RicelandMeadows


Garden Harvest 2022

August 8, 2022

What a great reward for a little bit of work! Our gardens are in full swing, giving us produce almost as fast as we can pick it. I know that it is the same every year, but it never fails to make me humble. A little work, some seeds, topsoil and rain and a heaping scoop of God’s blessing and wow, what a harvest.

We are canning and freezing and keeping up. Hat’s off to my wonderful, hard working wife for her efforts. I do some of the dirty work, fetch and get, pick, husk and peel, but she makes the magic happen. She puts a little love in every single quart. I think that love is the secret ingredient that gets passed from generation to generation and crosses family lines. I say this because the food put up by my mom, my grandmothers and most anyone who takes the time do it correctly, tastes wonderful. It tastes like “home”. It fills your belly and warms your heart at the same time.

The work caused by growing one’s food, is a satisfying job. The sweaty brow, the dirty , sticky hands are just part of the experience. We involve our children and grandchildren, trying our best to pass on the love for land, wholesome food and a lifestyle that is a blessing. There is no work in a job when your heart is happy.

We still take time for fun! Maggee, at four months old, growing fast. She is shedding her baby hair. She will soon be weaned from mom. She gets lots of attention, as do all of our horses, but babies are so much fun! We mix work with fun, that balance makes everything better!



Summer Heat Build Up

August 7, 2022

I was finally able to gather friends and have a short frolic here to build an end wall in the hoop building. This wall will keep out the driving north winter winds. It seemed almost ironic to be building a wall to keep out the cold, on a very hot, muggy day. I am grateful for the friends who helped and for the farm forest as well. The lumber was all milled here from trees off the farm.

We got an early start and were done by lunchtime. We laughed, we worked and we broke bread. We stayed on task and beat much of the heat. The afternoon was spent fishing in our farm ponds. It made for a great day.

We framed in a door, just in case the future of the building would need one. The batten strips will go on in the coming days. I am pleased that the bulk of the work has been completed. I had expected to have had this done months ago, but things don’t always go as planned. No matter, we will be all closed in before winter hits. The south east end will be left open for easy entry and use. That protected end makes for a nice place on a cold sunny day for animals or equipment.

August and the dog days of summer, make for a warm challenge to any job. It is almost hard to believe that summer is closing so fast. Our county fair starts this week. The start to the school year is only two weeks away. Time marches on, as they say. I say it sure does! A few more must do projects await me, but being busy keeps me from being lazy…I need that sometimes.



Garden Harvest Begins

August 2, 2022

The garden has started to reward us for our work of tending it. The harvest season begins slow, but soon we will almost be overwhelmed with fresh produce. My wife works steady canning and freezing so that we can enjoy the taste of summer all year. I do help, but once in awhile I am told to go do something else… I think I might cross the “bossy” line now and then. I am a great production guy. My wife is great in her kitchen. I found out that she doesn’t need me pointing out the obvious. We work well together. We laugh together and we love together. I think the yearly discussion over how the kitchen will be used allows us the reset needed in every relationship. It works for us! It has been working for 30 years this month and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Our young Suffolk filly is now 4 months old. She will get weaned by the end of the month. She is growing well. Her lessons come easy to her. She is shedding her foal hair out and becoming a big girl. She will be separated from mom and left to run with her sister and cousin in a big pasture. She is an independent lass, so I don’t see any real distress in her future. She is eating very well on her own and mostly nurses for comfort these days.

Once the main garden harvest commences, the last of this year’s hay will be cut. So the haying tools can be put away one by one. Then plowing and soil preparation for the fall planted spelt crop will begin. In the meantime, pasture mowing and wood cutting for the maple syrup woodshed fill our time. Training the young horses continues but that is more fun than work. It is hard to believe that the last month of summer has arrived, but the heat and humidity keeps it real! Enjoy the warm days…winter is coming.



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.



Job Shadow
July 19, 2022, 7:05 pm
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July 19, 2022

Maggee, our 2022 little filly, went to work with mom last week. She is learning all about farm work. Mom Amee and her teammate Abby, had to rake the straw from our recent speltz harvest. Maggee, is tied to mom and gets to walk along while mom works. This is a great way to introduce the youngster to noises and situations that she hasn’t seen or heard before.

The key is to tie the young horse where she is safe. She is tied short enough so that she can’t get out in front or behind her mother. She can walk alongside safely watching and listening to everything. She has done this before today, but only while line driving the team or when hitched to a wagon. On this day we did about 2 acres of actual work.

It was a nice day. The humidity was low and the flies were mostly absent. The straw makes a swishing sound as the rake flips it over. The baby settled in quickly, walking along with no fear. She even learned to key off voice commands given to her mother while she worked. It was a great day.

Here they are at the end of the job. The baby seems to be saying… “We did good, didn’t we mom?”



Up In The Air
June 28, 2022, 5:38 pm
Filed under: June 2022 | Tags: , , , , ,

June 28, 2022

The night before last, as I watered the cows, our dog Sam treed a woodchuck! I had not ever seen that before. The digging rodents usually just run along the ground and dive into their burrows. Sam must have caught this guy in the open, away from his home entrance. I heard loud scratching sounds that made me look for the noise. I stood a while looking at the out of place woodchuck. He in turn stared at me. I don’t think he was comfortable, but there was no way he was coming down anytime soon!

We have been enjoying a few very nice summer days. The heat and humidity will return soon, but wow these last days are perfect. Highs in the 70’s, low’s in the 60’s with very low dew points. I has been very comfortable for man and beast. We missed a needed rain yesterday. It is getting pretty dry after that very wet spring. God knows what we need and He will send it soon.

We moved the first batch of meat chickens to the portable pen. I started leaving them in the pen on the concrete until they are fully feathered out. This lets me string a cord and add a heat lamp if needed. Soon they will be out on grass in the pen. This makes for tasty meat and they have a good life until they go to “freezer camp”.

Second cutting hay, the gardens and field corn are growing well. The rain will help them, but they all look good so far. The horses have enjoyed a few work free days, as I catch up with other stuff. The speltz is ripening fast and will soon get harvested. I am making a piece of a field into a play area for us all. We will use all sorts of equipment to train the young horses. It is an area of about 3/4 of an acre. I am thinking later this year I will plant it to Speltz, but right at this moment those plans, like the woodchuck, are up in the air.



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.