Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunday Stills: Powerlines and Landscapes

Because I live in an extremely remote place where there are only 4.4 people per square mile there are not a lot of powerlines other than the ones that directly supply us and our handful of neighbors. At first I didn't think I could come up with anything for this challenge. In shooting I realized how much I have blocked them out and subject matter was there after all.

It's been such a strange week, I decided to be experimental with the photography. We've had some rain, so the clouds made it all the more interesting. These were all shot around sunset.

I knew that the lines would not photostitch smoothly, but I kind of liked their angularity and how abstract this pano of them crossing the road turned out. I'm taking an abstract quilting class next spring so some of these could be useful as ideas.

Here, the powerlines and clouds work together drawing the eye into the trees. The next three I ran through multiple filters.

This is the clear cut for the main lines bringing power into the community. I had never noticed it before and I have walked the dogs by it every day for almost a decade. It's amazing how a camera can help you see!

You can visit all the other interpretations of this challenge at Sunday Stills.

A Photo About Gain

Excuse me, but can you spare a saucer of milk?

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Photo About Loss

Had a good cry this morning seeing Teddy's empty apartment while feeding the sheep. I'm in a funk. I know she was frustrated by her physical limitations and now she is free.

A tiny kitten appeared in the carport when I got back from the vet's as if there was a vacancy sign. Maybe I can train it to eat the field mice in the pumpkin patch so I don't attract any more foxes.

This is a photo I took of Crow Poison, Nothoscordum bivalve, and altered through digital manipulation. I turned the white flowers black to show how I will miss Teddy Bird's presence.

Speaking of crows, I read an interesting article yesterday about how a UK study proved crows rival chimpanzees in their intelligence. Although these birds in the wild don't make tools, the captive crows were taught to use them in order to get their food, and when the tools were taken away, developed their own tools to do the same tasks.

Not only do animals have the capacity for love and life enjoyment, they are also a lot smarter than given credit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teddy Bird

This morning I discovered our disabled hen, Teddy Bird, had passed. As much as I would like to bury her, I feel I need to send her off for a necropsy to better understand what paralyzed her in the first place and what ended her life.

She was not in pain or visibly sick. In fact, she had a great appetite. She'd slipped during the torrential downpour the other day (usually she stayed under the covered portion when it rained) and I brought her in for a warm bath and blow dry. She was back to her normal self the next day.

You may recall, Teddy made a miraculous recovery to a shuffle-walk back in October last year, after months of physical therapy on my part. We converted the chicken tractor into her home by putting a floor on it and raising it up on legs. I checked on her needs every couple hours, and she would always purr the "I love you" sound and I would purr back. I have probably spent more time with this chicken than any of the others.

She will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Easy for You to Say

Today I came across this bright orange Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, on the ripening pods of Antelope Horns, Asclepias asperula. He was extremely shy after this first shot and I kept chasing him around the plant--on my knees in a wet ditch--but this was the best one, with him smack dab in the middle of the frame. To crop would be to lose the pod and the image is really about their relationship. Maybe tomorrow he'll warm up to me and go about his business as I go about mine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

My Aunt Elsie called today, remembering my mother's birthday. She hasn't done this in the past, but I guess by the time you are 89 you are filled with memories, and it was a good day for sharing them. My mother passed away over three decades ago.

Mom accompanied my father on some of his foreign duty during his two decades of service. So to honor them today, I have colorized one of my favorite photos of her as a young lady.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coop Door

We've learned the quickest way to bring rain in an exceptional drought is to be on holiday or begin any sizable project. Or both.

I went out to document the coop door construction and got caught in the shower.

The only dry place to hide was under the saw horse table after we stashed the tools there first. It was a little cramped.

But the fickle sun came back out, and Farmer Rick began constructing the coop door.

The inside of the door is plywood, like the rest of the coop.

But the outside is rough cedar recycled from our neighbor's deck. The painted side was turned under. 'Cuz the chickens said they will like it better that way.

What a nice rustic door! I'm so proud of Farmer Rick's ever-improving carpentry skills.

Just as he got it shimmed--with me on the inside of the coop to help hold the door--the clouds let loose again. Um, there is no roof yet, so there was no alternative than to crawl out the chicken door without messing up the shimming. One problem though, there is no handle yet on the chicken door. By the time FR got around to kick it open, yours truly was drenched.

We ran down the hill into the creek, and I decided to take the steep embankment up, only to slip and slide in the mud, making it less of the shortcut I had hoped it would be. FR got a little wet.

I got a whole lotta wet.

But it was fun. Sorta. It would have been more fun without two dislocated ribs.

The sun came back out.

The door got hung. These are temporary hinges until we find some antique barn hinges.

Here's the door from the inside.

There should be a rainbow above, we are that close to moving the chickens and reclaiming our bathroom. Next step is building the temporary roof.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sunday Stills: The Color Yellow

This week's challenge is the color yellow. Be sure to check out the other Sunday Stills photos. Also yesterday I photographed a Luna Moth on my windowsill, which was a yellow-green, so check that out too!

We had a storm roll in and give us another couple of inches of much needed rain. It made for more dramatic photography. Here's some of the interesting parasitic plant, Dodder, floating in the river that I photographed for the Black and White challenge two weeks ago. Its spaghetti-like form is really interesting.

The rest are the flower of the Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, which grows in the sunny prairies of my farm.

When the flower falls off the fruiting body holding it--the prickly pear--will ripen to a dark red. In Spanish it is called a tuna, and makes a delicious jelly. The pads are called nopales, and once the thorns are removed are cut into small pieces called nopalitos which are added to salsa or steamed like green beans . Living so close to Mexico, it is common to see all of these sold in the produce section of our local grocery store.

Morning Visitor

I noticed the bright spot of color from my office window this morning.

It's always breath taking to see a Luna Moth (Actias luna) from the Saturniidae family. Especially up close. This is only the third I've seen in my lifetime. And the first time I've had a decent camera in hand.

Although common, they only live one week in this phase. They emerge just to mate, and don't eat or even have a mouth. As an artist I would never have thought to combine plum with lime, but it works very well. Isn't the striping on this male's eyespot and his brushy antennae just exquisite?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Enclosing the Coop

Dude, what is taking so long? Aren't we supposed to be in a coop by now?

This week Farmer Rick has been enclosing the coop framing with new 3/4 inch plywood. This will likely be covered on the exterior by recycled wood later for a nicer look.

We are very proud that most of this building is made of recycled materials. I'm not sure how the chickens feel about it.

It's starting to feel very solid thanks to the plywood.

Even the temporary wall gets some.

Some of our recycled boards have a nice, weathered look. You can see we've used them in specific places where they will show, like over the door...

and also over the hardware cloth joints for added strength.

Here's a nice detail of the old wood on the inside vents.

The south wall is blocked from the harsh afternoon sun by a grove of trees, otherwise we would not have put in the windows. You can see the hole where the chicken door will eventually go.

They will have a pretty nice view entering the coop. Now what's left is building the chicken and people doors, and putting on a temporary roof before we can move the chicks out of our house.

Hurry up! It's getting very crowded in here!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Stills: Eyes

These eyes belong to Francisco, our Husky-wolf rescue dog. He's afraid of storms, gunshots, fireworks, and other dogs. Oddly, he gets along well with cats.

This fearful eye belongs to Cody, our Chow mix that was severely abused by his first owner. I have spent years helping to restore his trust in people.

This is the blind eye of Phoebe, our rescue sheep, looking like the Earth from the moon. Her other eye unfortunately had to be removed because of damage. I found her dying on the side of the road, where we suspect she'd been hit by a car. The vet did not want to tell me she probably wouldn't make it.

But she did, through much nurturing. And--a big surprise to us all--delivered Finley a month later. We had no idea we were rescuing two! He has beautiful eyes.

And of course, the eye of Avo, their rooster. He thinks Phoebe is his big, fuzzy "hen" and is certain Finley is his son. His secret desire is for all of us to be part of his flock.

Check out all the other eyes at Sunday Stills.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Plan B

There comes a time in every chicken coop builder's life when they must consider Plan B... especially when chickens are filling both your bathrooms and soon threaten to run you out of your own home.

Introducing...the temporary wall making things nice and square, not to mention chicken-ready, while we figure out how to build curving walls. For feng shui, and all that.

Farmer Rick whipped that wall together this afternoon. I think the thought of having to hose ourselves off in the back yard has lit a fire in his carpentry soul.

Looking good! We had a temporary dividing wall in our other coop to be able to separate some of the breeds to begin with. But in the end it was one happy family and we were able to take it down. So this will be helpful when we have to put the different aged flocks together.

Hardware cloth goes up.

I love projects that don't involve digging!--Farmer Rick

There will be a plywood partial wall at the bottom, and battens over the studs to further secure the hardware cloth.

We were so worried about the security our first coop from predators we camped beside it the first night. That's when I threw my back out so badly I couldn't bend over for a week. L7 the chiropractor said as he forced it back into place. We have an air mattress now. I am wondering if they make baby monitors that can handle 75 yards? If we install a zip line across the creek, I could be there in a New York minute.
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