RicelandMeadows


Talk About “Chillin”
January 18, 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: January 2022 | Tags: , , ,

January 18, 2022

Yesterday we got over 27″ of snow. It was the biggest single snow event we have had here since building our place 22 years ago. I spent 8 hours on the skid steer over the last two days digging us out! I am hoping like a good bag of chips…some settling occurs! I may have to get real creative to find a place to shove more if it comes too soon.

I snapped this picture of my two mares on Saturday evening before the snow came. What a difference a couple of days makes! The photo tickled me, as they are walking just as if they were hitched in the team. Good girls, who make me very happy.

I pushed snow everywhere even into a pile on the feedlot. I put as much as I could over the fence, but this pile will have to wait a day or so before I can move it. The horses don’t mind it and it is out of my way for now.

Abby coming to meet me. It is things like this that makes for a warm heart. She likes to be talked to and petted. It’s good for me too.

Work will continue soon, but right now the fields, woods and everything else lies under two feet of snow. It is beautiful. It is cold. It is winter in northeast Ohio…talk about chillin!



Christmas 2021

December 24, 2021

It is here, Christmas 2021. This month has been a whirlwind. All sorts of things were out of sorts. My wife got Covid. We spent two weeks away from folks and her under the weather for many days. Thankfully, all is well, but man did it shorten the “getting ready for Christmas” time. I am very thankful that we were healed. I lost two friends due to this illness in the last couple of weeks. My heart goes out to those families.

Our three “main” horses that power our farm, all got their shoes reset. This makes sure their feet are trimmed and they are ready for the coming icy drive and laneway. Hank is coming along good. He took his shoeing and feet trimming all in stride. He will turn 3 next April. He is growing well and fills up the shoeing stock pretty well already.

He continues to be a gentleman who works well with his mares. He is still a youngster, but will soon be a very valuable part of the inner workings of the farm.

We are working our way through the animal harvest, as we butcher and store the meat we have raised this past year. Beef, pork and chicken grace our shelves. We are thankful for those blessings. We even butchered our old laying hens. They gave us eggs for over a year and now will continue to keep us healthy with chicken soup made from their golden broth.

One of my last remaining jobs for 2021 is to finish filling the sugarhouse woodshed with wood for boiling. In most years, I am done by mid summer. This year however, due to all sorts of excuses, bad weather including lots of rain, I am nearing completion of the job. Hats off to a couple of friends who helped me this week to finish the splitting.

This will more than finish filling the shed. It will also give me a head start on next years wood. We use 12 to 15 cords of wood to make our maple syrup. Wood cutting, hauling and splitting takes a while. It is just part of our labor of love to make great Ohio maple syrup, but to me it is worth it!

Our horse-drawn dump cart works very well for this job. The horses and I will get the shed full and this job finished before we ring in the new year. They are all ready now for sure, sporting their new shoes!

Merry Christmas everyone from our farm to yours!



Spooky How It All Started
October 31, 2021, 9:04 pm
Filed under: October 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

October 31, 2021

In the photo above, Hank my 30 month old Suffolk stallion stands with the couple who sold him to me. The Pidcock’s from Nelsonville, Ohio sold me Hank as a weanling over 2 years ago. It plunged me headlong into loving this rare breed of horse. It’s almost spooky how it all started and how things continue to fall into place.

As October comes to an end ad winter looms, I am busy wrapping up projects. It seems that I have too many left over from summer! This past week we got almost 5 inches of rain. The ground is way beyond soggy! The corn harvest is on hold for a little while.

Next week looks much better. I hope to be able to finish the job of hand picking our field corn for the animals. The only other job pushing me hard is the job to finish filling the woodshed. In a mere two full days I can have that done too. I am mostly pleased with my progress but there is always room for improvement!

It will soon be time to start our fall butchering for our family. I like this time of year. Once the work is wrapped up, then rest and fun begins. It is getting hard for me to tell work from fun. Each day has a horse and something I like to do in it. Who could ask for anything more?



Stallion Training Day

October 13, 2021

Yesterday was a very good day. We worked with Hank, our young Suffolk Punch stallion. He just turned 2 last April. We were pulling an old tire around the field for awhile. He has done this job before, but yesterday his brain “clicked”. He figured out how to start the load, but also how to enjoy a break. You can see a little sweat coming from under his harness. That sweat along with breaks at the right time, lead to just standing still, minding your own business and listening for me to give direction. He is getting it. I am very happy with his progress.

I won’t push the young guy too hard. He only gets light loads for now. We are more training his mind than his body. He likes the ladies, so we need to make him understand that life has other things in it too. Some of you may notice the “jockey stick” running from his halter to his partner Abby’s harness ring. This spacer keeps him from trying to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. He stays in his place and she is not bothered by his nonsense this way. Abby is a wonderful partner. She moves and stops when I ask. She teaches him stuff by just being there and she is one big anchor if I need one!

I snapped this picture of the growing speltz yesterday. I am pleased with these results so far. The crop should be well rooted before winter sets in and freezes the ground.

All I can say is that it was a very good day!



Computer Trouble / Farm Success

October 10, 2021

We have been fighting with our computer for almost a month! Finally we have been repaired. We didn’t lose anything and I am back to communicating and blogging.

In the photo above, Abby , Amee and I were plowing at Lake Farm Park. The park is located in a neighboring county. They host a horsepower weekend. Old tractors and of course, real horsepower are showcased. We had a fun time visiting and plowing. The event was well attended by other teams of horses and the public. We struggled a bit with old vegetation plugging the plow, but we did make some loose dirt.

This is a picture of my old Oliver plow. I haven’t used it for years. My knees got too sore to use it. I got them replaced and decided that I wanted to try plowing this way again. The horses had not done this ever in their lives either. We worked on it for a few evenings before we went out in public. I am not the plowman that I once was, but we got it done.

There is a lot to this job. Once things are all set up and understood, it is a joy to plow this way. We are not there yet! I managed to drag along the ground a few times as The horses learned where to walk and I learned to pick my feet up higher. It was still fun. I will plow like this a few times each year just to keep my memories alive. This old plow belonged to a mentor of mine…I think he would be pleased too.

Over the last month, we continued to work with Hank, our two-year old Suffolk Punch stallion. He is doing good, but the training will continue for the coming months, even years. He is growing fast and well. He is pictured with our 7 year old mare Abby in the photo below.

It is my hope to have Hank plowing in a three-horse hitch before the snow flies this fall. He is not shy about pulling and keeps his mind on his work. I will call that a success!

The speltz have been planted. This horse grain is up and looking good. I have opened the corn field by picking two rows closest to the fence and down the middle. The main harvest will commence as I begin hand picking the dry ears in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for bearing with me in my absence. Its good to be back sharing our success with all of you. There is much to catch up on, so ride along with me as I bring you a glimpse of our small farming life.



Haying Season 2021 is Finished

September 14, 2021

Last Saturday, 9/11/21, we finished up our haying season. That morning as the dew dried off the hay crop, I watched the tributes on TV of the brave souls who lost their lives 20 years ago during the terrorist attacks on our civilians. My heart was heavy as I watched and waited. I will not forget.

In the week prior to my last round of hay making, we were visited by our daughter and her husband from Maryland. You have to make hay while the sun shines, so even with visitors present, the hay making rolled on. I simply included our guests in the project. They got to drive the horses, even raking some of the crop as they learned about the process first hand. The horses worked well for the novice drivers and my visiting teamsters gained experience and understanding. The smiles were big and the workload was made smaller.

The hay tools have been gathered and will be cleaned and stored in the coming days. It is a bittersweet time as one season ends and another begins. Summer is a fleeting thing and autumn looms near. A few jobs that were delayed by wet, then very hot weather, still wait to be completed, but I’ll get them done soon.

We found out this week that we have been featured on the draft horse desktop calendar for 2022. There are so many teams and teamsters to choose from, gathered from events all over the country and only 12 months to display them. We are humbled to represent the Suffolk horse breed and thank Mischka Press for the privilege.

The little filly in the picture has now been weaned. She is learning all sorts of new things. She has bonded well with her stablemate. Those two young ladies have become great friends. Momma has returned to full work and all is well. The job of preparing the soil for our fall planting of speltz is at hand. Once that job has been completed, corn picking will commence. In any of the days not filled up, we will work on the last of the firewood needed for the upcoming maple syrup season. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all down, but it is simply a great life!



The Scramble Towards Fall

September 6, 2021

As we make the dash towards fall and the coming harvest, we still take some time for fun. Hank and Sam (the dog) play a game at turnout every night. Sam is not allowed to chase the horses. Hank knows that Sam is not allowed, so he plays tough guy showing off for his lady friends. Sam bolts to the gate, Hank kicks out in protest, a scene played out like teenaged boys full of vinegar!

Once the fake boxing match is over, peace comes to the pasture. Hank and his girls graze contentedly, the work of the day forgotten.

We are also using this recent warm, dry weather to make the last of our second cutting hay. So far so good!

I like this view! It is also nice to have less pressure from biting flies as we work.

The hay is a bit light due to our late harvest of the first cutting, but I am grateful for every mouthful.

The push towards fall is on. The training of our young stock continues. There are no dull moments around here and I wouldn’t have it any other way!



Moving On
August 18, 2021, 11:25 am
Filed under: August 2021 | Tags: , , ,

August 18, 2021

Summer is flying by, much like Hank in the photo above.

The hot, muggy, wet weather continues to challenge us. The calendar, however keeps right on rolling. It is true, “Time waits for no man.” Our county fair has come and gone for another year. The start of school is right around the corner and very soon the leaves will be changing color.

Hank is filling out fast. He is a few months over two years old. He is starting to take on a true stallion appearance. He is a good natured colt who pleases me very much.

Our first cutting hay and the spelt straw for 2021 has been made and stored. The straw sits along the fence row for use when needed. We hope to get some second cutting dry hay made once the weather pattern shifts a bit. The fields of second cutting hay will give peace of mind as it gets baled and put away. Its nice to have a little more than we will need. The pastures have been staying green thanks to the rains, but most all of our fields are saturated.

Its funny to me how our weather is extreme one way or the other. Lake Erie really does play a part in our growing season, not to mention our harvest seasons. It is also amazing how just a few miles in either direction can make such a difference. Its best just to smile and wait, because the current weather will change. Fretting about it doesn’t help the crops or the farmer.

As I look back, I can see it has been a fairly productive year. It is best to focus on the positives, because many things we simply can’t change, no matter how much we want. So, keep looking forward, we can impact change there. Good planning and preparation will help us capitalize on better days to come.



Here’s Looking At You Kid

August 12, 2021

Riceland Meadows Amazing Grace a little shy of 4 months old. She is growing fast!

These hot, sticky, muggy days of August have been producing almost daily showers making it tough to get things done. I spend a little time each day with our little filly. She is a good girl, but still has a bit of sass in her. She learns quickly. We are enjoying her. She will soon be turned out with Bree, last year’s filly. Grace and her have been spending time in adjoining stalls. Soon, Grace will get weaned from her mom. It is my hope that Bree and Grace become friends. They can romp and play, making the weaning process less stressful on all involved.

These young ladies and their mothers, will become part of our breeding program in the coming years. They will also power the farm, spending time in harness hitched to all sorts of equipment. My view of them is often the same. I took this next photo of Grace to be a sort of “baby picture” for reference later on.

Yep, this is usually my view! You can see the power that resides in her backside already. She is a good growing, thick, chunky horse. I look forward to seeing her become part of the “team”.

From the looks of these photos, I better clean my cobwebs down. I try to keep up with that job. I have discovered that an old straw broom works well for this purpose. Recently, I found out that a leaf blower works even better! You can blow those suckers down in a very few minutes. I suggest wearing a mask, safety glasses and an old shirt on the day you do it, but the leaf blower makes short work of that job. It is also a good job for a rainy day!



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.