RicelandMeadows


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!



A New Day Dawns
January 10, 2021, 3:21 pm
Filed under: January 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

January 10, 2021

What a beautiful sunrise. If you look close you can see the steam rising above the compost pile. Perhaps a fitting tribute to recent events? Well, wherever you stand, keep your eyes on the sunrise and not the compost!

It has been an unseasonable January so far. The temperatures are warmer than usual for this time of year. The whole farm is muddy, but today, the entire landscape was frozen solid. What a relief to walk on firm ground, no matter where I stepped. It was wonderful.

I turned the horses out to run, roll and romp. They did just that. Then, once the sun came out and warmed us all, the frost left the ground. In celebration, the horses promptly rolled in the softening soil. In other words, they rolled in the mud! Their coats will be thick with the mud, but it must feel good to them. Oh well, it’s not the first time that I have worn a mask, to brush them clean.

It takes a little effort to keep them clean and make them shine, but to me it is worth it. I get to talk with them. I get to feel their whole body, watching out for any new bumps, cuts or potential problems. I also get to let my mind wander, far from anything that bothers me. I get to enjoy a peace not found in many places.

Maybe for me, clean stalls and clean coats make for a clean heart? All I know is that I am at peace with myself, in tune with my animals and in the right spot in the universe. I am a man truly Blessed.



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.



First Steps
Sorry about the manure in the foreground

December 10, 2020

All of us remember our first steps, perhaps not when learning to walk, but for sure starting a new venture like a job or relationship. Hank is taking his first steps in learning how to be driven. He is doing very well. His biggest problem on lesson one, was being very relaxed. This made it a wonderful problem for both of us. He much preferred to just stand and look around, rather than walk on. My son led him a bit. Hank was very content to just follow him. Once my son would let Hank take the lead, Hank would just stop and wait for him to catch up.

I encouraged him from behind with words of encouragement and clucks from my mouth, but Hank simply rested on three legs waiting on my son to give him direction. It took awhile, but he finally caught on, that I was guiding him from the rear. I have driven him every single day since. We keep the lessons short. He is responding well and allows me to be in control from the back. He is gaining confidence and learning to walk on, turn and stand when told whoa. He is very patient with me.

Our only issue came when Hank saw his reflection in the barn door window. He made a sideways jump, then turned his head to look. I let him stand a minute to process what he saw. We then walked away. On the next round, he looked at the window again, slowed but didn’t stop. Now, when we go by the window he pays it no mind. I walked him near my truck to again catch his reflection in the mirror or windows. He does see it, but is not frightened by it. Progress is a wonderful thing

Soon, he will be hitched as part of a team. First he needs to hear and understand basic commands. He needs to hear strange noises and feel things drag behind him. I will introduce him to all of these things, slowly and safely. I want to continue to be able to keep him learning in his relaxed, calm manner. He is a big boy who won’t be two years-old until next spring. This early training is to keep his mind on something other than the ladies. Hank is and will remain, a stallion. It is very important that he respects me, trusts me and becomes a working member of our farm. I will say that he is off to a great start…even though we are just taking our first steps.



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!



Whew, Busy June
June 10, 2020, 9:42 am
Filed under: June 2020 | Tags: , , ,

cultivate2020

June 10, 2020

What a crazy start to the month! It seems our snow just melted and now things are busting wide open! We cultivated corn the other night. Baby Bree went along with us. She is tied to mom to keep her safe and out of harms way. I still have to do a little more tweaking on the modified cultivator, but things went well.

wrap2020

Our hay making season is in full swing. We wrapped this nice clover and grass hay for winter feeding the sheep. It is beautiful stuff. We made some dry hay too. One field seemed to have LOTS of nesting ground birds in it. I only made about four rounds. I will wait another week for the baby birds to better be able to fly, before cutting it. It is early June.  I am not in that big of a hurry.

redgate

“Red”, the stallion will be going home soon. He and Amee appear to have had a successful mating. This handsome guy will be headed south. I am not sure yet, but I am thinking about using him again next year. Time and his offspring will tell the whole story by next year.

jakebelle2

Our son Jake continues training his 2 year old Suffolk Punch horse Belle. She is coming along very well. He is a quiet man with a calming voice. It shows in the way this filly is responding to her training. His choice of footwear will never be mine, but I can’t say anything negative about his training methods!

Our growing season is in full swing. Crops, gardens and baby animals are all growing like mad…and so are the weeds! This farming life is a wonderful thing, you just have to work with Mother Nature. Sometimes “mom” pushes a little hard, but it’s worth it!



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!



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.



Logging, Lessons and Leisure

MFskid2020

May 6, 2020

Its early spring. Everything is too wet for farm field work. We are filling our days with projects that fit the farm plan, the weather and the pandemic leisure time. I opened our maple sap woods to let in more sun for growing maple trees. This “crop tree release” harvest amounted to harvesting a bunch of ugly, low value trees. This “worst first” selection will lead to a beautiful sugarbush someday soon.

The trees were extracted using real horsepower. My horses are on maternity leave, so I enlisted the help of two Amish friends of mine. We had a fun time. Things went very well as we surgically removed the marked trees. I marked the trees using the following criteria; biologically mature, crooked or forked, distance to a growing hard maple sapling and density of the canopy. Biologically mature, means dying of old age. We also removed the last remaining Ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer.

logpile1

logpile2

These two piles are the result of six days logging.  I wanted them harvested before the leaves came out. This makes the big job of cleaning up the treetops a little easier. The treetops will be cut, split and stacked to boil maple sap and heat a few homes. We took out 60 trees in the wettest section of the woods. I am sure that I will see improvement very quickly. The horses made very little impact, even in the wet conditions. I will rework my sap roads that we used to skid the logs out. This will be an easy job thanks to the the horses.

logmud

We have also been working with our new horses. The two week old filly continues with her lessons in learning to lead and be tied up. She is a little sweetie and is learning very well. Hank, our stallion prospect also gets handled daily. He must learn to be a gentleman and a workhorse, before we use him for a daddy.

breetie

Spring is wet, but field work will start very soon. In the meantime we will work on manners, firewood and lessons in our leisure time.

 



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!