March 14th

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

I think I’m going to call this one “Rock Star Bird.”

Does he not look like he’s about to belt out his favorite song lyrics?

If you live in Minnesota (or any other bitter cold, snow-ridden place), I hope you were able to spend at least a few minutes outside today. It was absolutely gorgeous. I took a walk out to the woods today in hopes of seeing our Barred Owl again; I did see her but she was too quick for me. After watching her fly off, I meandered through the woods, reveling in the delight I was feeling over the songbirds flitting around above me.

They are so cheerful and active, calling out, chasing each other about. I stood and watched them for awhile, and I had a curious little Chickadee that came and landed in a branch right in front of me – it was so fun!

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I think that’s why I’m so drawn to photographing nature and wildlife – to be invited into their world and see God’s creation at work is so magical.

March 10th

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

I haven’t been this excited in a long time.

Really.

Really.

REALLY.

Excited.

Back story: For the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a Bald Eagle pair in our area. Flying over our house, perched in many big trees around the area (down our road, on Territorial, at Crow Hassan). We don’t get them too often in our area, but it’s not unheard of, so to be honest I didn’t think much about it.

Until the night the possum was in our front yard.

Yep, you read that right.

I was looking out the window the night before we left for Washington DC, and a large something was walking around in the field in our front yard. It was a possum. Now that is bizarre for many reasons. 1.) It was out during daylight, 2. It was close to our house (we later found tracks right alongside our front porch), and 3. It was walking in circles.

Then, this Bald Eagle came out of no where and swooped towards the possum, but ultimately landed right next to it in the field. I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out of my head. Right there, right in front of me. I had never seen anything like it. So, naturally, what did Courtney do?

You guessed it – I ran for my camera.

But by the time I came back, the Possum was still wandering around, and the Eagle was gone. Our thought was that something must have been wrong with the Possum (rabies, maybe?) for the Eagle to not take it.

That was when I realized that the Eagles must be dedicated to this area – and close – because of how quickly it arrived.

Well then this afternoon, I drove back to the farm and saw a very large bird in one of the big trees back in our woods (see picture above). I pulled out my camera, snapped a quick picture, and zoomed in on the back of my screen to see exactly what kind of bird it was. Sure enough, it was an Eagle.

Luckily, Henna was preoccupied, so I snuck back to the woods hoping for a better look. By the time I got back there, the Eagle was gone (no surprise there). So I enjoyed a walk around the woods anyway.

When I made it back around, I just stood quietly in one spot with my eyes closed, listening to all of the songbirds that are starting to come back. Such a joyous, welcome sound! After a couple minutes, I opened my eyes again, and it just so happened that the Eagle was flying back over me.

I watched it land in a tree not too far from me, and started to make my way that direction. When I was finally able to get close enough that the trees didn’t completely obstruct my view, I noticed something really wonderful – can you see it in this photo?

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Folks, I’m no Eagle expert, but that looks like a nest in that tree.

If that is truly what that is, and they do nest and hatch a brood there, it will be the most amazing thing. THE MOST AMAZING THING.

I. AM. SO. JAZZED.

Now, I did do some research on Eagles and nesting, and I’m not totally convinced it’s their primary nest (because of it’s small size), but there’s a chance!

According to my research, Bald Eagles in Southern Minnesota lay eggs/begin nesting mid-February. In Northern Minnesota, they begin April/May time frame. For pairs building new nests, it can take them 1-3 months, so January time frame (Southern MN), and March (Northern MN). I’m not sure what we would be considered, and if we can approximate halfway between those two time tables, but we’d be right on if that were the case. That nest could’ve been there for a few weeks, and I didn’t see it until the Eagle brought attention to it today.

The average size of a Bald Eagle nest is 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet deep. If we use the average size of an adult Bald Eagle (their body being 3 feet tall) as an indication from the second image, the nest looks like it could be 2 to 3 feet in diameter and one foot deep.

Now, I realize that this may not end up being their nesting site, but as it stands right now, this by far is the coolest discovery I have made in those woods.

February 7th

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Lots of thoughts rolling around in my head today.

Kind of like this image, not all are in focus (punny, ha!). Anyway, that’s not the point. Being a part of a generation who grew up on social media, I feel like we got a little stiffed. While I think most of us would agree that social media is mostly a good, fun thing, I find it to be a source of dissatisfaction some days.

Knowing everyone else’s views, who they voted for, what their job is, if they’re married, if they aren’t, how many kids they have, how successful they are or aren’t, their new cars, new boats, their super-great-ultra-fantastic life. Every situation in my life can be compared to someone else’s.

And I really dislike that.

For me, it’s not even always the feeling of falling behind, but the opposite. That Paul and I are super blessed, and I feel hesitant to share pictures of us taking a walk together with our puppy on a Wednesday, when most of the general population is working. The judgement that can sometimes come from not doing life the way society says we should.

That’s been a big hurdle for me, personally.

This morning was such a joyful one for us: beautiful weather, a happy pup, Paul and I spending quality time together, enjoying deep conversation while walking this gorgeous property. As refreshing as it is, it just feels wrong sometimes.

And maybe to you, you see nothing “wrong” about that, which if that’s the case, I love you for.

My family growing up was pretty traditional; my dad worked a Monday-Friday job, my mom mostly stayed at home. We had our evenings and weekends together. We could plan vacations, trips, outings. Well, with Paul and I, our schedule and relationship is anything but traditional. Paul works 80 hour weeks and gets paid for 30. He’s gone any day – holidays, weekends. His job never stops. If we want to go somewhere, it’s spur-of-the-moment, we improvise and make it up as we go because his schedule only comes out one month at a time. While adventurous on one hand, it’s stressful on the other. So our Wednesday morning strolls together are so precious to us. It feels like we should be doing more with our time, but we’ve learned that simple and present is what works for us at home.

For example, we bought a “51 Puppy Tricks” book, thinking it would be fun to do with Henna as the weather (hopefully!) gets warmer. Today we worked with Henna on eye contact. Our cue is to hold your finger in front of your nose/face, and say “Focus.” She is a soul-searcher, so that one was easy for her. And it’s fun for us to do together.

So we do life the way it works for us. Which I hope you do, too.

Our life goals aren’t lofty ones. We’re simple people. We just want delight and investment. Joy and contentment.

Sometimes, when I feel the push of outside influences to do more, I have to remind myself that busy isn’t right for everyone. That not everyone can be president, or cure cancer, or change the world. That I can be impactful at home. That what some may call a “mediocre” life can be one of the most rewarding.

God’s shaping our story, and I trust what he sees. I’m excited to see what He has planned.

January 28th

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

One of my favorite places: The Woods.

Not just any woods, but the 9 acres of woods on the back side of the farm.

This is the trail from the farm to the entrance of the woods. Fields to the left, marsh to the right.

I used to take Val back into the woods and hang out for hours. My dad and I made a tee-pee out of logs, and it was at the crest of the hill right in the middle of the woods. I’d ride back there and make a “fence” by weaving downed limbs and large sticks through trees. Val was happy to humor me and play her part; she would stand under her favorite tree and nap while I played make-believe.

When I wanted to practice shooting my bebee gun, dad would take me back in the woods and we’d set up cans on a sawhorse.

This spot is where Brenna and I were riding or horses when the Sandhills Cranes flew at us, and Val and Rusty spun on a dime to scoot us out of there.

At one point, when we had three horses, CJ, Buck, and Val, dad and I wanted to go for a ride, but we didn’t want to leave an aging Val back at the barn by herself. She was NOT a rule breaker (as an example, she stayed inside the pasture when the gate was left open even though all the other horses ran for freedom) so we thought “She’ll just follow, herd mentality right?” So we saddled up Buck and CJ, and let Val follow (no halter, no lead). She did great, followed us with no issues and it was so fun! Until we got to this spot and it clicked for her that she had no halter on. She literally stopped in her tracks, spun and ran – tail flagged – back to the barn. Dad and I continued on our ride, which I know sounds so crazy to you fellow horse people, but that’s how much we trusted her.  When we got back, Val was standing in her stall, relaxed and happy to see us. I will never, ever forget that. I miss her so incredibly much it hurts sometimes.

More recently, Paul, Kya, Tim , and I went Morel mushroom hunting back there last spring.

Bandit rode the Ranger with me all over those woods her whole life, but especially this last summer.

And now, we’re showing Henna these woods.

These woods, and this spot in particular, hold so much meaning to me.

I love this place.

October 19th

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

I did something for the first time today.

After a wonderful morning connecting with an incredible group of Godly women, I was looking for some quiet time with our Almighty.

Paul is out of town, and therefore not hunting, so I went out and sat in Paul’s deer stand. I brought my camera with, hoping to photograph some deer but none stopped by. As luck would have it, I actually came across one driving up our driveway after I came out.

But the view was still gorgeous; surrounded in a sea of yellow at one of the prettiest times of day.

October 14th

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Today cemented the fact that fall is indeed my favorite season.

I mean, look at that color! It doesn’t even feel real. And for the record, this involved no color manipulation, this is the real deal.

I’ve been breaking my own rule lately, and have been posting more than one image per post, so why stop now, right?

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When Paul and I went out back to our woods for a walk, the woods looked beautiful from the outside (top image), but we had no idea just how beautiful until we were right in it. Yellow everywhere. The Maples were abundant, and they were at peak.

I felt like we were walking through imaginary land.

Due to the amount of abundant rain we received in August, the Minnesota DNR predicted a very long and vibrant fall in terms of color this fall; I’d say that is 100% accurate.

What an incredible gift of beauty from our Creator. He could have easily made trees to turn from green to brown; to have no show of color and spectacle. I experienced a true feeling of thanksgiving as we walked and was immersed in vibrant color.

Then we came across my favorite tree. It succumbed to the vicious storm that came through last July, and I was so sad to discover that it had come down. One of the oldest trees in our woods, it felt like a legacy had fallen. Throughout this summer surrounded in green it had seemed so defeated and sad. We’ve gone back and forth about bringing it down completely, but couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.

Then as we walked through today, amidst the color, it stood out and was magnificent.

October 7th

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

This fall has been so peculiar.

Fall colors started unusually early this year – I started seeing colors change mid-August – but then it’s like they froze for two weeks, and have started again.

Paul and I expected to miss the fall color when we went out to Utah, but came back to 75% green. Now with the cooler nights the color has begun to advance again but we still have so much healthy green.

Bandit and I went out to the woods for a walk today in hopes of gathering leaves, but to my surprise there weren’t many to pick from. This time next week may be better.

On our walk I came across this bright, vibrant leaf resting on a still green sapling. I didn’t move this or place it at all.

Such a lovely contradiction of change; the chapters of time.

March 10th

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Its the last of the corn for the season!

Paul and I received a trail camera for Christmas this year, and we’ve loved it. We have 8 acres of woods behind our house, and we really enjoy seeing the images we get each time we check it. Lots of squirrels, deer, pheasants, and raccoons. Throughout the cold season we’ve been putting out corn to not only help feed the deer, but to encourage them to come to the camera. Today we put out the last of our corn for the season – it’s already mid-March! If we’re lucky, we’ll hopefully start seeing fawns within the next month or so.