Can’t wait to look through my shots. What a great day. All five were like big dogs, hard to get pics of because they wanted to see what I was doing and they love to be scratched. What a fun time.
I was in heaven today...donkey heaven that is! Spent some time at the Foxwood Farm in Pike County photographing four jacks and a John mule. Two of the jacks are Mammoths, which are on the endangered list.
Can’t wait to look through my shots. What a great day. All five were like big dogs, hard to get pics of because they wanted to see what I was doing and they love to be scratched. What a fun time.
ST. LOUIS ART FAIR PREVIEW NIGHT: Just got home from the St. Louis Art Fair (SLAF) Jury Preview Night.
Laura Miller, Executive Director, of the SLAF gave an overview of the jury process and the five judges introduced themselves as they settled in for a long weekend and important task of selecting this years line up of artists for the fair in September. With applications from across the USA, Canada, and a couple from other countries such as Argentina...the judges will spend the next three days reviewing images from which over 1,000 applicants will be cut by the time the final round of judging takes place on Sunday.
Artists are divided into two categories...2D and 3D. No set amounts in any medium are given or required. It is simply up to the judges to pick the very best line up of artists they can. It will be no easy task as the level of talent applying is impressive.
Preview night is a chance for all submitting artists to see their work projected as the judges will see and score upon. You also get a chance to meet the judges and view all the applicants so have a better understanding of your competition and what you are being judged alongside of.
It was a wonderful evening and I look forward to seeing what the judges come up with. By the look of tonight’s images, the judges have their work cut out for them.
I love that SLAF offers this opportunity for artists to preview all the applicants. Such a learning experience, plus it’s pretty cool to see your images projected on big screens!
Traveled to Hermann Missouri today and scored big time as I was able to purchase some original artwork by Dominic and Indigo. They have a nice studio in the back of their mom and grandmas shop, Saleigh Mountain Leather Company on 4th Street.
Dominic and Indigo have a variety of subject matter they like to paint, from landscapes, dinosaurs, fishing boats, and rainbows. I of course really liked the landscapes with sheep and the one of the Apple Stand...reminded me of the Farmers Market.
Pieces will be signed and dated with the year by the artist upon purchase. Dom and Indigo’s studio is open same days and hours as the leather shop where you can find an assortment of handmade goods from handbags to saddle bags and everything in between. Tuesday-Saturday 9-5. More details can be found at
Twice this week I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. To counter balance this I’m going to hold baby ducks.
Inner harmony will be restored
SHOUT OUT...To my college roommate Robin for helping me set up for my show this weekend and working my booth today so I could grab pictures of artists....and maybe a flower or two, or two thousand.
The show opens back up at 10:00 am tomorrow morning
(Sunday April 29, 2018)
Show...Best of Missouri Life Market
1609 NW US Highway 50
Kingsville, Mo 64061
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
General admission to the garden applies. Adults $12, Seniors $10, Kids 5-12 $5
Garden Members are free.
Over 70 artists, fine crafters, and artisan food & drink.
For more information, please visit
Hope to see you there, it is a gorgeous setting.
My mom was not happy when she did my chores this weekend and had three snake encounters. At least she is growing up some. In the past once she saw a snake, she was done doing chores till winter freeze.
While she still is not fond of them, she has learned how to two step and do-si-do, so there are additional benefits to having snakes around besides the mice and other problem critters they might eat. It’s a whole nother story though when it comes to eating our eggs...and if my mom had seen this snake attempting to eat duck eggs!!! Well, let’s just say I named him Sean...after Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking! I’ll have to relocate him to another part of the county for his sake.
We also have a big garter snake I call Spot. He likes to hang out by the shed. I set out some water for him today. Hopefully he’s eating bugs in the shed. By the size of his girth, he’s not missing any meals.
Don’t tell my mom about Sean and Spot, maybe she won’t run into them next time she does my chores. I don’t have time to be grounded, so they best stay out of sight.
Puppy Update....Zak, Marilyn, and Natali helped me water cattle while Lucy slept under the house. She is wise and sleeps all day. Natali is old, so she’s retired and does whatever she wants...as for the pups...Zak is a goofball and likes to hangout wherever I go. Marilyn has become an excellent guardian and works all night with her mom, but still has energy to play with her brother and keep him in line.
Marilyn is definitely the aggressor, but Zak is much bigger...so they have a mutual understanding of respect for each other. If she has a bone or the other day she had a feather to chew on...Zak will stand nearby to see if he can intimidate her. She lifts a side lip, gives him the stink eye stare, and he goes on about his business. If Zak has something good, Marilyn just ignores him, she could care less what her younger brother has or pretends to have.
Zak likes to swim and come to the house wet, wanting in on the couch. Marilyn attracts ever dirt nugget, burr, stick, and leaf that can possibly be found. I’m positive 50% of her body weight is just junk and dirt. She will be going good to the groomers in a week and a half. It will be lovely to not have half the farm dragged in the house attached to her coat.
Saving myself some money today! Was going to go to town and get my body hair waxed off so I’d look good in shorts and short sleeves this summer. Instead I saved myself time and money by singeing it all off while burning brush. Yowee, that smarts!
According to the old wives tale, Smoke follows beauty. In that case, Mother Nature must think I’m gorgeous, because I couldn’t see a thing for all the smoke in my eyes.
Quiet morning after the storm yesterday. The baby ducks have taken to bug catching like ducks on water! 😄😄😄
Between the ducks, chickens, and guineas, they keep the insect population at a minimum. In thirty years out here I’ve maybe had three or four mosquito bites. I love it! Bad thing is, I forget not everyone has a natural army of bug eating machines. Normally takes less than a minute at someone else’s home before I become a buffet for every mosquito in a two mile radius. It’s why I seldom venture away from home.
I have wised up and now carry Skin So Soft with me to all art shows, just in case the bugs are out.
Spring does not disappoint. The variety of color, textures, and life are amazing.
Relocation of black snakes has become an almost daily ritual. Apparently the only thing tastier than a mouse, is a fresh laid egg. While my mouse population thrives, the egg numbers dwindle. On the plus side, the snakes are extremely gorgeous and look stunning coiled in a nest of tattered feathers while consuming a mid day snack.
Another thing of abundance is duck nest. We have had three sets hatch already, and have at least four more moms in nest. It’s rare to catch a mom off her nest as the Muscovies are diligent mothers and care takers...however, everyone must take a walkabout on occasion. In the nest of feathery down, are numerous eggs. I didn’t risk counting as the mom was watching and waiting to flog me should I venture too close.
A roadside poppy not far from the house, provided an exquisite pop of color that I enjoyed twice...once on my way to town, then on my return for which I stopped for a photo op. A rain storm had moved through while I was in town, leaving the bloom a little dis-shelved, but no less brilliant. When I went to visit the bloom today, sadly someone had picked it. I’m hoping another will bloom soon amongst the weeds in the roadside ditch. It’s the only poppy I see all year. I wish they were more abundant around here and that the blooms were longer lasting. I would plant some, but my critters find everything to be a delicacy. I once worked at a nursery and had every color iris, mum and rose. My place was gorgeous for about three years until my animals discovered the Floral Buffet, which only went to prove my fence building skills stunk and my choice of flowers was delicious.
Our Beauty Bushes are in full bloom. I’m not sure of their technical name, but I love them...as do the bees. They are a great source of food for the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The bloom looks like a cross between a honeysuckle and a trumpet vine flower. Does anyone know this real name of this bush?
AROUND THE FARM: Celebrating a victory in court! We appeared before the judge this morning and it was unanimously decided that hence forth Marilyn’s legal name will now be Pigpen.
In other good news, Pigpen will be opening her own cleaning service....
Do you have an excess of mud or dirt around your yard? Is it keeping you from enjoying the great outdoors? No need to fret...Pigpens Cleaning Service will have that mess mopped up in no time flat. Pigpen Cleaning Services uses only natural fiber for picking up all that dirt and grime. No need to worry about hazardous chemicals. Pigpen Cleaning Services will roll, jump, and frolic in your dirt & mud until it is all absorbed into the natural fibers, where your dirt & grime will be whisked away and disposed of in the household of company co-owner, Kim C.
Hurry this offer expires soon as Pigpen Cleaning Services will be making a visit to the groomer, which will temporarily shut down Pigpen Cleaning Services until the natural fibers of this cleaning machine, are replaced. Current forms of payment being accepted....Doggie Biscuits.
I’m taking a workshop today on “How to be more like a duck”. This workshop should help prepare me for future art shows where rain is expected....or not expected, but you get rained on anyhow.
I will be learning how to stay afloat in different water conditions, including a special breakout session on Street Floating...not taught in most water safety classes. I’ll also be learning how to let water roll off your back, different paddling techniques, and most importantly....how to remain calm in wet conditions.
There is a bonus session on how to survive on bugs and worms if you can’t make it out of your tent at lunchtime to grab something from a food vendor because it’s raining too hard. I think I’ll skip this session, but it’s good to know it’s available should I ever decide to take it.
Today’s workshop is being taught by Lawnmower Momma ( who I relocated a couple weeks ago because she built her nest on my mower). Two of her kids are helping give instruction and demos for the workshop, they are already water experts. I have much to learn. Big improvement for myself over last years Washington Art Fair where I got soaked securing my tent and art, lost my glasses that floated down the road...luckily found them the next day hung up on someone else’s tent pole...also fried my phone that got drenched in my pocket.
This year when the rains hit at several different times, I was better able to protect my art and secure my tent...having a decent tent makes a world of difference...Thank you Bari! 💕 But now it’s time for my advanced “How to be like a duck” training. I must waddle along. Have a good day.
Since it’s National Heritage Breed Week, I would like to highlight an animal everyday that I have been fortunate to meet over the past year in my quest to gather images of rare breeds of livestock and poultry being cared for by Missouri Farmers.
This is Otis, a Mammoth Donkey. Isn’t he GRAND! I got to spend some time with Otis last month at the Foxwood Farm in Louisiana, MO. where he shares the rolling pastures with another Mammoth, two Standards, and a fine looking saddle mule.
Did you know that Mammoth donkeys like Otis are listed as critically endangered! We have the ability to change this. I will do my part by visiting with area farmers and documenting these amazing creatures in an effort to raise awareness that not only are exotic animals in danger of extinction, but so are farm animals.
If you would like to help me with my photo project, please visit my website or my Patreon Page @www.patreon.com/KimCarr Thank you from me and the critters. #nationalheritagebreedweek #heritagebreedweek #mammothdonkey #rarebreed #livestockconservancy #donkeyoftheday #otis #donkeysofinstagram #iloveanimals #farmlife #animaleyes #animalphotographer #heritagebreed #photoproject #patreonartist #savetheanimals #endangeredspecies #missouri_photos #missouri #donkey #kimcarrphotography
Due to the storm Saturday night at the Schlafly Art Fair, my tent suffered some damage. A friend of mine found a tent for sale on Facebook, which resulted in a trip to Gerald, Mo for me today.
Since it is a very small world, it ended up that I knew the folks selling the tent. We were neighbors at the Union Craft Fair for five years...so it was nice to catch up with them, and get a replacement tent that I can use this coming weekend.
Well now....since I like to put as much as I can into a day anytime I leave the farm, I contacted my friend Gail who lives in Gerald. Funny the town has like twelve residents and I know three families! Anyhow, at Gail’s I got to hang out with several Heritage Breed animals...fingers crossed I got some good images for my photo series of rare and endangered farm animals.
Jed and Winky, two Brabant stallions. The Brabant is the founding breed for the modern day Belgian Draft Horse. It is estimated that there are less than 100 purebred Brabants in the United States...and I stood face to face with two of them today!
Buckley the young Randall steer left nose prints on my phone. Most likely if you attend the Mid-Missouri Horse, Mule and Ox Farming and Historical Craft Days which is held at Gail’s place the first weekend of October...you will probably see Buckley among the crowds as he is being trained to wear a yolk and help with some chores around the farm. You can find more info about the heritage days event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MidMoDays
Alice the Arapawa Nanny kept a keen eye on me as she had a new baby that liked to test his vocal cords. I think he liked hearing himself talk. Baelfire the young ram wanted to show off his beard. He heard they were in style right now and is hoping I will make him and his beard famous. I’ll try my best.
It’s so hard to believe all of these animals are on the endangered list! What a shame. I’m so glad to know folks like Gail that are working hard to preserve these wonderful breeds for us all to enjoy. I’m still trying to meet up with other Missouri farmers raising rare breeds. If you know of someone that might like to be a part of my photo project...please send them my way. You can also share my Patreon page which tells all about my project. www.patreon.com/kimcarrphotography
Of course for me...the cherry on top of this wonderful day was Tommy the white Percheron Draft Mule! Any day is better when I get to nuzzle a mule or donkey. 😊
Be sure to mark your calendars for the first weekend in October. Make plans to visit Gail and her beautiful critters during her Heritage Days event. Make sure you get some cherry cobbler or cinnamon rolls cooked in the Dutch Oven At the Chuckwagon. You will be thanking me for this insider tip.
While someday I dream of living an “Off Grid” life, I’m not there yet. In the meantime I practice mini survival skills and often set obstacles in my day to day living to challenge myself. If I do not personally plan out these challenges, they are then given a higher ranking as I award myself mental merit badges.
This weekend I took on two unplanned obstacles so I could keep my skills sharp since the comforts of farm life sometimes lull me into a false comfort zone in which I become lazy and dull.
My first challenge was arriving at my friends house on Friday after a long, hot day in the sun setting up my booth for Art in the Park. Volunteers made sure I had plenty of water to drink, and Art in the Park has trained me to keep two frozen wash clothes with me at all shows...so I was able to clear away the sweat on occasion and get temporary relief from the heat.
I went about setting my booth up at a sloths pace in an effort to conserve energy. I’m not positive if this method really worked, however I did complete my set up before sunset and I was still standing upright...so I’ll chalk it up as a success.
Upon arriving at my friends home I was tired and dirty...and did I mention, dirty and tired?? She wasn’t home, so with dark approaching I went to let myself in. Key number one at door number one, didn’t work. There were two keys, so I felt pretty good thinking the second key would grant me entry where I could then collapse in a heap on the floor till regaining enough strength to make it upstairs to shower and sleep. Ends up, door one was a no go with either key, so with duffle bag, my cooler, my friends two coolers...because she didn’t have access to a freezer...my backpack, and my fans battery bag...I headed around back to door number two with what looked like enough survival gear to last a month. Again I tried key one...nope....by now the duffle bag strap is cutting off my oxygen and I wobble as I try key two...no go. Finally I get the brilliant idea to set all my worldly possessions down on the patio as perhaps they are throwing me off kilter and not allowing me to properly align key to lock.
Now functioning freely I attempted entry again at door two with both keys...no success...so leaving my belongings on the patio I head back to door one to try again...no such luck. A slight panic starts to set in as it is growing rapidly darker and I am be motivated for success by the fall of a shower and comfy bed. As what seemed to be a last option, I head to door number three where I find the screen door locked. At this point my typical animal behavior kicks in...Fight or Flight? As I head back to door one I am running scenarios through my head...how long before the neighbors call the police? If I’m arrested I’ll skip the shower without a doubt. Will they give me one pillow or two? I like at lest two. Will I get head lice? Will someone bake me out in time for me to do the show on Saturday? What friends can I call and crash on their couch if I don’t get arrested? I was in the process of planning things out as I stood at door two trying to gain entry as I used the handy dandy flashlight from my phone to shed light on lock as I again tried to gain entry into the house. As I squinted trying to see what I was doing I got a brilliant idea that perhaps I should put my glasses on so I could properly see what I was doing. So I trek back to my van and grab my glasses. I head back to door two with my two keys, cellphone flashlight and glasses on...Whalah! Magically the door opens. What a sense of relief as I pull my things inside listening for police sirens....nothing but crickets and the distant chatter of folks enjoying an evening outdoors.
With that challenge successfully conquered on Friday night I allocated myself some bonus mental merit badge points. With everything now running smoothly I waited till load out on Sunday afternoon to initiate my second challenge. Busy with tear down I placed my backpack with my money in a tote which I padlocked for safekeeping so I wouldn’t have to keep my pack strapped to me as I worked.
Everything with tear down went smoothly, even had a volunteer help me fold up tent walls and get them neatly stacked for pick up by the volunteer golf carts. I had everything in a nice pile and was asked if I was ready for a golf cart to load my stuff and take it to my van. I told her I would move my vehicle closer before tying up a golf cart. With that in mind I reached into my pocket to grab my van keys so I could go move it to the loading lot.
In my pocket I found one good brand of chapstick tube which was empty but I kept scraping the plastic across my lips all weekend in hopes that I might get the last tiny bit stuck at the bottom of the roll. I also found a tube of nasty off brand, gritty orange flavored chapstick which I donated to my trash can today...there was a lifesaver wrapper, gummy bear wrapper, a wad of lint, and something that I think was doggie biscuit crumbs...lets just pretend it was doggie biscuits...makes me feel better since I’m not current on my tetanus shot...but for my friends who think I should be current on tetanus...let’s just say that I am. Life is easier this way.
Anyhow...while my pocket held an assortment of treasures...it did not hold any keys to my van. As I stood in the sun and tiny beads of sweat emerged from inner skin layers and rolled down my nose I envisioned myself like a skier down a snowy slope. As I blew the sweat from my nose I mentally saw myself drifting through the air like i was parasailing. While I entertained myself for a brief moment, reality kicked in...my van keys were in the back pack locked in the tote....the keys to the tote were locked in my van. 🤔🤔🤔
Use to be I wondered how folks come up with little sayings like...”She’s not the sharpest crayon in the box”....well mystery solved. I can check that off my things to wonder about list.
While pondering how to resolve this challenge I did a little dance much like the one the little bird does as he comes and goes from a cuckoo clock. I paced back and forth till my MacGyver like skills kicked into action allowing each to free my backpack and keys...and yes...the tote is still usable.
As far as weekends go, it’s not the most mental merit badge points I’ve ever scored...but all in all...not bad.
The flower picture is simply because I am currently going through a love/hate relationship with locks, and flowers are easier on the eyes.
Yesterday morning I had grand plans of sleeping in and being lazy...However my cows envisioned the day going a little differently. Apparently they can read my mind as I had plans to move them to the front pasture this week. As it ends up, eight of the thirteen set themselves free, ran about the farm fertilizing everything, then put themselves into the front pasture. I just had to shut the gate behind them...then wake up the other five and convince them it was time to moooove.
By the time I finished wrangling cows I decided I might as well stay up for the day. I love rotational grazing and having belly high grass for my cows. It’s a pretty sight, even if I was denied much needed beauty sleep.
As a farmer, it’s a given...you do chores in the dark. I don’t mind the dark and can make my way around the farm without much trouble getting my chores done. In general I try to get out once the sun is down but you can still easily see to water cows, collect end of day eggs, fresh water for the ducks and my pet, wild snake Spot. By the time I get these task done it’s generally dark enough everyone has gone to roost and I can shut houses before it’s pitch dark outside.
I like to have my hands free to do my work so I don’t carry a flashlight even though my aunt got me one I can wear around my neck. It’s usually to late and I’m too lazy to go back to the house and fetch it by the time I start wishing I had it.
On the plus side of life, I have the ability to forget bad bad things. Then I’ll run into someone and they’ll say, “Don’t you remember when this and that happened?” And...I’ll say, “Nope”...at which point they start going into detail...I then tune out, or change the subject, or say, “nice seeing you” and exit lickity split. However, sometimes I guess it is beneficial to remember bad things...like collecting eggs at night is not good. I know this, but guess I needed a reminder...so blinking my eyes numerous times trying to adjust to the dark, I felt confident the nest box was safe to check for eggs...however the black snake was so offended by my obtrusive behavior as she tried to consume her dinner of fresh eggs, she rattled her tail at me while promptly projecting poop across my face and arm. In defense I promptly tried to pee on her, only I forgot to aim or take my shorts off. So my animalistic defense methods need some tweaking.
For anyone who’s been pooped on by a snake, it’s not as bad as being sprayed by a skunk, but it will test your gag reflexes in case you were wondering if they still work. As a result I had to hose my pajamas off in the driveway and take my second shower for the evening. I also have this memory clearly burned into my brain...No collecting eggs in the dark!!!!
By morning I’m feeling energetic as my self administered stress test, proved that my heart was strong. Having slept with a health slab of Vick’s up my nose, it had me believing I smelled okay and I went about my chores with a little speed in my step as I had a meeting to get too.
Things were all fine and dandy till Zak and Marilyn spotted some chicken feed stealing squirrels! Their ferocious barks and chasing of the rodents up a tree caused Lucy to jump the fence. As soon as the three realized they were all FREE...into the woods they ran. UGH...I don’t have time for this. I call and call and call as I throw out feed. With no reply I head to the house for keys and jump in my truck to try and catch up with them. Up and down the road I go four times....no such luck. I decide to hear back to house and change from pajamas to my meeting clothes and to take the seven mile drive around the neighborhood in search of the wanderers.
I drive, I call, I whistle...no sign of them at all. I get back home...nothing...So I make the loop again. Same results...drive, call, whistle...nothing. Back home I get out and start calling as loud as I can call a dog that is in lots of trouble once they get home. Look at the time and I should have left fifteen minutes ago for my meeting...GRRRR.
I decided one more lap and if I don’t find them, I’m skipping my meeting so I can hunt dogs. I head out on my lap around...I make a quick stop to help a turtle across the road...then about half a mile before you hit Hwy, all three dogs stepped out of the woods into the road in front of me about four miles from home! While I’m angry, I breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Now for the next problem...I’m driving a small pickup and have three large dogs as well as myself to get home.
I put Lucy in the back because I knew she would be the most likely to stay put. She jumped in the bed and seemed grateful or the ride. When I opened the door to the cab Zak was more than happy to get in but wasn’t sure of the small space. I got Marilyn loaded and she didn’t like the small space at all and jumped out the window before I could roll it up. So now I’ve got two loaded and I’m trying to catch Marilyn who doesn’t want any part of this at all. It took some convincing but I finally caught her and with much resistance I had to pick up the wet, dirty hound while in my meeting clothes...which basically means...short and T-shirt...but they were clean when I started out.
During the drive home I had to stay in second gear because half the time Zak has his butt in my face as he tried to sit on my shoulder, I was unable to reach the gear shift as Marilyn tried to climb up on the dash thinking she could squeeze past Zak and I, and jump out the window again. So with no air conditioning and unable to roll windows all the way down, the dogs took turns drooling on me, stepping on me, and just griming me up as much as possible.
Once home, a shower and change of clothes along with a text that I would be LATE!! The bonus for the morning a well behaved cat sat in my lap for awhile during the meeting only reinforcing that, Cat’s Rule, Dogs Drool.
When doing chores Tuesday evening I heard some chirping, so I checked under Daisy. Sure enough her eggs were starting to hatch. She had one little baby and three more eggs. I originally put seven eggs under her, but have no idea if a snake or something else got the others.
Yesterday I found two more hatched and called upon my friend Barbara to help name them...so please meet... Camellia, Rose and Bluebell. 😍
Today I’ll see if the last egg has hatched or if it’s a bad egg. No pun intended. It’s always fun to have babies hatching and being born. So far one calf this year, now eight chicks, and oodles of ducks. I’m not sure of the exact number of an oodle...but it’s between a couple, and a ton.
Years ago...Early 90’s...I worked for Hartke Nursery in St. Louis. The owner would let us take home the scrub plants and see if we could revive them instead of tossing them in the dumpster. I brought home clumps of dirt with withered roots and did my best to give them new life. As a result of a little time and tender care, I ended up with beautiful flower beds of mums, lilies, and iris...some gorgeous roses too. However as my gardens grew, so did the number of critters I had. Unfortunately my fence building skills did not grow or improve during this time, which meant cows, goats and my mule often roamed my yard grazing upon mums, lilies, iris, and roses. Apparently they taste good...thorns and all.
So over the years my flowers disappeared, but I enjoyed the beauty of my critters grazing the fields around my house. Now on the farm, only the hardiest of flowers and blooming plants remain. The Mimosa I transplanted as a baby from my side yard into my moms yard about 12 years ago. It survived mainly because we kept her yard fenced and mainly livestock free for a couple years...gave the tree a chance to take hold.
The lilies I’ve transplanted from the woods. There’s a very old, crumbled foundation in my woods where a house once stood...probably 1800’s as you can see the old wagon train trail if you look at old, old photos shot from the air. The trail now grown up with old growth trees shade the foundation and a bed of lilies that were probably tended to by the landowner many years ago.
Years ago I dug up some of the lilies and planted clumps along my driveway and along my moms fence. The cows don’t seem to think much of them, perhaps this is why they have survived centuries...they look good but taste bad. So I don’t have anything left from the nursery, but I do have a funny story....One day I was working and an older gentleman stopped by the nursery and headed towards the shrubbery. I went over to see if I could help him find anything. He told me he was looking to add some new bushes to his yard. We chatted awhile and I found out about the sizes he was looking for, if they would be in full sun or not, drainage, did he want something to bloom...all the things I needed to know to help him with his selection. We even visited the rows of roses. All the while, the guys that worked at the nursery started following us from shrubs, to roses, to trees. I wondered what they were up to, but shrugged it off as they were just silly guys.
As the gentleman went in to pay, I carried his selections to his car. The guys at the nursery come over and start asking me if I know who the guy is? I shrug my shoulders and I’m like..Nooo, but I assumed they did with the way they were falling over each other. Ends up, I had been helping baseball Cardinals player Stan The Man Musial select bushes and roses for his home. Not being a baseball person, I didn’t know much, but could tell the guys were all gaga about him being there.
When Mr. Musial came out from paying, the guys scattered away from his car as I stood there waiting to help him load up his new purchases. I guess he had seen the guys drooling by his big long car with the fancy fins....he motioned at the guys to come on over and smiled as he popped his trunk where he had a collection of bats, balls, and gloves. He very kindly pulled out a marker and autographed something for each of us. He asked what I would like and I was truthful, that I didn’t know much about baseball but my brother was a huge fan and I had a young nephew (I think Brandon was maybe 2 at the time)....so Mr. Musial signed a bat to my nephew for me. I got baseball fever then because I knew it would be one of the coolest gifts I could ever give sports lovers like my brother, and I knew he would raise my nephew to be the same.
So even though I don’t have any plants that made it through from the nursery, I still think of the day I met Mr. Musial every spring when the hardiest of my flowers start to bloom.
Years later I met another sports star but the story went a little differently. I was driving for Schwan’s, doing home food delivery. I had a ten day route which covered mostly St. Charles county. I would visit a customers home every two weeks. I quickly learned the bigger the home, the lesser the customer would spend....or you wanted neighborhood routes with big, old trees. Subdivisions with little trees tethered and staked meant the people were house poor. Of course my guidelines are not 100% accurate, but as a Schwan’s driver...it was pretty accurate.
When I was given a route in Castlewood Estates where the homes started at 800 THOUSAND...most people would of thought JACK POT!!! Cha-Ching...hahahaha. I had customers with glass elevators in their home. I had one customer who would buy $15-$30 of food each trip, then the next visit give me a box with one fish filet left in it and tell me it had a bad taste and she wanted a refund. Despite the fact that her house and car cost more than I will make in two lifetimes.
She nearly ran me over twice, and apologized because the souped up, bright red sports car just came off the boat from Italy and she wasn’t familiar with how to drive it. I thought about letting her know the pedal on the left acted like a brake, and the one on the right would make the car move...much like cars made in America....but I bit my tongue as I limped back to my truck.
Another lady would have me come to her home every two weeks in a very well to do neighborhood. She would have me stand just inside the doorway were she would look through the catalog page by page as if she were contemplating a big order. After twenty minutes or however long needed for the neighbors to take notice that the Schwan’s truck was at her place...then she would order one box of Banana Popsicles. While waiting on her to make her selection of Banana Popsicles I started to notice a pattern between those who have, and those who have not. Those who have not...such as this lady...have a humongous house, expensive car, super large tv, a leather couch and not much on the walls, but to the outside world they’ve got it going on. To me, those who have...had modest homes, a vehicle that is more for getting the job done and less for looks, the sofa had a pet of some kind, family pictures on the wall, shoes piled by the door, maybe a couple bikes in the front yard. These customers wouldn’t have me stand just inside the door...they invited me in, offered me a seat and a glass of water while they looked through the catalog, or they would have their list of groceries ready. I had a couple ladies that always sent me with some baked goodies every visit.
One of my customers lived on a house boat...that was pretty cool, and another lived on the river in a house built on stilts. When the river flooded he would leave a boat tied to a tree. I would paddle out to his house and tether the boat to his staircase. We would stand on his deck and I got to watch bald eagles hunt fish while he made out his grocery list. It was the first time I ever saw eagles in the wild...that was pretty cool too.
Ok...I’ve gotten off track...One of my Schwan customers was a starting player for the St. Louis Rams, I don’t remember his name, probably because it wasn’t a pleasant meeting. I had been going to house for several months. I had never met him, his wife always answered the door and placed the order. She was very sweet and we would chat as she would order several packs of our best steaks. As it was, I would often arrive at their home late in the evening. On this particular evening it was after dark, which wasn’t uncommon. As I pulled up and parked in the street as I always did, I could see his driveway was shiny and black, and I could smell the tar...but there were no orange cones or anything blocking the driveway...so I figured it safe to walk on the drive instead of trying to navigate the yard in the dark.
I rang the doorbell and no sooner does the wife open the door for me, this giant of a man comes barreling towards me screaming about his driveway. I grimaced and ducked as his wife, who was maybe 100 lbs on a good day, steps between us. He continued to yell about his driveway and how he spent hours sealing it, and I better not of messed it up or else. His wife put her hand on his chest and pushed him back while telling him if anything happened to his driveway it was his fault for not putting up cones like she had told him to do. She continued to push him down the hallway and him to go find something else to do. When she came back I think my eyes were still stuck wide open, and my jaw may of been hanging open. She apologized for her husbands behavior and ordered his steaks. She told me it was just fine to walk down the driveway. As I headed out to the truck to get their steaks, I could see my prints were I had come up the drive...at least I had kept to the edge and didn’t walk up the center of his drive.
While at the truck pulling their order all I could think is..Lord have Mercy...please don’t let him come out and see my tracks on his driveway before I leave. I was sweating bullets trying to get out of there as quick as possible. It’s kinda ironic that I left my footprints on this football stars driveway, a lot like a star leaves their prints in the sidewalks of Hollywood. On future visits my nose would automatically scrunch up as I giggled inside...partly out of fear. I always hoped he would not be home. I even entertained the thought of asking him if he would like my autograph to go with my prints, but I figured I better not push my luck.
AROUND THE FARM: Did an accidental experiment yesterday. Collected tons of dirt and debris with my eyeballs while mowing. This morning I had made several mini mud pies that baked overnight and collected like little crusted jewels in the corners of my eyes.
Today’s special: $1 per pie. Caution these pies are fragile and may not travel well. If your envelope arrives with just grains of dirt, add a couple drops of water and set in sun. Envelope will act as oven and you’ll have your mud pie made by the eye, in no time at all.
Warning: These pies were not made in a commercial kitchen and are not for human consumption. They are merely a means for me to raise vacation money so I can go somewhere less hot and dry. This has been a public service announcement.
My photography makes great birthday gifts! Happy Birthday to Katie...and Thank You to fellow artist Patrick Weck for choosing to gift his girlfriend Katie with some of my art.
You can follow Patrick on Instagram under BlueMaskArt...and you can catch him this September 7-9 under the Emerging Artists tent at the St. Louis Art Fair.
Congratulations to Katie...I hope she has a fantastic day!
AROUND THE FARM: When doing chores, I’m always finding pretty feathers from my birds. I like the markings on this one.
Last night during evening chores, I enjoyed watching the pink clouds before things turned dark on me.
I was surprised some of my lilies were still open when checking beetle traps. I do know the beetles love to eat roses, but not lilies....guess I need to plant more lilies this fall.
The frog made me think of my great nephew, Brycen. Last month when he was out, we hunted for tree frogs every night when closing chicken houses. One night we spotted three! He’s not willing to let one crawl on him yet, but Aunt Kim will work on that. I think tree frogs are pretty cool. I hope they eat beetles.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th.
AROUND THE FARM: Something cute and fuzzy today. 😍 One thing is for certain, my Muscovy ducks know how to beat the heat. It appears the majority of my Momma ducks have taken their babies to the lagoon instead of the pond. The lagoon has lots of willow trees for shade and it’s fenced which prevents coyotes and foxes from running up on them. Plus the tree growth is so thick it is a deterrent to hawks and owls too. Seems like a good place to raise babies to me.
I carry food down to them everyday so they don’t have to trek back to the house and risk loosing someone on the journey...even though it’s only about 200 foot from the main chicken house, that can be a long and dangerous journey for a baby duck. So I’m doing my best to make sure they don’t have to make the trip till they are older.
After getting caught out in last week’s ice storm and taking hours to get home safely, I decided on Sunday I would reschedule my Monday errands. Out here in the country you might see a road grader twice a year and that's not when you have snow or ice. If they do plow your road for snow it's only because they are bored and have done every other road in the county...and there's no snow in the forecast for at least a week. Living on a dead end road with only us and the one neighbor...our road is not a priority. They are going to clear and maintain the roads with the most residents and traffic. Only makes sense, and once you have this figured out, life in the country, well it's not easier, but more manageable I guess.
So Monday my plans were to have a quiet day at home since our gravel road wasn't safe to travel. Up an ice covered hill and then down before I could even reach the next gravel road. Not worth risking going off in a ditch 300 feet from the house. I've done this on more than one occasion, good thing is…it's an easy walk home. Bad thing is my vehicles stuck and now I must wait for spring thaw. In this case, always good to have at least two vehicles and enough sense not to even try to venture out again till the gravel is drivable. Of course within 2-3 days, unless continuous bad weather has been happening, the roads a mere two miles away are clear and drivable, but those two miles to get there...well that's what keeps me at home. So Monday with plans of a quiet office day, working on my very long "To Do" list, my mom threw a wrench in my plans before I even headed out for my morning chores. She said a calf was standing by itself outside the window with no one around, looking very chilled. As I readied to go outside she gave me updates, the calf was still by itself with no momma in sight. By the time I bundled and headed out, the report was the calf had wandered off and hopefully with his mom. So I set about my outside morning chores at 8:40, made much more challenging due to -2 temps. While opening houses to let the chickens go out if they dared, I saw a small black figure under the lean too out in the field with no cows around. So, I set everything down and headed out to investigate. There was Pretty Boy McFloyd barely curled up, stiff and showing little signs of life. Me, with a knee that's been locking up and a slipped disc in my back, I wondered if I could even lift him…but I knew if I couldn't, he would die.
I have no idea how I hoisted him up and over my shoulder, but I did. I guess it was pure determination to keep this calf alive. The trek up the hill was a lot like Thomas the Train....I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. The thought of settling him down so I could rest and catch my breath, crossed my mind several times, however those thoughts were squashed because I lacked confidence that I would be able to hoist Pretty Boy up again, to get him to the house. In true farm fashion the latch on the closest gate was froze, which forced me to head to the farthest gate. I was so thankful once I made it out of the field and into the yard. I headed into the house carrying Pretty Boy while hollering for my mom to grab a blanket. Initially I was going to put him in a dog crate to warm up, but once in the house I realized that wasn't going to happen….too big and his body was too stiff. I decided to place him in my bathroom. I threw everything in my tub and my mom spread out a blanket. Hours later I would come to realize placing the toilet paper holder in the tub was not a good idea, as I have short arms. Lesson learned...when housing livestock in bathroom, you still need to keep toilet paper within reach of the toilet.
With Pretty Boy safely settled in, I turned off the lights to keep him calm. Shutting the door, I secretly hoped he wouldn't destroy my mom's house. With sweat running down my face I headed back out to finish chores. The day was on a warming trend, it was 10 degrees now…not a record breaker but certainly the temps were going up. Apparently if I wrap myself in two pairs of socks, two hoodies, plus a coat, face mask, sock hat, long underwear, bibs and gloves….I will sweat even if it is only 10 degrees.
Outside again Macy was not looking for Pretty Boy. This gave me concern, but it also gave me time to work on some of my chores. As long as she was content I could try and get chickens fed and watered while I figured out what to do with Pretty Boy McFloyd. Once I headed to the barn to pitch hay for the cows and other livestock, I had decided I would move Macy down to the house. This way I could put her in the puppy pen I had made for Lucy’s pups. It should make it easy for me to care for Macy and keep an eye on Pretty Boy. He would have the Hensiek Hotel (one of my chicken houses) as shelter. While pitching hay I notice one of my other cows, Keely acting funny. She charged Lucy a time or two then laid down. Instead of munching on the fresh hay, she was restless and agitated. As I continued working…busting ice, dragging and draining my water hose....I thought….that dang cow is gonna calve today!
As I continued to work as fast as I could, I was trying to figure out where I might pen Keely so she could be out of the weather to calve, and I could easily care for her. Hauling water and food in this weather is not an easy task. While still pitching hay, Keely took off out of the barn lot and across the field. I knew then it was going to be a long day. At this point Macy starts bawling for her calf, Pretty Boy McFloyd. She walks out of the barn lot and heads down behind the house. I’m hoping I can catch her at the lower gate and let her loose so I can direct her into the yard. As I head back down to try and head her off, I see that Kate and her new calf, McKayden are also heading down the fence line. I decide I will set them free too, and work corral them into the yard with Macy. I run grab a scoop of grain to try and entice the gals through the gate. Of course Darby Brook and San Antonio Rose decided they would come down to see what was going on. The open gate looked wonderful to them. Rose dashed right out. Macy and Kate held back because of the icy patch at the gate. I had to do my special dance to try and get them to head through the gate. As Kate went through the gate, McKayden decided to turn and head back up the fence row towards the barn. I took off at a full sprint to cut the calf off like a well-trained cattle dog. I must have been pretty good as the calf stopped and turned back towards the gate. He tried to cut through the fence so I was able to grab him and carry him through the gate, across my yard and into my mom’s yard. Kate stayed right with me as I entered the puppy pen. I went back to try and get Macy in my mom’s yard but she and Rose had headed up the road back towards the barn. Macy hollered a time or two for her calf, then went to grazing on the grass across the road.
Since Macy still wasn’t searching hard for Pretty Boy, I figured I had time to get things set up for the momma’s and babies. I checked on Pretty Boy in the house and he seemed to be doing a little better. I had my mom turn the heat down some so he wouldn’t get too warm and we blocked the bathroom door off with a doggie gate. He was still very quiet, but his body was more relaxed. Knowing Pretty Boy was doing okay….I grabbed my truck keys, three towels and headed back outside to look for Keely. I wasn’t sure my truck would make it on the snow and ice, but it did, and we made it up the hill. I pulled off the road and jumped the fence. There wasn’t much fence to jump. The cows have it pretty wore down, which proved to be a good thing for this single moment. Again, in true farm fashion, Keely was at the farthest point on my property that she could get too.
As I headed towards Keely, just before noon….I could see the steam rising, lots of steam. When she shifted around to look at me I could see the newborn baby standing there like what the heck....out of the oven into the freezer! All the sac wasn't even off of him, Keely still had after birth hanging from her and she was in no mood for me to be coming after her calf. When you have a large animal with horns swing her head at you, well you tend to work with a purpose and you don't dilly dolly around. With the frigid cold I didn’t want to keep the calf out in the open air any longer than needed. I rubbed the baby down quickly with a towel, cleaned his nose and mouth of fluid and membrane, then tried to wrap him up in the other towels as I hoisted him onto my shoulder. Understandably Keely was not happy. It took some coaxing to get her to follow me, she kept wanting to go back to the spot where she had calved. When she would realize that I had the baby, she would run up on me and bump me. A couple times I had to stop and set the calf down. It didn’t have its legs yet so it wouldn’t stand, which made me feel bad….I did not want this calf laying on the frozen ground….so, I hoisted him up and took off across the field again. It’s quite an experience to carry a non-willing calf across a field of snow and ice with a worried mom with large horns glued to your hip. A couple times I felt Keely’s horn press against my back or arm, and I just kept hoping that if she knocked me over, that I wouldn’t fall on the calf and hurt it.
Making my way through the gate I decided to take the calf and Keely to the Big Chicken House. I had to remove my chicken feeder and move some things around, but it was a safe place to go with them. Keely was not happy to be in the chicken house, but she went in to be with her calf. The calf was definitely chilled as it had a jerky shiver going on. I ran to the house and again hollered for my mom, this time I needed her to throw towels in the dryer to heat them up. Back out to the Big Chicken House, I went to work drying the calf. Keely was a little more aggressive with her horns and didn’t want me messing with her calf. With the bone chilling temps there wasn’t much of a choice, she would just have to put up with me and I would just have to dodge the horns. I went back in the house three more times for warm towels. I draped them over the calf head to tail as he started to find his legs. He looked pretty funny wobbling around with his warm towels, but they did the trick…..I had him dry and starting to nurse within an hour of being born. Not bad, not bad at all.
With Keely and her calf safely in the Big Chicken House, Pretty Boy McFloyd in the bathroom warming up, and Kate and McKayden in the puppy pen I headed into the house and had my mom help me get coats on the dogs…. figured I could get their walk in as I went to fetch my truck. The dogs and I headed up the road. Once I got my truck back I headed back up towards the barn. I loaded the back of the truck with hay, I would do this three more times so I could stuff both chicken houses full for a nice warm bed and to make piles for the cows to eat from. I set up water tanks, hung heat lamps and ran extension cords. Just after 2:00 my mom said that Pretty Boy was starting to stir a little and had given a couple moo’s. Outside Macy was starting to look for her calf too. The only way to get her to come down to the house and into the yard was to bring Pretty Boy outside. Once Macy heard him moo, she came at a run. I opened the gate to the yard and in she came. I picked Pretty Boy up again and carried him into the puppy pen, where Macy followed me as I put him inside the Hensiek Hotel under a heat lamp. With chicken waters froze, I busted ice and re-watered before heading into the house just after 3:00.
Inside my mom had already cleaned up my bathroom and fixed lunch for me. By the time I finished eating, we had to laugh because I would need to go back outside in an hour to shut chicken houses, check cow waters, and check on all the momma’s and babies. Back outside I had to catch Justin Gobble, my big tom turkey. He sleeps in the Big House and can’t fit through the doggie door. With the big door closed because of Keely in the house, I caught Justin and set him inside the chicken house. Keely did not like this big creature in “HER” house, so while avoiding Keely’s horns, I rescued Justin and carried him to the Bungalow to sleep for the night. Luckily, no one else was misplaced due to momma cows and calves taking over the chicken houses. Three calves in sixteen days, with the coldest temps of the year, is making for a very interesting winter to say the least.
With everyone settled in for the night I made it back in the house for the night just before 7:00. Without a doubt it was a long day. In a way the winter storm did me a huge favor. By keeping me at home I was able to save two babies. No matter how tired I was.....it was a pretty good day.
In all the excitement of having my great nephew for the Easter weekend, I forgot to share Poppy's 5th Birthday! Born here on the farm a twin, Poppy's mom wasn't able to care for both babies. I found myself with a house guest until she was big enough to master the art of leaping the couch in a single bound, then tap dancing on the coffee table. I named her Poppy because when I first started out with my photography and my note cards, a friend of mine, Jacqueline Fernald, lived in Columbia, MO. She was in Poppy shopping...the gift shop/boutique on Broadway and 10th Street. Jacque saw the huge selection of note cards and stationary items and thought I would be a perfect fit. She struck up a conversation with the owner, and now dear friend, Barbara McCormick. The two agreed I should bring in a sampling of my cards for Barb to look at. Well the rest is history. My cards have been at Poppy since I first began my journey as an artist.
Barb has since retired after 32 years at the helm of Poppy. Before she, her husband John and their faithful dog Mulligan relocated to sunny California, they invited me out to their farm just east of Columbia. It is here that another major milestone occurred in my career as an artist. Barb learned that I was a huge fan of donkeys and mules. It just so happened that she and John had three miniature donkeys along with a few horses. I, of course, jumped on the opportunity to visit their farm to photograph their critters. Barb led me through the barn and down the hillside into an open pasture where the three minis where grazing. She left me to photograph them at my own will after introducing them as Sophia and her two sons, Leonardo and Piccolo. There was snow on the ground, a chill in the air and the donkeys had on a nice thick winter coat. The two boys were more standoffish towards me, preferring to keep their distance. However, Sophia was very curious and followed me as I moved around the field taking pictures. I was trying to get Sophia over with the boys so I could get a family picture of all three together. As soon as I would start to walk away to try and get them all in one shot, Sophia would follow me, sticking by my side looking to be petted and talked too. I had a roll of candied Sprees in my pocket that I used trying to gather all three donkeys together. The boys looked in my general direction but kept a distance from me; they were not falling for the candy trick. Sophia didn’t seem to mind that the boys were being aloof, and she would eat all the candies I had to offer. She ate two or three while we bonded in the field. I tucked the candies deep in my pocket and tried to walk away from Sophia so I could get some shots. I decided to lay down in the snow and wait for her to walk away, hoping she would go join the boys. Instead, she stood over me waiting for me to scratch her nose. I was laughing as she nibbled a little grass through the snow next to me then nudge me to rub her face. After laying in the snow for a while, I could feel the wetness soaking in and was starting to get a little chilled. Sophia was still standing over me, so I just rolled over onto my back. I scooted over a tad because of the sun, framed Sophia’s face and snapped. Again, for me….history made.
People ask me all the time what kind of camera I was shooting with. They figure I had some big fancy lens, high dollar camera because of the clarity and detail in the image I now call Sophia Smiling. Truth is, I was shooting with my very first digital camera, a little Fuji XP pocket camera that I got for $108 brand new at Best Buy. I had always shot with film until my brother gave my mom a little pocket digital camera for Christmas the year before. I had never shot digital, but I liked the compact size and portability of this little camera that I could put in my pocket. I decided I would give my mom’s camera a try on my first outing in a kayak. I had done several float trips in canoes, so when my friend Jacque offered me the chance to go kayaking for the first time, I jumped on that opportunity too. How different could it be? As we put the kayaks into the water and packed our snacks, I pulled my mom’s little digital camera from my pocket to verify I had it. Jacque asked me if I was sure I wanted to bring the camera on my first time out in a kayak. I assured her, yes everything would be fine…I would be staying dry as would the camera. Thirty seconds later, I found myself upside down underneath the kayak in about two feet of water that seemed like twelve feet. Perhaps it was the fact that it was early spring and the water was freezing or maybe it was because I had on jeans, two hoodies and boots that I sank like a log. I seemed to lack the strength to free myself from the bottom of the lake due to my added water weight. Or maybe, just maybe, as I floundered in the freezing cold lake in water- logged clothing, it was the thought of how my mom was going to kill me for submerging her new digital camera in water that I immediately sprung to my feet and ripped the camera from my back pocket. Despite all efforts to save the camera, I lost the battle to the frigid lake waters. We continued on with our journey, the camera dead and me soaked. Several lessons were learned that day….the hard way.
Out of fear, I decided I better get my mom’s camera replaced straight away. This time, however, I decided she needed something a little tougher. This is how I ended up with the Fuji XP. It’s waterproof, dustproof, shockproof…all the features my mom would need….(insert image of sheepish grin on my face). So it is the little Fuji XP that I used to capture two of my very most popular photos -- Sophia Smiling and Two Eggs and a Chick.
Since then I have replaced my little Fuji XP with my IPhone. I love the convenience of having a camera in my pocket. Although I have limitations, I just learn to use it to my advantage. Early on I was also able to purchase a used Canon Rebel from a friend who was upgrading. I like to use my Canon when photographing my chickens or other critters that I don’t want to get too close to and interrupt their general behavior. It also has a nice zoom for bringing things in closer and maintaining quality of image.
Another happy milestone, which is a direct result of my relationship with Poppy, is that I was able to land a deal with Avanti Press, the card company. About two years after I first took my photo of Sophia, Avanti Press contacted me. They had seen my photo on a blog post of funny animals. As a result, I have leased the image to them to use for five years in their line of “Seriously Funny” greeting cards. My photo of that very personable little donkey has now gone nationwide. She has been spotted in drug stores, pet stores, hospital gift shops and party stores far and wide.
Looking back, I had no idea of how things would unfold. Who knew how getting my note cards into a little mid-Missouri shop would help get me to where I am now. One path has led to another, which has led to yet another. I am grateful for how the journey has unfolded and every time I look at my sheep, Poppy, I am reminded of a beautiful saying….
”Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” J. Johnson.
I am a Mid-Missouri farmer with a passion for photography. My critters often serve as my inspiration for fun, light hearted photos that I utilize for a line of note cards and wall art. I also enjoy on location photo shoots, specializing in pets, farm animals and rural settings. www.kimcarrphotography.com