Archive of ‘farm life’ category

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE BRAIN

By now, two days after the solar eclipse, I have seen so many gorgeous photos on FaceBook, TV and the Internet, I am feeling total syzygy. That’s a new word for me. I like it. Syzygy…the alignment of three celestial objects.

May I please be a celestial object?

I have some photographer friends who went to great lengths to make exquisite documentations of the solar eclipse. Their imagery is breathtaking. Their preparation, noteworthy. Their dedication, admirable.

Me…on the other hand? I was mostly in it for the picnic lunch date on top of my favorite nearby mountain. Recluse Man and I hadn’t even bothered to round up some Eclipse 2017 glasses. We just wanted ‘the experience.’ While making lunch I thought; well what the heck, maybe I can get some kind of depiction of the eclipse. We were not in the ‘total’ zone but not that far away either.

I packed my cameras and tripod with lunch. This favorite mountain of mine has a bald top and is truly stunning with a 360º perspective on the world below. Very quiet up there. Very solitary. Very magical. In maybe a dozen visits, I have only encountered a young couple once at daybreak and they skedaddled in such a hurry when I showed up it made me wonder. Am I that scary with yesterday’s clothes and bed-head-hair? or…hmmm…what were they up to?

When we arrived, after passing through three gates and navigating some very rough terrain to drive to the top, (I usually hike the last steep stretch), much to my horror there were ten ATVs and a truck parked at the very spot I thought of as mine-all-mine. Sheeeeit. Music blasting. People everywhere. Not a private spot around.

I scouted a good rock and proceeded to boss Recluse Man around since he would be doing the actual shooting. “Get a great silhouette…are my hands reaching for the sun? DON”T LOOK AT THE SUN!…LOOK AT THE ROCK!…got it?…lemme see!”…and on and on as we passed the camera back and forth so I could check exposures and composition.

It got a little dark. Like a thunder cloud had passed overhead. I looked for nocturnal animals to rise from their daybeds. Nothing. I looked to my dogs to see if they would howl at the moon. Nothing. I looked at my skin waiting for goosebumps. Nothing.

Then I checked my watch. Two minutes after the full effect of the eclipse had passed. It would have been a letdown had I not been so into making photos. Oh wait a minute. Recluse Man was the one making photos…I was just posing like a bossy diva in baggy shorts. Is there such a thing?

We had our lunch afterward as the ATVs rambled around. It was anything but a sexy lunch date. I had a commitment in Virginia so we didn’t stay long, and of course the ATVs pulled out right as we did.

I got home about 8pm eclipse night and looked at the photos. Big yawn. Small Diet Coke. Wake up. Engage brain hidden behind penumbra.

And then it got crazy. Goosebump crazy. I started messing around and didn’t stop messing until 1am. Unheard of…that kind of bedtime for a farm chick. Could blame it on the Diet Coke but I was having a Celestial Experience of my very own making. I was orbiting in galactic adventures having stellar vibes and feeling COSMIC BABY COSMIC!!! Do you read me? OVER!

For the inquisitive technical minds, I started with my RAW images and either moved the temperature slider all the way blue or yellow, depending on what I had in mind. I adjusted the exposure and blacks and shadows to mostly get a silhouette, which made it easy to keep as much solar definition as I could. I’d open the image in Photoshop to tweak local areas, and then for many of the following I used textured backgrounds in ON1, or vignettes, cross-processing, glows and grunge filters; a whole variety of effects, either in ON1, Photoshop or Nik filters.

Often, as you will see, I tried different effects on the same image and had a tough time deciding which version I liked best. You decide.

At times I was breathless. Seriously. Totally. My brain felt eclipsed.

Presenting…Tah Dah (drum roll)…Eclipse Photos (not really)….

I can’t wait till 2024. Surely Recluse Man and I will have our eclipse glasses by then. Can’t forget the pig, the dogs, the horses…can forget the cats for sure…lazy critters snoozing all day. Might have a unicorn by then. Better get on it.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – THIS DAY I’VE BEEN DREAMING ABOUT

It finally happened. This day I’ve been waiting for. This stellar day. This unforgettable, magical, splendorific, day. This huge deposit made to my memory bank day.

This I-rode-Star-for-the-very-first-time day.

Yup. After first meeting this wild and scrawny two year old Saddlebred in early January 2015, then taking him on as a rescue project of sorts, then bringing him to the Funny Farm in December 2015 when Recluse Man bought him for me as a Christmas gift, then gentling him and getting him healthy and strong and acquainted with the ways of humans, then putting him in the hands of a great trainer for a month of lessons…today was the day I have been dreaming about. Today I climbed on that handsome boy of mine and rode him safely and assuredly for the very first time.

We walked and trotted and turned half circles and full circles and backed and stopped and did pretty side passes. And this was only the fifth time Star has had a rider aboard. The first four times, Star’s trainer Jim Frazier, rode him and in fact started him out today under saddle with only a halter and lead rope to guide him.

Despite his sometimes crazy and skittish Saddlebred ways, Star has been a remarkable student with a rider up. A quick study. He has a soft mouth and responds with great willingness to leg pressure. To get to this point wasn’t always easy. We worked doggedly together, the three of us, and now we’re here.

Ask me if I’ve been smiling.

Aaaah yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I knew you’d ask.

A very happy rider indeed…
Could it be that even Star is smiling?

Perhaps the happiest girl in the whole wide world. Me. Today. Yes.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – FLOWER POWER – PART II

Never have I experienced such destruction and absolute disregard for my cherished flower gardens as I have this summer. And we’re only a few days into summer. Sigh.

First it was D.O.G. the pig chomping my flower beds near the house. He was dainty at first, just nibbling blossoms and leaving me the dirt and naked stems still in box shapes from their original containers, yanked from the ground, and scattered about for easy replanting.

I almost gave him credit for being thoughtful. That lasted all of two days.

After blessing and replanting over a dozen box shapes, I barricaded the beds with big logs. That ungrateful, thoughtless pig plowed through the barricades and tore up entire beds, flinging dirt and returning to the porch with a snout black and rich with fermented horse poo, garden soil and mushroom compost. His favorite blend, apparently.

Next came the deer. We busted them at dawn the other morning, grazing down the flowers I had so joyfully planted near the pond.

“Your heads will be hanging above the mantle,” I shouted, as they jumped the fence and loped ever so gracefully away. I believe there were still zinnias dangling from their chops.

So what’s a farm chick to do but savor her lily pads. They may be my last hope for some beauty among the beasts. Never to be picked, chomped, mauled or grazed.

Here’s to a little flower power in the pond…Eat your heart out D.O.G.

 

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – WACKED OUT

Funny. Every time I send a text message or email to my beloved saying something profound like; ‘Hey baby…taking a break from wacking…where you be?’ or; ‘Vibing so bad from 3 hours of wacking…pick up some munchies?’ … auto-spell kicks in and turns wacking into ‘whacky’ or ‘walking’ or  ‘waking’…when I just wanna say WACKING. It makes me even more WACKED OUT than I already am.

Now to be perfectly clear (as some perfectly murky politicians might say), to be whacked-out is similar (take definition #1 below for example), but certainly not the same. As defined by Merriam Webster;

Definition of whacked–out

  1. 1:  worn-out, exhausted

  2. 2:  wacky a whacked–out parody

  3. 3:  stoned whacked–out on drugs

HOLIDAY FARM ANIMALS (I sure hope they don’t hold a grudge)

I can’t help myself. A flashy holiday rolls around and I feel this need to dress up my farm tribe and make photographs. How silly is that?

(rhetorical question…don’t  bother asking the animals)

I have to wonder…in my middle-aged life…am I just now getting in touch with the inner childhood I missed out on growing up as a tomboy climbing trees…when I could have been outfitting Barbie dolls?

(no regrets…and again…don’t ask the animals)

I learned recently, there was a scientific study that determined dogs have no self-awareness with regard to how they look. I could have spared the expense of that study and offered the same conclusions (from all my farm animals), backed up by Freeka’s Funny Farm research and documentation. Lily with spaghetti drools all over her snout, the pigster with a little poo stuck to his tail, Gypsy with more brown mud on her body than natural white, Pockets with a sticky molasses nose…and they each be like…

“WHO CARES?

WHY YOU LAUGHING AT ME?

I FEEL GOOD!”

(sung to James Brown tune)

However…when it comes to Christmas holiday photography, those same critters may just exhibit a little more self awareness.  They’ve made it through Valentine’s Day, St Patty’s Day, Fourth of July, and Halloween, but the year is not quite complete without a few Christmas costumes and a little craziness.

I apologize to all the critters I have humiliated. Just know, in my eye you are all so fun, and yes, silly. So…what’s wrong with that? I promise never to turn y’all into Barbies.

This year I had the pleasure of humiliating someone else’s farm animals. “Whew!”… said the tribe. Took the pressure off the gang here. But as you will see, my gang did not go completely…undressed…shall I say?

Here are some favorites from here and beyond at Tucker Farm.

I’ll start with Toots and the decorating of the tree. Toots did not want to budge from the new dog bed that was taking up so much room right where I was trying to decorate our little Christmas tree. So what’s a girl to do? Yes! Decorate the dog. Well c’mon…I had to stretch out those new Christmas lights somewhere!

Toots…hoping she wouldn’t be gift-wrapped next…

I know how much Elizabeth loves having photos made with her Pips, especially to share with her family and fans at Christmas time. The Pips are such troopers as photo models, all I have to do is say…SMILE! …and look what I get…

…SMILES all around!

Never mind that Pockets was wearing a doggie outfit…that ponkey loves to dress up!

Even Grayson didn’t seem to mind the ‘faux mistletoe’…any reason to nibble…lick…kiss…

Nobody looks terribly humiliated here…right Elizabeth? (better pass out some treats real fast)

On we go to Tucker Farm. My favorite home away from home. The lady of the farm, my great friend Karen, has a good-sized tribe of rescued donkeys and goats at her barn and each year she’ll do a little Christmas slide show with her gang. I couldn’t wait to get involved. Three of my favorite horse pals live there as well, and almost living there, is another simpatico, ‘favorite-home-away-from-home’ girlfriend, Janice, who owns two of the horses.

My goat-to girlfriends…Karen on left, Janice on right…butt-heads in front…

None of the Tucker Farm critters are newbies at photo shoots. As soon as the costume container came out in the horse pasture, Dart was all into everything…

…hmmm…maybe red is really my color?

“Hey Dart…when you stick your nose in the goodies box…well who nose what will happen next…eh? Ha Ha Ha!”

(is this horse lacking a sense of humor?)

Here’s Dart’s stable mate, Louie. The twin brother of the same mother of costumes…Might have a case of stink eye going on here..

Asante…the only mare on the farm…ready to dance… …and prance……and maybe a little french kiss? (such a huzzy!)

On to the donkeys and goats. It was such a highly organized Christmas shoot with a bunch of curious models just waiting their turn.

Like a Victoria’s Secret Christmas runway show, we told them.

Yup…you believe that?

It was more like…

(goats and donkeys)…”HAY…WHAT’S to EAT in that BOX?”

(girls)…”HEY! GIT OUTTA THERE YOU RASCALS!”

 That…’You’ve Goat to be Kidding’ look….

Can’t wait to unwrap my presents!

Truly…Star Struck…What Ernie was really thinking…

“Star Struck…my butt! I just wanna know if that thing on my head is…EDIBLE?”

Check out my favorite goat, Ethel. Too bad she got stuck with my middle name.

Poor dear.

I think because of that, (ruthless teasing…you gotta understand!), she likes the idea of having grown a set of balls……now what to do with those balls???

Stormy said…”After this? I am sooo breaking into the feed room. First chance I get.”

Thanks girls…I was seeing so much red and green…I didn’t know whether to stop…or go……or just grow a mustache…

Meanwhile…back at the Funny Farm…things were getting out of control.

D.O.G. had busted into his stocking and lookee what he found!!!

DANG!…D.O.G….gimme back my Recluse Man!!!!

The Pips had found the calendar that will surely make them overnight Hollywood sensations…

…ya think??

My New Year’s date turned out to be a real pig…Toots spoke her first and final words of the year……and then passed out from overexertion…I caught D.O.G. ransacking the Christmas goody bags…

…then squatting on my homemade holiday cards…and is that the sports section of the paper where I circled all my winning bets??? …I will forgive that pigster…if the rest of all those wonderful creatures will forgive me…

Deal…D.O.G.?

HERE’S TO A STYLISH NEW YEAR!!!

1 2 3 7