RicelandMeadows


Suffolk Punch Horse Gathering

July 1, 2021

The North American Suffolk Horse Association held it’s 2021 gathering at our local fairgrounds. Many folks from states near and far came to see, help and celebrate these wonderful horses. We had unseasonably hot and muggy weather that affected man and beast. The weather cut some of our events short and a few were taken off the schedule. We did however, accomplish quite a few things. We had some seminars in the cool and shade of the big barn. We had friendly competitions in the arena and endless conversations echoed in the aisleways.

My family and I were well represented by our horses. We took them all to make chore time much easier and to introduce our young stock to many strange sounds, sights and smells. We learned a lot! We gleaned ideas and suggestions for next time to boot. My thanks go out to the many folks who came with their horses, the spectators, the vendors and all the behind the scenes people who made this all work out. Our Canadian friends could not make it due to Covid concerns and the border closure, but we look forward to seeing them soon.

In the photo above, photographed by J Nidy and taken from Facebook, you can see the girls and I competing in an obstacle course. There were plenty of tight turns and unusual things for the horses. Mine did not want to step on the tarp, but they handled the spinning pool noodles like pros. Even our 8 week old baby took it all in stride. It was a fun event and I believe we all had fun.

As I was finishing chores last night and reflecting on the hectic three day event, I took a picture that sums it up for me perfectly. I will share that photo at the end of this blog.

We had lots of press coverage for our event. The local papers both covered us. Rural Heritage magazine came and interviewed and shot video and such for their magazine and for upcoming RFD-TV programs. We had a California company called Backyard Green Films attend. They do Podcasts and have a Youtube channel. I was featured in a podcast last night.

We had a get together that lasted several days and were without injuries beyond a scraped hand and a few bee stings. I thank God for the safe travels, our friendships and a safe and comfortable event.

On our last morning, three teams of horses and wagons, visited the local nursing home. The residents lined the big front porch as we drove into the parking lot for a drive by meet and greet. Smiles and laughter came from the crowd. We shared waves and hellos. I had a moment of blurry eyes as I wheeled the horses around to make my second pass by the smiling crowd. Our young filly trotted along by her mother’s side, prancing for the people. My heart filled with pride and thankfulness for being able to bring a bit of joy to a few well loved folks, entrusted to the care of others.

So, last night as I decompressed while doing chores here at home, with all the animals back in their familiar surroundings. I gave thanks for a good time, good people and a bright new beginning for us in our journey with the Suffolk Punch horse. I looked up the lane towards my home, made comfortable, clean and filled with love by my wife and I saw this…

I’d say that says it all



The Boy Is Back In Town

May 3, 2021

Orchard Hill Red Blaze, the Suffolk stallion pictured above is the daddy of our newest addition Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. He is a chunky boy with a great disposition and he helped make a beautiful filly. We leased him again for Amee.

Amee was delighted to see him again. It looks as if we should have another “Red” baby on the ground next year.

You can see from the photo, mom Amee, watching over the sleeping Grace while Red snoozes, as they all soak up the warm April sun.

The little family grazes in the pasture. Amazing Grace runs circles around both dad and mom. She gains strength and power daily thanks to mom’s milk. It is delightful to watch the baby girl run and play.

“Red”, is part of our breeding program because his foals are not related to our stallion Hank. As we build a solid breeding program for working Suffolk horses, it is imperative that we focus on DNA in this critically rare breed. We want to expand the gene pool, while breeding for the punchy, solid, powerhouse found in these horses. In other words, I want to breed true, following the like minded breeders of the last four centuries, not changing the breed, only enhancing it.

They are truly beautiful!



She’s Here Too

April 24, 2021

Our new filly was born yesterday! Her name is Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace. She is a leggy one, but very strong.

I imprinted her and talked to her. Today, her and mom were mostly just left alone to bond and enjoy the sunshine.

They had an outside picnic while we watched from the fence.

My grandma Rice was named Grace. She was a strong woman with a big heart. It is my hope that this filly exhibits those same traits. Enjoy the photos for now and stay tuned for updates. I’m overloaded with thankfulness for this potential broodmare. She is not related to our stallion prospect Hank. It is one more important step in helping to promote and preserve this rare and endangered breed. I think gramma would be proud to have her share her name.



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
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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