RicelandMeadows


Harvesting and Waiting

September 27, 2022

We went to a local Metro Park in neighboring Lake county. We went to support their annual “Horsepower” days. We went to show our Suffolk Punch draft horses to a welcoming crowd. We made it a learning session for our son Jake’s youngest horse, Anna. She is the smaller one in the photos. She is a 3-year old and learning fast. The people, flags, balloons, noise and other horses were new to her. She looked and learned. She stayed calm and watched her teammate Amee for clues. She/We had an outstanding day.

We raked the brush hog debris off of the field that we would be plowing. It was Anna’s second or third time on that piece of equipment. She was confident and willing while we raked. We next hauled bundles of corn shocks off the corn field following a corn binder demonstration. The horses had to stand, wait and move up as the volunteers loaded the wagon. The chattering binder being pulled by a team of Belgians, went by us several times. Our horses made no move, other than to watch them go by.

We were just one team among many. The Belgians, Percherons and Suffolk breeds were well represented. The following day (Sunday) was a bit rainy, but the fun moved inside at times. We did not attend the second day. The weather looked ominous, so we went to church instead. The horses stayed home, but we harvested the Word and mingled with a different flock.

We are making plans to attend again next year and take at least 2 teams of horses. There were many things to see and do. We had fun. We met some new friends and cemented relationships with old ones. We represent different breeds. We all choose to do different things with our horses, but all of us come together to play and learn.

As we train our young horses, we expose them to as many things as we can. We do this first at home where things are familiar. Slowly, as the horses gain confidence, we introduce them to even more outside noise and situations. This training is to build confidence, character and to help eliminate fear. When a fearful thing does happen, they look to us for clues. We can calm them with our voices and line pressure. The training, teaching patience, and consistent methods, pays off big dividends in times of trouble or insecurity.

Our rain total yesterday afternoon. The rains continue to fall as a big storm comes to us from Canada. The storm moves over lake Erie, then dumps the moisture on us. We had a dry summer, but we are now starting to get a bit soggy. They say we still have another rainy day coming after today. No worries. The trees and grasses are gulping up the moisture in the waning days of the growing season. The other benefit is that we don’t have to shovel rain! The almost three and a half inches of rain that fell yesterday has been added to significantly over night. The sun is shinning for the moment, so I am headed out to do all things “Riceland”.



Pasture Management for All

September 25, 2022

Autumn is here. We are managing a few of our hay fields differently this year. In the photo, we are grazing multiple species of livestock in what would have been second cutting hay. We are not burning any high priced fuel. We are not waiting on perfect weather to make dry hay.

We have our steers, rams and young fillies, grazing off the knee deep emerald green grasses. Each animal prefers a different forb. This makes for perfect use of the growing crop. We have to keep the water trough full of fresh clean water, Mother Nature does the rest.

There is much going on in the photos. The grasses are being grazed. The animals are all getting used to each other. A natural pecking order is taking place among the animals as well as, among the different breeds. The horses seem to rule, but they are not cruel. They are just first in line. The cattle are next, followed by the sheep. The cows are watching my border collie “Sam” on the other side of the fence. They seem to always be on guard for any outsider in the pasture.

Once all the animals have had their fill, we top off the water tank. The sheep seem to know to get all they want, then a little later get a little more to hold them until chore time later in the day.

Using the hay field in this way gives us another month of grazing and not feeding hay. We monitor the grass and field conditions. We don’t want the animals poking holes with their feet if it gets too wet. This is great feed for fattening animals like the cows. It also helps to meet the protein requirements for growing horses. The rams get in great condition for the upcoming breeding season.

This is not the first time we have used this method. It is a proven way to make the best use of pastures. It keeps animals in great condition, makes introductions and introduces growing foals to strange smells, strange (to them) creatures and establish a farm pecking order that makes all things run smooth.

Missing from the photo above are the horses who were standing in the shade. They are all in there, cows, hogs, and horses. When I call the horses, the other animals move away from the gate. The horses come through and go to the barn. When I call the cattle, the hogs back away until all the cattle are through the gate. The pecking order makes this happen. The farmer benefits from the natural order of things. I encourage my readers to give this a try on your own homestead.

This makes the best use of abundance, creates a social aspect to farming and leaves a very low carbon footprint. Lastly, it makes things easy for the farmer who manages pasture for all.



Our Little Girls
September 18, 2022, 9:16 pm
Filed under: September 2022 | Tags: , , ,

September 18, 2022

Our three little fillies, curious as all get out, growing well and enjoying our best pastures. Bree is two, Grace is one and our little Maggee is now weaned. They are the three amigos .

They like to play in the water. They love to be handled and petted. They are a joy to be around.

There is power in this photo and only 2, 1 and weaned. My heart is happy! Our future looks bright for sure.

Bree has begun her training in harness. She is learning well. We are still training a few others to finish them off. I like them broke quiet to respond to voice and line pressure. I want them to always feel safe and under control. They are ambassadors for our farm. They represent us well and I want to make sure that tradition continues.



Hello September!

September 11, 2022

As we process and remember the tragic day of September 11, 2001, I am proud to be living in a free, safe country. Yes, we have our problems, but I don’t want to live anywhere else in the world.

We had the neat job of hauling a group of cheerleaders for the homecoming parade and game at our local high school last Friday evening.

We loaded up and drove around the big block through town in a long parade. It was filled with floats, balloons, wavy signs, loud engines and and all sorts of distractions. The horses took it all in stride as we walked down the people lined streets of town. It made our hearts happy to see such a warm display of love for our area children and alumni.

Yesterday, we supported our local historical society at their festival for Log Cabin days. It is an event that showcases one of our county’s earliest structures. Built in 1810, the Blakeslee Log Cabin is a treasure. The cabin is open for tours during the show. Vendors and reenactors are present for explanations, demonstrations and just plain old fashioned fun.

Our team of Suffolk Punch mares made several trips around the homestead (over 30). The crowd loved seeing our gals. This little girl petting and talking to our team was one of many offering their appreciation.

We were able to present our horses doing what they do best, working calmly and quietly. Their bidable nature and easy going personalities are just two of the reasons we are working so hard to help preserve this critically endangered breed.

We offer our many thanks to folks who supported our efforts by donating to our non-profit, Saving Suffolks. All proceeds go to help preserve, present and promote this wonderful breed of draft horse. You can check us out at http://www.savingsuffolks.com

We got rained out on Sunday, but the show went on for the event. We didn’t want to have an adverse effect on the landscape or compromise the safety of our horses. Look for us again next year at Blakeslee Log Cabin days and other places around the county.

Lastly, it was a joy to haul some very special older and younger visitors. One of whom is a faithful follower of this BLOG. She is a friendly quilter, who reminded me that sometimes I lapse too much on my writings. So, to her and many others, I say thank you for your support and for your patience! I promise to do better.

By the way, Lakeview Abby and Lakeview Amee were the stars of both events. They are two of my four-legged loves!



Garden Harvest 2022

August 8, 2022

What a great reward for a little bit of work! Our gardens are in full swing, giving us produce almost as fast as we can pick it. I know that it is the same every year, but it never fails to make me humble. A little work, some seeds, topsoil and rain and a heaping scoop of God’s blessing and wow, what a harvest.

We are canning and freezing and keeping up. Hat’s off to my wonderful, hard working wife for her efforts. I do some of the dirty work, fetch and get, pick, husk and peel, but she makes the magic happen. She puts a little love in every single quart. I think that love is the secret ingredient that gets passed from generation to generation and crosses family lines. I say this because the food put up by my mom, my grandmothers and most anyone who takes the time do it correctly, tastes wonderful. It tastes like “home”. It fills your belly and warms your heart at the same time.

The work caused by growing one’s food, is a satisfying job. The sweaty brow, the dirty , sticky hands are just part of the experience. We involve our children and grandchildren, trying our best to pass on the love for land, wholesome food and a lifestyle that is a blessing. There is no work in a job when your heart is happy.

We still take time for fun! Maggee, at four months old, growing fast. She is shedding her baby hair. She will soon be weaned from mom. She gets lots of attention, as do all of our horses, but babies are so much fun! We mix work with fun, that balance makes everything better!



Garden Harvest Begins

August 2, 2022

The garden has started to reward us for our work of tending it. The harvest season begins slow, but soon we will almost be overwhelmed with fresh produce. My wife works steady canning and freezing so that we can enjoy the taste of summer all year. I do help, but once in awhile I am told to go do something else… I think I might cross the “bossy” line now and then. I am a great production guy. My wife is great in her kitchen. I found out that she doesn’t need me pointing out the obvious. We work well together. We laugh together and we love together. I think the yearly discussion over how the kitchen will be used allows us the reset needed in every relationship. It works for us! It has been working for 30 years this month and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Our young Suffolk filly is now 4 months old. She will get weaned by the end of the month. She is growing well. Her lessons come easy to her. She is shedding her foal hair out and becoming a big girl. She will be separated from mom and left to run with her sister and cousin in a big pasture. She is an independent lass, so I don’t see any real distress in her future. She is eating very well on her own and mostly nurses for comfort these days.

Once the main garden harvest commences, the last of this year’s hay will be cut. So the haying tools can be put away one by one. Then plowing and soil preparation for the fall planted spelt crop will begin. In the meantime, pasture mowing and wood cutting for the maple syrup woodshed fill our time. Training the young horses continues but that is more fun than work. It is hard to believe that the last month of summer has arrived, but the heat and humidity keeps it real! Enjoy the warm days…winter is coming.



New Driver, Maybe?

July 20, 2022

Two years ago this past April, this little filly was born. We have worked with her and welcomed her into our daily routine. She is a sweetie. Today was her first time being driven. She walked off like a professional. She has a long way to go, but we overcame leaving the barn by herself, starting, stopping and turning on command. We kept her lesson short and positive.

Her training begins to get serious now. She will be driven like this a few more times. The next step is for her to pull a light but noisy weight of some kind. We switch the weight up often. Sometimes the weight is just a log chain dragging behind, sometimes a small wooden sled, perhaps a tarp or child’s plastic sled. Then a tire will be dragged around. Finally, she will be worked alongside one of our broke horses and used on the wagon or other light implement. She is a big girl now and by next summer will be a valuable part of our horsepower here at the farm.

Today, Abby and Amee and I clipped a small piece of second cutting hay. The area we mowed is an odd shaped field, that needs some attention. We will take this little bit of hay off, then plow this area. We will use this little field as a “playground” for a couple of months.

The young horses being trained (except Bree above) will learn to use all sorts of equipment here. We will plow, disc, harrow, use cultivators, spread manure etc. Then in mid-September, this small field will be planted to speltz and reseeded to hay. There will be much education here for both teams and teamsters. We will also be introducing a few interns to draft horse field work. This area will teach and build confidence in both the horse and the person.

Having a training ground should work out very well. If our youngsters learn to be as good as Abby and Amee, I will be one very pleased farmer! These two are my main team. They get better every time I drive them. I enjoy this small farming life. Working and driving such calm, smart animals increases my pleasure. So, yes, I’ll put the time into our “new drivers” and smile big as I walk and work behind them.



Job Shadow
July 19, 2022, 7:05 pm
Filed under: July 2022 | Tags: , , , ,

July 19, 2022

Maggee, our 2022 little filly, went to work with mom last week. She is learning all about farm work. Mom Amee and her teammate Abby, had to rake the straw from our recent speltz harvest. Maggee, is tied to mom and gets to walk along while mom works. This is a great way to introduce the youngster to noises and situations that she hasn’t seen or heard before.

The key is to tie the young horse where she is safe. She is tied short enough so that she can’t get out in front or behind her mother. She can walk alongside safely watching and listening to everything. She has done this before today, but only while line driving the team or when hitched to a wagon. On this day we did about 2 acres of actual work.

It was a nice day. The humidity was low and the flies were mostly absent. The straw makes a swishing sound as the rake flips it over. The baby settled in quickly, walking along with no fear. She even learned to key off voice commands given to her mother while she worked. It was a great day.

Here they are at the end of the job. The baby seems to be saying… “We did good, didn’t we mom?”



Stunning Gentleman

July 10, 2022

The sun shines on our stunning herd sire Hank. This picture was snapped by our daughter Lisa. He is growing into a real workhorse. His qualities of mind and body are excellent. He is a gentleman both in the field and in the barn. He watches over his herd and all the goings on around the farm.

In the barn, he watches all the visitors, but greets them with a confident, quiet attitude. We are proud of this guy. He will have babies of his own next spring. All of us are looking forward to see just what he puts into his progeny. I expect good things and if he is any example, I know that we won’t be disappointed.

These gals are both expecting babies next April. Currently, they are doing farm work, greeting and hauling children and making me smile often. I cannot say enough good things about these Suffolk Punch horses! It may seem a bit strong, but I love them!



Teaching the Young Ones

July 7, 2022

This past week has been a blur. We celebrated the birth of our country on Monday after a busy weekend that included a fast trip to Indiana to Horse Progress Days.

On Wednesday, we hosted another group of school children here on the farm. We introduce them to farm animals and give them a glimpse of farm life. Many of these kids are from the “city”. Most have never stepped foot on a farm or interacted with animals other than a few pet cats and dogs.

So, once again, our baby got to meet 20 squealing, wide eyed youngsters. The socialization is good for both the horses and the children. They had a fun couple hours that included petting chickens, goats, a pony, a donkey, cattle and our farm dogs and cats. We give them a horse drawn wagon ride around the farm, pulled by our Suffolk mares Amee and Abby.

This is our third such tour this year. We have more scheduled too. It is my hope that the young people have a favorable experience. Perhaps, I will plant a seed that will start a dream in a young life. I hope that as we share our lifestyle, hearts are opened and God is glorified. I will do my best to teach the little ones and they in turn will help train our animals too. It is a win win, as they say :o)