RicelandMeadows


Stallion Training Day

October 13, 2021

Yesterday was a very good day. We worked with Hank, our young Suffolk Punch stallion. He just turned 2 last April. We were pulling an old tire around the field for awhile. He has done this job before, but yesterday his brain “clicked”. He figured out how to start the load, but also how to enjoy a break. You can see a little sweat coming from under his harness. That sweat along with breaks at the right time, lead to just standing still, minding your own business and listening for me to give direction. He is getting it. I am very happy with his progress.

I won’t push the young guy too hard. He only gets light loads for now. We are more training his mind than his body. He likes the ladies, so we need to make him understand that life has other things in it too. Some of you may notice the “jockey stick” running from his halter to his partner Abby’s harness ring. This spacer keeps him from trying to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. He stays in his place and she is not bothered by his nonsense this way. Abby is a wonderful partner. She moves and stops when I ask. She teaches him stuff by just being there and she is one big anchor if I need one!

I snapped this picture of the growing speltz yesterday. I am pleased with these results so far. The crop should be well rooted before winter sets in and freezes the ground.

All I can say is that it was a very good day!



Computer Trouble / Farm Success

October 10, 2021

We have been fighting with our computer for almost a month! Finally we have been repaired. We didn’t lose anything and I am back to communicating and blogging.

In the photo above, Abby , Amee and I were plowing at Lake Farm Park. The park is located in a neighboring county. They host a horsepower weekend. Old tractors and of course, real horsepower are showcased. We had a fun time visiting and plowing. The event was well attended by other teams of horses and the public. We struggled a bit with old vegetation plugging the plow, but we did make some loose dirt.

This is a picture of my old Oliver plow. I haven’t used it for years. My knees got too sore to use it. I got them replaced and decided that I wanted to try plowing this way again. The horses had not done this ever in their lives either. We worked on it for a few evenings before we went out in public. I am not the plowman that I once was, but we got it done.

There is a lot to this job. Once things are all set up and understood, it is a joy to plow this way. We are not there yet! I managed to drag along the ground a few times as The horses learned where to walk and I learned to pick my feet up higher. It was still fun. I will plow like this a few times each year just to keep my memories alive. This old plow belonged to a mentor of mine…I think he would be pleased too.

Over the last month, we continued to work with Hank, our two-year old Suffolk Punch stallion. He is doing good, but the training will continue for the coming months, even years. He is growing fast and well. He is pictured with our 7 year old mare Abby in the photo below.

It is my hope to have Hank plowing in a three-horse hitch before the snow flies this fall. He is not shy about pulling and keeps his mind on his work. I will call that a success!

The speltz have been planted. This horse grain is up and looking good. I have opened the corn field by picking two rows closest to the fence and down the middle. The main harvest will commence as I begin hand picking the dry ears in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me in my absence. Its good to be back sharing our success with all of you. There is much to catch up on, so ride along with me as I bring you a glimpse of our small farming life.



Haying Season 2021 is Finished

September 14, 2021

Last Saturday, 9/11/21, we finished up our haying season. That morning as the dew dried off the hay crop, I watched the tributes on TV of the brave souls who lost their lives 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks on our civilians. My heart was heavy as I watched and waited. I will not forget.

In the week prior to my last round of hay making, we were visited by our daughter and her husband from Maryland. You have to make hay while the sun shines, so even with visitors present, the hay making rolled on. I simply included our guests in the project. They got to drive the horses, even raking some of the crop as they learned about the process first hand. The horses worked well for the novice drivers and my visiting teamsters gained experience and understanding. The smiles were big and the workload was made smaller.

The hay tools have been gathered and will be cleaned and stored in the coming days. It is a bittersweet time as one season ends and another begins. Summer is a fleeting thing and autumn looms near. A few jobs that were delayed by wet, then very hot weather, still wait to be completed, but I’ll get them done soon.

We found out this week that we have been featured on the draft horse desktop calendar for 2022. There are so many teams and teamsters to choose from, gathered from events all over the country and only 12 months to display them. We are humbled to represent the Suffolk horse breed and thank Mischka Press for the privilege.

The little filly in the picture has now been weaned. She is learning all sorts of new things. She has bonded well with her stablemate. Those two young ladies have become great friends. Momma has returned to full work and all is well. The job of preparing the soil for our fall planting of speltz is at hand. Once that job has been completed, corn picking will commence. In any of the days not filled up, we will work on the last of the firewood needed for the upcoming maple syrup season. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all down, but it is simply a great life!



The Scramble Towards Fall

September 6, 2021

As we make the dash towards fall and the coming harvest, we still take some time for fun. Hank and Sam (the dog) play a game at turnout every night. Sam is not allowed to chase the horses. Hank knows that Sam is not allowed, so he plays tough guy showing off for his lady friends. Sam bolts to the gate, Hank kicks out in protest, a scene played out like teenaged boys full of vinegar!

Once the fake boxing match is over, peace comes to the pasture. Hank and his girls graze contentedly, the work of the day forgotten.

We are also using this recent warm, dry weather to make the last of our second cutting hay. So far so good!

I like this view! It is also nice to have less pressure from biting flies as we work.

The hay is a bit light due to our late harvest of the first cutting, but I am grateful for every mouthful.

The push towards fall is on. The training of our young stock continues. There are no dull moments around here and I wouldn’t have it any other way!



Straw Boss
August 4, 2021, 9:01 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , , , , ,

August 4, 2021

I have been working steady trying to get our hay crop finished up during this wet summer of 2021. I am happy to report that our first cutting is finally done….30 days later than normal, but done none the less.

Now the horses and I are staying steady at getting the spelt straw ready to bale. The crop is almost dry enough to complete the job. The field however, is very soft, with standing water still found in places. I am fluffing and flipping the drying straw, hoping the field will dry out enough to hold the tractor and baler without making ruts.

The spelt grain came off very well. I combined over a week ago. The yield was very good, especially considering the wet year. The hay crop planted with the spelt had exploded with new growth. Some areas of the field, the timothy hay heads were taller than the spelt. The combine, thankfully, separated the grain from the weeds and timothy heads very well. Our bin will be nice and full, supplying horse feed for all of the coming year.

The golden windrows of straw are even pretty to look at. The weather is perfect right now, even the flies are tolerable for the horses.

You can see the yellow streak that was once under the straw windrow. I want this job complete soon. The windrows of wet straw can kill the growing hay underneath. I think this will all be fine. My main concern is to get the bales made and off the field without making a bunch of tracks and rutting up the field. It will all turn out OK … it always has. I may have to roll a few ruts or perhaps even disc and reseed a portion or two. Such is the life of a farmer and the reason why it is much better to work with nature, rather than being a “know it all” Straw Boss, demanding my own will. Mother Nature will humble the strongest man. Patience and persistence will get the crop in for sure.

I need to be more like Sam our Border Collie. He takes everything in stride. He relaxes when he isn’t working, yet he is always ready to pounce on a job. My pouncing days are few, but I am getting better at relaxing :o)



Summer in Full Swing
June 20, 2021, 3:50 pm
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

June 20, 2021

The other night, as I sat on the patio after a long work filled day, I was treated to this beautiful sunset. I sat a while soaking up the beauty. I thought of my middle sister who loved sunsets of all kinds. She has passed from this world now, but scenes like this often remind me of her. It is not a sad time for me, but rather a time of celebration, just to remember her.

I have been helping a farming friend. He has some very large equipment that chews up ground on a scale that amazes me. The other day, I sat down inside of one of the tractor tires for a short break.

I’m not much of a “selfie” guy, but you get the idea…these tractors are mammoth!

Our barn renovation is complete. Thanks to my dear wife, friends and family it went very well in spite of several delays waiting on materials as we built. It is a striking difference in the barn. The air flow and light found in the new stalls and even out into the old part of the barn, is wonderful. I am sure that we will enjoy it for years to come.

Pasture mowing and hay making is in full swing. The crops are growing quite well. Last night we received almost 2 inches of rain. Things are damp and humid on this Father’s Day, but a day of rest is welcomed.

So, as I enjoy this day off, I will reflect on the barn build, sisters and sunsets and the busy days of summer coming fast.



The Seeds in an Apple
Bree of Riceland 12-12-2020

December 15, 2020

The old saying goes; Anyone can count the seeds in an Apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. That is a profound statement. I believe it to be true. Apply it to daily life. As I look at my young horses, I wonder how they will turn out. I do my best to train and nurture, but things can happen. I hope for the best as I work hard to instill trust and confidence into the young ones. I maintain that level of trust in my broke teams. Patience is not always easy, but it is always necessary.

In the above photo taken of Bree of Riceland being led by our son, I can’t help but be amazed at her growth. Nine months ago, she was a little girl learning to wear a halter and stand tied just a few days after her birth.

She learned to tie and lead very quickly. She has been a challenge at times because of her intelligence. She is a very smart horse who learns quickly. She also tries to outsmart me once in a while. As long as I correct bad behavior quickly, she yields. If I let her do something even twice, then she thinks that she is in charge and never has to do it my way again! She will be a great addition to our working horses because she likes routine. Do it the same every time and she is happy…change things up…not so much!

In this photo, my current main team, Amee and Abby taken when they were young fillies. Their owner at the time Joe Cervanka stands proudly with his “Lakeview” babies. I am sure that he wondered how these girls would turn out and where they would end up. Well Joe, they turned out great and ended up as foundation mares for our breeding program at Riceland Meadows. They are more than that though; they are my partners in powering the farm!

They are a joy to work. They make my farm days fun. I look forward to a bright future working these fine animals. It is my hope to help advance and promote these rare Suffolk horses. The farmers, who for over 400 years, have bred and preserved their fine qualities could obviously see “the apples in the seed”. I am grateful to those visionaries. I hope to continue in their strict adherence to old style qualities, to breed, train and love these great beasts of burden. They deserve every effort that I can manage to give them.



Enjoying a Little Rest
November 12, 2020, 11:10 am
Filed under: November 2020 | Tags: , , ,
Break time!

November 12, 2020

Whew! We had an amazing stretch of warm sunny weather in the mid and upper 70″s. This is very unusual for us here in northeast Ohio at this time of year! We worked on several projects as we prepare for winter. Hard stuff like; putting away patio furniture, rolling up hoses, mowing the lawn for the last time and putting garden tools away. Ok it wasn’t hard, but the hot weather made us sweat like it was still summer!

The horses weren’t impressed with the hot weather either. They are putting on their winter coats. I kept the jobs light for them. It will cool down soon and our outside will continue and be more comfortable to boot.

Rain felt a little good

The girls and I spent time working with the wagon. Daily work keeps us all fit and in tune. We hope to do a little plowing next week. We will try out our walking plow. The first time since having my knees replaced two years ago. Stay tuned for details.

It has been an amazing autumn. The recent rains, before the dry stretch, caused much concern, as farmer scrambling to harvest crops came to a stop. The welcomed wonderful weather, got everyone back into their fields. You could almost hear the big sigh of relief, as the combines roared to life again.

It is a wonderful feeling to have our harvest complete and be working on the little things. It is even better to be able to slow down, take breaks and enjoy the season. Thanksgiving will soon be here and what a great year to be thankful!



Gleaning The Corn Fodder
October 28, 2020, 11:05 am
Filed under: October 2020 | Tags: , , , , ,
Yum

October 28, 2020

We finished husking/picking our corn last week. We got done just in time to beat a whole lot of rain. We have gotten six inches of rain the last ten days. The dry ground sucked up quite a bit of the moisture, but now the ground is saturated. I am glad that I don’t have to navigate the the mud!

We turned five growing pigs into the corn field. They are gleaning any missed ears and those knocked to the ground by raccoons and deer. They are happily munching and rooting. They have a shed, where dry bedding is supplied, to lay in to sleep. They are also fed additional grain as needed, but so far are mostly just eating from the corn field and surrounding pasture and fence line weeds.

laying flock

Our hens are still enjoying their lot even though it too shows the effects of the recent rains. They have been eating the last of our cull garden produce as treats to supplement their diets. They reward us with nice brown eggs for our efforts.

pig carcasses cooling

Autumn and cool weather allows us to start butchering our hogs. The family’s meat for winter, grown here, processed here. We have been blessed with an amazing autumn. The crops did well all summer, in spite of the mid summer drought. Now, the wet, cool, days of late autumn, are proving beneficial too.

Winter is just around the corner. A few outside jobs remain, but for the first autumn in a long time, I am caught up. I owe this success to a great wife, wonderful family, good weather and good work horses to help me get the crops out and the harvest gathered. To everyone involved, I say Thank You!



Autumn Views
October 19, 2020, 10:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
Hank getting used to his harness

October 19, 2020

October is fading fast. We keep working through the jobs at hand, but every now and then we pause to look at the beauty around us. The corn harvest is almost complete. The leaves are in peak color. The young horses continue to grow and learn. It is good to enjoy the sights along the way.

The emerging speltz looks pretty good.

Our recent rain is helping the landscape too. The pastures have greened up. The speltz crop is growing well and I think even the trees appreciate the moisture.

Beautiful

As we wrap up the farm work leading into winter, it is with a blessed spirit that I say thank you! We have had an awesome year for crops and animals. The work is slowing down and I see some rest and relaxation in our future.

I will work with the young stallion, “Hank” and get him started in harness. I plan some time in the forge shop to make a few items and of course some home butchering is in the future, but for now, I will take some time to just enjoy the view!