Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

PHOTOS FROM YESTERDAY – HOMECOMING – AT LAST

We did it. Star and I completed a month of learning with the illustrious, indefatigable, incredible horse trainer, Jim Frazier.

The man is unending. His stamina. His dedication. His knowledge and experience. He’ll turn seventy on 9-11-17 and he kicks my butt for endurance. A truly remarkable guy.

I think some people send their horses to Jim for training and expect to pick them up a month later all ready to ride and go. Not me. Not my dear friend Janice; who had her horse there with Jim the month before Star burst onto the scene. We knew we needed to learn as much as our horses…in tandem…in harmony…lessons with Jim and our horses in a huge arena never to be forgotten. Lessons imbedded in our minds to go home with and practice, practice, practice.

Jim’s words ring in my ears. “THERE’S THE EASY WAY AND THE HARD WAY.”

At first it was, “WHY DID YOU GET YOURSELF A SADDLEBRED?!”  um…me in a small voice…”he was a rescue of sorts and I fell in love”…Jim sheeshing me. (his body language…nutso horse-lover-girl doesn’t know better). Then admitting, “WELL I TRULY BELIEVE THE 3 SMARTEST BREEDS IN ORDER ARE ARABIANS, SADDLEBREDS AND THOROUGHBREDS…THE 3 MOST HOT-HEADED BREEDS…BUT ONCE YOU GET THEIR HEADS CONNECTED TO THEIR LEGS THEY CAN TURN INTO SOMETHING GOOD.”

In my opinion, we got good. Good enough to come home with Jim’s approval and encouragement to; “KEEP GOING WITH HIM. YOU CAN’T GIVE HIM VACATION TIME. HE’S GREEN. HE NEEDS WORK.” Roger that.

However…I am giving Star the 4th of July off. He’s been ridden and worked and scolded and praised for many days in a row now. In my humble opinion he deserves to snooze in the barn with his girlfriend Gypsy, graze and lollygag around, and maybe pluck a few apples from the trees with his endlessly long neck.

Last night I hung out with them in the barn, Gypsy on one side of me, Star on the other, stroking their necks and heads and talking silly love-gooberish. I think Gypsy yawned a dozen times as their eyes got droopy and their bodies started swaying. I almost fell asleep too.  I think we were all feeling blissful-zoned-out-tired-contentment.

I texted Jim this morning… ‘It was a happy barn this morning and I am gonna spend the 4th pampering my pig who has been highly neglected and we are gonna eat watermelon together’.

That’s tough for a horse trainer to swallow. He said, ‘Holidays are made for eating pork sandwiches’. I may disagree with my fabulous horse trainer…but I will never argue. (well almost never)

I was steadfast in my insistence on loading Star in the trailer of Janice’s we had such a hard time with many moons ago. It’s a narrow two-horse trailer with a ramp and divider and a heavy gate to lift. Recluse Man has been giving this trailer a face-lift and I must say…it looks truly TrAshe county in appearance all covered in primer and painters tape, but who cares when you are a horse wanting to go HOME? (OK…it took a few flighty balks…like Star thinking… YOU ARE TAKING ME HOME IN THIS???)…never mind!

Here are some favorite photos from our homecoming…many thanks to my friends Janice and Karen for making the photos of me with my red-headed beauty and an even bigger thanks for making the journey home possible.

Here we go…

My Philosophy…Dessert First. Here is my favorite photo from yesterday depicting Dessert First…THE HOMECOMING!!!!Jim Frazier….riding Star at the end of our month of lessons…Last lap around the arena…Seriously…I always took him seriously…A few final instructions…“Anybody Home?” (Jim’s famous question)
It took 8 minutes to load Star in the trailer of our nightmares….So yeah….get on board…
Loaded and almost ready (one more balk)… Yup. Here we go….Home Sweet Home.Photo BombGypsy…way beyond just strutting her stuff…Pretty boy rolling and soaking up his turf…

Hay. You got the day off. No worries until the neighborhood fireworks go off.From all of us at the Funny Farm…

Have a happy, totally FREE-RANGE INDEPENDENCE DAY!

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.

2017 WITH THE PIPS … A CALENDAR TO MAKE YOU SMILE!

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.

COVER 2017

This is one of my all-time favorite photographs…
front-cover

JANUARY

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.

Run Pockets…RUN!1_2017_page-copy

FEBRUARY

Romance abounds on the funny farm. OH MY GWAD!2_2017_page

MARCH

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.

That ponkey has important things to say!3_2017-revised-blog

APRIL

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.

It’s time to frolic!4_2017

MAY

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.

But the socks? They didn’t last long.5_2017

JUNE

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.

Bring on the balloons!6_2017

JULY

Who would have thunk? A rainbow-loving ponkey!!!7_2017

AUGUST

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!

Let’s go for a walk!8_2017

SEPTEMBER

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.

Budweiser Horses…move over! Bring on The Pips!9_2017

OCTOBER

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?

All she wanted was to be a unicorn.
10_2017

NOVEMBER

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.

Enjoying November Pips-style…yes!11_2017

DECEMBER

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…

…and don’t forget the carrots-dunked-in-molasses…paleeze!12_2017

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 (animalgardentribe@gmail.com) 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!

THE PIPS TURNED TWO…AND WHAT A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY PARTY IT WAS!

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!

Party Down!!!party1

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…

…took him down to the barn and gave him some chalk and introduced him to his model…party66

His creative juices started flowing…
party3

Pockets loved her modeling job…party4

…and that Recluse Michel-MAN-gelo…such talent!party5

Of course…there is no tail. Just you wait.party6

Let the party begin!!

That’s Toots greeting Jessica on the left, Nate, and mama Suzy…and a huge bag of carrots!party7

Dakota and Sabrina!party8Hittin’ up the treasure chest…party9Dakota 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!party10I had a gut feeling the bunny ears wouldn’t last long on Pockets…party12…whad I tell ya…party13

The pink and purple girls…Suzanne and Pockets…party11I encouraged the kids to draw on the barn before we started Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Ponkey.

I’m not sure what kind of creature that is below. Yo…Sabrina!

I used to see monsters like that, hiding under my bed at night…party14Dakota in dreads…with the sun shining over her head…party16Let’s play Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Ponkey!!!

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.

Dakota went first…now that’s funny!party17

Next up…Jessica…party18Check her out! I love her Lost Unicorn shirt…party19

Sabrina…party20…you rock that tail girl!
party21

Nate…he’s a stellar football player with a soft spot for the Pips…party22Hmmm…that’s a tailback position!party23

And then it was my turn…I asked Jessica to turn me once…party24…I was lucky to find the barn door!party25You might say…I don’t know my ass from a barn door…party26

Then along comes smarty-pants Suzanne…party28…who could barely find the barn…party27…but was smart enough to locate the other tails…party29

THAT’S IT!

We took down the tails.

Nice try Mama E…are you pinning the tail on the patella?party30

Some of the adults were too grown-up to bother…in other words…they were drinking beer in the shade…party31Did I say…Grown-Up?party32We did get Allie…party33Tim..party34…and Suzy to pin that tail!party35

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!party36There were books and cards and fun horsey things…including Elizabeth’s booklet about the Grayson Highlands ponies…party37See Elizabeth smiling her best ‘pony-girl’ grin…party36Meanwhile…the artistry continued. I was blown away by how cool the barn was looking!party37

Pockets inspected. “OH MY GWAD…MY BUTT IS A MESS!”
party39Now THAT is a  HAPPY barn door…party41The party was rockin’…party42…as the best carrot cake ever was served…party43But what about the horsies?party44I filled a trough with hay and had the troops sprinkle carrots on top…party45Suddenly there was an audience…Gypsy and Star!
party46They were most attentive…especially when the molasses appeared…party46That Star has a looong neck…party48I mean really loooong…party49We 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!party50Next came Pockets and Grayson…with Grayson charming the girls as always…party51What a FEAST! (see the Elders patiently waiting in the pasture)party52Elizabeth and I took turns making birthday photos…while Grayson and Pockets munched down with total birthday abandon!party53…then finally the Elders were invited in…party54Here you see a bit of horse-heaven on earth…FG_364 copyDid I mention it was hot? So very hot in the mountains?party56It sure did seem like that fan followed Dave wherever he went……party57I know you are wondering if Recluse Man ever got that beer open…party58Well…he did…party59After our guests left…I couldn’t find Elizabeth…party60But Grayson found the beer…party61

It was a birthday party we will always remember…even the two-year-olds. Right Grayson?party63OH MY GWAD. Such a poser that Pockets!party64And that my friends…is the end of this chapter from our family album.party65How I love a good Tale of Tails!

POCKETS AND THE KENTUCKY DERBY

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…

pawk·y

(pô′kē) adj. pawk·i·erpawk·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 entertained Pockets with stories from the Derby, as Elizabeth worked on ‘the look’….
Derby1
 Check out Pockets the Ponkey on Derby Day!!!
Derby2
We tried the ‘ears under’ look…
Derby3

Derby4

…but Pockets much preferred the striking ‘one ear out’ look…Derby6

“I WANNA MINT JOOWUP!”Derby5Elizabeth tried to get her mind on other things. “Howzabout a carrot?”Derby10“NO CARROT! I WANNA MINT JOOWEP!!”Derby7Things got on the verge of ugly when Mama E ‘borrowed’ her hat and shades…Derby9After that, Pockets went off on her own in search of a mint julep…Derby11

I swear we did not give that ponkey a mint julep…although it may appear as such…Derby12

“WEAD MY EAW…ONE MINT JOOWUP PWEESE!!!!”Derby13Well at least pull up your socks and put your bonnet on straight!Derby14

“MINT JOOWUP NOW!”Derby15

Straighten up you PAWKY PONKEY! Let’s go to the races!

‘IS DIS DA STAHTING GATE?” (BIG snort)Derby18“OK OK…I’M WEADY TO BE A WACEHOSS!”Derby19

Elizabeth had been training Pockets to follow the carrot stick…Derby20

Sometimes the races get off to a slow start…Derby21

…and the trainer gets more of a workout…Derby22

Go Elizabeth! Git along Lil Ponkey!!!!Derby23Derby24Derby25Derby26Derby27

Pockets was curious. She was just warming up. “WAT WONG WIF YOU?”Derby28Suzanne to the rescue…that girl is an athlete!!!Derby29

Hither and yon they ran…at least as ‘yon’ as you can get in a round pen…Derby31

Pockets had long since tossed the hat…then the socks…then the shades. Meanwhile Mama S put on her Derby hat. It’s a Run for the Carrots!Derby30

GO POCKETS!Derby32

GO!!!!Derby33

RACE OVER!!! POCKETS CAUGHT THE CARROT STICK! WOOT!Derby34It had been a marvelous Derby Day. Everyone was exhausted. Or so we thought.

“PWEESE CAN I HAVE A MINT JOOWUP?”Derby16

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