spending my day in the company of dogs

On these winter days of late February in Vermont, with the dearth of snow, I have found more time to sit and reflect. Consequently sharing my thoughts in this blog. I have decided to use this as a way to show my day-to-day life. The daily part is shared by “the boys”, our pack of dogs.

I will start with an introduction to Cyrano. He is 3, from Tennessee and is a golden retriever/hound of  humble and unknown origin.  As a matter for the historical record, I too was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, hence my ability to spell it.  Although, my roots are really in Virginia(a good topic for a future post).

I live on a small farm in Vermont with my wife Jennifer and daughter Gabrielle. My writing is about life in the country, taking care of the livestock , the poultry(a mixed bag of chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys) that are kept as a self-sustaining year around flock , our gardens, fields and the woods. The boys always accompany me as I do farm tasks, so they are frequently captured in my images.

Continuing with Cyrano, he is a rescue pup, who was saved the day before his demise, and shipped to Pennsylvania. Living in the pound is a difficult way to start one’s life.  Cyrano has risen above the start and is a good and loyal boy obsessed with his balls, and did I say, quite fast? We picked him up on our annual journey down to  the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where I grew up, for Thanksgiving.

Later, I will introduce Quinn, our Golden Doodle and Laddie,our Scottish Border Collie. I know many of you have been following the  pictures of the pups on Facebook as they grow and play. I would like to use this space to further explore the small details of my life on the farm. I look forward to exploring the transitions of the seasons, the weather, the gardens and animals from my world in a lovely part of Vermont.

golden retriever plays with a goose

Golden Retriever running

Cyrano, side portrait, winter 2011-12

Into the sun

When I was growing up one of the first photo tips that was given to me, was to never photograph directly into the sun. I suspect this fomented a certain rebellion within my being. It impressed me to such a degree that I can still remember it all these years later. I also remember my kindergarten teacher telling me that my coloring technique was not correct. I had gone outside the lines and had not kept my coloring lines orderly. I really tried to toe the line, but when the spirit of coloring possessed me it was very hard to keep my colors separate, within the lines and orderly.

So perhaps it is these early reprimands and directions towards a more orderly drawing technique and the correct way to take pictures that helped create my personal

style. I find I am always photographing directly into the sun. To me that is where some of the more interesting light occur.

The last light of a winter’s day

One of my absolutely favorite times to photograph is with the last rays of sunlight as it illuminates the darkening land and animals. I like to take my dogs for a sunset walk. There is something very special about the last light of the day as it filters thru the atmosphere, so much more pleasing to my eye, than the starker, harsher light of the midday. Quinn is our Golden Doodle , Cyrano is a Tennessee Rescue dog, mostly Golden Retriever and Laddie Mackay , is a very lively Scottish border Collie, what a trio of different personalities are emerging as they grow.

Memories of past Winters

Sitting here in Vermont in the Winter that hasn’t arrived yet, reminds me of the Nature show about the Salmon run on an Island in Alaska that doesn’t happen due to the rising temperature that summer. A bunch of very hungry bears wait the arrival of the Salmon. Fortunately , just in the very nick of time the Salmon run, happy bears.

I really have had it with the sheet ice driveway. I need a plowable snow to get my sled run for the old flexible flyer up and running.  It isn’t too late for winter to arrive,  as a way to entice winter,  before I completely give up and start planting seeds, I will post some images from Winter’s Past.

Fox in the Deep Dark Woods

Continuing on my Illustrations of the Fox story. I have been wondering about the ending of this traditional song. I guess I will just have to see where it goes as the pictures start to evolve. From the deep dark woods:

The fox went out for a chase one night

prayed to the moon to give him light

for he had many a mile to go that night
before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o
he had many a mile to go that night
before he reached the town-o.

Fox on a winter morning

Living the rural life here in Vermont it is always good to have a camera handy. I have found owls, hawks, foxes, deer, moose, skunks, raccoons, porcupines, weasels, mink , otters, herons, crows, ravens, beaver and a multitude of birds on my journeys around the farm. One morning going down to the Jericho General Store there was a moose in the middle of the road . On other occasions I have had to help a large snapping turtle across the road as it backed up traffic. In Vermont drivers stop for a turtle. This fox was watching from the edge of a field as I was bringing my daughter back from school.

Night visitors to the Poultry house

I have been thinking of doing an illustrated copy to the children’s song about the Fox, after having several visits from a night visitor.

The fox went out for a chase one night

prayed to the moon to give him light

for he had many a mile to go that night
before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o
he had many a mile to go that night
before he reached the town-o.

2. He ran right up to the farmers pen
ducks and the geese were kept therein
he said “A couple of you gonna grease my chin
before I leave this town-o, town-o, town-o
A couple of you gonna grease my chin
before I leave this town-o.”

3. He grabbed the grey goose by the neck
slung the little one over his back
he didn’t mind the quack quack quack
and the legs all dangling down-o, down-o, down-o
he didn’t mind the quack quack quack
and the legs all dangling down-o.

4. Old Mother Pitter Patter jumped out of bed
out of the window she popped her head yelling
“John, John the grey goose is gone!
and the fox is on the town-o, town-o, town-o
John, John the grey goose is gone!
and the fox is on the town-o.”

5. John he ran to the top of the hill
blew his horn both loud and shrill
the fox said “I’d better flee with my kill
for he’ll soon be on my trail-o, trail-o, trail-o”
the fox said “I’d better flee with my kill
for he’ll soon be on my trail-o.”

6. He ran right up to his cozy den
there were his little ones eight nine ten
they said “Daddy won’t you please go back again
for it must be a mighty fine town-o, town-o, town-o
Daddy won’t you please go back again
for it must be a mighty fine town-o.”

7. The fox and his wife without any strife
cut up the goose with a fork and knife
they’d never had such a supper in their life
and the little ones chewed on the bones-o, bones-o, bones-o
They never had such a supper in their life
and the little ones chewed on the bones-o.