Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

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

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – A PIG’S THANKSGIVING – November 29, 2015

I have the best neighbors. Generally, we’re a small quiet group, but the ‘hood comes to life on holiday weekends.

One family in particular will come up occasionally, and they know they’re welcome to mosey over to visit Gyps and the Pips, or D.O.G. the pig.

They’re from suburbia, where I would imagine most folks don’t have a ponkey in the pasture, or a pig in the living room. A live one at least.

Tim is the dad, and has helped me out many times over the years with his tractor. It sure is a pretty tractor. He’s plowed my driveway…dug up earth for my garden…moved the manure pile. Nothing like a part-time neighbor with a tractor to seal a friendship. A very pretty tractor. Did I mention that?

Sometimes Suzy (mom), and the kids; Jessica and Nate, come along to walk the Pips to the river. If they’re brave enough, they’ll pet the pig. Contingent on his whereabouts. That dang pig can be a grouch behind the couch.

Suzy always packs plenty of vittles and this Thanksgiving weekend was no exception. They headed back home today and afterward, I found a bag of food tied to the barn door. Veggies galore! For D.O.G….the local compost-master!

D.O.G. had already told Suzy, “No onions.”

I told Suzy, “He’s watching his waistline…easy on the desserts.”  (BIG SNORT from grouch behind the couch)

For Photos of the Day…check out D.O.G.’s neighborhood Thanksgiving…POTD_15_11_29_compost_pig_1

OK..two DOGS…POTD_15_11_29_compost_pig_2

Linguini…breaking bad over the watermelon…
POTD_15_11_29_compost_pig_3

“Hey Suzy…howzabout peanut butter with the celery?”POTD_15_11_29_compost_pig_4(or more politely…Thanks for the Giving)

PHOTO OF THE DAY – BLACK FRIDAY – November 27, 2015

I am NOT a Black Friday shopper. In fact, I will go to great lengths to stay away from crowds of frenzied shoppers.

Today for example, I needed to buy some rope at the hardware store for that darn horse I’ve been trying to load. I took the back roads to Tennessee.

And dang if I didn’t find THE BEST Black Friday Special in all of Johnson County, Tennessee.

No lines. No sales tax. No hassles. Just come and get it….POTD_15_11_27_Black_FridayRecluse Man said, “If we don’t get the horse tomorrow…we’ll get the TV.”

I can’t wait til tomorrow.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – BLOG SITTER – November 25, 2015

Until further notice, I have reassigned my duties as Star-trekker-trainer, and daily blog poster, to a highly qualified substitute.

As you can see, this substitute of mine has exuberance, she’s forthright with her goals, she has a good chomp, and every so often; a nice disposition.

Meet…Whip-Lash….POTD_15_11_24_substitute_1

“Hey Whip-Lash!! … Let go of Star!!! …See you on Friday with some leftover stuffin’!”POTD_15_11_24_substitute_3

HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y’ALL!

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – FOUR ON THE FLOOR…HEAD OUT THE DOOR – November 24, 2015

 

FOUR ON THE FLOOR AND HEAD OUT THE DOOR…YIPPEE!!!

GO STAR!!!!

After 10 days of working with Star, and getting him over his fears and green-colt anxieties about loading in a trailer, we had the best day yet.

Thank you Goddess of Patience! Thank you Blocker Tie Rings! Thank you Janice for leaving your trailer!

Not only did Star load, he stayed. He sniffed. He stuck his head out the side door. He nibbled. He leaned into my fingers at his favorite scratch spots and batted his eyes. He turned his head this way and that. He backed out a few steps, then came forward. Then he stayed again…for awhile.

And then he asked… “Hay girl…where’s the TV?”

I was so happy with this headway (wimpy pun), I promised we’d watch the next Panthers game together.

It was the same feeling I had at age 14, when I won four blue ribbons and then grand champion, in a horse show at summer camp. It was hard work and team effort then, and no less so today. With the same huge feeling of accomplishment.

And trust. Gotta have trust.

Check out the Star-dude…in Photos of the Day…POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_1

Head out da door…four on da floor…

POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_2

“You coming?”POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_3

“Where’s the TV?”POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_4

“Love my little apartment…where are my slippers?”POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_5

“So when are we going?”
POTD_15_11_24_Star_load_6

Lookin’ like Turkey Day…you hot-red-headed-turkey-you.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – STAR TREKS – November 20, 2015

Star Treks; definition

To Boldly Go Where No Horse Has Gone Before…

I’m tellin’ ya…I am wiped out from being a Star Treks groupie.

That horse! We have logged some miles this week.

Once Star and I trekked down together this morning, we had a good, short session. He loaded immediately in the trailer, and then over and over again…so long as there was a grain bucket waiting in the bowels of that cave from hell.

Attitudes flared when there was no food in sight. I decided to end on a good note and return for a different sort of afternoon session, with Recluse Man’s help.

After trekking up first thing this morning to get Star, he and I Star Trekked back down and through the creek, as we passed all kinds of ghosts in the wind and monsters in the creek. After our first session, I decided to leave Star in the lower paddock until session number two. No more Star Trekking! I chained the fence, figuring I’d return in a couple of hours.

I did.

And dang if that horse hadn’t Star Trekked right over the fence and on to higher grounds.

Just as I pulled up, I caught sight of him leading the troops around the very last and highest bend in sight. When I shouted out, he looked my way with his ears pricked, then did a quick 180º (my heart skipped a beat), then did any even faster 180º (my heart thudded), and continued to lead his troops…up.

No doubt with a smirk on his green lips.

Feckin’ trekkin’!!!

Then Recluse Man texted to say he’d be home after dark.

I was bummed. I had really hoped to move Star tomorrow, but I think we need at least one more session before he’ll quietly and fully load.

For Photos of the Day…a look at what Star Treks are all about…POTD_15_11_20_1

I was thinking…hmmm…not high enough to drive…I’ll just do the Star Trek…POTD_15_11_20_2

He made me trek alright…POTD_15_11_20_3

It started out as a quiet descent…we were singing…’Trekking…like the doo-da man…’POTD_15_11_20_4

Peace and Love…from a Star Trekking groupie…POTD_15_11_20_5

…then…Star Trekker snorted…”YIKES!!!…MUST STOP! ..there’s a ghost-dog way up top…”POTD_15_11_20_6

…then later I snorted…”No dude…the Star Trek does not end here…”
POTD_15_11_20_7

We were finally trekking nice and easy through the creek…POTD_15_11_20_8

But on the way out?POTD_15_11_20_8

“SHARKS IN THE WATER!”POTD_15_11_20_9

Star Trekker… “I saw a SHARK…I know I DID!!!”POTD_15_11_20_10

Me…”That was a minnow silly boy…”POTD_15_11_20_11

Check out the Star Trekker stride!!POTD_15_11_20_12

After our session…we parted in peace.

(notice the fence separating Star from his friends and a beckoning trek)POTD_15_11_20_13

They were so far away when I returned, even when I threatened by screaming…

“SET PHASERS TO STUN”

…it seemed Highly Illogical.

 

 

 

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