Morning Light

My favorite time to capture photos is in the early morning. It’s peaceful to be out there listening to the roosters crowing while the sun peeks up over the hill. My absolute favorite mornings are foggy mornings that leave lots of dew on the grasses and flowers. This morning, the fog burned off just as the sun was rising. It created a perfect opportunity to “play” with the camera.

This morning my goal was to get some dew drop photos and some photos of the sunrise behind the barn. In less than 15 minutes (and a pair of wet shoes, socks and pants later) I think I captured the details I love the most.

Barrows Farm Barn in Silhouette against the sunrise

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

 

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The "dots" are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The “dots” are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

Anyone with a DSLR can play with the different settings to lengthen exposure or shorten it. I decided to shorten the exposure time and attempt to pick up just the light refraction through the dew drops along the edge of some grasses in a pasture. Below is the final result! I’m very happy with the results! By the way…that’s with ZERO editing!

 

Dew Drop Silhouette

Dew Drop Silhouette

 

 

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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

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!

 

 

My Daddy and Me

It’s been said time and time again, that I was my father’s son. Raised as a tomboy from as early as I can remember, I think it’s very fitting.

From stories passed down from members of my family, I’ve been told all about how happy my dad was to have a child. When I was really little, under the age of 4, my dad used to put me in this hiking pack and strap me over his shoulders to take me out coon hunting with him and his hounds. As I got older, I would go with them as often as I could. My Uncle’s would come along too and I have so many memories of the “boys” time we used to spend out in the dark while listening to the bawl of a hound on the trail of it’s prey. I remember being fascinated to do everything my Dad did. If he was target practicing, I wanted to do it too. If he was working on cars, I wanted to help. If he went to the farm, I had to go. When my Dad was around, it didn’t really matter, I wanted to be there.

I wish I had copies of the photos with me at age two, holding a wrench and kneeling beside my Dad in a bright yellow sundress while he worked on his little Ford Fiesta. I really wish I had photos of me standing at age 5 while I climbed on a split rail fence cheering my Dad’s hounds on while they swam at a water race. I wish I had photos of us dressed in camo to go out squirrel hunting at age 6.

All the greatest lessons in my life have come from my Dad. He taught me to always work hard and to not expect much out of life. He taught me how to raise chickens for eggs and meat. He taught me how to fish and hunt so that no matter what I would never go hungry. He taught me to respect my elders and do everything I could for them, even if it meant me going without. He taught me how to drive. He taught me how to go mud bogging and how to shift a standard transmission. He taught me how to treat people with kindness, no matter what their status. He also taught me that you are never too old to learn. In my adult life, many of the things I enjoy have come from my time spent with my Dad. I can clean a fish, skin and process game for the freezer, fix my own vehicle and to laugh at all the odd, stupid and dumb things that happen in life.

My Dad never had much. He worked a third shift job, helped on the farm and still worked odd and end jobs all summer long but he always found the time to do things with me when I was little. I learned to enjoy the peacefulness of a foggy morning waiting for the fish to bite. I learned that no matter what life dishes out, it could always be worse.

I don’t get to see my Dad anymore. No he isn’t in Heaven (although I know someday that’s where he will be). Due to extenuating circumstances and a situation that neither of us control, I don’t get to spend time with him anymore. We have both made an extremely difficult decision that we need to stay apart to make his life better. It hurts more than words will ever be able to describe.

He is and always be my best friend and my hero. No man will ever be able to fill his shoes in my life. I wouldn’t even attempt to try because NO ONE is like my Dad. For now, I sit back and remember the good times and I shed tears more than I care to admit. It’s hard, especially on days like today. I wish I could wrap my arms around him and tell him thank you for not only being such a wonderful Dad but a great person. I look at this one photo I have of us from the only time we ever danced together. I remember the song we dance to so I’ll share the video too.

Daddy, I hope that you can feel the love I hold in my heart for you! Thank you for being my everything to me my entire life. I will be forever grateful for every moment we had the chance to spend together. And don’t tell anyone okay…but I know and you know I will forever be “Daddy’s girl”!

The lyrics to Daddy’s Hands by Holly Dunn

I remember Daddy´s hands, folded silently in prayer.
And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story, in the callouses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind. 
I remember Daddy´s hands, how they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back, for something done right.
There are things that I’ve forgotten, that I loved about the man,
But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

I remember Daddy’s hands, working ’til they bled.
Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again.
And never take for granted the love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle 
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love …..
In Daddy’s hands.

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?

Strength of the storm

Back in 2008 when I was struggling with the loss of family members and a new diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis, I watched a storm develop over my home…these are the words that came to mind.

Photo taken as a storm receded and the sunshine blessed us with it’s presence.

In the inner recesses of my mind, there is no light. 
There is no way out. No way to start over. 
No way to control the inner blackness that surrounds me like storm clouds.
Emptiness. Loneliness. Sadness.

These are the emotions I feel. 
My existence here seems so small and unimportant. 
I have lost nearly everything that I hold near and dear to my heart. 
I am but a shadow of my former self. 
Earth shattering and heart breaking events seem to swirl around me like clouds of the impending and unrelenting storm that keeps whirling around my body and soul.

The pain is like the driving rain that falls from the sky. 
The loneliness blows at my soul like the winds of a tornado. 
My utter sadness that goes to my core is like the lightning bolts that shoot from the sky. 
Ominous clouds, strong winds, driving sheets of rain and bolts of lightning;the center of my existence.

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart on the ground. Arms slightly raised, palms up at my sides. 
Head tilted back with my face lifted. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I am absorbing the strength and ferocity of the storm, becoming one with the pure unadultered power of nature. 

One lone tree stands in the background. 
Barren and leafless, it spreads out its branches like the fingers of death and destruction. 
It fights my soul to gain control of nature’s prowess. 
Dark and menacing as the storm and grown from Mother Nature herself, 
this tree should be over powering me yet, for some reason we stand in compatible silence with the noise and roar of the storm blowing around us.

I will not be defeated. I am who I was put here to be. 
I am here to prove a point to all those I come in contact with. I am at peace. 
I have found serenity. I am strong. 
No one can not chop me down like the old dead tree. 
No one can not strike me with lightning to split me in half.  
No one can blow me apart with their winds. No one can not knock me down. 

The driving rains toughens my skin. 
The winds only make me gnarled and twisted, in turn making me stronger. 
The lightning only charges my conviction.  
The ominous clouds only serve to make me blind to what I need to see. 
The rumble of thunder deafens me to hear only what I am suppose to listen to.

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart. Arms slightly raised, palms up. 
Face lifted while my head is tilted back. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I AM the storm that has strength and fury. 
I am at one with the power of nature. 

You fight as you continue to gain connection as you dig into her inner ground soul and as you touch her skies with your fingertips. 
You challenge her at every turn but, she is stronger willed that you are and she controls your destiny. 
You are that barren, leafless tree that someone will chop down. 
You can be struck by lightning and split in half. 
You can be blown apart by the howling winds of destruction. 
You can be knocked down and you will. 

I stand in the center of it all. 
Still fighting, still struggling against it all. 
Feet planted firmly apart. Arms slightly raised, palms up. 
Face lifted while my head is tilted back. My breathing is calm and deep. 
I AM the storm that has strength and fury. 
I am at one with the strength of the storm.

I have found my strength within, I pray that you can find the same in yourself. Gather strength from the struggles. Empower and embrace your inner storm.