Friday, February 27, 2009

It's So Much Easier This Way!

Last week, a friend and I were discussing the drudgery of "bucking hay" -- gathering and storing bales of hay in the barn for winter when we were kids. In those days, the 2-rope bales we handled weighed about 70 pounds and had to be handled one by one at least 3 times before they got to the hay loft.

First we picked them up from where they were dropped by the baler out in the field and threw them up onto the hay wagon, where they were caught and stacked by someone else. After being transported to the barn, they were tossed back off the hay wagon down to someone who would load them onto a conveyer belt that took them up to the hay loft. In the loft, we caught them as they came off the conveyer and stacked them as neatly and as high as we could.

This was inevitably done on the hottest day of August while wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt to protect one's flesh from the sharp hay. It was and ugly job, but it had to be done. Gads we got tired and dirty!

You will understand then why I have so much fun watching a load of hay being delivered and unloaded for me these days, especially since the monster bales we buy now weigh several HUNDRED pounds each! A load came in this morning and I managed to catch the end of the process with my camera. I think the drivers thought I was nuts -- it was foggy, damp, and COLD out there!

These are the last 18 bales left on the trailer. Just look at the size of those babies!

That's the "Squeeze". I love that machine. The driver takes aim with those long arms at the base of the stack he wants to remove from the trailer, and...

...Carefully now! ...he scoops up 6 bales...

...backs carefully away from the truck, and then sets them down.

He drives to the other edge of the stack to get a good grip on the long edges, pinches those big mechanical arms together and lifts one more time...

for one last trip into the hay barn. Each trip takes about 3 or 4 minutes at most.

Wasn't that easy? If I had had any sense I would have watched the whole thing from inside the house with a last cup of coffee in my hand, but I wouldn't have been able to take very good pictures that way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Photo of the Week

This is Gatsby, our resident goofball. You may remember him as one of the litter of kittens that was dumped on our front porch a while ago. (He was the "hungry one", and believe me, he hasn't changed much, LOL!) He literally moved in to our house and would not be moved out. Every time a door was opened, in he would scoot. Eventually, we succumbed to the inevitable...

I'm not sorry because once I got used to him I learned to love him. He is the funniest cat I have ever met and has been the source of many smiles as well as outright laughter. Not only that, but the girls swear he can see ghosts. I have seen him staring intently at something only he can see myself.


I wish I had some artwork to share, but I have been completely unmotivated to do much more than read or spin this week. However, I have been working hard trying to learn some of the more advanced aspects of my PS Elements program. All of my books seem to stop at the same place, leaving things like layers, filters, and blending modes almost completely unexplored. So I decided to just start punching buttons and see what happens. Blending modes are still a mystery to me, but I think I am getting a good handle on layers, filters, and textures.

This is the unretouched original of a photo I took last summer, one of my favorite cow portraits. It's also a nice simple subject with a clean background -- a good photo to play with.

I may have gotten a little carried away with the posterization, but I love how the clouds turned out at least!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Photo of the Week - February 16

Recently, my friend Linda sent me a link to a photo of a calf born in Japan with a heart on its forehead. (The article called it an "ox", but it looks an awful lot like a plain old holstein calf to me, but oh well, I'm just a farmer's wife. What do I know?!)

Anyway, I knew I had seen hearts on our cows too so I went out to investigate... turns out, they are awfully common. This little girl is just a few days old.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sunbathing Cows

Bright sunshine is a precious commodity in the Pacific Northwest in winter. Still, we can usually count on a high pressure system to bring us some clear days in February. Even the cows appreciate the respite from the seemingly neverending dark and damp. They all congregate at the end of their barns to stick their noses out into the sunshine. I can relate, LOL!

Just for fun I'm including this photoshop rendering of the above photograph into a pencil sketch. Just about the time I think I know what I'm doing, I realize that there are dozens of buttons in that program that I haven't even pressed yet. Thank goodness for good, clear tutorials! (The tute for this project can be found in the current issue of "Digital Scrapbooking.")

Friday, February 06, 2009

Meet Margeurite

I made this doll as a custom order -- she has safely arrived at her new home so I feel safe posting her here now. She told her owner that her name is Marguerite.

I think this is the first doll I have ever made that I am completely satisfied with how she turned out.

I think if I had been going to keep her I would have added more beads, but she was already way more work than I had anticipated and she wanted to go home.

If you are interested, the instructions for her hair vine can be found here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

My Sweetheart

I actually have a new doll all finished and ready to post, but it's Monday and the first day of our new modified photo challenge -- how can I waste such a golden opportunity to share a photo of my one and only granddaughter, LOL?!

I have bunches of more conventional snapshots, but I am quite taken with this one of her playing with Jake's hand. She *was* playing with her toes, but he thought it would be fun to interfere...

I tell you the truth... I can't resist these sweet laughing blue eyes.