RicelandMeadows


Woodshed 2020
September 2, 2020, 9:17 am
Filed under: September 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

Ateamwood2020

September 2, 2020

On the last day of August, We finished filling the woodshed. The wood will now have many months to dry and cure. The fire will burn hot under the boiling maple sap next spring.

woodshed2020

This is a great job to have behind us. Corn harvest will start soon, along with getting the soil ready for our fall planted crop of speltz. I will also continue to work on firewood during the autumn season. I hope to be a year ahead by late winter.

I have started to shock corn. These small shocks I made in the garden from our sweet corn. I will open my animal corn field in the coming days, by making shocks down the center. The shocks make good feed and protect the corn just like a dry crib. The best thing is, shocking the corn divides my field into two small rectangles instead of one big square. It makes harvesting more efficient. I don’t spend a lot of time driving around the ends of the field this way.

shock2020

We hope to wrap up the tomato season in the next two weeks. The potatoes are wonderful this year too. We have been enjoying all of our garden produce. It has been a good year for gardens and gardeners.

Late summer jobs and early fall work is commencing nicely. The horses are working well. The young stock is growing on the good pastures. Our stallion is learning manners and how to be a work horse. Our young filly is about to be weaned from her momma. Hank, our young stallion, will accompany our mares as we harvest the corn crop. He will mostly just walk along learning to behave and work. I like him very much. Here he is looking over the fence at us last Sunday morning.

hanklisa



Man, How They Grow!
August 11, 2020, 10:54 am
Filed under: August 2020 | Tags: ,

bree4month

August 11, 2020

Summer continues to fly by. Work here continues, but the pressure is off. We are making great progress in all areas. The young horses are learning and growing very well. In the photo above, Bree is just short of four months old. She is a very smart animal.

hank15month

Hank, our young stallion, is also growing well. Here at fifteen months old, he is fifteen hands tall (five feet at his withers). He too is learning fast and continues to be a gentleman, with very little correction needed. This breed continues to amaze me and to make me like them even more.

a&abeautifulmower

Our team of mares is powering the farm very well. Heavy jobs are coming like fall plowing , some logging and the spreading of our compost. I am sure they will handle it well. They have done every farm job that I have asked them to do with ease. They are fun to work, making my farm jobs nothing but fun.



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!

 



Splish Splash Our First Bath
July 9, 2020, 12:12 pm
Filed under: July 2020 | Tags: , , ,

breebath

July 9, 2020

These hot, oppressive days take the starch out of me! I got the bright idea to give the horses all baths. I included our baby Bree. This is all part of her training. I continually expose her to all sorts of sounds and experiences.

She took the squirting hose very well. She wasn’t actually thrilled by it, but she wasn’t scared either. I put this in the win column. I think she was more upset about being tied just around the corner from mom, than anything the hose did. By the time we were finished, all fear of the hose, the water and the hissing noise was gone.

The gardens and crop fields are doing very well. They could all use some rain, but they are holding up well. The speltz harvest is just days away. Straw bales will soon be stacked in rows near the barn for winter bedding.

Normally, I would be wrapping up the wood splitting job for our sugarhouse, but this heat made me decide to just pick away at it during the cool of morning. Its working okay, but taking a bit longer. No worries, I’ll get it done :o)



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!



The Days Ahead

Bree5weeks

June 1, 2020

We are all preparing, watching and waiting for the days ahead. Unsettling times seem to surround us presently. Keep in mind that God is in control. This too shall pass. It will take patience, forgiveness and love. I am at a loss for words over the current unrest. The protests are valid, the rioting and destruction are a sad aftershock.  Covid-19 had us in its grip and now an old ugly wound has been scratched open again. We need healing. We need resolution and we need prayer.

Bree, our five week old baby horse, continues to grow and learn. Her training amounts to simple lessons, kept short and always ending on a high note. She will join her mom at work soon. She will walk along beside and learn all sorts of things.

carpenterbees

We were getting swarmed by wood boring carpenter bees. I hate to spray poison around.  My wife read somewhere that a paper bag hung up will mimic a hornet’s nest and keep the bees away. I humored her and hung up the bag. To my amazement, I haven’t seen even one bee since hanging it up! I don’t know if it is because of this bag or not, but I’m not taking it down!  (Thank you honey)

Yesterday, I hauled many loads of composted manure and applied it to last year’s corn field. Today, I worked up that field. I disced it up, then broadcast sorghum/Sudan grass and some rape seed. The seed will provide summer grazing for our sheep flock. The grass grows quickly and rank. The rape is a forage that the sheep love too. The combination can be grazed off and on all summer long. It is a warm season grass that winter kills. I will however, plow it down in very late summer. This field will be planted to speltz in very early autumn.

cowcandy2020

We rushed to beat tonight’s coming rain. I was pleased to get it in. Sam the border collie kept me company. Now we wait and watch for new growth in the days ahead.



Planting and Growing Season

opcorn2020

May 29, 2020

If you strain your eyes a bit, you can see this year’s corn peeping through the ground. The hot weather and recent rains have done their magic. Weeding by cultivation begins soon. More on that in the coming weeks.

Obviously, the field corn for the animals has been planted, but also a little sweet corn for us is also ready to emerge. We have more gardens to plant, but the season is well underway. Potatoes, tomatoes and peppers are planted and enjoying our recent weather.

Horse training and daily chores continue and hay making is right around the corner. Our busy season has begun!

jakebelle

My son Jake’s two-year old coming along nicely. She will join my girls for several jobs soon, like raking hay and hauling round bales. Yes, tis the season!



Tie Stall Redesign for Draft Horses

stalltearout

May 18, 2020

It was time to remodel our old tie stalls. The double ones (for two horses) were showing the wear and tear of many years of use. The recent change of breeds and the addition of a stallion, led to my decision to rebuild. My Percheron horses were large even for their breed. They were 18 hands (6 feet tall at their withers) and weighed in at nearly a ton.

We now have switched to the Suffolk Punch breed. These horses are shorter 16 hands (5 feet 3 inches tall) The Suffolk horses are also “shorter coupled” too. This short coupled means their body length is on the short side. This makes them a sturdy, chunky, powerful horse. This also mean that they were short enough that they pooped on the back of their stalls. The manure didn’t fall over the curb, making a mess underneath the horses.

As part of the rebuild, I made the mangers wider, pushing the horses back in their stalls so manure will fall into the curbed area. This makes for a clean bed and easy clean up.

a&astalls

I also decided to go back to single stalls with a dividing wall. The stalls measure 5 feet wide, 6 feet deep from manger to curb. The mangers are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The height of the manger is 32 inches from the floor to the top.  The dividers keep horses kicking at each other to a minimum. The mares seem to squeal and pick at each other more than my geldings ever did :o)

The stall design for our stallion is a bit more robust with higher sides.

hankstall

The posts have a metal socket with a 4 inch pin welded to a plate on the bottom. I drilled a hole in the concrete to receive the pin. The socket also has a “U” channel running up from the floor to receive the stall planks. Lots of screws and well placed cleats make the structure strong and serviceable. All the corners and edges are made smooth without anything to injure the horses.

stallpinsocket

The steel and welding for both stalls cost me one hundred dollars.

stallwall

The stall walls are strong, smooth and easily replaced if ever needed.

This project took two full days to complete. Shout out to my wonderful wife for her help. She worked like a master craftsman, lending a hand wherever she could. It would have taken much longer to finish without her help, conversation and insight.

I believe that we will add stall guards on top of the dividing walls to complete our separation efforts. New guards for the windows will be added as well. The guards will provide function, a little style and a neat appearance too.



2020 Maple Season is History
March 21, 2020, 11:10 am
Filed under: March 2020 | Tags: , , , ,

boils2020

March 21, 2020

Our maple season came to a close last Tuesday. It was a short, yet wonderful season. We made plenty of nice syrup. We sold our darkest syrup (in the right of the picture) to some candy makers.

I love this time of year. The late winter cold mixed with the promise of spring stirs my soul. Perhaps it is my childhood memories of my parents and grandparents making maple syrup that stirs me? Whatever it is, it is born into me. I will do this sweet job as long as the good Lord allows.

lasthitchKH2020

This picture was taken on the last day that I gathered sap in 2020. It is a bittersweet photo, because it was also the last time that I hitched Knight and Hoss. They have moved to their new home. I spent the next day brushing and grooming them. We shared conversation and I shed a few tears, as I told my big boys goodbye.

Ateam

I used the new Suffolk mares to pull the sled while we untapped the trees. They drove well and will pick up where my boys left off.

untap2020

The taps and bags have all been removed. The evaporator pans have been disassembled for final cleaning. There is much to do to clean, store and organize until next year, but we are off to a great start. I should finish that job in a couple days.

I continue to work with the new Suffolk horses. I even allow myself some playtime for just riding around hooked to the forecart or wagon. It’s good for the new red horses and me to continue to get comfortable with each other.

hank3212020

Hank, our yearling stallion prospect, continues to grow and learn. He is a good little guy. His training continues daily. We work on manners and all sorts of ground skills. I also keep introducing him to “scary” things. I do it in a safe place for him. He takes it all in stride, knowing that I will keep him safe.

hankpressurewash

Here I am showing Hank that the pressure washer is nothing to fear. He took it all in, without any panic. He almost quit eating hay while I hosed him, but showed no fear or discomfort. This breed of horse has a very good mind. He is used to me introducing him to “boggymen”. Generally, he pays me no mind. Once in a while he shows me some white eye, but calms down quickly as I speak to him. I am enjoying these horses more than any I have ever owned.

There are some exciting and interesting times ahead for us here at Riceland Meadows. Stay tuned for our exploits and adventures!