Faces from the County Fair (Part Two)

(Miss Maddy on an antique tractor.)

My favorite faces at the county fair were those of my granddaughters, Emma and Maddy.  Maddy really liked the tractor she’s sitting on in the above photo.  Her father tried moving her to other tractors but she kept wanting to come back to this one.

Almost all of the pigs were sleeping when we passed through the swine barn.  It made me wonder how much time they usually spend sleeping.

Many of the sheep were already shorn, but there was this one…

Looks like it could use a haircut.

I think one of Emma’s favorites involved the horses being put through their paces by the young girls.  I gather Emma has had a few riding lessons.

(Emma watching the horses.)

(Trotting towards the camera.)

The alpacas cracked me up.  I’d like to learn about raising alpacas.  They seem like interesting animals.

Faces from the County Fair (Part One)

It’s that time of year again.  Or rather, it was that time of year again as the fair ended yesterday.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that attending the Portage County Randolph Fair has become a tradition with us and with our oldest son and his family who join us each year to have a look at the animals, maybe ride a ride, maybe sample some food, and just generally enjoy the day and each others company.

Every year I find the fair to be a more interesting experience, partly because rural living has become more and more our way of life.  Not completely.  Not yet.  Probably not ever as we do enjoy certain aspects of being near a few cities that allow us to indulge in the benefits of their cultural scene.  But when you have a small amount of acreage to take care of and you realize that acreage includes other beings that depend on your good guardianship, you start to get more involved and attuned to country living.  Well, we did.  I really can’t speak for others.

In my attempts to photograph the county fair in ways that differ from previous years, I’ve found myself focusing on different aspects each year.

If you have an eye for the little details of blogging, you will have noticed that two of the categories I picked for this post are “food” and “harvest.”  That is part of the purpose of the county fair.  Animals are sold to be harvested (as food) or for reproduction or for the harvest of their milk as a result of the reproduction.  Auctions take place throughout the week.  While browsing through the swine area I noticed that some of the pigs were going for $1.45/lb.  The Big Pig went for $13.00/lb.

That’s some pig.

I suppose a disclaimer is in order so here goes:  I did not take these photos with the intent to pass on some sort of message.  I took them as part of my own learning process in life, healthful living, and photography.  If you find some sort of statement or message in them, that’s cool.  But that’s also your interpretation.  I’m still working on mine.  I am, as someone once said, a work in progress.

Usually when I take photos of animals I try to encompass the entire body.  Last year I started to focus on faces but quit after a few shots, deciding to try it again another time as it didn’t seem to be working out.

The cows, both dairy and beef, don’t seem to be the Happy Cows as advertised on television (perhaps because they are not living in California where, it seems, all of the happy creatures live).  But it could be they would prefer to be on the farm and not at the fair getting gawked at by crowds of people.

Sometimes they gawk back.

The girls (my granddaughters) enjoyed looking at and petting the animals.  Miss Madison Grace in particular got very excited over some of the sheep and pigs.  She showed no fear when it came to reaching out and touching the animals, no matter how big they were.

The Scottish Highland cattle are my favorites, in part because Scotland has been (so far) one of my favorite countries to visit.  I like their long hair, long horns, and their long and beautiful eyelashes.  I like that they remind me of seeing them in the Highlands of Scotland, grazing amongst all that rugged beauty.  Right above them (at the fair)  there is a sign which states “Freezer Beef.”  I’ve taken pictures of the calves — usually stationed below the sign — in previous years.

It is, to me, an enlightening experience to look into the eyes of the animals I photographed on this visit to the fair.  Not that I haven’t looked before.  It was different this time although I still can’t pinpoint the how’s or why’s of it.

I’ll be back with a few more faces from the fair tomorrow.

Sunday signage

What do I want to take home from my summer vacation?  Time.  The wonderful luxury of being at rest.  The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander.  The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are.  Summer is my period of grace.

~ Ellen Goodman

I have posted this at Bountiful Healing as well as here.  It just seems to fit both blogs today and for some of you, it won’t be a repeat as I know I have different audiences for each blog with a little bit of crossover.  Whichever and wherever you visit me, thank you.  I appreciate it.


Shades of yellow

With some green thrown in to go with the NaBloPo theme, some blue from the skies (and clothes pins), and whatever other color happens to crop up.

These bright yellows go well with the bright late-August days we’ve been having.  I am appreciating them very much now and imagine I will appreciate them again while looking at them during the grays of winter.

We have a lot of tiger swallowtails hanging around the zinnias lately.  I still haven’t seen any monarchs this year.  I wonder what’s up with that?

The sunflowers are blooming nicely.  The biggest one has already gone to seed and the birds have obviously been dining on it.

I like the way the sunflowers appear to have different personalities and attitudes.  This one seems to be standing tall and proud with its hair (petals) slicked back.

SkyWatch Friday: Colorado

(Poudre Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park)

We had some beautiful skies here in the Bogs yesterday.  The clouds cleared out and the color was an autumnal blue — that clear, crisp, gorgeous blue we normally see in late September and October.

I can’t show you those skies, though.  I was busy getting caught up around the house, processing and freezing vegetables, and getting ready for a visit with my granddaughters this weekend.  I did get out to enjoy the lovely weather and beautiful skies, but didn’t bother with the camera.  To be honest, I still haven’t uploaded all of the photos from our Colorado trip and the thought of more photos to sort through is not appealing to me at this time.  I enjoyed the day and gave no thought at all to taking pictures.

The photo above is from our recent trip to Colorado.  The skies in Colorado were beautiful, too.  They seem to almost always have a deep blue clarity to them that we don’t see often here in the Bogs.  Sometimes, when the days were hot (as they frequently are in August), the skies reminded me of the desert.  The skies in Colorado are bigger than our skies here, too.  We have trees and hills and houses and all sorts of things that block clear views of the sky and horizon.  But out there, the skies are wide open (unless you happen to be in a canyon, in between mountains).  It is one of my favorite things about Colorado.  I never feel claustrophobic there.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful place for watching the skies and for stargazing.  M and I went out there one night to enjoy looking at the night sky and to watch the meteor showers (the Pleides were at their peak that night).  One of the volunteers at the park is an astrologer and he gave a talk about the night sky, including showing us how to find and identify some of the summer constellations.  I found it all fascinating.

The skies in Colorado are almost constantly changing throughout the day.  At least that is how it has been during our two visits.  The mornings frequently start out clear and blue (as in the above photo taken at Grand Lake).  If you look carefully at that photo (click on it — or any of the photos — for a larger view), you’ll see some clouds building on the horizon.  Those clouds slowly moved in throughout the day.  Sometimes they brought rain.  Sometimes they didn’t.

We saw several rainbows while we were in Colorado.  I have no pictures to show, mostly because they would happen when we were driving down the road and my camera happened to be stored in the trunk of the car.  I usually keep it with me but there were a few times — rainbow times — when I would throw my backpack into the trunk, forgetting that my camera was still in it.

(Shadow Mountain Lake)

I have plenty of photos of the  Colorado skies to share with you in the coming weeks.  Perhaps that should be “in the coming months” as I took over 1500 photos during our two week trip.  It’s possible it’s much more than that but I refuse to admit it as it might make me look like a photography addict or something.

To view beautiful skies from around the world, please click on the link below.

In other news…

M and I are celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary today.  It’s a quiet celebration.  He’s at work doing his work thing and I’m at home with a bushel of tomatoes and another peck of peppers to process.  I’m going to make spaghetti sauce today, which can be frozen.  I’ll work on canning the rest of them sometime this weekend.  We’ll have a real celebration sometime next week (dinner out, champagne, etc.).

We’ll be going to the county fair tomorrow with our granddaughters and their parents, something that has become a bit of a tradition with us.  I’m looking forward to it.

Vegetable Stifado

I don’t typically think of stews as a summertime meal.  However, Vegetable Stifado from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day is one of my favorite dishes to make this time of year.  Almost everything in it can be found locally grown and freshly picked or, better yet, in my garden.

I vary the recipe a little in that I like to add extra tomatoes, peppers, and squash.  I use a zucchini and a yellow squash, and 2-3 different colors of peppers (green, red, and yellow were on the menu when I made this the other day, but I’ve also used orange and purple).  I leave out the optional okra (because I am not a fan).  The potatoes I used when I made this the other day were  small, thin-skinned new potatoes so I scrubbed them well and left the skins on.  This stew freezes well.  The potatoes might get a little mushy but it’s a stew so it works out okay, even thickening it a little.  The recipe calls for it to be served over rice.  I’ve been known to substitute couscous for the rice.

Vegetable Stifado

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large potato (about 2 cups cubed)
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 3 cups undrained canned tomatoes (28-ounce can)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (1 scant teaspoon dried)
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen sliced okra (optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 teaspoon dried)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • grated feta cheese

In a large stewpot, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over medium heat until just softened.  Cut the potato into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the pot.  Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes.  Add the eggplant and the juice from the tomatoes, setting aside the tomatoes.  Stir in the water, salt, and rosemary.  Bring the stew to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.  After the first 10 minutes, the stew can be simmered uncovered.

While the stew simmers, cut the squash into 1-inch cubes and the bell pepper into 1-inch pieces.  When the potatoes are just beginning to soften, add the squash and bell pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Coarsely chop the reserved tomatoes and add them to the pot, along with the okra, lemon juice, and dill.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Add black pepper to taste, and remove the rosemary sprig if you used the fresh herb.

Serve topped with feta cheese.

Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day is one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks.  There are a lot of good recipes that don’t take nearly as much time as many of the recipes do in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant (Cookery)Sundays At Moosewood has some fantastic recipes but they can be complicated and/or time consuming.  Moosewood Cooks at Home was a great cookbook to have while I was working (outside of the home) because most of the recipes don’t take that long to prepare and/or cook.

(Yesterday’s sunset.)

Goose poop

(Wildflowers at the Alluvial Fan area in RMNP)

Yesterday while eating lunch, M and I watched a flock of geese fly over the pond, honking out their message to come join them in their travels.  As we watched we both encouraged them to keep flying, keep flying, keep flying.  Geese are not good pond-guests.  They move in, poop all over the grass around the pond, invite hundreds of their friends to join them, have babies, outwear their welcome, and then come back year after year, making a mess of the place.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, the poop provides way too many nutrients and causes a heavy growth of algae in the pond which is neither pretty nor healthy.

We’ve worked hard to keep the geese away from our pond.  We harrass them which is a good way to get your exercise in for the day as it involves running towards the geese, waving your arms, and making lots of noise.  If that doesn’t work — and it usually doesn’t because the geese can move from one side of the pond to the other faster than most people can run — M gets out the garden tractor and drives around the pond, chasing them off.  Usually that works.  We have also tried bottle rockets (they don’t like the loud noise and we never, ever try to hit them) and a variety of other methods.

This year we have had a great deal of help from our neighbors, more specifically from their dogs.  At first I wasn’t too thrilled that they allowed their dogs to run free, but M pointed out that they were chasing off the geese.  Score one for the neighbors’ dogs.  Score ten or twenty or a hundred for that matter, as every goose chased off ought to score them a point.

I was glad to see the geese ignoring our pond as they flew over yesterday.  I don’t like to have to go out to harrass them, even if I don’t mind the exercise.  Sometimes it makes me feel a little guilty, as if I’m turning away guests.  Then I remind myself of what happens when you invite them in and the guilt dissipates.  Bad pond guests are almost as bad as bad houseguests.

If only they would learn to clean up after themselves…