March 11th

Monday, March 11th, 2019

And just like that, it’s spring! Or at least it feels like it.

With the amount of critters out and about today, it’s safe to say that they all think so too.

We haven’t seen deer (or their tracks) in months. I think the snow got too deep, and to preserve energy they were only moving around as they needed to near where they’ve been bedded down.

So as Paul and I sat out in our lawn chairs (I got sun burned today, and it was lovely!), and we saw this little parade come up the paved part of our driveway, it was the cherry on top of this perfect spring day. They came up from Tucker, took a break in our cul-de-sac, and continued up my parent’s driveway all the way up to their house.

There’s no way to know for sure, but with the size difference between the three, I believe this is our resident doe and her set of twins from last summer.

She really is a rockstar. Year after year, season after season, she prevails.

February 15th

Friday, February 15th, 2019

If you clicked into this post instead of just viewing the image from my main page, you’re in for a treat.

I saved some of my best images for those who fully committed to this post 😉

When Paul’s February schedule came out, we were first disappointed when we saw that Paul worked Valentine’s Day. That feeling quickly changed to excitement when we realized that although Paul was working, he would fly into Helena, Montana that night and not fly back out until Saturday – a thirty hour layover!

Loads were perfect, so I joined him on his flight here last night, where we picked up our rental truck and went to the hotel for the night.

We got up early this morning ready for our mini road trip! It was snowing, and in Montana it’s common for roads to stay snow packed all winter, so we threw the truck into four high and hit the road.

We had picked up a Montana road map last night, so looked it over and picked a direction that would bring us to a ghost town and started there.

Inches of snow still covered the mountain roads, and admittedly I was slightly terrified, but it was breathtaking.

E301FC89-9E9F-49E8-98AD-CDCE8187131D41436083-A5CF-4A77-B886-A111B5A7636B

We finally made it to Marysville, and pulled onto “Main Street” – which was covered in at least a foot of snow. In the picture of Paul above, he’s standing in out truck’s track.

Although very snowy, it was beautiful! It provided a lot of perspective on how tough those who originally lived here were.

DDA0F46C-342F-4173-AAA5-1CAA01998603F40BEDE4-E868-44AA-BB59-D4C9CDFA0CA0

After that little adventure, we came back down off the mountain and kept moving toward the town of Lincoln.

It was still snowing, and visibility wasn’t great, but when we saw large, dark shapes on the road ahead I was PUMPED.

AN ELK HERD!!!

As we approached, half the herd hustled across the road (and jumped over fences effortlessly!), while the other half moved back to the originating side of the road.

C09E747E-1308-446D-862A-D0137A60AF1574FDFBAA-0A93-4125-9F34-8CAB2803C16A390C8259-53AF-4C42-A407-2D00EDA0BB18C5415BC0-B358-4E60-A5E1-5275787D4783

It was probably the highlight of the day for me. I had seen elk in Yellowstone when we went for our Honeymoon, but this herd wasn’t habituated to people. Truly amazing.

We pushed on and eventually stopped snowing. After passing through Lincoln, we found other friends along the way.

2EEC634C-0BA8-4232-B6B8-ABDA729A1D28.jpeg

There was wildlife everywhere – I was in heaven! Many of them weren’t close enough to photograph, but there was so much life everywhere!

After moving out of mountain country, we found ourselves in ranchign country and while very different, it was just as beautiful.

This area was called Avon Valley, and they’re known for being “old school” out there. It proved to be true when driving around we say hay stacks.

Not stacks of hay bales – legit piles of loose hay. Hay stacks.

Traditonal and admirable.

CA25DFBF-CA2C-4E4E-84CC-A18248D7475DED538B8F-E165-46EA-9A7E-83E062698FE1B88E272E-903C-4713-9DDC-4D2C69487B41E885562F-3941-4E6C-B263-7C8B1CC3F716FB4FE3C0-355A-4A7B-8615-7DFA908D58E8C83DAAE7-5BB1-4DEE-8BC4-12BE87DC6E34

January 27th

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Well, it’s starting to feel like January.

Dangerous below zero temperatures are moving in this week (a high of -10?! Gross!), and possibly 5-6” of snow is moving our way tonight. When they’re talking about frostbite in five minutes, you know it’s serious.

It was bound to happen sometime, but I’m never really ready for the frigid cold. Especially when you have outdoor animals – in and out of the house constantly monitoring everybody to make sure they’re all drinking water like they should (which means breaking or thawing ice in frozen tanks), as well as making sure they’re staying dry and as comfortable as possible. Praying that all of their instincts are on point to keep them safe – I can’t help them with that one.

Anyway, even if the weatherman wouldn’t have told me snow was coming, I would’ve known.

The pheasants we’re out before the sun was fully up this morning and stayed out for most of the day. Then the deer came through out into the open around lunchtime (during daylight) looking to feed before the weather changed. A herd of six stick around for most of the afternoon (four of the six pictured here).

Nature is amazing that way.

December 14th

Friday, December 14th, 2018

What a whirlwind of a morning.

If you’re friends of ours, you know that we’ve had some issues over the last year with some water in our basement thanks to some big rains this summer.

So today, gutters went on the house. They were here promptly at 8:30, didn’t waste any time and got right to work.

Now to be honest I underestimated how loud it was going to be – between the hammering, sawing, and portable radio they had with them it sounded like a party out there.

While this may sound irrelevant to my blog, I assure you it’s not.

Anyway, since I had to be home anyway it was the perfect time to be holed up in my office, online at TicketMaster for two hours waiting for Garth Brooks tickets to go on sale.

Now, I had done my homework on this whole thing, and the key was to log on early and take a seat in their “virtual waiting room” before tickets went on sale – that allowed you to get a spot in line just at 10am, getting you ahead of all those logging on at 10. So at 9am when it opened I was in the waiting room.

Definitely a “hurry up and wait” situation.

Once I was in I was in, so from 9-10 I cleaned my office, looked at the clock, updated my blog, looked at the clock, twiddled my thumbs, looked at the clock.

Once ten came around, I was doing finger stretches, hyping myself up, ready for the madness.

My screen refreshed, and I was so ready.

Here we go!

“2,000+ people ahead of you!”

Oh boy. MORE WAITING. It was killing me!

I had no idea how fast it was going to go, so I didn’t want to leave my computer or get busy with something else so I stared out the window.

A half hour later I was still waiting.

I happened to look out the window right when two does came barreling through our western tree line out into the open field. They were booking it – zig zagging every which way, crossing each other’s paths, totally in a panic it seemed.

Then they both stopped and stared at our house.

Then it dawned on me: The noise from the gutter guys!

Obviously confusing for them, as there was a lot of noise but not any large movements for them to gauge where it was coming from.

After getting a good look, they casually wandered on their way.

Luckily, that ate up the remainder of my waiting time, and we did end up getting tickets!

Pretty crazy considering the show sold out in an hour, and 50,000 people were still waiting in line when it closed.

December 10th

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Another frosty morning!

Remember how I mentioned in a previous blog that I sleep on the side of the bed facing the window? Well, I opened my eyes to this:

12.10.jpg

There wasn’t much light, so my photos are pretty noisy due to my high ISO, but what a treat to wake up to!

It was our doe and her twin fawns (they’d been on my blog this past summer), and they even came onto our side of the treeline to move on down past our house to our neighbor’s (main image).

Good morning, and happy Monday!

November 27th

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Today’s image is what happens when you don’t have binoculars handy.

Often when I think I see something out in the distance, further than what my eyes can clearly see, I pull out my camera. I take a picture, then zoom in on the back of my camera. It’s not a very clear image at that point, but it often allows me to see if what I’m looking at is indeed an animal or just a bush.

It was 1:30 this afternoon when I had to go for my camera. Paul was on his way home from work, and I was doing dishes at our sink. I was looking out the window and thought I saw a dark spot where there normally isn’t one. It looked deer-shaped, but if that’s what it was, it’s head was down, so it wasn’t 100% clear that’s what it was.

Sure enough, I take a picture, zoom in, and it’s a huge buck.

It wasn’t overly clear exactly how big his rack was, but I was able to count ten, at least. Not a broad rack, but tall.

So I called Paul, and it just so happened that he was 15 minutes away. Paul has a bow tag that he hasn’t filled yet this season, so he asked me to keep an eye on him so when he got home he could try and go out for him.

I quite honestly doubted that he’d hang around that long, but fifteen minutes later Paul pulled up and the buck had only wandered about 100 feet. (This picture was taken right before Paul got home.)

Paul ran in, grabbed his bow, threw his coveralls on over his uniform, and went out the door.

Now, Paul had absolutely zero cover out there; it was an open field. However, our neighbor had said his trick to bow hunting is to crawl toward the deer once it’s seen you, as it can illicit a curiosity response over a flight response.  He claimed that he does it every season and it never fails.

So I watched Paul crawl across our pumpkin field, over my parent’s driveway, and into the soybean field.

If you can believe it, it actually worked better than I thought it would.

11.27-2.jpg

Around here, at the first sight of humans, the deer are gone. Like flee the scene, don’t come back for days gone. Especially the bucks.

This deer did eventually move on, so no venison for us, but it was pretty neat to watch.

However, while we assumed after this little hunt took place that he’d move on to different property, my sister texted Paul this evening after dark, saying that said deer was on the driveway when she came home.

So, even if the crawling didn’t get Paul close enough to shoot, it moved the deer out without fear of the area. So there may be something to this whole crawling thing.

October 22nd

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Had these sweet visitors swing by this morning.

Harvested fields mean no cover for them as they move around, which is a bummer for them but good for me!

The pheasants have been out, we’ve seen coyotes, and now deer this morning.

I’m digging being able to see the wildlife again, even if I lost the green landscape. In fact, look at that thin layer of frost on the field!

October 16th

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Animals have such healing powers. Especially large animals.

I don’t know why I always seem to forget that.

I assisted Shelley at what has turned into our annual fall photoshoot with Ames Percherons this afternoon, and those gentle giants just never cease to captivate me.

When you simply stand in their presence, it allows your mind to quiet and empty; their demeanor and spirit gently invades your senses, pulling out all anxieties. You smile easier, breathe easier, feel the peace fill your heart.

Maybe it’s because they are true examples of God’s creation. They thunder when they move, literally shake the ground, but it only takes two human hands to bring them all to a stop again. Power and grace. To look at an animal so large, yet so unimposing. To be so close to danger, but feel so safe.

It’s such a spiritual experience, there’s just nothing else like it. You can ask any horse person and they’ll agree – drafts are in a league of their own. Even the UPS guy drove down the road, turned back around, and stopped to watch.

They just draw you in.

Even the deer aren’t alarmed by them. We had just returned to the barn after the team thundered all over that hill the deer are standing on, but the deer act as if they were never there. It’s like they were hanging out in the trees, enjoying the show, and walked out to eat their clover as we left.

I’ve been feeling smothered by my anxiety lately, which isn’t uncommon for this time of year (goodbye long, sunny days), but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to hit that fall wall. But it’s amazing how God placed this afternoon on my schedule knowing exactly what I needed. My neck pain has subsided, my headache from earlier today is gone, my appetite is back, and I’m ready for tomorrow.

Heeeyo let’s do this!

September 22nd

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

This place is amazing.

Camp Foley holds camps for kids all summer, and rents out the facilities to weddings in the fall.

The cabins, chapel, cafeteria (also acts as reception hall). The lake, big mature trees, hiking trails. I was never one for camp as a kid, but I would’ve been all about this.

The cafeteria is a large log structure with an expansive covered front porch. Last night, Andrew’s family set up a couple of long tables  on the porch, and we ate family style looking over the lake out in the beautiful fall air. A couple of does walked into camp and it was so peaceful. As we ate, they also ate.

So this morning, I wanted to see if we could find some deer; Paul and I got up early and did some hiking before wedding festivities.

The trails were beautiful; the fall color was just starting to turn, and the air was so clean. We did see four deer and one sassy red squirrel who threw some acorns at us.

With all of the food and fellowship of last night, I can’t wait for the wedding tonight!

September 8th

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Tonight, I feel as if I’ve hit the photography jackpot.

Finishing up chores this evening, I had my camera on my lap on our way back home. We thought we had spotted deer off in our back field, but it turned out to be a brown cornstalk (whomp whomp), so I was feeling a little bummed.

We turned the corner by our patch, and it’s habit to look out the window and admire the pumpkins as we drive by. When Paul rolled down his window, something caught his eye behind the soybeans: this gorgeous lady.

I was thrilled! I mean, look at the awesome array of colors and the pretty light!!

But then Paul saw something else coming out of the tall grasses, and I looked a little closer…

09.08-3.jpg

That’s right, friends, a fawn!

09.08-4.jpg

Although still fawns, at this time of year they’re nearly as big as mama, but still fun to see! This is all the farther he showed himself, so we left as to not cause discomfort or concern for either of them.

I was riding a high from that encounter, when we pull up at home and THEN THIS HAPPENS!

09.08.jpg

While not under ideal conditions or ideal location, I STILL PHOTOGRAPHED A MOVING HUMMINGBIRD YOU GUYS! If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw my story about her hovering in front of my face yesterday, and me being completely awestruck. I never did get an image of her then, but this became icing on the cake this evening.

Tomorrow morning, Paul and I are getting up early to head back up to the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge to photograph the Sandhill Cranes staging. Thousands of them (11,000 was last year’s number) flock up there to begin their migration together, which will happen in November. During September and October they roost in the refuge, and fly out to eat in the local farm fields during the day. We’re hoping to catch them in large numbers – we’ll see!

August 10th

Friday, August 10th, 2018

I got a glimpse into God’s delight this morning. It still has me smiling.

I was packing up my car, on my way out the door to meet my friend, Tiffany, for a walk this morning when I heard Sandhill Cranes out in one of our hay fields. Freshly cut on Wednesday, we’ve had all sorts of critters hanging around out there now that the grass is down. So while hearing them didn’t surprise me, their distressed calls did. They sounded like they were being threatened; their tone was an anxious one.

So I put down what I was carrying, and peeked out of the garage. I went from concerned to delighted in less than a second.

Our two twin fawns were out antagonizing the cranes.

So what did I do? All together now: “I ran for my camera.”

How do I know those are the fawns, you may be wondering. Their playful, innocent nature gave them away. While they’ve grown very quickly physically, it was obvious from their behavior that they were still learning. Their curiosity in the cranes was endearing; the cranes were yelling at them, but that only increased their need to understand what they were.

Specifically for the fawn in front.  The instigator.

After the moment in my main photo for today, the fawns started grazing, and the cranes took that opportunity to move away from them. However, their distance didn’t last long. Instigator wandered back over, causing the cranes to really get defensive. They both opened their wings, ducked their heads, and charged.

08.10-2

 

This caused a gleeful retreat from said instigator, tossing his head and bounding around like a giddy foal.

08.10-3.jpg

He then ran over to his sibling,

08.10-4

And they ran back toward the treeline together. But not before sharing in a mutual delight of a new discovery.

08.10-5
08.10-6

Childlike wonder and delight aren’t a right reserved to humans. You see it in puppies, kittens, foals, calves, and as seen today, in wild animals as well.

It was a fun moment to witness today! I hope you all enjoyed this little play out of events as much as I did!

July 17th

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

It’s happened, folks.

This image was not taken today. It was, in fact, taken on Saturday. In the two year run of doing this blog, this is my first “failure.”

Want to know why?

Paul left for work with my camera bag in his truck. I totally forgot to grab it before he left.

Yes, yes, I could’ve used my phone, but I’m embracing the failure.

I also am posting this image before yesterday’s because yesterday’s images are on the memory card in my camera. In Paul’s truck.

And to be honest, I was bummed I didn’t get to share this image on Saturday (branding took the front seat), so I’m glad I get to share it – even if through a failure.

This is our mama, my girl. And guess what I learned about her on Friday, friends?!

SHE HAS TWINS THIS YEAR!

I walked out of the barn, looked back to the hay field Friday afternoon (right where she is in this picture), and she had two littles bounding around and playing while she took a minute to eat. I stood there and watched for awhile, unable to do anything but that because of why? What have we learned in the past?

Courtney. Must. Always. Bring. Her. Camera.

Naturally, one of the neatest things happens and my camera is up at our house. Such is life I suppose.

Then I took this picture the next day when she was out by herself (Saturday), and Sunday we watched from our house as Junior raced around on the pasture side of the fence, on full alert, because she was out grazing in the hay field. He wanted her to come say hi, but she was perfectly content to munch.

She’s become a fixture at the farm, and I love it.