Some days I really miss the silliness of Mama E and her Pips.
(Cheech and Chong got nuttin’ on these mustaches!)
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!
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’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!
It’s not often Pockets meets someone her size. She’s so little.
In fact…she’s so little she can walk under Gypsy’s belly.
She’s so little when she jumps on Grayson’s butt, she’s only three feet tall.
She’s so little she would not be allowed on a carousel.
She’s so little, she would be a carry-on with the Mule Train…(‘scuse me…the Ponkey Train)
OK. You get the point.
So it’s an extra special thing when Pockets gets to hang with a little person…they are far and few between around this farm.
For Photos of the Day (because I cannot choose a favorite)…see how happy Pockets is with Miss Kessler…her new found little person friend…I kinda melt looking at these photos..…and then I wonder…that Pockets sure has a BIG head……that’s full of wonkey-ponkey-luv…. Total sweetness. Go Little Peeps.
And now …GO PANTHERS!!! It’s SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!!!!
Photo of the Day comes with a little conversation I overheard….Grayson (natural brown pony on right)…”What has happened to my honkey ponkey?…my lil sugar-booger?..my dream cream bean? You look like a two-tone low rider! I must search now to nibble the honkey in the ponkey!”
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!