Farm Work and Fencing

UGH! That’s probably the simplest thing to put.

As many of you already know, I am still working on the farm attempting to put the past where it belongs. It isn’t easy to do that under highly stressful situations but I am really trying to just keep my mouth shut and move on.

We ended up hiring a fencing contractor to do the 90 acres of perimeter fencing. In a way, I’m thankful that we have because I am so overloaded with work everywhere right now that I am having issues thinking straight at times (I’ll discuss the repercussions of that in just a second). We found a contractor we could work with but that doesn’t mean that everything is going smoothly. We have had a few issues over some minor things but I am really learning what a hard ass bitch I can be  when people don’t do a job according to specs. I always thought I was a nice person, I am almost reconsidering that train of thought right now.

Add on top of all this the arguments with the business partner on the farm and I am about ready to snap. I am ashamed to admit that my patience has worn so thin with everything going on right now. We still haven’t managed to get the 60 acres of first cutting hay done due to rain, rain and more rain. Now the fencing is going in, minds are being changed three or four times on gate placements, my photography work load just doubled and I have an editor waiting for articles. This isn’t the only issues going on through. We have financial issues too and fairly big one’s that total about $50,000 dollars. I’m just overloaded. I have too much going on and not nearly enough time to think about so many things.

I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with a contractor that understands my overload and how much I am trying to do. He is being very patient and has listened to me bitch and complain about the indecisions. I’m not saying that we haven’t had words. Like when he told me that he could just pack up and leave to which I replied, “Feel free because I’m not dealing with another egotistical male right now. Either you follow the specs or leave. The choice is yours.” I hate being like that but when the government gives you specs on fencing and they aren’t going to pay if you don’t meet code, then sorry dude, don’t expect me to feel any sympathy when you screw up.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

The first paddock, the top of which is shown in the images above, will have five strands of wire and maybe a gate or two in today. I plan on turning cattle out into the upper section of this paddock sometime this evening or first thing in the morning, depending on what time the wires are in place and how quickly I can relocated some temporary wire and the watering system.

I’ve had a couple of highlights and little breaks for an hour or so, here or there. I did a photoshoot last Friday of a little cutie pie I’ve been trying to find the time to take some photos of for a couple of months now.

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

This little one’s mother is getting married in a little over a week. I am so excited that I will get to take photos of the wedding of two of my most favorite people in the world. I love these two like they were my own flesh and blood. They mean more to me than I will ever be able to express.

I also took five or ten minutes to go get a couple shots of some flowers I have never seen and a dragonfly.

Dianthus deltoides  Caryophyllaceae Family  An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

Dianthus deltoides
Caryophyllaceae Family
AKA Maiden Pink
An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

 

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention….ALL CALVES FOR 2013 ARE NOW BORN! No more late night pasture strolls checking on mothers, thank goodness.

The lone bull calf born

The lone bull calf born

The first heifer of 2013

The first heifer of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, as you can tell, I have been slightly busy. I keep telling myself that it will get easier. The fence is started. The calves are born. A few items have been checked off the list but there is still so much left to do. I can’t wait to take a break and snow flying in my opinion can’t happen fast enough! Colder weather means less work load for me. I look forward to those days now more than ever.

Did I also fail to mention that I don’t get paid for 90% of the work I do? Anything farm related gets me zero income due to the simple fact that everything is being built from the ground up….literally. Barn, fencing, cattle. All of it is all money invested so far. I can’t wait for the day when I can just go to the store, buy a pair of boots without having to save change. Since today is assessment day this week after having a little episode of overload yesterday, maybe it’s time to reconsider the work load. Maybe if I plan a little better and can somehow manage to come up with the funds to save the farm, I wouldn’t be so damn overwhelmed all the time. If anyone wants to make some interest and let us borrow some money for a year, let me know.

All kidding and complaining aside, life isn’t so bad. I have a beautiful area to relax. I have fairly good health and things are slowly progressing. I really shouldn’t complain because I have so much that others would love to have but it doesn’t come easy. It’s an uphill battle right now for me. I’m still taking it one step or more appropriate, stumble, at a time. It’s all I can do for the time being. I am almost to the top of the hill. Only a little more to go. I just need to keep fighting and keep pushing. No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. So if I grumble and complain, remember that I am only doing so out of frustration. I live a lonely life out here in the stick, 20 miles from the nearest city, seeing more cattle faces than human interaction. Cattle don’t verbally talk back and normally don’t make me feel bad about my day but they also don’t give me the love and support I need to keep pushing through to attain my goals. I hope that you all realize that those likes or those comments are boosters for me. They pick me up, make me thankful that I have shared even a small part of my life. Sometimes we all just need that little pat on the back that says, hey thanks for all the hard work you do or a way of saying job well done.

For now, it’s back to editing images and figuring out what this rogue grass is on the farm, pointing fingers, moving temporary fence and writing up an article. I’m making myself tired just listing out the few things I need to do. I guess I better start moving before I get too tired and just go take a nap. Thank you all again for your support through all the transitions, heartbreak, heartache and tough times right now. It means more to this hermit than you can imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therapy Animals and Photography

As you can read on the About Me page, I am a person who has suffered through a great deal in my life to date. I’m okay with everything that has happened, the medical diagnosis that turned my life upside down and even the tragedies that have occurred. I am not saying that it’s easy or that I am 100% dealing with the issues but I am saying that I have learned to cope.

In 2008, when I had two years of massive depression and then the diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis, a counselor decided it was time for me to access what meant the most to me in my life. Her suggestion was that I pick up a camera and start photographing everything that “spoke” to me. I started taking photos of nature and wildlife, animals and farms. My health care provider suggested that I start eating more raw foods, home-grown items so that I knew what went into the production of food goods and to find time to release stress.

All of this started a major transition in my life. I discovered my love of cattle. I discovered what I felt about the land, my natural environment and more of who I was on the inside. Working with the cattle is my true therapy. I learned that when I am around them, I breathe slower and I am more relaxed. I am not like Tigger on drugs, which is me at any other point during the day. I learned that calves never fail to bring a smile to my face. I learned the sense of accomplishment like I never have before after saving a calf from near death and then watching them give birth to their first calf.

I have learned that I can capture this passion through the lens of a camera too, not only for cattle but for tractors and diesel trucks, flowers and nature, wildlife and water. I’ve learned that I love the little things in life and have come to appreciate them that much more. It just seems that no matter how difficult my life is, there is always something so small that thrives through wind, rain and snow. If a tiny plant with the smallest of flowers can come back year after year during the harshest of elements that nature provides, then I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore to feel sorry for myself. Mother Nature has taught me that we all have our own storms to weather but, as long as our roots are strong, we can always regrow. During our regrowth, we may become something slightly different from what we were before but usually we are stronger on the other side.

I have lots that I could share about these feelings and emotions but I won’t bore you with the details. I will just remind you that no matter what, each trial we go through brings us closer to who we really are on the inside. I am a survivor, plain and simple.

So for now, I will keep working with my therapy cattle and grooming them to be friendly animals for others to use and learn from. I will continue to learn about what’s best for me and my environment. And, of course, I will continue to photograph everything along the way.

If you live in the area and just need some space…I will be more than happy to let you come laugh with me over calf-antics, share a spot on the banks of the pond at sunset, or allow you to stroll through the pastures capturing your own photos. My work here is meant to be shared.

Calf-Antics

Calf-Antics

Country Girl Photo Shoot

To anyone that lives around me, I will be doing a free photo shoot for a few country girls in the very near future! I will need a group of ladies to volunteer! Age, weight, height….none of that matters. I want to capture the essence of what it means to be a Northern country girl.

If you have a farm, ride horses, drive tractors, throw hay bales, raise chickens, milk goats….then this is the thing to get involved in.

If you have kids that love the country, fishing….then this is the shoot for them! And maybe even you too!

 

I would like GIRLS, LADIES, WOMEN, TEENAGERS, YOUNG ADULT GIRLS, FEMALES ONLY this time!

 

If you are interested: comment here, find me a http://www.facebook.com/farmgirlphotography, or hit me up on twitter @CNYfarmgirl.

 

YOU WILL BE ASKED TO SIGN A MODEL RELEASE FORM AND THESE IMAGES WILL BE MADE PUBLIC.

If you are interested in a personal photo shoot with a similar concept, I would be more than happy to assist for a small fee.

Those Moments

Sometimes I just have THOSE moments. Maybe I am just a little more aware of the things around me because I am always searching for just the perfect shot. Maybe it’s because I look at things a little differently, seeking those things that a different and unique. I’m not really sure what it is, it just is. It’s difficult for me to explain and even harder for me to teach. It just is what it is.

Those moments I speak of are when something happens, for me it’s usually captured by a camera in my hand, that makes you sit back on your heels and ponder the moment. The moments don’t happen often. It’s rare and it takes you by surprise. It could be something crazy like a grasshopper that jumps on the window of the truck on a cloudy day. It could be something as simple as a calf smelling a flower. Then other times, it could be something as simple as the delicate petals of a flower that are nearly transparent from the rain, wind and sun.

These aren’t those moments that are bad. They are the moments that are miraculous. Those moments that I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Some require patience but most just happen while out walking doing something entirely different. They are moments full of awe and wonderful amazement as you look up and see things in a different perspective. I am a professional photographer. These are the moments that take my breathe away and moments I am always on the look out for.

Amy, a week old Jersey/Dexter cross calf, smelling a wildflower.

 

The delicate petals of an unusual colored wildflower

 

The flight of the grasshopper

I have won awards, placed in the top 300 for international competitions, been published countless amounts of time and nothing compares to the moments when these moments are taken. No amount of money, praise or attention can compare. I take photographs JUST to capture these moments. It happens with nature, with people and everything in between. I’m just blessed to be able to have them happen time and time again!

 

 

Where I come from

As those of you that follow this blog already know, I love many things that involve nature and agriculture. Looking back over my life, I completely understand where those passions come from. Today, I will share a little bit of insight into the environment that I grew up in and around.

My grandparents had a small dairy farm in a little town nicknamed Canaan. To those that don’t know the meaning, it’s defined as the “Land of Milk and Honey”. This little community is situation between two other small towns named Harford and Slaterville Springs. The whole area is rural. The closest city is Ithaca and it takes 15-20 minutes to drive there. I went to school in another small town called Dryden. Each community is very close knit and for generations has involved varying levels of agriculture. Dryden prides itself on being a farming community. To the extent of which, every year there is a parade to honor the dairy farms during June. June is Dairy Month to those that didn’t know.

It’s hard to explain how the whole community and surrounding towns pull together to get involved with the Dairy Day. From spectators to local businesses, the area schools to the local churches, farms and political figures. There are floats, young children involved in reading clubs dressed to storybook characters, dog groomers, the local bank with it’s traditional horse drawn carriage and so much more involved in the parade that rolls through down Main Street.  After the parade, everyone goes to the town park. There are livestock, games, country music bands, ice cream and of course milk. It’s a fun filled day and a wonderful community gathering.

This year was the 29th year it’s been going on. I went to take photos of the parade as part of my job and to do a favor for a friend. It’s like old home days. I haven’t been myself since around 2002. I saw so many people I haven’t seen in years, some close to two decades. Everyone still knows everyone. You walk two feet and run into someone else you know. You run into family members you haven’t seen in a year. You see retired school teachers, old classmates, and other staples in the community. Yes, life moves on but here in this little small town once you are part of the community, you are ALWAYS part of the community. It doesn’t matter where you go or where your travels may lead you, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you drive…you are a lifetime member! I love this town and it’s passion for agriculture.

Growing up in this community that is surrounded by agriculture, swaying corn and dairy farms, you can see what I have such a passion to tell the stories behind the fields of green. The stories I write are about my neighbors, friends and even family. This is the very center of why I love all things agriculture. Don’t get me wrong, I am obsessed with cattle but understand this…the diversity within agriculture is amazing. Think of all the things that agriculture provides for us. It’s not only the food we eat but the clothes we wear, the fuel we use and so much more. We, as a society in general, tend to forget where so much of our creature comforts and the foods we eat come from. I am humbled to say that I am thankful for the community where I was raised because it taught me to value the hard work and dedication that goes into the many things we love so much.

I might not be from the boondocks and I might have grown up in a very culturally diverse area but, I will always be from a small town dairy community that shows pride in the area and all the richness it has to offer. I am a small town country girl!  And as that one country song says, “I’m proud of where I come from.”

How about you? Are there things about your hometown that have made an impact on your life? If so, how much?

Being Me

Part of what makes being me is my individuality when it comes to cattle. I love cows. It doesn’t matter what breed…although I do prefer those brown-eyed Bambi cows called Jerseys! I have a special connection with cattle. I can almost feel their pain when they are sick or injured. I just connect on a different level. Maybe it’s because I love them, like others love their dog. They are my passion.

As the saying goes on good old Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I will give them care, food and pastures to graze. Uh, isn’t that kind of funny…a New Yorker referring to Lady Liberty and comparing it to cattle. Only in New York 🙂

I think I crazily just picked a farm name for when I get started on my own. Crazy isn’t it? The odd things that come to us sometimes….

Cattle have actually been my saving grace, not the other way around. They have pulled me up from the depths of depression and overwhelming sadness that I was struggling with when I got my first little bull calf. He forced me to get out of bed every morning to care for him. He needed food and water. He got lots of attention and was a spoiled snot.

My first steer

I call him my segway animal. He is the one that got me started into this passion for cattle. Then along came Belle, aka Ma, as a rescue cow. I remember crying with her in the pasture as I watched her protecting her calf in the grass. Maybe it was the maternal instinct in both of us that caused such an intense connection. I’m honestly not sure but I know I made a promise to her to love her and care for her the way she cared for her own child.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

I watched her develop her motherly instincts and become the graceful “lady” I knew in my heart she was all along. She made me see exactly what I should do in life. Cattle in need are my real passion. Working with animals with a loving nature and attitude is the most rewarding job I have ever held. Belle is the perfect demonstration of that love and compassion.

Belle, the mother to many and the real reason she is nicknamed “Ma”

The passions have grown, the research into better methods have continued and I am a forever changed person because of the cattle. It is amazing to see the progress that has been made and how special my relationship is with the animals. I absolutely adore them all. They have shown me…well, ME. Through patience, tenderness and love for cattle, I have seen a side of myself that I never thought possible. A calm, dedicated individual who would bend over backwards to provide the same quality of life for my cattle as I would my family and devoted friends. A few have called me crazy and I admit I am but there is nothing in the world like having cattle trust you so much they enjoy your company…maybe even share a “kiss” or two.

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Celebrate Living, Not Life

Sounds strange doesn’t it? To celebrate living, not life. It isn’t something you will probably hear many people say but I’m saying it anyway. We are all here at this time for a purpose: to live. But is it life or is it living? Can you tell the difference between the two?

Life is what happens when we developed a heartbeat, were born into this world and took our first breaths. Our journey through life is how we are living. It’s the adventures, missteps, trials and tribulations of living that make up our life.

I want to be LIVING my life for purpose, for passion, for love. I don’t want a life full of possessions and dead-end relationships.

My purpose is my passion and ultimately what I love. It might not always include a “partner” beside me but it is all me. It’s mine. It’s what makes me unique.

Why do I bring this random topic up? I bring it up because today is an anniversary that I wish I could never have seen. Sixteen years ago today, many of us in this community lost a friend. His short life was filled with living, doing the things he loved to do and having a blast while doing them. He was taken way before he should have been. I know I think of him often and how he was in life. He knew to take advantage of each new day, to constantly be living!

I don’t want a mundane life. I want to be living my dreams, living my goals, living without fear, living through my work and definitely living my passions. What are those “things” that make my life worth living? Photography is the first thing that comes to mind. Capturing those moments, those times that nature provides us with that are often missed by the naked eye. The moments when the sun rays shine just right through the leaves on a tree or reflect on the water. Cattle is the second thing that automatically comes to mind. I love the trust they share with me. They provide me with a therapy where nervousness and fear isn’t allowed. They don’t care how I dress, what makeup I wear or even if I comb my hair. They just are, I just am and they accept that. I’m still developing my dreams, my goals and my passions. I’ll figure it all out someday.

Until then, I am going to keep on living by trying new experiences and capturing those images that “speak” to me. Keep an eye out for me though…I might be that crazy lady you see laying out in a pasture surrounded by cattle somewhere!

Even the cattle often think I’m a little crazy. Sometimes it’s all about the perspective!