Photo Of The Day is also Pick Of The Day.
From my morning walk to the beautiful New River meadow…
(Dear D.O.G. the pig…please don’t eat the daisies)
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;
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!
Several days before I left for my bum-thumb-fated trip to Pennsylvania, we celebrated the Pip’s second birthday. It was sooo much fun! We invited some neighborhood friends, and kids, and parents, and a very special grandma, to join us for the festivities.
I had every intention of posting some great photos when I returned from my Fourth of July trip. It’s just that my dumb-broken-thumb got in the way. But now? I see it as a way to relive a magical afternoon. Every time I think of that afternoon, it makes me smile.
There were so many delightful photos, I had a hard time choosing. What follows, reminds me of a family album. I gotta admit…I’ve gone dizzy looking at some family albums. To the point of asking where the bathroom is…then asking for a glass of water…then…”Oops…I’m out of time…gotta run.”
I can’t help but think this family album…our Freeka’s Funny Farm family album…ROCKS! After all, it’s only once in a lifetime our beloved Pips…Grayson and Pockets…turn two!
Elizabeth and I wanted to have fun. BIG FUN. BIG KIDS KINDA FUN.
I figured we needed entertainment. Somewhere out on one of my hiking trails…it hit me. (I love how my brain works on hiking trails.)
YES! We must do…Pin-the-Tail-on-the-PONKEY!
First I sought Recluse Michel-MAN-gelo’s talent. Yup. Got him outta bed early that day…
Let the party begin!!
Dakota and Sabrina!Hittin’ up the treasure chest…Dakota and granny Allie… she’s my riding partner from down the road…she’s sixty-nine and kicks my butt on the trails with her little Paso Fino! Allie grew up with her Chincoteague pony who lived to be thirty five!I had a gut feeling the bunny ears wouldn’t last long on Pockets……whad I tell ya…
I’m not sure what kind of creature that is below. Yo…Sabrina!
I braided ten tails from baling twine so peeps could keep their tails. This was not a big hit. I found tails everywhere after the party. Sigh. Pioneer Woman…I am not.
As everyone took turns, they were spun around once wearing a blindfold, then directed toward the barn door. Slap that tail on, remove the blindfold, have a good laugh (for me especially…and apparently Dakota), then initial with chalk.
We took down the tails.
After the game, prizes were given to the kids. They were really special gifts Elizabeth had chosen from her horse collection…winner got first pick.
Sabrina and her mini-horse!There were books and cards and fun horsey things…including Elizabeth’s booklet about the Grayson Highlands ponies…See Elizabeth smiling her best ‘pony-girl’ grin…Meanwhile…the artistry continued. I was blown away by how cool the barn was looking!
Pockets inspected. “OH MY GWAD…MY BUTT IS A MESS!”
Now THAT is a HAPPY barn door…The party was rockin’……as the best carrot cake ever was served…But what about the horsies?I filled a trough with hay and had the troops sprinkle carrots on top…Suddenly there was an audience…Gypsy and Star!
They were most attentive…especially when the molasses appeared…That Star has a looong neck…I mean really loooong…We chased the barn gang out to the pasture and shut the gate. It was time for our great leaders to march in the birthday buffet!Next came Pockets and Grayson…with Grayson charming the girls as always…What a FEAST! (see the Elders patiently waiting in the pasture)Elizabeth and I took turns making birthday photos…while Grayson and Pockets munched down with total birthday abandon!…then finally the Elders were invited in…Here you see a bit of horse-heaven on earth…Did I mention it was hot? So very hot in the mountains?It sure did seem like that fan followed Dave wherever he went……I know you are wondering if Recluse Man ever got that beer open…Well…he did…After our guests left…I couldn’t find Elizabeth…But Grayson found the beer…
It was a birthday party we will always remember…even the two-year-olds. Right Grayson?OH MY GWAD. Such a poser that Pockets!And that my friends…is the end of this chapter from our family album.How I love a good Tale of Tails!
I have had many nicknames during my lifetime. Freddie, of course, is my everyday nickname. Freeka, my blog name. My mom used to call me Reeculous Ticklehoufer. I liked that name. Mainly because it came from my mom and it was just…ridiculous.
Perhaps the silliest nickname I ever acquired was, ‘Fred the Bed.’ That came from my best girlfriends at summer horse camp. I don’t think there was any relevance, or event, or behavior behind it. Just that it rhymed. These grown women still call me that. Good thing they don’t live nearby.
I share this as a preface to another dumb poem I wrote. It’s part Dr Suess and part explanation as to where the heck I’ve been all summer.
While most people kick off their summer around the Fourth of July, my happy season…my joy…my summer giddiness, came to an abrupt end that memorable weekend.
Yup..I broke my thumb falling off an ATV in Pennsylvania, going zero miles an hour. My right thumb no less. My favorite, most cherished thumb. The one that makes me a right-handed human being.
I was riding tandem, looking for photo opps, when my nephew’s girlfriend tried to turn the ATV around going up a steep embankment. As it started to roll, I elbowed my camera bag over my left shoulder and took the downhill fall with all my weight on my right hand.
CRUNCH went my thumb….followed by LOUD, NAUGHTY words that frightened the wildlife. (animal wildlife…well ok, maybe Katie too)
Why is my thumb so Red?
Could it be Broke?
You are so Dumb!
I am about to Croak
X-rays in Pennsylvania revealed a broken Bennett bone. That’s the bone that hinges the thumb to the rest of the hand. The bone that allows twisting, pinching, squeezing…as in the ability to brush my teeth, use a pitchfork, or wipe my butt right-handed.
Uh boy. It’s gonna be a long summer.
Said Fred the Bed
You are messing with my Head
It’s the Fourth of July
The Yankee doctor fixed me up with a splint so I could drive the ten hours back home to my favorite Southern bone doctors. Because of the holiday weekend, and more X-rays with the Boone Ortho doctors, I didn’t have surgery until a week later.
I had the best nurse. She told me to remove my earrings and watch and any loose teeth. Then she asked a series of questions, including the standard. On a scale of 1-10…what is your pain level? On a scale of 1-10…I think they asked me at least eleven times in four hours.
Finally, she asked if I was comfortable and apologized for the long delay. Then another nurse asked another round of questions starting with the famous 1-10 pain scale opener. She concluded by asking me if I felt like hurting anyone, including myself. Whaaaa?
Play your own Drum
But wear this stiff Splint
Like a message in Cement
Oh to hell with my thumb. My hand was very swollen, my fingers were black and blue, and I had a deep wound on my outer pinky from the first splint pinching so hard.
(Outer pinky. I like that. “Hey there…wanna see my outer pinky?”…or… “OK to bring my outer pinky along?”…or…”Wow…my outer pinky is shedding!”)
Yeah…to hell with my thumb…I was feeling no pain with those big, white pills they gave me.
Then one day the white pills ran out and reality set in.
May I mention the frustration from trying to use a mouse left-handed with a big-fat-right-bum thumb on the keyboard. Or getting a lefty fork all neat inside my mouth without stabbing or slobbering. Or brushing my teeth…or…tying shoelaces…buttoning… unscrewing… doorhandles… knives…cast iron pans…and OMG…showering with a plastic grocery bag up to my elbow, trying to squirt out shampoo and lather one-handed.
Maybe the worst part was how much it hurt to hold my Nikons for long. Like more than three frames.
I have even greater respect now, for all those who have found ways to overcome limb and appendage disabilities. Humans and animals alike.
Said Fred the Bed
To the Thumb she thought Dead
I will Succumb
Just please..once again be my Thumb.
You are the sum of my Yum
My very right Thumb
The strum of my Hum
The opposite of Glum!
One week after surgery, I found myself back at the doc’s office. The nurse removed the splint to reveal the two pins in my hand…I think she left the gauze for effect. I just want you to know I had the following photos full size, until Recluse Man walked by and gagged.
Three weeks after surgery I went in again for X-rays and a third splint. I shed a handful of skin as I scratched and waited and ignored the ‘no cell phone usage, no photos please’ sign.Meanwhile Recluse Man had to cover me on farm chores. Secretly I was smirking. I don’t think he realized what goes into making the zoo and the farm happy everyday. Poor guy.
Then finally six weeks after surgery, the pins came out! It was a little creepy..the thought of actually pulling the pins out. But it was painless and the best part…I was sent home with a removable splint.
But something wasn’t right. My thumb was stiff as a clothespin and I thought it might never heal properly. Since childhood I have had a funky, right thumb. It tends to stick or pop at the knuckle. After all those weeks in a splint, it took days of massaging before I got my thumb to pop back into action.
Said Fred the Bed
To her comely Thumb
You are not dead but Instead
What a beauty you’ve Become
My long lost Chum!
As a footnote, (great pun…just wait), check out some photos from this Labor Day morning when our farrier worked on the barn gang. Gypsy got two front shoes, one with a pad for some sole-ful healing on her left foot.
Then…whoa boy! Star had his very first shoeing experience. Another sole-ful foot healing, and as long as he was twitched (most humanely), he was the perfect client.
Ahhhh…Memorial Day Weekend…such a great American holiday.
Traditionally, there are family visits to cemeteries, mourning mixed with sweet memories, flag raisings, potluck dinners, neighborly get-togethers, BBQs, watermelon, lawn mowing, gardening, hiking, biking, fishing, sunbathing, the Indy 500, horseback riding (had to put that in there…right Gypsy?!), and all the good and the sad that go into this holiday. It’s a contradiction of sorts. A painful, joyful holiday. While some hurt over the loss of loved ones who died for our country in military service, others kick off the arrival of a brand new summer.
I wanted to learn more on the history on Memorial Day.
I discovered Memorial Day began after the Civil War but back then it was called Decoration Day. It was declared a holiday to honor deceased veterans by decorating their graves with flags and flowers. But whoa…the Confederates refused to celebrate on the same day those damn Yankees did, and in fact had many different days to honor their dead across the southern states.
It wasn’t until after WWI that tensions eased and a one-for-all Memorial Day was established for all American soldiers who died in any and all of our wars.
I do not have a grave to decorate, but in keeping with a new Freeka’s Funny Farm tradition…I have a live pig to decorate. Indeed, D.O.G. is booked for a deluxe spa and accoutrement session later today…on Decoration Day 2016.
On the funny farm, we lean toward the hedonistic side of this holiday, and celebrate summer with our best bohemian enthusiasm. Please allow me to share this memorable tradition, as created one year ago.
IT’S TIME TO CHILL!! (gritting teeth…thinking…um…heavy camera for a selfie…just take the dang photo…will I??? …and where is the pig?)
In order to decorate D.O.G. properly, as I see it, he must first get a facial, followed by a pedicure, a coconut oil rub, and plenty of sun screen powder puffs. In other words…a deluxe spa treatment.
But instead of traditional spa treatments that start with herbal tea or coconut water infused with essential things we never knew were essential…D.O.G. prefers a beer. Yup. And it sure makes a pedicure easier for the pedicurist. Please don’t report us to any even-toed-ungulate-cruelty-associations. I’m telling you…this is one happy-easy-going-cooperative pig with a beer in his belly. And he is far less likely to get nicked by the clippers.
There’s an eye in there somewhere although I have never really seen it…Next…the pedicure…see Lily running away when the clippers come out…I have so many clippers for dogs, cats, fences, weeds….but only one for a pig…I’ll spare you the clip by clips of the job…it’s tedious and lasts about as long as the beer nap…then on to more pleasurable spa activities…a coconut oil rub and puffs of sunscreen to follow…And now for the real fun…the decorating part…Oops…I’m not very good at nail polish…especially with twitching toes…
Isn’t that the cutest little tail? (I kept telling him. Sometimes being a blind-buzzed pig works for the best)WAKE UP D.O.G.!! It’s Decoration Day!!!Let’s honor our veterans……and our firefighters…D.O.G. said…”Enough of this! I want to honor summertime! Too many brothers and sisters on the grill!!”Well…OK then…howzabout some strawberries…
I have been living on this funny farm for eight years now. It’s strange how as one grows older, time seems to compress. Eight years!
The past six years I have been a divorcée. (TrAshe County pronunciation; dāy-´VHŌR-sāy) Those first two years while my x and I were separated, we tried to remain friends, and it was during that time I borrowed his trusty old Husqvarna weed eater. Never to give it back.
That was perhaps the best deal of the entire divorce. From both our points of view. I didn’t want his Rolls Royce, his house or his lifestyle. Just gimme the Husqi.
That weed wacker (my preferred term although they are officially known as weed trimmers or string trimmers), has lasted longer than my marriage and almost every other useful thing from my former life. It has also outlived two lawn mowers on the farm, a wheelbarrow, and four short-term boyfriends. I may have to kill it, if it tries to outlive Recluse Man or me.
I could tell you the Husqi has had a good long life because I have maintained it so well, when actually I have done very little, save for replacing a few parts.
I do, however, believe in proper maintenance….hosing after use, storing inside, checking oil, winterizing, sharpening blades…that kind of thing.
This applies to all methods of reducing grass and weed growth. Including my very own free-range-mobile-mowers.
When Pockets heard it was Kentucky Derby Day this past Saturday, she went ponkers. Only a ponkey can go ponkers.
You should have heard her.
“OH MY GWAD! I MUST GO! NOWNOWNOW! IT’S KENTUCKY DUHBY DAY!!!! I WANNA WEAH A HAT! I WANNA DWINK A MINT JOOWUP! I WANNA BE A WACEHOSS!!”
It was a gorgeous, breezy, spring Saturday on the funny farm. We were all laughing hard, trying to imagine ‘Pockets the racehorse’. Elizabeth was here at her home-away-from-home to work and play with her Pips. My neighbor Suzanne, had also come over for a weekend visit. She loves to walk the Pips and is now officially ‘Mama S’. She sure earned it on Saturday.
When Pockets expressed her great Derby destination desires, we tried to explain how long a trailer ride it would be to Louisville, Kentucky.
I said, “Remember that four hour round trip trailer ride to the vet the other day? Well sextuple that.”
Pockets said, “I HATE IT WHEN YOU TALK DUHTY!”
Oh never mind.
We agreed we’d have our own Kentucky Derby Day right here on the farm. That pawky ponkey knows how to cast a spell! I love this new word I learned…
(pô′kē) adj. pawk·i·er, pawk·i·est Chiefly British. Sly and cunning, often in a humorous manner (see the pawky ponkey make her mamas swoon)
I photographed the Kentucky Derby three years in a row, back in the 90’s. I was with a group of photographers shooting for the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. Usually I was assigned a spot on the track near the starting gate, which meant I’d shoot the very start of the race and then the last turn before the final stretch to the finish line. It was a thrilling event to photograph, although you sure didn’t want to blow it.
The most fun of course, was spending the entire day at Churchill Downs with access to almost anywhere.
“I WANNA MINT JOOWUP!”Elizabeth tried to get her mind on other things. “Howzabout a carrot?”“NO CARROT! I WANNA MINT JOOWEP!!”Things got on the verge of ugly when Mama E ‘borrowed’ her hat and shades…After that, Pockets went off on her own in search of a mint julep…
Straighten up you PAWKY PONKEY! Let’s go to the races!