Some days I really miss the silliness of Mama E and her Pips.
(Cheech and Chong got nuttin’ on these mustaches!)
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…
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!
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…
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.
“Hey Dart…when you stick your nose in the goodies box…well who nose what will happen next…eh? Ha Ha Ha!”
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?”
Check out my favorite goat, Ethel. Too bad she got stuck with my middle name.
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!!!
The Pips had found the calendar that will surely make them overnight Hollywood sensations…
…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…
HERE’S TO A STYLISH NEW YEAR!!!
In my ‘what the heck…better late than never‘ approach to life, I decided to do a 2017 calendar. This decision came out of the blue and was inspired by a total stranger…not so long ago. I can count the days ago. OK…maybe weeks ago. Where does the time a…go?
This is the eighth calendar in my photo career. For my last calendar in 2014, I used 86 photos and such complex layouts, I nearly strangled myself with baling twine. Or was it hari-kari with a pitchfork? When it was all over and done with, after the calendars arrived and I ripped into the box from the printer…I was proud. It was the most unique calendar of mine…ever. It was funny. It was charming. I got great feedback. I was so proud and exhausted by it, I told myself I would never do another.
Yet here I am. Again.
Without further ado, let me introduce the pages of calendar-2017…The Pips.
It started off all over the map. Initially I pulled 60+ photos as prospects. It was going to be a farm calendar…then a Pips calendar…but mostly in the end… it is a Pockets calendar.
With over 240 photos in the working folder, 67 made the cut. That little ponkey rules! It’s no wonder. She is incredibly photogenic and the most willing model around. And she loves wearing hats and beads. My kinda girl.
Here’s a little synopsis of the calendar, month by month, starting with the cover….
It was Mardi Gras season and Elizabeth, (Pips owner and #1 mama), was in her hometown of New Orleans. I was jealous. It was soooo cold on the farm. No better way to warm up than have a silly shoot with The Pips and celebrate Mardi Gras right here.
The Pips were all over-and-into the costume and bead bags. Grayson was fascinated by his ponkey-girl’s accoutrements. Pockets did not want to give up her orange shades and in fact did some laps around the pasture wearing them. Let’s have a parade! Krewe of Pips. That ponkey. That pony. We had a blast. Way better than being in the French Quarter for Mardi Gras. Well almost.
When we really get a good snow it’s a hoot to watch Pockets try to keep up with all the ‘biggers’. Those short little legs of hers! Sometimes the snow is up to her belly.
What an in-between month. I had a hard time choosing the right photos. Is it still winter? Or is it spring? Can I be Irish for a day? Let’s talk. Pockets always wants to talk. And I always like to listen in. Whether it’s with Mama G or whoever else she’s yakking up. No matter how silly.
Daffodils are sprouting. Tulips too. But who cares if you are a ponkey? So long as the grass starts growing again. Then…just like the rest of us…Spring Fever sets in.
Back in the 90’s, I photographed the Kentucky Derby three years in a row, right down on the track on the home stretch. Although I have mixed feelings about horse racing in general, it was an incredibly exciting photography experience that had just as much to do with the hats and the crowds, as it did the horses. Every year on the first Saturday in May, you will find me watching the Kentucky Derby on TV. Then, this year (2016), it dawned on me. Why not have our own little derby? Pockets was thrilled. Any reason to dress up and wear a big, pink, floppy hat is fine by her.
Both Grayson and Pockets were born in June 2014, at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Great reason to party down! What a big-sticky-fun-molasses-and-carrots-mess. The Pips would love having a birthday every month of the year.
Just about every time Elizabeth comes out to visit The Pips, there’s a walk involved. It’s so pretty around here, with the New River nearby and a nice big meadow for grazing. Heck yeah!
Can you tell we are Panthers fans around here? Well at least when they’re having a good year…we are. Even though Pockets dreams of being a quarterback, I think she makes a better punter. A backasswards punter.
So much for the Great Pumpkin. Right Pockets? I don’t think she’s a believer. Otherwise, she would not be chomping Great Pumpkin offspring. Agreed?
Aside from Thanksgiving, I’ve never been a big fan of November. The leaves have fallen, the days are shorter, and winter teases. Thank you Pockets, for sharing your good attitudes and bringing joy to November. Grayson too…you funny shag carpet…you.
It’s seldom The Pips are naughty, and if they are, it’s usually my fault for leaving a gate unlatched somewhere. Mostly nice they are, and certainly full of spice. Just ask Santa. He’s stuffing their stockings with horse cookies and treats…
We have done a small run of calendars with only ‘backyard’ promotions. Heck we don’t even have an e-commerce site up. It’s a project for a few friends and fans to enjoy. If you’re interested, leave me a comment or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll see if I can reserve a calendar for you. They are $15, plus $5 shipping in the US.
Happy Holidays from the tribe at Freeka’s Funny Farm!
OH MY GWAD!
Speaking for Pockets-the-Ponkey, I am sure she would have begun this post with that very same expletive. It’s her favorite line, and what inevitably follows, is some sort of drama.
It was a BIG day for Pockets last week…her first VISIT TO a VET!
A two hour journey down the mountain!
Pockets has been dealing with a leg condition called stifle-lock and Elizabeth was beside herself with worry. If anything, it had gotten worse over the winter.
Stifle lock, or ‘Upward Fixation of the Patella’ (UFP), is fairly common in horses and ponies. The stifle is the upper part of a back leg on a horse and consists of 3 bones: the tibia, femur, and patella. The tibia is like a person’s shin bone, the femur is similar to our thigh bone, and the patella serves as a knee cap connecting them. Stifle lock causes the back legs to pop, or sometimes lock and drag.
Grayson had stifle lock but outgrew it, as is often the case in a young pony or horse. Stifle lock doesn’t hurt a pony but it sure hurts looking at a leg that pops or drags. Elizabeth was coming out nearly everyday to work with Pockets. Exercise is great. And the whole Freeka herd has 24/7 access to the pasture or barn. Which is good. Very good to be mobile.
Sheesh. Somehow I ended up watching The Who in Hyde Park, instead of the news this morning. Much better way to start the day! Their 50th anniversary concert. And this is stuck in my head…
Keep me movin’
Keep me groovin’
Just a hippie gypsy
Come on move now
Keep me movin’, yeah
Keep me movin’, groovin’, groovin’, yeah
Mobile, mobile, mobile, mobile
Let’s dedicate that to Pockets. WHEW! I have finally cooled down after watching Roger Daltrey strutting his stuff. That man has no stifle lock whatsoever!
Back to Pockets going mobile.
Mama E and her ponkey discussed the day ahead. Elizabeth told Pockets Dr Meeker is an expert…and I hinted he is a cutie to boot. She would be in good hands.
When we got to Davie County Large Animal Hospital, in Mocksville, NC, we had a little wait. No problem with that. The grounds and facilities make for a very comfortable visit…But Holy Patooties!!! Pockets saw the EQUINE AMBULANCE and declared she would not travel home unless it was in that very same ambulance…
Listen here you ponkey…you are NOT Mariah Carey or Beyonce, or any kind of Diva…demanding special transport!!! (Snort…)I had to remind her…she didn’t exactly qualify as a ‘LARGE ANIMAL’…(Snorts Galore)…
Thank the Ponkey-Gwad…for Heidi…answering calls and greeting clients. Elizabeth had already declared her a great friend after spending loving-lingering-bragging moments on the phone making the appointment…Then…the big moment came when Dwoctahh Meekaaahh examined Pockets.
It had been eight weeks since Pocket’s last date with our farrier. I had suggested waiting until after our vet-visit to learn the best way to trim her. Too bad the farrier at the clinic was totally booked that day.
The cute-paleo farrier took over after that. He reminded me of a caveman…no business cards to share…no email…no FaceBook. He just said…”If you need me, they know how to find me here.” We were smitten. At least three out of four of us girls. Pockets not-so-much.
Later on…Mama E and I agreed we might have a crush on our new vet and farrier…but an even BIGGER CRUSH on KAREN!!! For years shce has offered her Tucker Farm as a sanctuary for donkeys and goats in need of rescue. Now she can add ‘ponkey’ to her resume. Without hesitation, she offered to transport Pockets to the vet. Talk about great friends.
Karen…the ponkey-donkey-goat angel!!!Every angel needs a break. Plus angel-duty meant squatting in front of the fan…ahhh…felt so good. It was hot and sticky down down in the piedmont. My turn!!!“It’s your second sedation you rascally ponkey…let me tell you a story about the ponkey who fell down and never got up…you listening?” (I admit…I am not so good at bedtime stories).Elizabeth was enormously proud of her beloved Pockets…
However, the photo I couldn’t stop studying, shows the difference between her trimmed back hoof (on left), and eight weeks of growth (on right) The new trim gives her better balance and easier movement. Her stifle lock is not gone…but mo’ betta.
One last look after the trim, and a little trot-about. Here is Pockets singing…’The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Girls’. Actually it was more like…”OH MY GWAD…WE DONE???? I WANNA GO HOME NOW-NOW-NOW!!!!”Well excuse me m’ dear…but we are not quite done. First, Elizabeth had to express her gratitude to the good doctor.Lots of gratitude…Back home, Pockets set a personal best for her quickest ‘unload’ time…
I wouldn’t dare call Pockets a mule to her face. But technically speaking, it is what she is.
Breed a male (jack) donkey, to a female (mare) horse, and you’ll get a mule.
But the way we see it around here…ya breed a donkey to a pony…ya got a ponkey.
Ponkeys are total cuteness. Ponkeys are endless entertainment. A good ponkey is short and stout, with big ears and will chase away homie-dogs and hyenas. A good ponkey always comes right over after chasing a hyena…in immediate need of a cuddle-rub-hug and a smile.
After all…fearlessness deserves reward.
A good ponkey has a smile that will make you laugh.
Yet..a couple of days ago I found myself laughing my ass off…over a naughty ponkey’s grimaces.
OH MY GWAD…here comes another episode of Trailer Loading Flunkies.
That same-sinister-black Darth Vader horse trailer that created my personal ‘Star-Wars’ last year, is back. Sitting in my pasture. Waiting for a trip down the mountain to carry Pockets-the-Ponkey to a vet.
Too bad after the trailer arrived, we told Pockets she needed to be ‘vetted’ at the end of April. Big mistake.
Instantly she retorted; I WILL NOT BE VETTED…NOT EVER-NEVER…NOT TO GWAYSON OR ANYBODY…NO VETTINGS FOR ME…GWAYSON NEVER EVEN PWOPOSED!!!!
(What a Drama Queen…I told her she was too young to be wedded…and that’s not what I meant in the first place!)
Ever since, Elizabeth has been diligently teaching Pockets how to load in the monster-trailer. They were making big strides, those two.
Then a couple of days ago when Elizabeth couldn’t make it out, I promised her I would load Pockets. My friend Janice was coming over to collaborate on a round pen session with Star. Janice and I both have three year old geldings and we had agreed to do ‘co-op’ training sessions, sharing time with our boys. It was her turn here. Our goal that day was to put a girth around Star for the very first time.
Loading Pockets afterward, sounded like a piece of carrot cake. I told Janice I would snap some photos for Elizabeth while she loaded Pockets. Easy-breezy. Nothing to it. The P-Pip had loaded already.
I must mention…Janice is light as a sparrow. Very horse savvy. And full of mischief.
She led Pockets to the trailer ramp and sat down inside.
What the hay?
The two of them talked it over…Janice said…YOU ARE STUBBORN AS A MULE!
All lickety-split that stubborn mule…I mean PONKEY…loaded!
There’s something about a BIG snow that brings out the Neanderthal in me.
This behavior pattern…it seems to happen over and over again…whenever it seriously snows.
This is what I know.
I’ll find myself all toasty warm inside, standing at the door, mesmerized, watching a winter storm play out over the pasture below. Snowflakes putting on quite the show…suddenly sweeping sideways…or zipping upside down…or rocketing downward before crashing in a blur of mates. Their fellow snowflake-soulmates in the soulful snowflake cemetery in the pasture below. The snowful-mates are falling en masse. The snowflake cemetery is getting a pile on.
That’s when I get dizzy.
Where are the horsies? Usually I’ll see Pockets in her favorite position…looking my way from inside the little barn door.
And that’s when it happens. The Neanderthal moment. Cooped up far too long, I’ll suddenly feel like a lunatic cave woman who needs to come out of her cave-closet. It’s far more than just wanting fresh air. And it’s way worse than cabin fever.
I want to paint my face and shed my clothes. I want to run and shout and chase ponies and horses and snowflakes…like a neked crazy cave woman on the brink.
“AAARGHHGOBANSHEEEEZEETWERKERSHERFURYERMAMAMAGRRRRRRRGOGO!” (I’ll shout at the horsies).
BUT WAIT JUST A MOMENT! HOLD YER HORSIES!!
I am a 21st century Neanderthal-Farm-Chick. I close my eyes, breathing deeply through my nose. A moment of meditation. I gather myself. I do a downward dog. I see an upside down D.O.G. Time to make a run for it.
But first I must dress the part. Carhartt – Muck Boot chic. And instead of painting my face, I pack my camera bag. Then I am ready to go run and shout and chase ponies and horses and snowflakes.
I’ll yell at the top of my lungs…”BLAAAAH! BLAAAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAAAH!!!” (not very original…and the horsies are onto me)
So I wave my arms and shake an empty feed bag…”BLAAAH!”
My pec muscles are aching the next day.
Shall we get on to some favorite snowy farm photos?
The first January snow was a light one. Somewhat windy…but that makes it even more exciting for a soccer game.
Finally Star approached me cautiously…while Gypsy held back.
Whatever…I gave up.
Then the BIG KAHUNA came along. It was supposed to be a two foot mega-blizzard last weekend…but wimped out at barely twelve inches. I am very happy with wimpy snow. That very same wimpy snow is still glaring at me.
During the so-called blizzard…Pockets was briefly misidentified as a dirty snowflake…I couldn’t help myself. I turned Neanderthal and whooped it up…I may have had a little help…who dat?…Recluse Man?? Go Ahead!!! I’m ready…shake that bag!!!
Stay tuned for the next blizzard!
I’m sure she would agree with me when I say Pockets had a most interesting afternoon. That girl loves to expand her fonkey-ponkey mind.
For starters…Recluse Man had to make some final measurements before he gets supplies for some barn improvements. We’re extending the roof, adding some doors on the stalls and changing some gates. Apparently this is of great interest to the gang..and most especially Pockets.
Here’s to Pockets the Pupil!
Mama E and I thought we would make a few Halloween portraits of the Pips before the big day. We planned to decorate the hay bales..try on some hats….get a few snaps.
May I present some Photos of the Day.
We could tell Pockets was excited. Anytime there’s dress-up and make-believe, that ponkey makes herself readily available…But this time was different. Halloween is coming right up and Pockets had an agenda.
It was such a gorgeous day in the mountains, when Elizabeth came for a visit we were all ready and rarin’ to go for a walk.
“Oh My Gwad,” said Pockets. “I waaana walk to da reever…take me to da reever…Oh My Gwad…pweas pweas pweas!”
For Photo of the Day pweas see Pockets the Ponkey on her walk to da reever…
…she couldn’t be bothered waiting for shoe laces and slow-pokes…“Reever here we come!”“I wanna meet a shark!”“Oh My Gwad…I can’t wait!”The Ponkey Express finally made it…“Hay was dat a shark? I saw a shark! I saw a shark!”That fonkey ponkey was sure behavin’ all wonkey.
Photo of the Day I own in every respect.
I left the gate unlatched to their stall and the Pips went AWOL.
Dang. How many times have I done that? Forgit it. I don’t have enough fingers.
Sometimes a little magic happens during the most routine of break-outs. I never know. And..umm… I’ve had lots of experience.
If it doesn’t look like total chaos, most often I’ve got my Nikon in hand before I’m out the door. Forget the lead ropes and halters. Let me do a little spying and sneaking around before the round-up begins.
From yesterday’s spying-before-the-round-up-efforts, may I present Photo of the Day…I think I’ll call this…
Gotta admit..it’s starting to look spectacular around here.
All the ‘finger-leaves’ painting on shades of fall.
Pips were hip to it.
Wait-a-minute…that’s exactly the right way!
Now git along lil ponkey!