RicelandMeadows


New Month, New Project

April 1, 2021

I took this picture yesterday. Today, the snow is an inch deep with cold wind blowing it around! Oh well, that is spring in northeast Ohio.

I acquired this manure spreader from a friend who made a wonderful purchase. He bought two of them and sold me one. It was encased in about an inch layer of dried manure. All the moving parts had been well greased. I think the dried manure and being stored inside may have preserved this wonderful old piece of equipment. We scraped on it a while. Then we pressure washed it. Next comes some needed small repairs and adjustment, but it will soon be spreading manure and compost here on the farm.

The web needs some adjustment and the box will get a liberal coating of linseed oil, but all in all she is in great shape.

The beaters and crossbars are in good shape too. I look forward to training our young horses to pull this machine. The load decreases as they pull it. Flying poop makes for a few unexpected things for the colts to see. The noises it makes bumping along also helps the young horses learn that the “boogyman” will not hurt them. I will be there, encouraging them from the driver’s seat keeping them safe and confident.

Amee will foal by the end of the month. She is enjoying maternity leave. The young horses will have lots of opportunity to learn while she rests. Having this manure spreader to use, makes for another training tool that will help them become good farm horses.

We got our new farm sign. Hats off to “Get your Graphics” in Jefferson Ohio. We are letting people know what breed of horse now powers our farm. We sure like these critically endangered rare breed horses! They are wonderful, willing, powerful horses, with a mind like no other. Stay tuned as we grow.



Neighborly

February 21, 2021

These horses belong to our son. He has been working steady with them. They are coming 3 and 2 years-old. This is their third time hooked together. They are doing great. I have been under the weather this week, so no training going on here. It’s nice to see it continuing at the neighbors :o)

We are looking forward to spring and summer weather. The hope is to have the young horses able to take a small part in the work. No heavy loads, just lots of driving and different situations. Patience on our part will pay big dividends with these youngsters.

This coming summer, during the last week in June, we will be helping to host a “Suffolk Horse” gathering. We hope to catch folks as they travel to Horse Progress Days , a draft horse event held in Mount Hope, Ohio, later in that same week. We think it will be a great time to meet people and introduce these amazing animals to the public. We will hold the event at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds in Jefferson, Ohio

I hope some of you can make it! Come on out and say hello.



Sunset Sled Ride and a Prototype
February 5, 2021, 3:58 pm
Filed under: February 2021 | Tags: , , , , ,

February 5, 2021

Cold is upon us. Winter has finally made itself known. The next several days are to be the coldest in the past two years. I am enjoying the frozen ground. One of my friend’s calls it, “God’s concrete”. We took advantage of the snow the other night to take a sled ride. The horses pulled the recently reworked sled with ease. I added high density plastic to the bottom of the runners. It slides extremely well now! The girls, Abby and Amee, pulled us effortlessly. It was fun albeit cold :o)

The plastic can easily be seen in this photo. I knew it would help the runners when it came to wear, but wow, does it ever pull easy. A tongue is an absolute necessity.

My friend Joel and I built a prototype sap gathering rig. It will be tried and tested in the woods very soon. It is a hybrid of sorts, having both sled runners and wheels. A sled works very well on snow or even mud, but it drags hard on our dry spring days. Sap must be gathered no matter what the soil conditions may be. It is my hope that this rig will get the job done and be a bit easier on the horses on those dry days.

I remember my grandfather Rice having one something like this. I may decode to level the platform where the sap tank will set, but for now I am going with this design. It will unload well no matter where I position the sled on my unloading hill because of the downward slope. I look forward to giving it a try.

I will pull it through the woods and around the sap roads in the next few days. I want to see how it pulls and also make sure there are no surprises along the trail. You will notice the steps on the back for children and old men with bad knees. My handrail also is a help when riding through the woods. I still have to put a tongue on the rig, but it is mostly ready to go.

The only downside to my sloping platform is that I won’t be able to fill my tank all the way to the top. No worries, I have a large tank, so a few buckets left out of each load will not be a big deal. Besides, I want to make the season last as long as possible anyway. So, if I have to make an extra trip, it just adds to the experience!



A New Day Dawns
January 10, 2021, 3:21 pm
Filed under: January 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

January 10, 2021

What a beautiful sunrise. If you look close you can see the steam rising above the compost pile. Perhaps a fitting tribute to recent events? Well, wherever you stand, keep your eyes on the sunrise and not the compost!

It has been an unseasonable January so far. The temperatures are warmer than usual for this time of year. The whole farm is muddy, but today, the entire landscape was frozen solid. What a relief to walk on firm ground, no matter where I stepped. It was wonderful.

I turned the horses out to run, roll and romp. They did just that. Then, once the sun came out and warmed us all, the frost left the ground. In celebration, the horses promptly rolled in the softening soil. In other words, they rolled in the mud! Their coats will be thick with the mud, but it must feel good to them. Oh well, it’s not the first time that I have worn a mask, to brush them clean.

It takes a little effort to keep them clean and make them shine, but to me it is worth it. I get to talk with them. I get to feel their whole body, watching out for any new bumps, cuts or potential problems. I also get to let my mind wander, far from anything that bothers me. I get to enjoy a peace not found in many places.

Maybe for me, clean stalls and clean coats make for a clean heart? All I know is that I am at peace with myself, in tune with my animals and in the right spot in the universe. I am a man truly Blessed.



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.



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!



Corn Harvest 2020
Abby, Amee and me

October 10, 2020

The corn harvest is going very well so far this fall. The ground is dry instead of our usual mud at harvest time. The Suffolk horses are doing a great job and the corn is husking fairly easy.

I added a nose guard on Amee. Its a wire basket that keeps her from eating corn the whole time we are working. I wouldn’t mind if she grabs a leaf or stalk once in a while, but she is a hog! The worst thing is, she gets her head into the next row, then when I ask them to move up, she heads down the wrong row! This did not please me at all!

The wire basket cured her bad behavior. She now walks and stops just as expected with no unexpected movement of the wagon as I walk alongside. They have settled in and are doing great.

We pick 8 to 12 rows a day. My cousin has been helping me do it. We share laughs and chuckles along the way. We also enjoy finding the different colored or very large ears. It has been a wonderful season so far!

Time for a late lunch



Training a Yearling

hankharness1

July 31, 2020

I continue to train our young stock. Hank, our yearling stallion, is learning to wear his harness. I put it on and off. I rattle the chains and fuss with the straps. I make him move from side to side as I walk around. Most importantly, I make him wear the gear for longer and longer periods. We are now up to about an hour of just standing with the harness on in a safe environment.

Today, I introduced him to the bridal and bit. He had to keep it on for about a half hour. I let him learn about it,  by just staying near as he fumbled with it in his mouth.

hankbit

He played with the bit with his tongue and teeth. I lead him around a while, then put him in his stall. I did a few other things as he stood in his stall, wearing his complete harness and bridal. After a little while, he just relaxed stood on three legs and rested. I left him stand and talked to him as I did other work around the barn.

He listened to my voice, but didn’t try to look over his blinders. He just stood like a perfect gentleman and waited for whatever was coming next. After he had stood relaxed for fifteen minutes or so, I brought him out of his stall and unharnessed him.

I started with his bridal first. As I took the bit out of his mouth, he just let it slip right out. I rubbed his ears and talked softly to him. He nuzzled me. I then took his harness and collar off. I made plenty of extra noise and made a few extra, unneeded movements, just to reinforce that all is well.

I brushed him for a while after removing his harness. He is a great student. Next we will begin line driving him on long lines teaching him to go, stop and turn. Very soon he will be going with the team, not to pull a load, just to learn commands and patience.

Hank is an April baby.  He will soon be 16 months old. It is a bit early for training to start, but he will be a stallion, so I want his mind busy with something other than breeding. He must learn to be a workhorse first. He will one day be our centerpiece.  This early learning is crucial for his development. Daily handling and good manners at all times is a must. So far, he is passing with flying colors!

 



A June Picture for July

a&abeautifulmower

July 3, 2020

This is a picture taken as I finished mowing the last piece of first cutting hay for 2020. I waited until now to let some little birds grow up enough to fly out of the tall grass. Perhaps I am getting soft in my old age, but it was the right thing to do. I am sure the birds think so!

Amee and Abby are wearing old-fashioned fly nets. The green head horseflies are out in force. Homemade fly spray helps some, but in combination with the nets, its a winning combination. The girls got sweaty in the hot sun, but the pesky flies were kept pretty much at bay.

These two are working well on the farm. Every job I give them they do like experts. I am really enjoying their help. We even raked hay yesterday evening with my son’s two year old filly. Her training is progressing well under his patient tutelage.

I call this post, “A June Picture For July”, because my Aunt June gives me the business for always taking pictures from the driver’s seat. So to make her smile, I got off the seat and took this picture of the horse’s heads just for her. I have to say…it is a pretty good picture!



June 2020 What a Month!

Breebackrub

June 27, 2020

What a crazy, wonderful month! Our baby Bree just turned 2 months old. She is learning very fast. She loves a good back rub. She knows her stall. She accompanies mom sometimes when we work and she brings joy wherever she goes.

The covid virus still has us doing things differently. The unrest around the country has us saddened for all involved. We pray for peace and resolution, along with understanding from all sides. It is nice to be able to get lost in the farm happenings if only for a little while.

We shot another episode for RFD-TV, that will air in August, about our new Suffolk Punch horses. Our son Jake introduced his to the world too. We also wrapped up the finishing touches on an episode regarding our recent timber harvest. It was a good day of filming. Little Bree did great too.

We purchased a horse drawn sprayer. We will use it once a year to spray weeds if needed, but mostly to spray liquid fertilizer, like fish emulsion, on our crop and pasture fields. Shout out to Boontown Sprayer in Mount Hope, Ohio

sprayer2020

This simple, well built machine, works wonderfully. It is powered by a 5 horsepower Honda engine. The manufacturers have it well designed. It sprays, pulled by horses, at a rate of 20 gallons per acre. Our first outing found this rate to be spot on, as we did our animal corn field.

sprayingweeds2020

I managed to get half of the field cultivated, but the weeds were starting to take over. Ragweed and especially a nasty grass called barnyard grass had gotten a real head start. You can even see the corn beginning to suffer from the weeds stealing all the nourishment.

spraygrass2020

After last nights rain, the gardens, pastures and the field corn all look refreshed. We will be feeding the fields liquid fertilizer in the coming days. The options are many, so research must be done. It has been a long journey making this farm productive and fruitful, but it has been fun!