Filed under: Uncategorized, May 2016 | Tags: Small Farming, Spring, Lambs, pasture, gardening, kittens
May 1, 2016
It continues to show the signs of spring on the farm. Baby lambs jump and play in the pasture, kittens mew in the barn and the grass continues to turn bright green. Today after a night of drizzle, the cows and horses are all stretched out soaking up the warm sunshine. It’s too wet to do much farming right now, but it sure is a great day for stretching out!
Why is it that the grass in the lawn out paces the grass in the pasture? I guess its because we don’t eat it, but it sure eats into our time having to mow. I guess that is one more signal of spring and the freshly mowed grass sure smells good! So, no complaints, just the facts I guess.
We have started to prep the gardens. That season will be upon us soon. In fact, early crops like peas, lettuce, radish and even potatoes could already be planted. No worries however, the warm soil will catch us all up once it dries out again. I will be preoccupied for a little while getting this years corn crop out. That job too will begin soon.
I guess we have much to do, all sorts of jobs, with just enough down time mixed in for the whole kit and kaboddle , to make for a very happy life!
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: draft horses, home, Percheron Horses, Small Farming
April 28, 2016
She is a beauty and of the same bloodlines of my geldings. She will match my horses to the point where they will be hard to tell apart. She is only a baby, just two years old. She will be a great fit on our farm. Her training begins immediately. She will learn all sorts of things and finally be trained to pull. Our geldings will help train her….and “lift the heavy end” until she catches on.
Her stall will be next to her, soon to be, teammate Duke. A divider wall separates the two teams, but they can all see each other. The roomy stalls are comfortable, but daily turnout is a must. The exercise keeps everybody healthy and who doesn’t like a good roll after work?!
These are exciting times at Riceland Meadows. This evening I got a sneak peek at the first of the documentaries that were shot here by Rural Heritage magazine. The horses looked great and the film crew and editor made me look good to boot. The show will air on RFD-TV on May 10th. (please check RFD-TV for scheduling times) I think this little lady may become a star too in the coming months, Rural Heritage would like to come back for more footage of happenings here on the farm.
A little muddy from her first day, but fitting in nicely. She has accepted her stall and her new place. Welcome home Abby!
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: draft horses, Small Farming, tie stall, tie stall for drafts
April 27, 2016
After a stretch of night shifts and two half days, I have completed the new double tie stall. This was a box stall. I repurposed two old stall mats that once were an old conveyor belt for my floor. The rubber softens the concrete floor. The concrete floor slopes to the back so urine flows away from the horse’s bed. The three inch curb is just right to stop the shovel when cleaning the stall. It also allows a place for manure to drop into between cleanings.
The swinging stall divider is simply made. It is to help train our new filly to stay mostly in her new space. The divider hangs from a stout rope. The rope is just in case something happens unexpectedly, I can cut the rope in a flash and keep the animal from injuring itself. This training aid will probably go away in the future, but for now it will keep her on her side of the bed.
The stall front and sides were constructed out of native pin oak. Pin oak is a very hardwood. I had to drill starter holes for my nails and screws. The overall size of the stall is ten foot by twelve foot. The manger is just over two feet wide. the place where the horses stand is roughly five feet by seven feet. The seven feet encourages them to back up to poop, keeping their beds clean.
The tie rail in the front is well supported. It is also made from two inch thick pin oak. The mangers are deep for hay with a nice place for their grain to go. The stall is well lit with a tall ceiling. It will be a great place for the new horse to call home.
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: double tie stall, draft horses, farm construction, Small Farming, Tie stalls
April 19, 2016
I am busily making a barn modification. I am taking out this old box stall and building a double tie stall. The reason is because I am getting a new horse. She will mate Duke and be a great addition to our farms power line up. The addition of a fourth draft horse will give me the ability to work two teams of horses.
I will use the two teams in a four horse hitch when I need more power. I will also now have the ability to work one team in the morning and a second team in the afternoon. I could work one team on Monday and the other team on Tuesday. This every other day option will allow one team a day of rest every other day. Currently, this type of organization is not needed on my farm…but that day will soon be at hand.
The new horse will come to live here next Monday. I will share photos then. In the meantime, I will stay busy getting her bedroom ready. The introductions will soon be made, so it is only reasonable that the sleeping arrangements are all sorted out too.
Luckily, I built the box stall large enough to be able to build a second double tie stall. My horses get plenty of daily exercise, so the tie stalls present no problems what so ever. The horses’ comfort is first in mind, followed by the ease for me when doing chores. These stalls work well. They are safe and easy to clean….a win win for us all.
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: draft horses, peace, quitting time, relaxation, Small Farming
April 13, 2016
I have to ask, “Is there anything better than supper?” I mean the last meal of the day when the work is all done. There is just something peaceful about that time. Even their horses enjoy their evening meal. They actually seem to chew slower, pause between bites and savor their food. I like to stand or sit in the barn and just listen to them chew. It is very relaxing for me.
I am thinking that this is what’s wrong with our society today. We don’t really have a “quitting time”. We jump out of bed, rush all day long, bolt down some food and head off to evening activities. My horses and this farm give me the opportunity to slow down. There is magic in the still of evening after the work and chores are done. Sitting down to supper is the signal for the end of the work day….well most of them.
In certain times on a farm, like planting, haying or harvest, lunches and sometimes suppers are eaten on the run as we scramble to complete the job at hand while the weather holds. I think that is why, when things are idled down because of the season or wet weather, evenings and especially meals are so much more enjoyable. I too chew slower and find enjoyment in every bite.
The food tastes better. I am better company when I am relaxed rather than just pausing between jobs to suck down some nourishment. It is the company around the table, the peace in our home and the sense of completion that makes supper time so special. I think the horses have this all figured out!
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: draft horses, environmental stewardship, Junior Leadership, kids and cows, memories, Outdoor learning, Small Farming
April 12, 2016
Last week I had the opportunity to welcome the “Junior LeaderShip” class to my farm. About thirty young men and women came to see and learn about small farming, environmental stewardship, water quality, draft animal power and “all these animals!” The young people had a great time. They asked good questions as they toured the farm. These young ladies were smitten with the cows.
They arrived at the farm in four vans. They jumped out of the vehicles, eager to see and touch the animals. My draft horse Duke, always the farm ambassador, was the subject of many “selfies”. Cinch the dog chased sticks and followed the kids everywhere they went. I explained the difference between commodity agriculture and community agriculture. They understood the market of direct sales. They also seemed to enjoy my diverse, sustainable farm.
I think the only hard part for the visitors, was when it was time to leave. They said goodbye to as many critters as they could. They waved to the two-day old baby lamb triplets as they rolled out the drive. I know they had a some fun. I also think that I was able to help tomorrows policy makers gain a new perspective of an old way of life. They left happy talking about things they had seen. I watched them go, smiling, because I am sure that a little piece of my farm will live in their memories. Who knows just how far that little spark may go?
Filed under: April 2016 | Tags: Compost, draft horses, manure, powercart, Small Farming, soil amendments
April 3, 2016
We were hauling compost until the rains and now snow have made the fields too wet. We do not spread manure or compost on fields that are wet or snow covered. I want the nutrients to stay in place where the plants can use them. Being cautious when applying soil amendments goes a long way in the art of sustainability.
I have switched the powercart over for three horses. They will be hitched three abreast. The job is much easier for them, but also allows me to work all three horses. We have a good time working. The usual warm spring days will soon return. We will be ready once the paddocks dry out again. In the meantime….there is always firewood to work on!