Summer has returned and so have I.
Yes Please…bring it on!
Summer has returned and so have I.
Yes Please…bring it on!
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…
…took him down to the barn and gave him some chalk and introduced him to his model…
His creative juices started flowing…
Pockets loved her modeling job…
…and that Recluse Michel-MAN-gelo…such talent!
Of course…there is no tail. Just you wait.
Let the party begin!!
That’s Toots greeting Jessica on the left, Nate, and mama Suzy…and a huge bag of carrots!
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…
The pink and purple girls…Suzanne and Pockets…I 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…Dakota in dreads…with the sun shining over her head…Let’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!
Next up…Jessica…Check her out! I love her Lost Unicorn shirt…
Sabrina……you rock that tail girl!
Nate…he’s a stellar football player with a soft spot for the Pips…Hmmm…that’s a tailback position!
And then it was my turn…I asked Jessica to turn me once……I was lucky to find the barn door!You might say…I don’t know my ass from a barn door…
Then along comes smarty-pants Suzanne……who could barely find the barn……but was smart enough to locate the other tails…
We took down the tails.
Nice try Mama E…are you pinning the tail on the patella?
Some of the adults were too grown-up to bother…in other words…they were drinking beer in the shade…Did I say…Grown-Up?We did get Allie…Tim..…and Suzy to pin that tail!
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 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.
Please meet #1 (Gypsy on left) and #2 (Star on right) mowers….
#3 mower (D.O.G.) is in the distance, and is much loved but obviously does not have the horsepower the others do…
#2 mower has a halter on because he went AWOL several weeks ago, while he was solo mowing. Apparently there was a mower in heat down the road.Watch as #1 mower teaches #2 mower where to refuel…
Normally I break up the carrots but this was one-handed shooting for effects…#2 mower looks a little dorky with burrs in his forelock…ya think?
Oh Boy…high octane carrots!
Self-serve was available…but they seemed to prefer full-serve at the porch fuel station…#2 mower inquired about having his teeth scratched…he’s weird that way…
Talk about full service!
Little did #1 and #2 mowers realize as they chomped their fuel…
#3 mower was fast approaching…well maybe not fast by your standards…As far as I know…#2 mower had never had an up-close and personal encounter with #3 mower…
#2 mower looked to #1 mower for direction…#2 mower decided not to follow course……when suddenly #3 mower changed direction…
I caught up with #3 mower…who btw…was still sporting the remains of a pink pedicure…
I offered a full-service-on-the-hill refuel…
#3 mower was much obliged…
…until #2 mower came into the picture…That #3 mower sure can cut a turn…Poor #3! Can’t a mower refuel in peace?
Is this fuel wars or turf wars?
#3 mower can really skedaddle when he needs to!
Perhaps #2 mower had never seen #3 mower at full speed…he was amazed!Quickly, any fuel or turf wars were settled.
The mowers were feeling well maintained and revving to go…
Off to do their duties they went singing… ‘You Go Your Way…I’ll Go Mine’…
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.
…but Pockets much preferred the striking ‘one ear out’ look…
“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…
I swear we did not give that ponkey a mint julep…although it may appear as such…
“WEAD MY EAW…ONE MINT JOOWUP PWEESE!!!!”Well at least pull up your socks and put your bonnet on straight!
“MINT JOOWUP NOW!”
Straighten up you PAWKY PONKEY! Let’s go to the races!
‘IS DIS DA STAHTING GATE?” (BIG snort)“OK OK…I’M WEADY TO BE A WACEHOSS!”
Elizabeth had been training Pockets to follow the carrot stick…
Sometimes the races get off to a slow start…
…and the trainer gets more of a workout…
Go Elizabeth! Git along Lil Ponkey!!!!
Pockets was curious. She was just warming up. “WAT WONG WIF YOU?”Suzanne to the rescue…that girl is an athlete!!!
Hither and yon they ran…at least as ‘yon’ as you can get in a round pen…
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!
RACE OVER!!! POCKETS CAUGHT THE CARROT STICK! WOOT!It had been a marvelous Derby Day. Everyone was exhausted. Or so we thought.
“PWEESE CAN I HAVE A MINT JOOWUP?”
PS…see you tomorrow
There are plenty of documentary photos from the attempted trailer loading of my friend Star today. However…I would rather not edit them now and be reminded of the hours we spent futily trying to load that stubborn mule.
I had the very best of help with Team Trailer Star…thanks to Karen, Janice, Elizabeth, and Recluse Man. I thought Recluse Man might ride away on Buck while we weren’t watching. I mean…he had big feelings for that horse. But there was no breaking up Star-Buck today.
After more than two hours of rearing and balking and roping and walking…we chose to leave the trailer behind.
I will work with Star tomorrow…hopefully getting him adjusted and loading in the trailer with no big distractions.
Team Trailer Star and I would rather have it go peacefully and naturally…even if it takes a few days…rather than use force and fear tactics.
But keep in mind…YOU STUBBORN MULE…THE FORCE IS WITH US!!!!
So there’s your stubborn mule Photo of the Day.
For Photo of the Day…here is Star, (my wish), in the lead during this afternoon’s round-up. What is it about this horse?? He’s a scrawny-doofus-goofball…yet I am smitten…
Elizabeth helped me herd the horsies to a lower paddock at their farm a few miles away. The plan is to load Star on a trailer bound for my farm, first thing tomorrow morning.
Wishes be true!!! I will have the whole winter to work with him and love on him and train him.
The light this afternoon was striking. The sun was so low, even though only 3 pm. Such a blue sky and crisp shadows. It was a wacky-wonderful round-up shoot-and-visit.
Wish I had the energy to share more photos.
No…I take that back. I only have one wish for tonight.
See you tomorrow Mr. Star-light.
Coming around the bend this morning, on my way to Tucker farm for a date with a handsome three year old named Dart, I ran into a roadblock. Well not exactly. I rather thought the roadblock might run into me.
I slammed on my brakes and jumped out of my car with my camera in hand….shaking my head…muttering, “Oh Brother.” (love to mutter)
I recognized these roadblocks. In fact a few years ago I corralled these very roadblocks. They live on the other side of a ridge, in the next valley over from the funny farm. Twice that day, the owners, including four kids of varying sizes, had to come get their roadblocks and lead them home.
They sure were beautiful this morning. I had to have some fun shooting these guys before I found someone to call the owners.
For Photos of the Day…sometimes they run right in front of me!!!
Here is what I drove up on. This is when I said, “Oh Brother….I know these roadblocks.”
Are the roadblocks headed my way? I know they are friendly…
Wait a minute…they are not roadblocks….they are rush hour traffic…in a mighty big rush!!!
I had a strong urge to get out there and run with them…
Well maybe I did…
I could hear them…WE ARE FREE!!!!
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!!
WHAT A SHOW IT WAS!Ashe County roadblocks and rush hour..now that’s country living!
…on my way home, it was good to see the roadblocks were safely back in their pasture… behind a mangled gate.
Tom Brady has nothing on my tribe when it comes to deflate-gate. After Freeka’s Funny Farm experienced its own deflate-gate, I know first hand. I was the interrogator, and lemme tell ya, my interrogatees were way slicker than any four time Super Bowl champ.
It all started last winter when I got the Pips an amazing Stacy Westfall purple pony ball with a durable, protective cover, designed to give many months and even years of entertainment. Elizabeth and I were brimming with excitement when we introduced the ball to the Pips. We taught them the rules of soccer and had a few pick-up games and it was great fun and a good way to warm up in the winter.
The Pips were fiercely competitive……Pockets liked to chomp and run the ball…
…she had some weird defensive moves……and she let us know when it was a bad call……and played dead when she didn’t get her way…Poor Grayson couldn’t take all the drama.
(weren’t they just the cutiest patooties at seven months old?)
I think we made it through one month before deflate-gate occurred. Ironically, it was right around Super Bowl. My Linguini-dog looked awfully guilty. But so did a Pip or two. Or was it Gypsy? I interrogated everybody who had been in contact with the purple ball, but of course they all denied any wrongdoing. Very coincidentally and shortly after, they all destroyed their smart phones. I was never able to get a confession or any hard proof.
“Oh My Gwad,” said Pockets … “Wadawegondoo?” She was not the main suspect and I felt her pain…missing that purple ball and all. We tried a few patching techniques but nothing held. The purple ball was folded up and lowered in rank on the ‘to doo’ list, as Pockets calls it.
Then one day Mama E showed up with a new gray ball! I had my doubts it would last through one game. But like Elizabeth said, “So what if it pops, it was cheap! We’ll get another.” And another and another? Could we get prettier colors? Boy, I’m starting to sound like Pockets. There would be no interrogating if this one deflated. It would be death from natural and purposeful causes.
We introduced the new ball and set the rules. Each face-plant counted as one point. Simple as that. No goal lines. No yard lines. Just face-plants. Elizabeth and I would ref the game, and document it for the benefit of modern equine science. I just made that up….but I like the idea.
Off we go….
Grayson immediately gave the ball some test chomps…Pockets was cautious, but wondered what ‘gray’ smelled like… As Mama E documented…who’s that in the distance? Recluse Man mowing around the pond? For heavens sake…somebody’s gotta do it!“Follow me,” said Elizabeth….”Let the game begin!”“Harumph,” said Pockets … (have you ever heard a ponkey say ‘harumph?’…. it’s quite funny)Grayson wanted to encourage his beloved ponkey, but teased her instead…using that gwadawful ‘half-ass’ name…just knowing it would put her nickers in a knot… Mama E reviewed the rules… When Pockets deferred, it became Team Grayson’s ball… He didn’t waste anytime! NICE MOVES GRAYSON! What the heck is the ponkey looking at???Who cares? Look at that Pelé move!!! IS HE GONNA SCORE????YES!!!!!!!!! IT’S A FACE-PLANT!!!!!!TEAM GRAYSON 1…TEAM POCKETS 0!!! OK! You can stop rolling on the ball now!DO NOT POP IT …YOU SHOWOFF!!!!It’s Team Pockets ball now…Woot Woot! GO POCKETS!say waaaaah?FOUL!!!! NO BACK-KICKING!!!HAY!!!! GIT BACK HERE!!!Team Pockets was out of control, running madly around the playing field…Is Recluse Man still mowing??? Poor dude.Pockets finally settled down, then sulked in the weed patch…It was time for an intervention…. Elizabeth thinks she’s gained back some respect…Yeah right… run to mommy…you wonkey ponkey…Back to the game…Grayson makes it clear…this is his ball……and again, wastes no time…..and it’s another FACE-PLANT FOR GRAYSON!!!…he is slow to recover…or is he eating grass?..or maybe he wanted to show Team Pockets how to do it!!!TEAM GRAYSON 2…TEAM POCKETS 0!Grayson runs a victory lap…grass still in his mouth!LET’S GO AGAIN!!!
Notice the competition… far left…showing utter contempt for the gray ball…WHOA!!! SWEET MOVES!!!WHAT’S THIS??? ANOTHER FACE-PLANT!!!!
TEAM GRAYSON 3 … TEAM POCKETS 0
(ok…you can stop eating now)
Pockets goes over to congratulate her opponent…(thanks Eliz for the greeeaaaat photo)Suddenly Gypsy decides to put a spark in her little ponkey…(another good one by Elizabeth!)Up and down the field they go…that is, Grayson and Gypsy…Pockets decided to stay downfield…It was becoming quite clear…Pockets did not like the gray ball…no wonder…her color is PURPLE!I can hear her now …”I WAAAAAAH MY PUURRRPLE BALL!!!”Even Mama E couldn’t get her to play…Meanwhile…Grayson was having a gray BALL!!!! He was balling with joy!!!…for the whole world to see! (dang…if I have to look at RM mowing one more time!)AND WHAT’S THIS???? FACE-PLANT #4!!!TEAM GRAYSON 4 … TEAM POCKETS 0
The bell rings and it’s the….
END OF THE GAME!
LOOK AT THAT HAPPY PONY!!!!But JUST A MINUTE!!!! Team Pockets wants a rematch… with…you got it…a PURPLE BALL!!! (thanks Mama E for a great closing photo!)STAY TUNED FOR THE REMATCH!!!!!