“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3, 2014



My most often mouse clicked prompt might be the “skip this ad” button that clears off the ads on most every You Tube video. I imagine that there are some persons who don’t mind the advertisements and to others they might even be helpful, yet I feel my space has been trespassed without permission. I didn’t invite these annoying neighbors into my home – they walked into the front door on their own without knocking. At least for now I can ask them to leave, and most do.

For a few years I have toyed with the idea to write down every ad that I see in a day, just to see how many I am exposed to. I would include advertisements from TV, internet sites, billboards, print, radio, email, mail, and on and on. The sources are unlimited. Ads and persuasions are everywhere.

I have actually started this count a few times on my way to work in the morning, only to realize how big this project really could become. Just looking at signage along the roadside I have seen up to 15 or more advertisements in the first few minutes and first few miles. If I turned on the car radio at the same time, counting would get out of hand. I haven’t come up with a way to record the ads I see and hear fast enough to write them all down.

With all the types of media that are available today, it’s impossible to live a life without persuasions. Of course, in some cases, as with Pandora Radio, one can pay a monthly fee to listen to music ad free- of course, this is advertised too!

When one really begins to pay attention, it’s hard to find a space on earth that isn’t filled up with something to grab your attention. Even here at the farm, thinking I am alone weeding between rows, the banner planes are flying over.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 2014

Before vegetables and horses and goats, but not before chickens, I grew daylillies and a few other types of perennial flowers here. I  put them on a stand out on the highway to sell them based upon the honor system - take a plant, leave the payment in the "bird house" payment box. It only half worked - people did take the plants, but...

Trying to be as Quakerly as I could I stayed with it for a few years believing that there were enough honest people out there in the world and I could absorb a lost plant here and there...but one day I walked out to the stand and every plant was gone and the "birdhouse" payment box was empty.

To this day I will never forgot the empty feeling that was left inside of me.

I kept a few of the daylillies, cone flowers, and black eyed susies and planted them around the house in different beds. Over the years we have added a few new perennials - mostly for the butterflies and bees. I have been walking around the house these past days and have done my best to capture them in bloom.
















Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014



Waiting out the thunderstorm, I stayed in the stable. I finished brushing Lou and unclipped him, and while turning him into his stall, he stepped on my foot and pivoted all of his 1100 (plus or minus a few) pounds on me…it definitely wasn’t the first time this has ever happened, and it was definitely a lot less painful than the 10 stitches to my face or the broken ribs of the past, but still, the toes on my right foot will still be throbbing for days… I can never get mad at the big galoot though, never can. He stepped off my foot and bent his head back to look at me with his brown, wet eye as if to say he was sorry, gave me a nuzzle and lumbered off to his hay…I just gave him a hug and limped back to the house in the rain. Maybe not everyone understands, but I think most of you who love and live their days with animals get it. Love and forgiveness over come any pain, physical or emotional. Its another life lesson that Lou has given back to me.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014

I was walking out to the stable yesterday when this guy came over the trees from the direction of the Tuckahoe River and circled over the pasture, showing off his catch. I was nervous and fumbling with the camera because I never had an “eagle opportunity” like this before -I don’t even know how I got it in the viewfinder, I was shaking so much!

Eagles are getting more common in this area and they are no longer rare to see, but most times when I do see one I don’t have my camera with me, or if I do, the eagle is too high or too far away for my lens to bring it in close enough for a decent shot. Even this shot was border line for my lens, which is why I am so glad it came out as well as it did.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of eagles in Woodbine at Still-a-Hill when I am riding. The other day when I was warming up Cruiser I saw a pair, maybe a mating pair, flying low over the trees and then circling on the up drafts until they faded from view. The experience is the inspiration for the haiku that I end this post with.

There are so many turkey buzzards in the skies over there that it’s easy to assume that all the large birds overhead are all just turkey buzzards. I have learned to pick the eagles out from the turkey buzzards and am surprised that almost every week I see one or two, or even more, eagles there.

And we do see them here at our farm, like I did yesterday, but not quite so often, and rarely, if ever, so close circling overhead. I can only keep hoping for the day that this becomes common, and I don’t get so nervous with my camera because I will know that this wont be my only chance to get a decent shot.

afternoon on horseback
eagles float across the sky
 two leaves play tag on a stream

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 2014

Cuban Devil, April 27, 2014, prior to the 5th race


The 5th Race

back legs chained and shackled
winched up into the trailer and
transferred to a refrigerated truck
until arrangements are decided, if they hadn’t been already. because it happens.
bones break all the time I am told.

not a hush
a line grows to place bets, the sixth race, simply delayed
without explanation.
just enough time for another beer
the party has too much momentum
to stop for such things. to care for such things. call to the post is near.
the trumpeter neatens his red velvet coat and tails

I asked an unshaped man, eyes locked to the racing form
“which one was it?”
“its just the way it goes” and he stepped aside
 disappearing sideways through a slim crease in the paddock crowd

monday I found the race results in the paper
it read
5th race
Cuban Devil, raced outside, broke down on the turn
and was humanely euthanized
it was the only epitaph there would be. 



Afterword
Last Sunday was the first time I ever went to the track; it was the first time I saw a live horse race. I went to see the horses and take photos, not necessarily to see the races. 
Besides the Triple Crown, I really have no interest in horse racing. 
Prior to the race, the horses were walked in a ring so everyone could see them. Each horse was led around a mulched circle a few times with its handler, and then the horse was “saddled” and the jockey jumped on, and the horses were walked around a few more times before heading to the track, and to the starting gate.
I randomly took pictures of some of the horses as they were being walked, including one of Cuban Devil. 
We didn’t see Cuban Devil’s accident on the turn, as the inside track is walled by privet hedges that blocked most of the view from where we were standing. It was also far enough away that we couldn’t make out all that was happening, but we could catch a few glimpses.
From where we were we saw the horse limping and a horse trailer pulled by a pickup and another car driving to the scene. I watched the horse fall and then the horse trailer was backed up towards that spot. Kath and I knew what that meant.
There are injuries in every sport- athletes get concussions, torn ligaments etc. Last year a basketball player for Louisville snapped his leg in two during the NCAA tournament. Injuries are a part of sports, and horse racing is no different. The exception is that humans can heal from most injuries while horses can’t. A broken leg is fatal to a horse – even all that was done for Barbaro still could not save him.
What struck me though was by how cold the process seemed – especially that the crowd never quieted, but partied just as if nothing was happening; the dead horse didn’t matter to the crowd or the bettors, although I have to believe it did to someone. Some one had to have loved that horse. The only announcement that came was that the 6th race would be delayed a few minutes.
The entire incident still bothers me, foremost that the horse had to be euthanized, but also because I think that Cuban Devil deserved better from the crowd -a moment of silence, something said…something to show that his life mattered.

Note: Cuban Devil’s grandsire was Sunday Silence, winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 22, 2014



I took this picture last night out side of Tractor supply. 11 bags of chicken, goat, and horse feed, and on another cart not pictured were other supplies. This was a bit less feed than what we normally buy every three weeks, as we had a few bags of goat and chicken feed still left unopened at home. Not pictured is the pickup filled with 25 bales of hay that we also go through in about three weeks, but had gotten last weekend.

In the store, waiting in the aisle while Kath was looking for clippers for Zippy, I was looking down at the loaded cart and thinking that this is the result of two chickens, and I smiled a bit at how things come to be.

Back around ’99 a chef gave me two pullets from his flock for me to take home. We named the girls Bob and Homer, and set them up in the backyard with a plywood hut made of scrap and the fenced in yard to range in. Because of the fun we had with these two gals, soon came more baby chicks and then pet ducks for the kids, and the plywood box was now set in a large, netted run I had built to contain them all and keep them safe, as raccoons, possums, and hawks realized that my back yard was just as good as an Acme as far as they were concerned. Luckily, the neighbors didn’t care, and I think they had a few laughs over the farm in our back yard. The Owners Association never came by…I think they liked the novelty of it all.

As you could expect, the backyard got smaller and smaller as we dreamed bigger and bigger.

So we bought the farm where we now live, and named it Seventeen Farms. Seventeen was always a favorite number, so I used it as the name.

To make a long story short, because I think everyone knows the story from here, we added horses, goats and bees, along with a garden market with a hoop house.We haven't had one regret.

It’s interesting as how something as innocuous as a few friendly chickens evolved into what we have now. Waiting in that aisle I couldn’t help but to think back to the days when there were no trips to Tractor Supply, but to a little local feed store when once a month, or maybe it was every six weeks, I would buy one bag of chicken feed. It was all I needed back then.

I also began to think of friends who have visited the farm and have now begun to raise their own chickens, wondering if in a few more years will I see them at Tractor Supply every few weeks with a cart as loaded up as ours….

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

January Skies

I have always had a love affair with the sky. It is forever changing and evolving; it is never still and never the same. Something is always happening. I spend a lot of time looking at the sky and everything in it – clouds, birds, stars, planes, colors, etc. Most photographs I take are of the sky. Even taken seconds apart, the pictures are always different, which fascinates me.

Last December (2013) I posted an album called November Skies that were taken looking southwest ward at the sunset from the stable, including a few from beneath the sweet gum trees growing in the yard. This series, January Skies, were taken from basically the same spot at the stable, in a span of nine minutes.



In the case of theses shots, like most, its all haphazard. When I head out to the stable (I spend a lot of time there) I take my camera with me and just lay it on a hay bale in the midway. I usually just go about cleaning stalls, sweeping, or grooming, or whatever (sometimes I just sit out there with the horses and read and listen to music - its my down time, and that's another story for sometime ahead), but every now and then I glimpse out a stall window or stable door and something gets my attention - a flock of geese, a jet trail, clouds, a hawk, or like in this case, a sunset, and I grab my camera and try to capture it. Most times I miss, but every so often, everything in the moment fits.