Cow #17

March is a little bit of the off season for photographing weddings. So, in looking through my pictures, I have decided to add a random post about a cow named #17. She’s friends with #16 and #11.

It all started one fall day when I drove past this beautiful valley filled with cows grazing in the cooling fall air. I decided to pull over for a moment just to watch them.

I caught the eye of #17.

In only a few moments, there was a herd of the spotted beasts with their big gentle eyes heading my way.

Instead of me watching them, they decided to watch me.

I’m not sure who was watching what. But I do know I am not capable of licking my own nostril.

And this concludes this evening’s random picture post in my slow season.

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Frizzles and a Silky

I am now the proud owner of some young frizzles. I happen to think frizzles are adorable. But, I also really like to say “Frizzle”.

A frizzle is a type of chicken with feathers that are inverted, so they curl out instead of lying flat.

When these young frizzle chicks grow up, they will have feathers curling up all over their pretty selves.

Frizzle. Frizzle. Frizzle.

Most importantly, my boys love the frizzles too! They love watching the frizzles scratch around in their brooder.

We also have a silky — another type of chicken — with silk-like feathers.

They look sort of poufy and are quite soft.

The boys have named this one Cotton.

Cotton has won the heart of my oldest boy.

I’m excited to be able to add these little sweet-hearts to my flock once they get a little bigger and the weather finally warms a bit.

The Colors of Pokemon

My son had a birthday recently.

He turned 8.

He wanted a Pokémon Party.

Pokémon party supplies are hard to find, so I decided to follow the Pokémon color scheme… which is tons of really vivid, fun and super bright colors.

The main activity at this party of little boys was to decorate a Pokémon mask using a wide variety of supplies. In bright colors of course!

We had pipe cleaners and glue…

Puffy things and stickers…

…and tape which his always hard for little fingers…

…and markers in all of the colors.

The boys had fun and their masks were as unique as them and every bit as colorful as their wonderful personalities.

They all relaxed on the reclining couch for about a minute after.

Then, out they went to feed the animals while they waited for their big people to pick them up.

Perfect little gentlemen they were! I am happy to report that my son had a wonderful birthday with his friends that I am sure he will tuck away with his favorite memories of childhood (and I will save the day in my memories as well).

Donkey Dentistry

Last week, I noticed the hay in my barn was not being consumed as rapidly as usual. So, a vet was called to check out my donkeys and horse.

Upon further inspection, it was apparent that one of the donkeys, Nellie, needed some dental work…

That was when the afternoon got interesting.

In order to work on the teeth of a donkey, the donkey needs to let you and in order for that to happen, the donkey needs to be relaxed. In order for the donkey to relax with a hand and tools in her mouth, she needs a “relaxer”.

So, a sedative was provided and sweet Nellie’s mouth was opened with a metal guard to keep her from biting down – similar to what a human dentist would use when conducting tooth x-rays.

She was also put into a rope system to keep her head up. My father and I held her in place and helped guide her during the procedure.

My dad held her head and I…

I got to hold her pink, squishy, grass-stained tongue in place.

A long electric grinder with a guard to prevent injury was used to shape the teeth. The teeth were smoothed and sanded down in moments. It was a learning experience as well as a necessity for the donkey.

The grinder was loud.

Grinding teeth… the sound made me cringe.

Her front teeth were shaped next with a guard allowing access to them.

It was very quickly over and the lovely Nellie got to chill in the pasture for a while until the sedatives wore off. Then she made her way to the barn and gobbled up her hay.

It was a very interesting day, for sure.

Giving Thanks

Last year on Thanksgiving I found myself celebrating alone with my kids. As someone who is used to family get-togethers of around 30 people, it was strange to think it would be un-special. So, I asked my boys what they were thankful for. We made a list. Then, we gave those things back to others who did not have them.

Apparently, our “Giving Thanks” day made a huge impression on them. This year, when we were talking about our plans with family to have a traditional dinner, the boys spoke up and demanded we do “Giving Thanks” again.

So, we did. And we were joined by another sweetie to help with the giving.

Here’s how it went down:

We are thankful for our animals and that we can give them a happy home. But, there are so many out there who do not have a warm, safe place to curl up. So, we visited the local SPCA where dogs and kitties live in hopes of someday finding people to love.

We brought the fuzzy critters some goodies.

It brought a wag to some tails for sure. (I believe this beauty is looking for a person to love, by the way…)

Next, we were thankful for our families. There are lots of sweet people who were not able to share the day with their families. We found some of these people at a senior citizen assisted living complex.

We brought them some large print word puzzles and they were extremely happy to get the gifts and so beyond excited to talk to children.

Our kiddos were very touched by them. One sweetheart lady was once a young, vivacious actress in China. So many amazing stories there for sure.

Next, we were thankful for our health. There are many pure, yet fragile little souls in the world. So, we headed off to find them in the hospital.

We left them a huge stack of coloring books and crayons.

Of course, we are also very thankful for our homes. There are lots of people who do not have a safe, warm home — and a lot of them have children just like our children. So, off to the homeless shelter we headed with teddy bears and stuffed critters galore.

Strangely enough, we had exactly the same amount of stuffed animals as there were kids there. One for each. Our children handed them out themselves. One little girl asked, just to be sure, if that teddy bear was really for her to keep.

What I can say about our morning is this:

1. I feel a little guilty about our Giving Thanks day because I am actually getting more out of it than I feel like I am really giving.

2. After taking a few hours to see with my own eyes how many out there have so very little, I feel very thankful for what I do have. It is a self-reflection of my life under a very powerful microscope for sure.

3. The conversations we all had with our kids after were breathtaking. I listened to my children tell their grandparents about what we did today. The exuberance they used in the retelling, mixed with their sense of pride that they could help people (even if just a little) was a gift.

4. At bedtime tonight, my boys told me they wanted to do it again next year. And so, they have given me a gift and I believe I have given one to them as well.

Somehow, I have accidentally started a new tradition. This year, we doubled in size by adding another family. I feel overwhelmed with thankfulness as I get ready for bed tonight.

The New Girls on the Block

A couple of lovely ladies have moved in.

They have big ears

and nobby knees

and soft gentle noses.

I can honestly say I never ever wanted one… until I met them.

It’s hard not to like them.

They’re loving and gentle with kids and a little bit shy.

They LOVE to be scratched.

And they are a little bit curious.

So far, they seem to like it here behind their farm fence and big red barn.

The other residents here are taking their time getting used to them.

But I think they are a perfect fit for the family.

My Slightly Unusual Fascination With Bugs

Aside from weddings and people, I am madly in love with macro photography. I love to get really close to tiny things. I love the colors and geometric shapes of insects and flowers and the small side of nature. It’s a problem for me because I live in a woodsy place that is filled with insects. So, I am constantly running in to grab my camera to snap pictures of a cool bug I find. Sometimes, I just wander around looking for them with camera in hand.

And, in case you were wondering… When I was a kid, my father and I started an extremely large bug collection. We gathered them, euthanized them, and pinned them into a glass and wood-framed display case my dad built for me. I then drew them and researched them and compiled a book of the various bugs I had collected. YES, I DO NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP. I loved it and love bugs still. The difference is that now, I photograph them in all of their glorious colors.

So, now that you have the background on my strange fascination, here are some macro bugs I found recently:

A painted lady on my daisies.

A pollen-covered beetle.

This little spider was soooo small that he looked like a spec of dust to the naked eye.

Tomato worm (Note: He was put to good use as a feast for my chickens… after he had devoured most of a tomato plant).

Katydid.

A swallowtail with slightly shredded wings. Tattered, but still pretty.

My little boy knows I love to take pictures of bugs. So, when he found this dead dragonfly, he was all sorts of excited to surprise me. He saved it all day long and then when I saw him, told me that he had something for me that I could take a picture of. Little sweetie. I love him so.