Friday, May 28, 2010

Pasture Intruder

Hello Camera Lady
I sometimes wonder why I'm forever carrying my camera around with me, especially when it's the very heavy one with the 100 - 400 telephoto lens on it, but this morning was a good example of why I do it!   Here's what happened........

The horses have been in their stalls for the past couple of days, due to our very unusual, winter-like weather (it's been raining like crazy, and cold - will it never end??!!!  I mean, really, it's almost JUNE!!!), but this morning was finally clear and sunny.  That meant that our equine friends (who have had a bad case of cabin fever) could finally go back out to their pastures.  I put the camera around my neck, and grabbed a lead rope in each hand.  As I got closer to Jozsef and Calvin's pasture, there, at 9:30 in the morning, was the above deer grazing contentedly in their home.   The horses didn't seem to mind the deer, and the deer didn't seem to be bothered by us, either.


I walked the boys into the pasture, undid the halters, and waited to see what would happen.  At first, Joz and Calvin seemed more interested in grazing, as our deer watched on.............

then - YEOW!!  "Where did that thing come from?!?"


The boys soon composed themselves, and, like cats, their curiosity got the better of them........

.......although, Calvin needed to  hide behind Joz, but we won't make fun of him for that.............

They decided to let their new friend Mr or Mrs Deer go on his or her way......

Bye bye!

In case you're wondering about Jozsef's wardrobe, after 17 years of never even being bothered by flies, last year he developed an allergy to them, so he has to wear clothes that all the other kids laugh at.  He refuses to keep a fly mask on, though,  so before I put him out in pasture, I have to daub him with SWAT (isn't hot pink and black the rage now??)  He's a manly man - after all he was a stallion for 13 years, and had 60+ babies - so he thinks all this stuff is for the birds..........

....please don't laugh at him!

Contests - Coming Up, and Won

Seems there are contests everywhere I look right now, and I wanted to share them with you - both the ones that you may still be a part of, and the one that was just won.  First..........and the winner is........

Our friends and neighbors at Naggiar Vineyards and Winery just found out yesterday morning that they won the KCRA "A" List first place award for best winery in the greater Sacramento area - way to go!  I did a post in April about the great wine tasting event that we held there, and it is fun to hear that all the Naggiar's hard work over the past 10+ years has paid off.  Congratulations go out to them from all here at Blue Fountain Farm!

Jozsef and the vines

Be sure to check out the link to the Winery - they've updated their web site, and they have a lot of great events planned for the summer.  In fact, we are having a dressage show  here at the ranch on Sunday, June 6th (more in an upcoming post), and it would be fun to go through our "private" gate to the winery for some wine tasting and music after riding, or watching, the horses.  Sounds like a great idea to me!!


Next, my friend, artist Leslie Ann Webb (on whom I did a post recently) is having a contest to win one of her valuable originals - here's her info on that - 

From May 19 through June 30, anyone who buys a print for $98 gets their name in the drawing to WIN AN ORIGINAL PAINTING ($4500) of either their horse/animal or from my available originals of equal value. If you purchase the larger print ($300+), your name will be entered 3 times in the drawing. Don't wait...only 33 days left...  enter my website and view the prints...prints of new work are also available, just call to order by phone......  530 272 3878

Leslie Ann will be present at our dressage show on the 6th with her prints for sale, so be sure to stop by and buy your chance at winning one of her incredible originals!


And last, but certainly not least, my friend Jackie Fleming of Cimarron Sky Dog Reserve in New Mexico (see the page about her sanctuary to the right) is having an equine photography contest.  Here's what she says about the competition:

The ‘Cimarron Sky-Dog Reserve’ is a wild horse sanctuary based in Cerrillos and Watrous, New Mexico. This year marks our tenth anniversary of being in business and to celebrate that we are starting an annual Equine Photography Competition to not only raise funds for our sanctuary but also to help promote our cause. All proceeds raised from this event will go to the Cimarron Sky-Dog Reserve, which is a 501(c)(3), non-profit charity. Obviously we are horse lovers by nature but the artistic beauty that they embody inspires many of us to want to pick up our cameras and try to do justice to and capture an element of their natural beauty and spirit. Some of us are more successful than others. We have been very fortunate to have the generous help of three of the finest Equine Photographers in the country to judge our competition - Gregg Albracht, Tony Stromberg and Lynn Pomeranz .    Many people out there will recognize these names and know that their work is truly some the most evocative and beautiful in the Equine Photography world today. Please go to their websites to see the kind work and experience that these judges will bring to this competition.

So, get out there with your cameras and catch those special moments that can happen when you're with your hooved beasties, and you can help those horses who aren't as fortunate as the ones we love and take care of on a daily basis.

Again, congratulations to our friends and neighbors Naggiar Vineyards and Winery on their big win, and please look into participating (as I am going to) in the contests of my friends Leslie Ann Webb for her original art, and the photo contest of Jackie Fleming of Cimarron Sky Dog Reserve .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sheep Shearing at the Ranch

Now that I have your attention with this adorable photo I took of "Sprite" the day she was born two years ago (she was a real cutie, wasn't she??), I want to tell you that there will be a couple of photos of horses at the end of this post.  But, Blue Fountain Farm (and photography) are so much more than horses.  Yes, horses are the biggest part of this ranch, but there are so many things going on around here on a day to day basis, it's hard to keep up with everything.  So, on with today's story........

My sister, Wendy, keeps several Shetland sheep (and their guard llama, "Joe Llama"), here to raise for their wool.  Once a year, she shears them so that she can spin the wool (yes, she spins it herself), and knit cool things with her home-grown wool.  This weekend, 2 of the 4 ewes  were ready to be shorn, so it became a family affair - Wendy, my other sister Becca, her daughter Delaney, (and Laura, one of Wendy's friends) did the shearing, and I did the photography.

The first up to be shorn was one of the original mamas, "Candy", who has been shorn many times.  It was fun to watch as the wool just kind of "peeled" off her pink skin in one big piece.


She was very calm and cool during the whole process, since she's had it done many times in her life.

Ever  heard the phrase, "A wolf in sheep's clothing"?.......

Louie in disguise

Next, it was "Sprite's turn - (remember how cute she was above?) - and she had a totally different take on the whole process.

"Help!  They're killing me!"

She was also very unhappy with how her haircut turned out ...........

I said "Not so much off the top!!"

Funny thing is, when you put the shorn sheep back with their family and friends, they don't recognize them for awhile, so not only do the poor sheep get stressed with the shearing, they then get chased around on top of that!

You look awfully familiar, but.............?

Uh-oh, he saw me!


Just doing my job, ma'am!

Even "Candy", who had just been shorn first, decided she needed to chase Sprite around.............

Louie tired to offer solace................

And Lil Bea really couldn't have cared less, she just wanted peppermints.........

The sheep/goat/llama pen finally settled down, but I looked beyond that pen to the horse pastures, and realized that the horses had become excited by all the commotion due to the shearing, and it was feeding time as well.  Sax (the Paint), and Sol (the black dude) were trying to decide what to do with their excitement, so they challenged each other to a duel.........

It ended in a draw, since food came, and that's always more important than "fighting"!

I'll leave you today with one more "cute" photo of another one of the lambs that was born two years ago - and the thought that there's always something to do at Blue Fountain Farm!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Neptune, the flying dog

Look at him fly!!!

This is "Neptune" who belongs to Tim Schooss.  Tim has told me in the past about Neptune's exploits of running off the end of a pier for a tennis ball at the pond of a friend, but I didn't know how high this boy could really launch himself!  He came with Tim to the ranch the other day, and they showed me what Neptune can do.  This dog LOVES playing this game, and would have continued til exhaustion - I guess Neptune is a great name for such a water-loving dog!  Below is a sequence of Tim and Neptune "doing their thing"!


What  a happy dog!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bees and Beekeeping..........

Ever wonder what goes in to making good honey, I mean really good honey?  Actually, there's a lot involved in being a bee keeper, and in producing a special, raw, natural honey.  I'm just learning the ins and outs of the trade myself, and the more I learn, the more I really appreciate a gourmet honey.  I thought it would be fun to share with you some of what I've been learning.

Now is the time of year to divide the hives (which involves "making" new queens and starting new colonies) after the cool weather, and to get the bees out to locations that will have plenty of food - be it clover, black berries, coffee berries, wild grape plants, wildflowers, orchard flowers......  whatever "fodder" will keep the bees working hard to turn pollen into honey. 

Last week I followed Seth and Zion - the two guys of "Two Guys Honey"- while they were setting about 20 hives in a new location across the street from Blue Fountain Farm at Piras Ranch. They showed up with the "Bee Mobile", and were dressed up in their protective suits (I thought they looked like bio-hazard guys), and drove into the pasture.

This time of the year, the hives are full of bees, but they haven't produced much honey yet, so the guys can carry the hives off the truck without using the boom.  When it's time to collect the honey, or move the hives later in the summer, they get very, very heavy - that's when the boom comes in handy.

Moving bees happens best when the bees are somewhat inactive, such as early in the  morning when it's cool, so they stay quietly in their hives, and don't cause the guys too much trouble.

Zion opened a hive for me to look into, and there were quite a few bees in there, (most were hiding between the frames) but they were pretty sedate.

The above bees were quiet, but soon we found a hive that was wondering, "What the heck??  Where are we?", and Zion had to give them a little dose of smoke so they would settle down.

Luckily, it worked - especially since I did not have a protective suit on, nor was I using my big telephoto lens from far away!

The men got the hives all facing a certain direction, eventually had all the hives on the ground, and that was it for that day.

There are a couple of ways to collect the honey (which is done later in the summer in the warm weather) from the frames inside the hives, but last year we had the fun of doing it the old fashioned way - to scrape it from the frame itself, and enjoy it immediately over vanilla ice cream!


It was a smash-hit, and enjoyed by all..............let's say it was "finger lickin' good!"............

Eventually, whichever way you get the honey out of the frames, it gets poured into jars, and it's ready to serve!  Yum!!

And that's a very shortened version of Beekeeping 101.  There really is quite a lot of work involved in maintaining  healthy, happy bees, and a lot that I didn't get into here, but I surely have a greater appreciation for how honey comes to being than I ever did before.  Hope you do as well!

Site Meter