RicelandMeadows


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
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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!



Patience and Fun
May 11, 2020, 12:39 pm
Filed under: May 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Belleamee

May 11, 2020

My son’s horse, the right side in the photo, on her maiden voyage as a teammate. She did very well for her first time. My son has been training her for several months. She just turned two-years old.  She walked off quite well and only fidgeted a couple times. She is well on her way to being a great workhorse.

firsttime4

Our Suffolk herd are all grazing together. After a couple of weeks making all the introductions over a farm gate, peace fills the pasture. The pecking order has been established. Abby has made it clear to the other horses just what the social distancing space should be between them and her baby. No fighting, no squealing, just subtle reminders with laid back ears.

We are counting the days of this crazy spring waiting patiently for warmer weather and planting season. We made some progress last week. we managed to get a large portion of the winter manure spread on ground that will be planted to ear corn for the animals.  I even got those three acres plowed. I used the tractor due to maternity leave for Abby.

Mother'sday2020

This past Mother’s Day, my wife pets and talks to the new foal. Bree’s momma watches over the scene. Isn’t that what momma’s do? Watch from afar, but ready to jump in when needed. I miss my mom, but I believe that she is still watching over us.



Life Lessons
April 28, 2020, 10:17 am
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , ,

breehaltertie

April 28, 2020

As this pandemic continues and we get used to a new “normal”, I feel about like the foal in the picture. I am staying put , but I don’t have to like it!

Bree our new foal, is learning new things. This first lesson was all about being tied up. She needs to learn to accept this. She will learn to lead soon too. Once we have mastered these things, she will be able to accompany mom while we work. Bree will be tied to her mom at a safe distance where she can walk alongside, but not get behind or in front where she could get hurt. Social distancing at its finest.

All of us here on the farm are learning new life lessons. It is best to find the positives, look toward the future and make plans. Continue to live! This will pass, things may change, but we will adapt. We can do all things through God who strengthens us!



A Yearling and Growing
April 26, 2020, 2:02 pm
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , ,

hankbirthday20201

April 26, 2020

Our stallion prospect “Hank” had his first birthday last week. He is growing very well. He continues to learn manners and all things “workhorse”.  The lessons are short but daily. I handle him often and consistently. He is a quick learner. We are very hopeful that he will be a good fit to our farm and breeding plan.

hankbirthday20202

I stood him beside our 16 hand mare Amee. He is catching up to her height quickly. He eats much like a teenage boy…constantly.  He is shedding out his baby hair and looks ragged at times, but under all that mud, manure and hair there is a handsome young boy!