RicelandMeadows


Holy Horsepower!
June 11, 2021, 8:46 am
Filed under: June 2021 | Tags: , , ,

June 11, 2021

I have been helping a friend do some field work. He farms many acres. The tractor and plows in the photo above have been my office for the last several days. The tractor is 350 horsepower. The plows are seven bottoms. This is much different than plowing with real horses!

This thing is big! He owns two such units. We can plow over ten acres an hour. The articulating beasts roll over the ground just above an idle, turning over the soil very efficiently. It takes a large area just to turn around. The reason he switched back to moldboard plowing is to help control weeds in his organic farming operation. The plow buries weed seeds to allow the growing crop to get ahead of them. The job of cultivation begins after that, avoiding costly sprays and the chemicals that come with them.

I plow for the same reason. I just farm on a much smaller scale. I do use some limited spray on fields where weeds are a problem, but only some years and only when needed. Its fun to drive this giant tractor and see what all that horsepower can do. I will say though, that my heart enjoys the real horsepower better. The methods and caring for crops are the same…only the size of the operation is different.

Our newest baby, Amazing Grace, stands resting in her stall. She is learning all sorts of things, during short daily lessons. She is taking them in stride. She trusts me. She knows that no harm will come to her. She also knows that after her lessons are done, she will spend the rest of the day roaming the cool barn, napping and nursing whenever she likes. This living breathing horsepower fills my soul and keeps me grounded.

I will drive the giant monster and help my friend. I will do the best job that I can do. In the seat of the tractor, as I operate a machine large enough to plow all of my farm fields before lunch, I will long for holding the lines in my fingers and the quiet in my ears.



Signs of Summer

June 1, 2021

Our gardens have been planted. Our grandchildren are walking down the corn row, following the hand seeder. They took this job very serious. They wanted to ensure good soil to seed contact! Now we wait for the plants to emerge.

Our little filly is growing fast too. She is getting used to my antics and the daily grind. She wasn’t fond of halter training or being tied up, but each day she gets better and takes it in stride. Our farm work will soon get very busy as we move into haying season, cultivation and wood splitting. These days with Grace are fun, watching this little Suffolk filly grow.

The old part of the barn got a facelift as part of the new renovation.

The new box stalls are almost completed.

One more partition to go along with latches and the project will be completed. One more job wrapped up before the flush of summer work. Thanks to my wife for all of her help, this install has gone smooth.

The barn renovation will make things much easier on us as we move towards becoming breeders and trainers of the Suffolk Punch Horse. We got the news last Thursday that both of our mares are in foal for 2022. Our Abby mare is carrying our stallion “Hank’s” baby. So it begins :o)



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.



The Show Goes On

April 14, 2021

Yesterday, we completed filming for a few more videos that will appear on RFD-TV. One will be shown in late June. We had a good time. The weather was perfect and things went very well. It was a fun day.

I drove our mares and explained our newly built “sap rig”. Shout out to Joel Baldwin for all of his help in the build. The mares showed how well it travels, as well as, how easy it pulls. Our cows stood by the fence nodding their approval.

We explained our thoughts on the training methods that we use, gave a few grooming tips and even touched on the current barn renovation . Jake, our son, and I both hitched our young, in training, horses too.

These programs and the writing that I do for Rural Heritage magazine, gives me an outlet to share my experiences and knowledge with others. I do this to help pass along information given to be by others or learned through my own experiences. I want to be resource for those searching for knowledge on how to farm or garden. I like to share ideas with other draft animal folks. I will do my best to share this life that I love so much. Thanks for reading and watching!



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.



March Madness!
March 15, 2021, 8:26 pm
Filed under: March 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

March 15, 2021

We have been busy in the sugarhouse making maple syrup. It is a sweet time of year, but very busy too. The maple takes up many days, but the rest of the farm work must be done too. Our weather has been unseasonably dry for us. The temperature has been above average many days, but thankfully the nights have been cold, so the sap keeps running.

We also hosted the 2021 A-Tech senior class Horticulture students for a sap gathering farm field day last week. The horses were ambassadors who worked very hard. The kids all had a great time and I think they may have even learned a little.

We benefited from some willing workers as the class learned about forestry, small farming and all things maple!

So March Madness isn’t just found on basketball courts…it can be found in most any maple woods in spring. Here on this farm the “sap” runs… He also does animal chores, farm planning and other jobs around the farm!

Spring plowing will be underway soon, but first the maple madness continues…oh yeah…a baby horse should make the blog soon (about 30 days)…mama is starting to waddle a little when she walks.



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.



Cold Starts, Warm Feelings
February 12, 2021, 12:40 pm
Filed under: February 2021 | Tags: , , ,

February 12, 2021

Hank, in the middle, is learning very quickly. These past cold days have been perfect for training because most other farm work is on hold. He has a ways to go, but is patient, willing and attentive. Occasionally, he acts like a teenaged boy, but most of the time he is a gentleman.

It is pleasing to see a young animal or human, “get it”. The look of understanding, the body language that comes with the sudden confidence is pleasing to see. Hank has been having a lot of “Ah-Ha” moments. I am very happy with his progress. My mares, Abby and Amee are teaching him well. They know their job and make very big anchors. He has figured out to pretty much, just do what they do.

He is learning the clues from the lines and my voice, but looks to the girls for reassurance. He is fast becoming a vital part of the team. He wants to do good. He is not shy about pulling. He steps right into the collar, but stands quietly at rest breaks.

Here is a shot from the front. I had my buddy’s boys drive so that I could take a picture. This photo was taken on Hank’s first time in a three horse hitch. The photo on top was from his second time out taken the day before yesterday. Hank turns two in April. We do not work him hard, but we work him often.

We are in a cold snap, no maple sap yet. The weatherman says no days above freezing for the next ten days. So, we wait on Mother Nature for the maple season to begin. In the meantime, we will enjoy the cold by making lots of warm memories…often around the shop wood stove!



Bye Bye January

January 31, 2021

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of January 2021. It has been a full month. Our Christmas gatherings were pushed into this month as we celebrated in small groups. We, of course, had lots of chores and work to do, but we found plenty of time for some fun too. In the photo above, Hank (in the center), got hitched with the mares for the first time. He did remarkably!

I have been driving him single for a while. We would take walks around the farm as he got used to the harness and being driven. His progress is steady. He is a baby , so we are going slow. Hank won’t be two years old until April. Hank is a stallion. I hope to keep him busy with daily work, to keep his mind busy, as his body struggles with all those teenaged hormones.

I didn’t expect any problems, but I still enlisted the help of my buddy’s boys. They are driving in the picture while I took the photo. It was good insurance to have the help, even though I didn’t need it. One can never be too cautious. Hank learned fast what to do. The mares beside him did amazing, as they worked and paid him no mind. The noise behind him and the weight they pulled, did not cause any concern for Hank. He just did what the girls did. We have many more days of training in our future, but this was a wonderful “first time out”.

February, brings us maple syrup season. I have been busy preparing for this time too. Things are getting completed and a few blog posts in the coming days, will show and explain my efforts.

The last of the pig butchering is behind us now too. We worked up the last smoked meat last week. It is a blessing to have the knowledge, the ability and the equipment to do our own processing. This year small processors are backed up for months on end. We, by law, can’t process for others, but we can do our own. The place smells wonderful as the hickory smoked bacon gets sliced…and fried :o)

Bye bye January, thank you for the harvest, the accomplishments and the gathering of family and friends!



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.