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.

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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.

 

 

 

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.)

Sombrero Potato

A week ago (Feb. 21, 2013) Jdubs and I were out feeding the cattle.  As we were looking for our last herd, we came upon a momma cow that had just given birth to her calf. She hadn’t even delivered the placenta yet.

Momma cow just had this calf moments before we spotted her.

We approached the pair, very carefully, because you never really know how a new momma will react, even if you “know” the animal. Momma cow was looking a little nervous but settled quickly.  We sat close to the calf and watched him for a few moments. Then on occasion the Almighty lets us see a little miracle… This newborn calf stood up and took his first steps and we got to witness it.

A precious moment caught with my trusty iPhone. This baby calf took his first steps.
Just learning to stand up … I’ve probably seen thousands of first steps by newborn calves, but I’m always amazed, every time I see it.
Jdubs put his hand out and the calf came to him. Newborn calves don’t see well for a few days, until their eyes adjust to seeing light after nine months in total darkness.

A few minutes later he stumbled over to his momma and took his first suckle of colostrum. It was a precious moment and one that was worth a thousand hours in a classroom. These are the things that can’t be taught.  They have to be experienced, witnessed.

The first taste of milk … the hard-wired instincts are amazing to watch in nature.

We couldn’t stay long because the rest of the herd began to show up, which made momma cow really anxious. And she was hungry too. Momma cow and the rest of the herd haven’t had much grass to eat– we’re at the tail end of winter, just as the spring grasses begin to grow, not to mention the long-standing drought.  Our cattle really look forward to and rely on the high-protein cubes we feed daily.

We led and fed the herd a short distance from the pair. When we circled back around to count heads, momma cow and calf had rejoined the herd.

We departed the pasture double-time, no need to freak out the newborn calf, that can’t see with the loud feed truck and noisy, bawling herd.

I’m wondering what the conversation is going on between these two?

At the gate, I asked Jdubs if he had thought of a name for the calf. He very nonchalantly said, “his name should be Sombrero Potato.” I asked where that came from. He said, “the name comes from Mexico, mom. And he has a Mexican name.” And thus, we have Sombrero Potato. (I declined to point out that the Spanish word for potato is “papas.”)

Meet Sombrero Potato