Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Bad Day for the Quail

On Monday of last week,  the neighborhood fox boldly paid us a visit. It prowled around on and under the deck hoping to catch a plump quail. The curious thing that developed, was the teamwork with a couple of goshawks who provided aerial attack while the fox worked the deck and grounds.

Seasonably cold temperatures and snow had kept prey from moving and congregating, so it appears the predators became more daring and inventive than normal.

Don't know if Mister or Missus Fox enjoyed any success, but a hawk did snatch a quail off the railing later that morning. We suspended feeding for a bit, recognizing predators have their point in life and must play their part as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Randall Lineback Cattle: from the Brink of Extinction

Vermont Public Radio and reporter Kathleen Masterson have produced an excellent piece on the historical role and current status of a frontier breed of cattle. The original seedstock proved highly important to the nation's colonial life and survival during the Revolution.

Shown are calves of the Randall Lineback breed. Click below to link to the Masterson/VPR report recently aired on November 5, 2015.

The Randall Lineback breed is considered a "landrace" species.

“Landrace”designates animal populations that arise in local areas and geared toward and favoring local production purposes. The breeding of landraces is usually fairly casual, and they gain uniformity mainly through their isolation from other of their kind. This landrace pattern of development results in useful breeds, adapted to their particular geographies. This was true of the New England lineback cattle of the 1700s and 1800s.

Randalls became valued for their milk, meat, and draft abilities.

For more information, click on the link below and also visit the Randall cattle website sited in the Masterson article.

Randall Lineback Cattle

Monday, October 26, 2015

Some Scenes from a Great National Park

Hidden Falls near Jenny Lake . . . 
The Grand Tetons National Park. 

Blackbird or catbird hitching a ride on the road to Cody, Wyoming. Looking for a tick or lousy snack perhaps on the back of his host.

This big boy below appeared
near dusk on Elk Flats, Teton Village.

Trudging his way down to a drink and a greener meadow. His rules of the road meant using both lanes and claiming right-of-way.

A study from our hike along Jenny Lake, The Grand Tetons.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another of Those Great Barns

Found in front of the
Mission Range, western
Montana, near St. Ignatius.

Not much in the way of
foothills for the Missions.
They rise abruptly from
the valley floor and are notably

May this survivor enjoy
a long life. Like the rail
fence, barns are becoming
antiques and relics too
costly and often too
dysfunctional today to


Here's our attempt at 
growing Englemann Ivy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Japanese Ikebana

At the fair last week, we wandered into the horticulture building and through the floral exhibits there. Our eye caught this scene and we photographed it with this blog in mind. Taken at the 2105 Ravalli County Fair, Hamilton, Montana.

 Our thanks to the website for the description of this method of flower arranging.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. 

It is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together. It is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature.

As is true of all other arts, ikebana is creative expression within certain rules of construction. Its materials are living branches, leaves, grasses, and blossoms. Its heart is the beauty resulting from color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the meaning latent in the total form of the arrangement. Ikebana is, therefore, much more than mere floral decoration.

The growing appreciation of Japanese art and architecture in the West has extended to the Japanese way with flowers. Ikebana is an art, in the same sense that painting and sculpture are arts. It has a recorded history; it is backed up by articulate theories; and it is concerned with creativity. In Japan, flower arrangements are used as decorations on a level with paintings and other art objects.

Ikebana and the Japanese love of nature

The remarkably high development of floral art in Japan can be attributed to the Japanese love of nature. People in all countries appreciate natural beauty, but in Japan, the appreciation amounts almost to a religion. The Japanese have always felt a strong bond of intimacy with their natural surroundings, and even in contemporary concrete-and-asphalt urban complexes, they display a remarkably strong desire to have a bit of nature near them. Foreign visitors to Tokyo are often surprised to notice that their taxi driver has hung a little vase with a flower or two at the edge of the windshield. The Japanese house that does not at all times contain some sort of floral arrangement is rare indeed.

Nature is always changing. Plants grow and put forth leaves, flowers bloom, and berries are borne regularly and repeatedly throughout the seasons. Nature has its own rhythm and order. The awareness of this is the first step in involving oneself in ikebana.
In principle, ikebana aims not at bringing a finite piece of nature into the house, but rather at suggesting the whole of nature, by creating a link between the indoors and the outdoors. This is why arrangers are likely to use several different types of plants in a single arrangement, and to give prominence to leaves and flowerless branches as well as blossoms. Even when a single type of flower is used, an attempt is made to bring out its full implications as a symbol of nature.

Do men also do ikebana?

Both men and women study this art form. Indeed, in the past, ikebana was considered an appropriate pastime for even the toughest samurai. Currently, the leading flower arrangers are, for the most part, men. Ikebana is not only an art, but an occupation for men and women alike.

Is ikebana difficult? 

To say that ikebana is a full-fledged art does not mean that it is esoteric. The greatest creations in the field are apt to be made by the most highly skilled experts, but, as in painting and sculpture, there is plenty of room for amateurs. Almost anyone with a little time and inclination can acquire sufficient skill to make beautiful arrangements. Still, as in the other arts, it is necessary to master certain fundamental techniques before proceeding to free creation.

Spiritual aspects of ikebana

Many practitioners of ikebana feel that the spiritual aspect of ikebana is very important. One becomes quiet when one practices ikebana. It helps you to live "in the moment" and to appreciate things in nature that previously had seemed insignificant. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but more generally in other people. Ikebana can inspire you to identify with beauty in all art forms -- painting, music, etc., and to always expect the best in yourself.

What are ikebana arrangements made of?

The varying forms of ikebana share certain common features, regardless of the period or school. Any plant material -- branches, leaves, grasses, moss, and fruit -- may be used, as well as flowers. Withered leaves, seed pods, and buds are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom.

Whether a work is composed of only one kind of material or of many different kinds of materials, the selection of each element in the arrangement demands an artistic eye. An arranger with considerable technical skill combines materials to create a kind of beauty that cannot be found in nature.

How is ikebana different from flower arrangement?

What distinguishes ikebana from other approaches such as "flower arrangement" is its asymmetrical form and the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition. A sense of harmony among the materials, the container, and the setting is also crucial. These are characteristics of aesthetics that ikebana shares with traditional Japanese paintings, gardens, architecture, and design.

Blog comment: there are several schools of Ikebana. We suggest you visit for more information . . .  and inspiration.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Highly rated

The sunsets over Lake Erie are ranked as among the best according to the National Geographic.

Monday, August 3, 2015

At a recent wool and fiber show . . .

this handsome fellow showed up. He's an Angora Goat, a Turkish breed prized for its very fine, dense, and curly fiber known as "mohair." Texas leads in breeding and population of this breed, and no, they are not related to sheep.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cleaning up after the kids

Our neighbor and local Wren was observed last week taking care of "redding" up around the place. Then, finished, it's time for a song in celebration of a job well done.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Approach to Digital Photography today

My approach to photogaphy has evolved in this digital era. I thank Arizona Highways and David Meunch for my first exposure to photography above a snapshot level. 

And while I appreciate Ansel Adams was not a documentary photographer, I wonder what some of his subjects looked like when he first set up the shot? Before he applied the Zone System and his dark room magic?

If he and other pioneers of his era had today’s digital abilities, just consider for a moment what masterpieces they could produce, given their talent and vision. Or, on the other hand, would they rebel? 

Would they object when digital images try to copy oil paintings or watercolors? We all like our photographs to have a “painterly” quality, yet when one scans thousands of contemporary works, he finds there’s a danger in producing work that looks at best, fawning and imitative, or worse, like some paint-by-numbers kit one buys at Michael’s.

When it’s garish and obviously unnatural . . . “unreal,” I find it off-putting. What did the scene look like “in the raw,” please? I feel the image is not only manipulated but so am I, the viewer. Am I asked to applaud talent or clever cosmetics?

Am I asked to accept obvious artistry? Or is it . . . packaging? Am I asked to suspend disbelief in the name of artistic license? Or, am I asked to accept it as phony but “artsy,” and therefore respectful of both the subject and the viewer, client, or patron?

For me, this matter is not settled as I continue my journey through the land of photography as art. Technology has opened a thruway for us photographers, but we should be aware there are detours and construction zones ahead.

I recently completed a drawing class. Our instructor told us: “We’re not striving for photographic realism here tonight. Let photographs be photographs and paintings be paintings.” I wonder how David Meunch and Ansel Adams would have responded to her comment.    

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Appaloosa Eyeball

Can't decide if the glint in this fine horse's eye says "Serenity" or "Mischief".  It appears it's amused at something, possibly the photographer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

High above the valley floor . . .

we treated this chipmunk who found our soaked and dried almonds better than its usual fare. On the Blodgett Overlook, Bitterroot Range, near Hamilton, Montana.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hereford Canal

Heading off toward the new pasture and along the road and canal, this herd of Herefords enjoys following the leader.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cherry Plum

The Cherry Plum tree in our backyard. The one my wife shook too hard while harvesting its bumper crop last year. It cracked open but a wire, a deck screw, and a few tie-down straps, and it came back this spring with hope and renewal.

Monday, April 27, 2015

For those needing a "Fix."

During the interim between Season Five and Season Six of "Downton Abbey," here's a view to give you hope and solace as you wait until January, 2016. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

She'll Do!

Big Red Cow. Regardless of make or model, she would qualify for my herd. Found along the backroads of Pennsylvania, and as I recall, on a Simmental stock farm. Life there is good––note the grass.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Hereford "Titan of the Tetons"

Posed with the western side of Grand Teton Park in the background. One of this series served as the cover for the American Hereford Journal

Unfortunately, the art director savaged those glorious mountain peaks and covered them over with the magazine's banner! Totally destroyed the effect and the meaning of the title as the Grand Tetons were nowhere to be seen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Along Country Roads . . . in Scotland

We found these sheep during an afternoon's drive in south central Scotland. The owner wasn't about or we would have asked about the horns (both genders sported horns) and their copper color, "dyed in the wool."

Note the tails.