing.

The sap is running after a very cold weekend. I like this time of year. It is like waking up in the morning. First you open your eyes and stretch, perhaps roll over and just rest a bit. Then you rise up and start your day. I think mother nature is just waking up, nodding off a bit, but will soon rise up and it will be full blown spring! The warm days and plentiful rains will make the grass green, the trees bud and the soil warm.

But for now a little cold a little ice will rule the time. I agree that I am ready for spring, but a few more days of late winter and perfect sap running weather suits me just fine. I really do travel down a road less traveled.



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.



2022 Maple Season Underway
February 28, 2022, 2:35 pm
Filed under: February 2022 | Tags: , , ,

February 28, 2022

We tapped the trees last Saturday. Now we wait for the first run of sap. This has been a crazy spring so we expect a roller coaster of a season. We need the freeze and thaw weather to make the sap run, but we need it to do both! Lately we get very cold weather and no warm or a day or two of warm with no cold. Time will tell how our season turns out, but it looks good for this coming week.

Abby and Amee did an awesome job pulling the sled while we tapped. A four wheeler or tractor would not have worked too well for us this year. The four wheeler would have gotten stuck in the mud and ice or perhaps even in the deep snow. A tractor would have made some awful ruts in places. The horses were steady and traversed the sap roads with ease.

I did take a tie rope along and even tied it to small trees when we stopped. They stayed standing and never tightened the rope. Often I was a hundred yards away or more. They couldn’t see us at times, but they waited patiently for us to return and move them and the sled to a new area. I am very pleased with them and their work ethic. They are indeed my partners.

Now, we wait for the sap to run and fill the plastic bags. We will gather the sweet liquid and take it to the sugarhouse to be boiled. Everything is almost ready and what isn’t, soon will be. Our sweet reward for the hard work will soon flow…and very soon flow over some hot pancakes! Here we go! Thanks to my grandparents and parents for teaching and sharing this love for the maple woods!