RicelandMeadows


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!



Gathering for Summer Fun
July 7, 2021, 10:30 am
Filed under: July 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

July 7, 2021

We have had a busy start to this month of July! We all hosted and attended the North American Suffolk Horse Association summer Gathering, at the Ashtabula County fairgrounds. We had good attendance from our members and the public as well. It was a very hot sticky two days. The weather delayed a few things we did and cancelled others, but we had a good time in spite of it all.

From this Facebook post, you can see Connie and I driving the horses with our two month old filly in tow. Even the baby had a good time meeting strangers who grew to be her friends.

We had friendly competitions in the obstacle course and precision pull. Both events required confidence and trust between teams and teamsters. We all enjoyed stepping out of our comfort zones and just having fun. We had a morning of driving our teams and wagons. We even went to the local nursing home and paid the residents a visit. This visit put smiles on all of our faces.

We had people from 11 states attend the event. The local public too supported us. There were informative seminars held describing hoof care and shoeing , as well as, a demonstration of equine massage. We met many new people and put faces with names we already knew. The young Suffolk owners were well represented, as they worked their teams and laughed along with all of us.

Right on the heels of our summer gathering, came Horse Progress Days, held in Mount Hope , Ohio . We spent two days there too. There were countless vendors and teams of horses who showcased much horse drawn equipment. The horse Progress Days crowd numbered into the thousands, with over 20,000 attending on the Friday of the show.

The events were tiring but very fun. It felt real good to just decompress and relax this week. The weather and preparing for these gatherings has made it difficult, even impossible to get any hay made. No worries, it will all work out.

Our pastures are holding up very well. Our young stallion Hank continues to grow and fill out. He is learning well and has become a good babysitter for our young filly. He is relaxed and easy going, good qualities in any breed.

The rest of the month will keep us busy, as we make hay and will soon harvest our speltz. The job of firewood cutting and splitting is always there, but busy hands are a good thing. It is nice to be getting back into our routine after a hectic start to the month. Enjoy your summer and take some time to gather with friends and family!



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!