Eeek…city folks! Run for your life!

10 08 2011

This isn’t the shot I was going for, mind you. We were driving through the farmlands of the Shenandoah Valley and saw these goats behind the fence and since I think goats are adorable, we stopped to get some photos. As soon as we got out of the car, they scrambled back to the barn, ears a’floppin’! So, I got the tail end of goats instead. Look at that goat looking back (the only one not running yet)—probably thinking, “They look pretty harmless to me and they might have snacks. Why the rush? Waahhhhhh…”

Farm animals galloping…this reminds me of the “one that got away.” Picture this: Spring. 1990-ish. A day trip to Harper’s Ferry, camera gear in tow. Michael and I drive by a truly bucolic scene…a tall sloping hill crowned by a bright red barn with crisp white trim. Black and white cows dotting the landscape, white fence in the foreground. Cornflower blue sky, puffy white clouds, lovely trees, bright green pasture. Idyllic!

“Quick! Pull over!” Michael pulls over and I start setting up the appropriate camera and lens combo from the trunk of the car. He crosses the road to lean over the fence and survey the scene. I hear mooing. My hearing being what it is, I assume it’s a real cow. It is not. I didn’t know it was really Michael, sounding remarkably cow-like. What can I say? It’s probably something that only city slickers do when they see a farm animal. An attempt to be a cow whisperer, perhaps?

I start to cross the road to capture what clearly will be the best saleable stock shot of a farm EVER. I get to the fence and there are no cows on the hill. Nary a one. Just an immense field of green. I ask, “Where did they go? Spontaneous combustion?” Michael looks over at me sheepishly (no farm pun intended) and says, “Oooh, sorry. They’re all down here.” The cows, hearing his moo, had galloped (bet you didn’t know they could move that fast) down the hill to the culvert below the fence, where you couldn’t see them unless you were leaning over the fence. “Thanks a lot. You’ve now ruined our future earnings on the best farm stock shot EVER.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Goats for Sonya

14 08 2010

Goats photographed at Westmoreland Berry Farm in Oak Grove, Virginia, June 12. Michael and our friend Karen and I had been wanting to do a day trip somewhere and Karen suggested the Northern Neck area of Virginia. On the top of our list was a stop at the Westmoreland Berry Farm—solely because I wanted to see the “Goat Walk.” The Goat Walk is a series of ramps and platforms leading to towers that the goats will climb when visitors send up food. Unfortunately, the food delivery apparatus was broken, so we had to settle for an on-the-ground experience. As their website states, “it’s not a baa’d way to spend an afternoon!” Check out the full story on this link here.

My friend Sonya loves goats, so these are for you, chica!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Late fall in the rural Virginia countryside

2 11 2009

Fairview Christian Church (Madison, VA), erected 1880…and nearby farms

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

RuralVirginiaFall





Nicotiana

2 08 2009

I photographed this Nicotiana flower a few weeks ago at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Nicotiana, an annual plant, is a member of the tobacco family. Also known as Tobacco Flower, Flowering Tobacco, Jasmine Tobacco and Ornamental Tobacco, this most-fragrant-at-night plant is native to warm tropical and sub-tropical areas of North and South America. Although this plant is considered an ornamental, it does contain high concentrations of nicotine. The trumpet shaped flowers attract hummingbirds (and ants, as evidenced in the photo below). Nicotiana is easy to grow from seed, begins blooming in early summer, and will rebloom if deadheaded. The five pointed florets bloom in red, white, pink, maroon, rose, yellow and lavender. The plant is poisonous, so keep away from children and pets.

Whenever I think of tobacco (the smoking and chewing kind), I’m reminded of the summer my sister Kelley, and my cousin Deanna and I were paid 5 cents a stick to unstring tobacco leaves for my Uncle Roscoe on his farm in Georgia. The dried tobacco leaves (or ‘backer, as it is sometimes called in the south) were strung two across along a stick that was about 3-4 feet long. We were charged with untying the leaves and putting them in piles. The sticks were hung from the rafters in a barn that also housed Roscoe’s beautiful black stallion and a few other horses—most memorable was a slow-moving, spotted Shetland pony named Champ. When we rode horses (never with our parent’s blessings), I inevitably ended up with Champ. His incredibly slow gait thwarted any fantasy I had to look like that model with the wind flowing through her hair as she galloped through a field of daisies on the package of some feminine hygiene product. My sister got to ride a horse aptly named “Shotgun.”

The three of us worked for a few hours (in a hot barn in the Georgia heat) and I remember making barely a couple of dollars for my efforts. I’m not sure what minimum wage was when I was 12 years old, but I’m pretty sure we were paid well under that amount that day! We didn’t care—we just wanted enough to buy Cokes from the vending machine he had outside the riding arena (complete with bleachers for an audience). We thought it was so cool they had their own outdoor coke machine. The soda came out in the cutest little bottles and I think they were just 10 cents each. My cousins were all avid competitive horse riders and had a slew of trophies on display in their living room—so many that one time they gave each of us one (not that we had earned it, but who doesn’t love a shiny trophy?) and they didn’t even miss them!

And while on the subject of Georgia tobacco…there’s an interesting account here about “Growing ‘Backer on the Wiregrass Plain.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Nicotiana





Yes, more yellow.

27 04 2009

I’m not sure (yet) what kind of flowers these are, but they’re shorter than the newly-identified Wild Turnip flowers I photographed in rural Virginia on my road trip. This photo was shot just outside of Huntsville, when Sue and I were en route to Arkansas on Monday to visit her Aunt Gay in Little Rock. The flowers could be Wild Mustard or some kind of buttercup. Help in identification would be much appreciated!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

alabamayellowfield





Fields of gold

27 04 2009

There appears to be a recurring theme of gold…I can’t help myself! On my recent road trip from Virginia to Alabama, I drove past acres of these beautiful  yellow Wild Turnip flowers in the Shenandoah Valley near Natural Bridge, Virginia. I did a u-turn to fill up with gas and ask how to get to the access road so I could photograph this jaw-dropping scenery. I’d like to thank (Name to come after I clean up the car and find the map!), who was friendly, very helpful and sent me to Herring Hall Road to head toward the fields.

The title of this posting hails from the song, Fields of Gold, by Sting (listen to it here). I first heard this song sang by the late Eva Cassidy and I really love her slower version here. I discovered her music at Borders almost a decade ago, and was saddened to hear that she had passed away from melanoma in 1996 at the age of 33. She grew up in Bowie, Maryland, not far from where I live. And if you want to hear one of the most beautiful renditions ever of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, listen to her version here.

You can hear Katia Melua (another of my favorite singers) singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow as a duet with Eva onscreen in the UK production of Duet Impossible here. The video also contains a brief biography of Eva Cassidy. And speaking of Katie Melua’s work, I just love Nine Million Bicycles shown here and I Cried For You, shown here. Her videos are really clever.

After Katie released Nine Million Bicycles, she amended it when scientist Simon Singh corrected her “bad science” on exactly how old the universe is. Listen to her very funny amended version presented at a TED conference here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

wildturnip





All that’s left is a band of gold…

26 04 2009

April 18, 2009 / Highway 81 South / field of yellow flowers near the community of Natural Bridge, Virginia / Shenandoah Valley, Rockbridge County

I spoke to the proprietor of the Herring Hall B&B (in Natural Bridge) and she said the flowers, while definitely beautiful, are considered weeds and can take over a field in no time. She identified them as Wild Turnip (Brassica rapa), family Cruciferae.

The Plant For a Future database report states that the flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. The plant is self-fertile and has medicinal uses.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

goldenrodfield1