RicelandMeadows


Talk About “Chillin”
January 18, 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 18, 2022

Yesterday we got over 27″ of snow. It was the biggest single snow event we have had here since building our place 22 years ago. I spent 8 hours on the skid steer over the last two days digging us out! I am hoping like a good bag of chips…some settling occurs! I may have to get real creative to find a place to shove more if it comes too soon.

I snapped this picture of my two mares on Saturday evening before the snow came. What a difference a couple of days makes! The photo tickled me, as they are walking just as if they were hitched in the team. Good girls, who make me very happy.

I pushed snow everywhere even into a pile on the feedlot. I put as much as I could over the fence, but this pile will have to wait a day or so before I can move it. The horses don’t mind it and it is out of my way for now.

Abby coming to meet me. It is things like this that makes for a warm heart. She likes to be talked to and petted. It’s good for me too.

Work will continue soon, but right now the fields, woods and everything else lies under two feet of snow. It is beautiful. It is cold. It is winter in northeast Ohio…talk about chillin!



Here Comes the Cold
January 15, 2022, 1:43 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 15, 2022

Hank, our herd stallion and me clowning around for the camera. He wasn’t impressed with the flash too much. We have been busy training with Hank, keeping him on track to become a great work horse.

He is growing well and will turn three years old in April. He has a deep, wide chest. I like this quality in a horse. It is our hope that Hank will pass this trait along to his offspring.

His best quality is his mind. He is a very likeable horse who has great manners. He doesn’t bother the ladies. Well, he may walk by close enough to get a squeal out of them, but he is just teasing. The mares are serious about no monkey business. He just walks away and minds his own business. When we work, he keeps to himself too. I really like this guy. He is a model stallion for any breed, but exemplifies the Suffolk Punch breed.

I expect him to reach 17 hands tall, with plenty of bone. He will start expanding into his body over the next two years as he matures. He has been a good horse to raise. I hope that our progress remains positive. I wouldn’t recommend a stallion for everyone, but this guy has been good for us. His first baby is due in April. We are getting excited to see what he passes on to his children.

The January cold is upon us. It is nice to have the mud frozen. The ground can be driven on anywhere on the farm. This moves many of our projects along well. I spread some compost last week and will complete that job later today. We are spreading only on paddocks with good green buffers on all sides to ensure our runoff stays put. We wouldn’t normally spread on frozen ground, but our manure pile is huge and we are simply out of room.

We plan to harvest a few trees next week for the lumber for a project we are working on. The frozen ground makes that job a joy to do. We must dress for it. I take a few extra breaks in to warm shop to warm fingers and hands, but I sure am enjoying being out of the mud!



Celebration Day
December 30, 2021, 10:58 am
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 30, 2021

I enlisted a little help, but the woodshed is now full! I am ready to boil maple sap for the upcoming 2022 season. This is much later than I usually complete this job, but I will celebrate anyway. It was muddy when we got off the driveway, but Abby and Amee handled it all in stride.

We have more wood that has been split, so a good start on the wood for 2023 season. It is my plan to fill the woodshed at the completion of the 2022 maple season. Once the woodshed has been filled, I want to continue with the cutting and splitting. The goal is to get to the point where we will be almost 2 years ahead on the wood supply. I already have the next 2 years worth of logs piled in a sunny place making this goal easily attainable.

After a day of wet, cold, rain and snow, it feels good to bed down. I don’t care if you are two-legged or 4-legged a warm dry bed is a beautiful thing!

We here at the farm hope all of our readers had a wonderful Christmas. We are also wishing you a Happy New Year. We look forward to each day gifted to us. We make plans, prepare and execute work, but first we ask for our endeavors to be blessed. It is hard at times to wait for things to fall into place, but thankfully they usually do. If things don’t go well, it is best to pause, examine our plans and even our hearts. One thing that I know for sure… God will make a way where there is no way! We just need to focus on the destination and not the journey…. for the journey rests in God’s hands.



Snowvember 2021
November 30, 2021, 11:13 am
Filed under: November 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

November 30, 2021

It has been another moist month! Rain and drizzle fell until the middle of the month, when the precipitation turned to sleet and snow. The moisture has made things difficult for most farming operations. Thankfully our harvest is done. We just struggle with wet pastures.

The cattle are in their winter pasture, complete with a shed and added feed. I just don’t like it that they are making too many hoofprints. The good news is that our number of steers is down. The animals are young so they are small and weigh less than the ones headed to freezer camp. Those are on the feedlot concrete.

The horses too have been only let out on their pasture sparingly. I work them for exercise. The young horses have box stalls and all get daily turnout on a portion of the concrete feedlot. I am keeping them up out of the mud not only to give our pastures a break, but to keep them healthy too.

They get to munch hay and wander around as they like. Hank gets scolded a little as he “checks” the girls. They are both in foal and do not want any of his nonsense. They lay their ears back and squeal. He is smart enough to walk away and just munch hay. He is a good boy.

A couple mornings in a row we had frozen ground for a couple of hours. I let all the horses out to really run, romp and roll. I think they enjoy those times, or perhaps they just enjoy the added brushing it takes to get them clean.

We continue to train the young horses like Hank. It is a bit of a challenge due to the wet fields. We stay on the long drive and lane way. It works ok, but I would like to get to some other jobs such as hauling logs and firewood. Exposure to work, noise and different things is vital when teaching the youngsters.

One thing about the snow….it sure makes things pretty!



2021 Corn Harvest Complete

November 8, 2021

We finished picking our corn last Saturday. Pictured above is one of our wagon loads. It was a fair harvest, but the good thing is, we got enough! There will be plenty to feed out until next year’s crop has been picked. This labor of love I do by hand. The multicolored ears make it an interesting job. The old guys liked to find a red ear, because doing so meant they got to kiss a girl…My heart is full and my lips are chapped. My wife doesn’t even like to see me coming towards the house these days.

We had to wait for almost a week due to heavy rains. The husking got delayed. The horses got plenty of rest and the raccoons had a hay day in the standing corn. Once the weather broke we got right back at it. I picked 2 rows at a time so that the wagon moved over its width every time we made a round. We didn’t leave many tracks. The horses pulling the wagon leave much less impact than the tractor does.

The tractor tracks that you can see in this photo were made by me brush hogging the whole field upon completion of the husking job. It is my hope that the crop residue will make a winter cover for the soil, but still allow for drying out come early spring. This field will be plowed next spring to prepare for a crop of oats and hay. The cycle continues.

I am very glad to have the harvest season completed. The last real job for this year is to finish filling the maple syrup woodshed. It is just about full. Winter is coming fast so I must push to get this job done. When cold weather gets here it will be time to butcher for the season. Then a few weeks of rest as we wait for the maple syrup season in 2022…ahhh the life on a small farm! I love it!!



Spooky How It All Started
October 31, 2021, 9:04 pm
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

October 31, 2021

In the photo above, Hank my 30 month old Suffolk stallion stands with the couple who sold him to me. The Pidcock’s from Nelsonville, Ohio sold me Hank as a weanling over 2 years ago. It plunged me headlong into loving this rare breed of horse. It’s almost spooky how it all started and how things continue to fall into place.

As October comes to an end ad winter looms, I am busy wrapping up projects. It seems that I have too many left over from summer! This past week we got almost 5 inches of rain. The ground is way beyond soggy! The corn harvest is on hold for a little while.

Next week looks much better. I hope to be able to finish the job of hand picking our field corn for the animals. The only other job pushing me hard is the job to finish filling the woodshed. In a mere two full days I can have that done too. I am mostly pleased with my progress but there is always room for improvement!

It will soon be time to start our fall butchering for our family. I like this time of year. Once the work is wrapped up, then rest and fun begins. It is getting hard for me to tell work from fun. Each day has a horse and something I like to do in it. Who could ask for anything more?



Community Outreach

October 25, 2021

Ambassadors Amee and Abby, helped me share our farm with a group of school children last Friday. The little ones learned about farming, animal husbandry and the power and grace of the Suffolk horse. They fed the hogs and chicken, raced and chased, squealed and shrieked as they scrambled from one pen to another.

I talked to them about safety and caring. They were impressed by the large horses, smitten by a crazy cat and amazed at the oinking hogs. The children had a wonderful day and managed to stay dry between rain storms.

We all got real cozy as we squeezed onto my wagon for a horse drawn hayride. Abby and Amee took it all in stride. The noise from the excited kids, the urging from other horses in the pasture didn’t bother them at all. We made several trips around the farm lane. I discovered this was the easiest way to keep them engaged, contained and happy. A few little ones got to “drive” the horses as they pulled the wagon around the farm.

I don’t know if any of these young people will go into a vocation in agriculture, but they had a great experience. They made a few memories and they had a good time. We are blessed to be able to share. I have been given a gift to talk with kids and help them understand the farming cycle. They may never do it themselves, but they will have a little more understanding for those of us who farm. This outreach makes me happy because I believe, with understanding comes tolerance. Hopefully, these youngsters will be patient when they have to follow a combine or slow tractor on the road. They will remember that their food comes from farms and somewhere behind the scenes, there is a farmer just trying to do the right thing.



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.



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!