September 21st

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Only in fall in Minnesota can you go out four wheeling around the neighborhood in misty, windy weather only to turn around an hour later and be shedding jackets in the sunshine.

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Lots of belly laughs today. Onto Camp Foley tonight to set up the reception hall and get ready for the wedding!

May 13th

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

I know I said I’d start limiting the personal images, but it was dusty today.

If you live, or have lived, anywhere with a clay-based outdoor riding arena, you understand the significance of that statement. Our arena is like a sponge; it holds water like crazy. The past couple of summers it’s been so wet that we haven’t gotten much riding time, so the dust is a welcome change.

It was our first “big ride” of the year, and it was so lovely! The boys were SO GOOD, and we all enjoyed ourselves. If you remember from last summer, we had been having a lot of trouble with Junior being sore, and we weren’t sure where it was originating. It made for a frustrated horse, and even more frustrated humans. It made rides stressful, and they almost always ended in a fight.

Our farrier suggested that he had sore stifles (they are the same as knees in humans), and that physical therapy or chiropractic work could help alleviate the stiffness. We worked on physical therapy at home on our own, with very little luck, and we were having some trouble getting an appointment with a highly recommended chiropractor suggested to us by trusted friends, so for the interim we took the leap and put him on an MSM supplement (a joint anti-inflammatory) to see if that would give him any relief.

A few weeks later, and he’s moving like an entirely different horse.

He couldn’t hold a trot for more than four or five strides last summer, and today he trotted a full lap around our outdoor (both directions!) with no issues. He was fluid and balanced, driving from his back end, his headset was so much lower (showing his comfort level), and he was excited to move out. He was more willing to flex both directions, and he wasn’t chewing his bit nearly as aggressively as he had last summer.

I felt like crying, if we’re being honest.

It was Paul’s best ride with him yet, and that was so encouraging.

March 19th

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The hoodies are back!

Be prepared – until the grass is green, I’ll more than likely just keep informing you of what animal has officially made it back from migration. Sandhill Cranes, the geese, different kinds of ducks, we even saw a Blue Heron yesterday!

Anyway, around the edges of most bodies of water have thawed, leaving shallow open water. With that, we’re seeing a lot of diving ducks, including this male Hooded Merganser. He also had a lady with him, but when I got too close they flew, and being the chivalrous type, he let her go first.

March 14th

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Remeber what I said yesterday about the white stuff? I take it back!

I love this kind of white stuff – hoar frost is one of my favorite natural phenomenons. To wake up to everything covered in frost is magical, even more so than with snow. With hoar frost you get the white freeze with beautiful blue skies.

The sun was shining pretty intently this morning, so I had to move quickly before it melted. I was able to get some images, and this was one of my favorites!

March 5th

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

What beautiful weather we had today!

Windy, but a beautiful sixty degrees! Paul and I took advantage of the weather and went for a walk in our woods. I was hoping for another peek at our resident owl, but she was shy today. When we sat quiet for twenty minutes, she did call quite a bit and we saw a flash of her flying through the trees, but she kept her distance. But nevertheless we enjoyed our walk. While our pond out front is officially “ice-out,” our creek in the back is still frozen. The edges are beginning to thaw, but it still holds onto last fall’s leaves in the ice.

March 1st

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

I was completely heartbroken last week when I walked through our woods (without my camera, of course) and came across a Barred Owl. Photographing an owl has been at the top of my wildlife bucket list, and it would just be fate that the one time I didn’t have my camera I’d not only come across one, but have it sit still and watch me with curious eyes for multiple minutes. I was able to walk under the tree she was sitting in before she flew off.

The odds of seeing her again, especially that close? Not in a million years.

But regardless, I strapped on my camera today and went for another walk. At a certain point along the way we stopped and I started photographing a Pileated Woodpecker. Afterward, I turned to talk to Paul, and there she was! Curled up next to the trunk of a tree, watching us quietly. I simply could not believe it.

She was so beautiful! I couldn’t believe how patiently she sat as I photographed her. What an amazing experience!

February 23rd

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

It was so refreshing to see these bright colors this afternoon!

Paul and I have heard raving reviews about this dog park not far from us, but we don’t have a dog so have never had a reason to go. Out of curiosity we stopped in today.

When I think dog park, I think a small fenced in area for dogs to be off-leash. This dog park was HUGE – at least 10 acres! Butting up to the Crow River, there were miles of trails winding through woods and open areas along the river. No wonder people love taking their dogs here! It was not only a great place for the dogs, but a beautiful place to just go for a walk.

While walking along the river, we were in an area with a lot of mature trees; Paul estimated that many were at least 50 feet tall. We came across a spot where many had fallen, more than likely a result of last summers big storm, and one of the trees had beautiful moss growing all over it. The bright saturated green was such a sight among the grays and browns of empty trees and bare ground.

February 10th

Friday, February 10th, 2017

If you don’t know about Swan Park in Monticello, Google it!

Open December-March, Swan Park is one of the smallest city parks I’ve seen. A sliver of land in the middle of a residential block that butts up to the Mississippi River. The story behind it is a beautiful one; a woman living in the house next to the now-existing park always fed the swans who would winter in the shallow banks of the river in her backyard. After passing in 2011, her husband continued feeding them in her memory. Now, the city created this seasonal park so others can enjoy the swans and other waterfowl that flock there in incredible numbers. Feedings are at 10:30am every morning, so this morning we saddled up and went to watch.

It was a really neat thing to experience. When we pulled up to the “parking lot” and stepped out of the car, we heard them before we saw them. Their trumpeting is one of my favorite sounds. Unfortunately, as we walked up, kayakers were coming down the river and spooked the swans. The 50 or so swans left, but the hundreds of ducks stayed. According to the gentleman who feeds the swans, they had over 500 swans in attendance for feeding yesterday! We’ll definitely have to go back!

January 16th

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Another long exposure experiment today. The moon was surrounded by a thin veil of fog/haze tonight, causing the light to bounce around in the cold air. I think the shutter speed was around 2.5-3 seconds for this exposure. By setting the delayed response of the shutter by two seconds, I was able to push the shutter release and let the camera settle from the vibration the movement of the button creates to really keep the image as crisp as possible. And why not focus on the moon itself? Well, while I agree the moon is beautiful, I wanted to add another element of interest and have the focus be more of the haze then the features of the moon itself. I love the drop off of light!

January 14th

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

For as weird, gangly, and ungraceful turkeys are, I secretly LOVE them. Have you ever sat and watched a turkey? At the very least they’ll make you smile, but they make me out right giggle. The way they communicate with each other is so animated – puffing chests, fluffing feathers, dirt baths. They roost in trees that seem like they shouldn’t support their weight, and the beginning of each flight begins as an outright fall until their wings catch up with their body weight. But then you see a tom put on a show for the ladies and he takes your breath away. And you stop and listen to them coo and cluck to each other and it sounds like a song. They really are beautiful birds!

Today I was lucky enough to tango with a flock of about 25 turkeys, but couldn’t catch them all at once. But what a neat experience! I would’ve spent all day with them if I could have.

January 13th

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Happy Friday the 13th!

One thing I want to add to my portfolio this year? Barns. Farms. There are so many around and they’re beautiful. And this time of year is fun to shoot them – the red against snow is unparalleled. We drove past this one tonight right before the sun went down and the clouds were gorgeous! Proof of a sign that I need to get my butt out and find more to shoot. Where are your favorite barns?