Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Fun on the Ranch

Dixie, Pepper and Molly

We have three horses.  Two of them came to our “ranch” almost 8 years ago as 6-month and 8-month-old fillies.  The youngest one, Dixie, is a beautiful black Saddlebred/Tennessee Walker mix with white markings on her mane, her tail and her legs.  The older one is Molly, and she is a brown and white Saddlebred, half-sister to Dixie.  They are as different as night and day.  Molly is a lumbering, large, peaceful animal whose only goal in life is to eat.  She has almost foundered a couple of times. Dixie is very spirited, energetic and she spooks easily.  Almost two years ago we adopted another mare who was rescued from a terrible situation in the middle of one of the worst winters we’ve had in a long time.  We call her Pepper because “she is a bit spicy.”  Pepper was rehabilitated in an equine hospital, then she went to a foster farm.  It was there that we went to claim her as ours.

Getting Pepper in the trailer was an amazing feat, but once we got her home, letting her out of the trailer was even more scary. She had never had a halter, and in fact, had never really had human contact.  Her instincts told her to run.   She ran right into a fence in a relatively small paddock area where she was released, breaking the top board and partially damaging the second one.  But, she didn’t get out.  With my husband’s tender loving care and a lot of patience, he has turned her into a sweet and loving horse.

Yesterday, our three precious horses made their way out of our pastures when my husband left the gate open.  They always wait for him at the barn in the mornings for their rationing of grain.  Yesterday he trusted that they were waiting there as they do every day.  So, the gate was left open.  The sneaky devils found their way out and took off running through our neighbor’s yard into her eight-acre pasture which is fortunately fenced all around except in the small section they found as they made their entry into her property.   My husband took a rope and closed that opening in the fence, then followed them through the fields until Molly lost interest in running. Remember, she is the large, lumbering horse who would rather eat.  Putting a rope around her made it easy to lead her back home, and with a little help the other two eventually followed.  Problem solved.   This is the third such adventure with our horses in eight years and it takes about an hour from start to finish.  And, for me, it is a terrifying experience.


Three months ago I had the good fortune of going with a group of artists to a little town in Umbria called Todi. The town was quaint and safe and I explored almost every corner.  Well, there weren’t really many corners because the town is on a hill and everything seems to be in a circle, with small roads winding in and out and up and down. I spent a lot of time with my images when I first got back, enough that they started to bore me.  But today I revisited them, and I discovered some that I had hardly noticed before.  Here is one of my favorites.  It’s similar to another I have printed, but there is more fog and more detail in the valley.  If you hadn’t noticed already, I LOVE FOG!!  This was the view to which I awakened every morning and often while brushing my teeth I was pressing the shutter button at the same time.  It has some resemblance to my beloved Virginia except that Umbria’s hills are green, while our views seem to pick up the reflection of our Blue Ridge Mountains.

Umbria in the Fog

Feeding the Calves

Today I made it to the farm in time to see the feeding of the forty calves.  At birth the calves are separated from their mother, and they are taught to drink milk from a bucket not long after.  Sometimes two fingers are put in the bucket of milk, and the calf sucks at them.

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Then the fingers are gradually lowered into the milk until the calf discovers it.  One calf I saw today was two weeks old and still hadn’t learned that, but most of them learn the first day.  The calves are separated into groups of eight and kept together in stalls based on their age.  As they get older, they are moved one stall to the right, until they get old enough to be released into the field to eat grass.  They are given about a quart of milk a day, sometimes with supplements, and grain is added as they become able to feed on something other than milk.

The fun of watching this was the introduction of the buckets to the young.  Each bucket was filled with an appropriate amount of the milk mixture, then two men each held  two buckets in each hand.  They walked the buckets up to the fence line, then on “Go” the buckets were placed on the ground in reach of the calves.  The babies were eager to eat and each had their own bucket, but if timing wasn’t right, there could have been a commotion.  It didn’t take long for them to finish their milk.  Afterwards, they licked each other’s mouths, “sucking face,” if you will, to get the milk leftovers.

One calf had a little gastrointestinal distress, and she had been lying in the stall alone. She was encouraged to get up and walk but would be put on cow’s milk if the problem didn’t correct itself soon.  Sometimes that’s the best solution for a calf. Supplements will help, too.  The care that is given to these calves, and in fact, to all the animals, takes time and patience, and people who love animals.  These animals are very lucky.

Life at the Dairy Farm

Biggest Smile in Greene County

I spent a couple more hours at the dairy farm this morning.  I was invited to go out to feed the cows, which meant I rode in a truck through every field in the farm.  I got up close and personal to my favorite barn in Greene County, I walked among the cows who, once they learned I had no food, completely ignored me.  I saw where the milk is stored until the trucks pick it up every other day.  I saw where the sperm is stored for inseminating the cows.  I watched as three brothers moved a cow who was “down” to a shady spot in the front yard where she would be cool.  What an interesting day.  Dairy farming involves not only cows, but fields of corn, brewer’s yeast brought in from Williamsburg to be a supplement to the cows’ food, knowledge about animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, mechanical skills and using good old ingenuity in dealing with day-to-day issues.

A high point of the morning was when I climbed through a barbed-wire fence, walked through 4-foot high Johnson grass and dodged poison ivy to find the graves of Dr. May Burton and his wife Sarah Head Burton.  Thanks to Steve, my guide for the day, for a terrific view of a fantastic farm.

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Coincidences of Life

I have been thinking about my Dairy Farm Adventure.  Forty years ago this month I started my first full-time job as a teacher at Albemarle High School at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and Lambs Road in Charlottesville.  A year later I transferred to Jack Jouett Middle School, located immediately behind the high school, to become a school counselor there, which was my dream job and the goal of my educational experiences.  Jouett Middle School has an address on Lambs Road.  I learned on Monday that Lambs Road was named for the man who started the dairy farm (in 1953) that I am now photographing.

On the Dairy Farm there is a pre-Civil War home, once used as a tavern.  It’s a small, abandoned house in an area of the county once called Burtonsville.  Dr. May Burton once lived in that area and had a medical practice on that land.  My maiden name is Burton.  I have no idea whether my Burton ancestors were related to Dr.May Burton, but it’s worth investigating.  Some day soon I’ll visit the Greene County Historical Society.

Coincidences in life are amazing and spine-chilling to me.  I feel that I have come full circle in forty years.  What drew me to the farm?  Who knows? But, as my nephew Jared says, there is a reason for everything.

Dairy Farm Adventure

For a few days I will be getting images at a dairy farm near my home.  Today was the first day inside the milking parlor, outside with the calves and watching the pigeons fly over the beautiful silos.  The cows weren’t quite sure what to think of me standing there with a camera, and one even snorted at me when I shot a portrait of her.  After the milking the cows congregated in the mud to relax and get cooled off.                                          Watch for more to come.

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