Images of Arcadia

Occasionally, I get to stand in for my dad and play cowgirl on the family ranch. I love being outside, tending to the critters. When you are doing something, you usually can show something for it. Here are a few highlights from the last seven days. It demonstrates how extreme the weather cycle can be here in North Texas. 79 degrees down to 18 then back to 68, a dusting of snow, a light rain and one blustery day with winds gusting upwards to 40mph.

A week ago it was a very cold night on top of a light dusting of snow. The bitter cold nipped back even the hardiest of the winter vegetables.

 

A few days later it was sunny and 60 degrees. This is a funny picture of the cows at chow time.

A new baby in the pasture. It’s always so sweet to see a new calf, especially a pretty and healthy one like this. My boy named her Marney (like Barney but with an “M,” he says.)

 

Yesterday we got a little over an inch of desperately-needed rain. As soon as the rain stopped, the chickies went looking for waterlogged worms.

Big-Girl Camera: The Sky and the Lens

Today the sky was beautiful. The high, wispy clouds and bright sun and blue, blue sky, made everything seem to drip in light. I’m a hobby photographer, with a very good friend who loaned me her lovely [and expensive] lenses.

Occasionally I can make my images represent what my eyeball actually sees. And sometimes, I can frame an image that I couldn’t have seen without the camera.

Today I experimented with wide angel and telephoto lenses.

I’m standing in basically the same spot; I did adjust and position my body to frame the photo. I started by trying to capture agriculture in action with the beef cattle in the foreground and the tractor planting wheat in the background.

But I ended up going to school in the difference between the two lenses, which is remarkable. Can you see it, too?

These next four photographs are not cropped or edited other than adding text labels for a visual point of reference. (they are also saved down into smaller files for web publishing).

Telephoto: I can’t get all the cattle in the shot. And look at how “flat” the sky appears.

Wide angle: amazingly all the cattle fit in the shot– all I did was change the lens. And you can see both tractors. Notice how “curved” the image looks. Much closer to the way our eyeballs see the world.

Telephoto: I repositioned to catch the tractor as he made another pass, and to frame out the parked tractor and hay bale.

 

Wide angle: The tractor is farther away (he was moving the whole time I was shooting). Notice the difference in the color saturation the wide angel captures v. the telephoto– how blue, blue the sky is.

And the sun flare – I would have been marked down at least 10 points in Ashton’s photo journalism class at Texas Tech. I personally love the sun flare in photos like this one.

 

My favorite sky images from the day: the wide angle wins for today and does the best job at capturing the glorious sky.

 

 

 

A Good Egg

“And a big white hen standing on one leg. And under the hen was a quiet egg,” a line from one of our most treasured board books, The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.

Today was a momentous day for our little backyard flock of four hens. It was a day we’ve been waiting for… for 21 weeks since they hatched.

Someone laid the first egg, ever!

It was a small, perfectly shaped, light brown egg. I’m fairly certain it came from Dexter since she is the only one squatting and singing a clucking, egg-laying song. But there were both red and black feathers in the nesting box, so it could be Tollie, our one red chicken.

The first egg ever!

 

Backyard Opossum, Oh No!

Tonight I got quite a fright when I went to check on my backyard flock of hens. There he was looking at me with his eyes flashing back like highway reflectors—a opossum! He just stood there frozen still with his mouth open. That saying, “playing possum,” is true. He didn’t even flinch when we moved suddenly in his close proximity.

Playin’ Possum is an involuntary response, like fainting. What would happen if you had both fainting goats and opossums?

 

I saw this devil-animal incarnate a week ago when I heard his scratchy paws on the tree bark, thinking it sounded strange for a neighborhood cat. (we have tons of alley cats around us). When I located the critter he was high in the backyard tree.

The opossum is often misspelled as “possum,” and is so common, that it’s an accepted way to spell it. Opossums are marsupials, not rodents. Like kangaroos, opossums give birth to offspring early in the gestation cycle. The baby opossum crawls into the mother’s pouch, attaches to a teat and nurses through the last stages of its gestation.

As for our backyard opossum, as soon as he had a chance, he ambled along and climbed the tree. I’m sure he’ll be back, so we’ll have to set a trap soon, because opossums and chickens are not simpatico.

Up, up, up into the tree he goes.

 

 

Cooking with Kids: Apple Love Pie & Garlic Toast

When I was a girl I wanted an Easy Bake Oven so badly. My mother just said, “here, you can cook with a real oven.” And then she helped me make cookies. That began my love of baking and it lit my sweet tooth on fire. So when my son wanted an Easy Bake Oven, I guided him to cook for real.

We cook a lot in our household. And it’s natural that our son wants to cook too. I’ve always included him when he was interested, letting him peel carrots, helping him make “stew,” and just letting him create “concoctions” with our amply stocked spice cabinet. I’ve even used a box cake (dare I say it out loud) so that he can say he did it all by himself.

Today he really wanted to cook and create. He announced his after school snack should be garlic toast. So we made garlic toast.

 

He wanted to cook more, and I had several apples that needed to be used. He wanted to make a pie, but halfway through, he said he wanted to make cut-out cookies.

We came up with the best of both worlds by making a pastry top with cut-out heart shapes. We called it our Apple Love Pie. (Complete with the pie bird.)

Apple Love Pie

 

Backyard Chickens

Just a few photos from my backyard flock. I have a post series planned about how I went-and-lost-my-mind, and now-I-have-chickens.

 

Edna – soon to be the roo who goes to live with Nanny.

 

Buddy—the chicken who clucks a lot and sounds like a Kung Fu fighter.

 

One of the greatest photo bombs ever! Way to go, Sapphire. (And yes, that is my patio furniture doubling as a roost.)