RicelandMeadows


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!



Bree of Riceland Meadows
April 25, 2020, 9:27 am
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Bree1week1

April 25, 2020

Our filly is now one week old. She is growing very well. It is so much fun to have a baby horse here again. She is an independent little girl! Strong willed for sure.

We are seeing many good traits from her breeding.

Bree1week2

Once she grows up, I am sure that she will make a great work horse.

In the meantime, we will just enjoy watching her grow up. To see her run and frolic makes us smile. This is a good distraction these days…and unlike our children and grandchildren…we can get our hands on her!



She’s Here!
April 18, 2020, 11:39 pm
Filed under: April 2020 | Tags: , , ,

bree2

April 18, 2020

Our Suffolk Punch filly was born at 10:30 pm on April 17, 2020. In the photo above she was about a half hour old. She was just finding her feet and standing up. Both mother and daughter are doing well.

It is a nice distraction to watch the baby!

Today she was walking and bouncing all around the stall. She is full of energy. Momma has settled in to putting up with her antics and ever increasing appetite.

On a side note, our Percheron mare “Abby” has been sold. We found her a wonderful home. It has been a roller coaster ride, as we transition from Percheron horses to Suffolk horses, to power our farm, but it is exciting too. Knowing that all three of my old pals got great homes is just icing on the cake!

Now, we can really focus on our future with these wonderful, rare, calm horses.



Changes along with the Weather
March 28, 2020, 10:58 am
Filed under: March 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

a&a3272020

March 28, 2020

Last night after chores, I took the mares for a walk through the woods. The mare on the left will foal in the coming weeks. I like to keep her exercised daily. These quiet walks are good for us all.

As we all face many changes due to the COVID-19 virus, quiet time, alone is good for us all. We are going through many changes here on the farm as well. My black Percheron horses are making their ways to new homes. It is a tough thing for me, but I see much opportunity in our change to the endangered Suffolk breed.

These horses continue to please me. I am excited to start the farm year with them. They will pick up where the blacks left off, after maternity leave of course!

blackabby32020

Our Percheron mare Abby has gone off to “finishing school”. I have a friend in the nearby Amish community who also has a single black mare for sale. They look very nice together. We will get them all worked down and dolled up to show off all of their best traits, then put them in a draft horse sale in Topeka Indiana. The sale is scheduled for June. Abby will be headed there, unless I sell her private before then.

Today, the rain is sure making things wet. It started raining last night at dark and is still falling steady. It is supposed to continue all day. Perhaps it is just a preview of our normal April showers? Let’s pray we have a good planting season and normal growing season. We are due, but we know who is in control. We will plan, prepare and be ready to go once the time has come.



New Phone Learning Curve
March 10, 2020, 11:57 am
Filed under: March 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Ameeabbyweek7

March 10, 2020

Oh my gosh! I had to get a new phone. Then I had to unlearn and relearn everything that I thought I knew. The long story made much shorter is to say that I couldn’t figure out how to send photos to my blog! I hate to “date” myself, but sometimes I feel very old! My daughter-in-law helped me learn all sorts of things about my new phone. So, I’m Back!

Abby and Amee, our new Suffolk horses are doing very well. We are all adjusting to each other. They are doing very well, but haven’t done much all winter. Abby is due to foal in April, so they are getting the 2020 maple syrup season off. Knight and Hoss are powering the operation one last time. They head to their new home in a few days.

evap2020

The season is in full swing. We have made some very nice syrup. It is looking like the end is near for this year. These last few days have been very long as we boil late and get up early balancing farm chores and the maple operation. It is a busy, wonderful, sweet time of year…even with that new phone!