RicelandMeadows


Our Little Girls
September 18, 2022, 9:16 pm
Filed under: September 2022 | Tags: , , ,

September 18, 2022

Our three little fillies, curious as all get out, growing well and enjoying our best pastures. Bree is two, Grace is one and our little Maggee is now weaned. They are the three amigos .

They like to play in the water. They love to be handled and petted. They are a joy to be around.

There is power in this photo and only 2, 1 and weaned. My heart is happy! Our future looks bright for sure.

Bree has begun her training in harness. She is learning well. We are still training a few others to finish them off. I like them broke quiet to respond to voice and line pressure. I want them to always feel safe and under control. They are ambassadors for our farm. They represent us well and I want to make sure that tradition continues.



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
Filed under: July 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

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?”



Stunning Gentleman

July 10, 2022

The sun shines on our stunning herd sire Hank. This picture was snapped by our daughter Lisa. He is growing into a real workhorse. His qualities of mind and body are excellent. He is a gentleman both in the field and in the barn. He watches over his herd and all the goings on around the farm.

In the barn, he watches all the visitors, but greets them with a confident, quiet attitude. We are proud of this guy. He will have babies of his own next spring. All of us are looking forward to see just what he puts into his progeny. I expect good things and if he is any example, I know that we won’t be disappointed.

These gals are both expecting babies next April. Currently, they are doing farm work, greeting and hauling children and making me smile often. I cannot say enough good things about these Suffolk Punch horses! It may seem a bit strong, but I love them!



Teaching the Young Ones

July 7, 2022

This past week has been a blur. We celebrated the birth of our country on Monday after a busy weekend that included a fast trip to Indiana to Horse Progress Days.

On Wednesday, we hosted another group of school children here on the farm. We introduce them to farm animals and give them a glimpse of farm life. Many of these kids are from the “city”. Most have never stepped foot on a farm or interacted with animals other than a few pet cats and dogs.

So, once again, our baby got to meet 20 squealing, wide eyed youngsters. The socialization is good for both the horses and the children. They had a fun couple hours that included petting chickens, goats, a pony, a donkey, cattle and our farm dogs and cats. We give them a horse drawn wagon ride around the farm, pulled by our Suffolk mares Amee and Abby.

This is our third such tour this year. We have more scheduled too. It is my hope that the young people have a favorable experience. Perhaps, I will plant a seed that will start a dream in a young life. I hope that as we share our lifestyle, hearts are opened and God is glorified. I will do my best to teach the little ones and they in turn will help train our animals too. It is a win win, as they say :o)



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!



Our Fillies Are Growing!

June 13, 2022

The photo above is of Bree of Riceland Meadows. She just turned 2 in April. She is filling out and growing well. Her training has started. We plan to be driving her single by the end of the week. She is a good girl with a great mind. She recently starred in a video of getting her harness fitted. The video will appear in an upcoming Rural Heritage show on RFD-TV.

This is a picture of out two fillies side by side. Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace is in the foreground. She just turned a year old in April. She is gaining on her older pasture mate quickly. In height they are very close, but Bree is a chunkier gal. The breeding lines are a bit different, but both fillies will make good workhorses and great broodmares.

The girls are growing and filling out nicely. They are fast friends who don’t stray far from each other. The green grass is sure doing them good. It is fun watching them grow. They were both born here on the farm. Grace’s full sister Miss Maggee, is still nursing on mom and will be for a couple more months. She to is growing like a weed too.

Haymaking is starting, weather permitting. Watch for Bree pulling the hay rake by late summer. We are blessed in this life we choose!



A Good Day for Training

May 30, 2022

Today was a good day for training. Hank, our stallion, is on the right. He is sweating from a little work, but mostly nerves. Look at Abby on the left. She has done the same amount of work, but she just walks along taking it all in stride. Hank wanted to fuss a little and be out in front pulling much of the load. He was wide awake and looking for anything to be mad about.

After about a half hour of him fussing, he decided that it was much easier to just relax and do what I asked and what Abby did. He was a real good horse by the time the lesson ended for the day. I don’t fight with him, I just let him have a little more of the load and talk softly to him to build trust and confidence. He does better at every lesson.

I had been using a jockey stick on him. The jockey stick is a pole about 48 inches long. I fastened it to Abby’s bottom hame ring and then to Hank’s halter. The purpose of the stick was to keep him n his place and to keep him from reaching out to her exhibiting stallion behavior. In other words it kept him minding his P’s and Q’s.

If you look close you will see that there is no stick being used. He has learned that he must behave when in harness. I kept a rope from her hame ring to his halter as a sort of safety rope in the event he rubbed his bridle off. He isn’t going to run off with my big anchor Abby standing where I say whoa. He never tightened the rope and he kept in his place like a true gentleman.

We have a long way to go to make him a trusted workhorse but he is well on his way. He turned three years old in April. I can now use him for meaningful work. Those sessions will be kept short and the loads still a bit light, but he will be contributing to the farm and his upkeep.

My voice and time together coupled with some sweat, makes for good, well broke, trained animals. Nothing beats daily use to keep draft animals working and working well.

Our newest filly Maggee has become a friendly little gal. All of us pet her and make her welcome. My wife Connie greets all the babies and makes them feel at home. Her soft voice lets them know that no danger will befall them in our presence. This same direction is used when training our youngsters. We want them comfortable, safe and secure. They will be asked to work and expected to do their share, but kindness prevails at all times.



Looking Ahead

May 27, 2022

We are getting a few things done, but the wet weather continues. Earlier this week, we made videos for Rural Heritage on RFD-TV. We spent two days filming. The videos will appear on RFD-TV in to coming months. Hank, who is enjoying the mineral tub in the photo above, worked with Abby hitched to our training tire in one of the films.

The mineral tub is like a candy bar to the horses. They lick and eat the molasses covered minerals free choice. This year we are trying a tub that includes garlic. The hope is that the garlic helps with fly control. We are only a few weeks into using it, so we will see how well it works. All of the horses like the lick, even our filly Maggee.

After getting their fill from the mineral tub, Amee, followed closely by Maggee, head out to the big pasture to graze. Amee is starting to do light work with Maggee tied beside her. Amee’s maternity leave is almost over. She will still nurse Magge for a few more months, but she will work in the hay fields. Amee is getting extra feed and the best pasture grasses we have to keep her in good condition. Maggee too is getting grain, grass and mama’s milk. She is growing very well. The minerals help all the horses keep in good condition.

We got chased out of this years corn field yet again by rain. We are making progress and hope to be planted by the end of next week weather permitting. We just keep taking care of business and looking ahead.



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.