30 Days of Photos – Day 23 Decisions

Decisions shape our everyday lives. Decisions also determine if an image is going to be memorable or not.

day-23-decisions

Day 23 – Decisions

Every time I pick up my camera I make decisions. Sometimes those decisions have to come fast as not to lose the moment I am wanting to capture. I know several who like to use the automatic feature on their cameras so that the decisions are made for them. When you begin to make the decisions, that is when you will begin to see your images become more than just a picture, they become memorable works of art.

Canon Rebel T5i
1/320s
f/5.6
ISO:800

Blessings to you,
Laurie – Country Link

 

 

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Mama’s Journal – Mud

Today the sun is shinning, the birds are singing, the trees are budding, the grass is greening up and we are in the season of mud. Yes, there is a mud season in Missouri. We don’t just have Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, we also have Mud.

Now mud can mean many different things. It can mean that the gravel road you live on will not dry out so you have to pad your departure time and plan your attire on wither or not you can show up with mud on your hem. It can be the time of year where political campaigns slinging “mud” back and forth so much that you can’t tell which way is up or who to cast your vote for on Primary Day. Kids love mud season because that is when they can splash in the mud puddles and get their cloths and each other muddy. Mud is also the season when farmers start itching to get in the fields because mud means that the ground temperature is just about right to start putting seed in the ground.

Above all else, mud means that we will be working calves and weaning them from their mama’s. Weaning happens about the same time every year, give or take a few days, and we are always in mud season. This year will be no different.

Now the lots where we bring the cattle into to sort the calves from the cows are not necessarily muddy, but when you have 60 animals in one space and the ground is soft, it becomes muddy, fast. Add in the organic matter that also usually ends up somewhere on me and you have a “slick” situation.

Blessings to you,
Laurie – Country Linkcountrylinked.wordpress.com

 

Harvest Report

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In case you have been wondering, harvest is rolling here in Missouri, and has been for a while. We started September 22 harvesting corn in a field located next to a creek. We call this our bottom ground. The yields were less than desirable and the corn was still a bit wet, (it had not dried all of the way down in the field) but we were needing to get the corn shelled so that drainage tile could be put in the ground. I will share pictures of that process soon.

After a breakdown and a day of waiting for parts, it was back to the corn field on high ground and higher yields. As farmers we like the yields to be high because that means we are doing our job well. Between working with our seed guy, (who happens to be my husband) the local chemical company, mother nature and each other, we can be good stewards of the land. We can ensure that the land is being used to its potential and that it will provide a crop that will go on to be food, fuel or family friendly products. This also ensures that the next generation will have viable land to farm also.

Filling the Truck

The yields on the hill ground have been good, considering the very wet spring and early summer that we had. You see corn does not like to have its roots in water. What I mean is that the roots need water, but they do not like sitting in water for long periods of time. In any low sports or terrace channels in the fields you had water sitting, and sitting and sitting. The corn did not like this. Yields have dropped drastically in these areas, thus bringing the field average down. With the addition of a yield monitor, we have been able to map the fields and get a real-time analysis of how the field performed. Spots in the fields are seeing high yields for our area, (200+ bushels to the acre), while the low spots are seeing way below average for our area, (50+/- bushels to the acre).

After getting our cash rent corn out, it was back to another piece of bottom land that once again saw very low corn averages. After the corn is planted and before it reaches a certain stage in growing and a certain height, you apply Nitrogen to the field to give the corn what it needs to continue green tissue development, ear and kernel development. (This is why I love Agronomists!! The whole process is mind-blowing!) This corn did not receive its Nitrogen when it needed it because of the wet conditions and it too had wet feet all spring and summer. Thus the less than desirable yields again. Never fear though! We will try again next year.

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Next came a short time in the soybean field. There was one 50 acre field that was planted earlier than the rest, with some replant acres, that was actually ready for harvest. This field was also slated for fall planting of wheat, so we needed to get the crop out. Once again we saw bare spots in the fields from all of the rain, but we do feel blessed in that there was a crop to harvest.

We are now back in the corn field with just a bit more to go before we take a break and let the soybeans finish maturing. As you may know, the weather has been perfect for harvesting and for drying crops in the field. We could use a rain to “settle the dust” and give the pastures a much-needed drink, but we also need the crops out and that is really hard to do in muddy conditions.

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There you have! Our Harvest Report so far for 2015. What will the rest of harvest bring? Who knows, but we do know that we will continue to do it together as a Missouri Farming Family.

Blessings to you this harvest season,

Laurie – Country Link

“Why Tour Farms?”

On any given day in the small community of Garden City, Missouri you will find a retail meat shop busy during the lunch hour serving up delicious meats to local farmers, residents and those passing through town. You will probably also see the Garden City Chief of Police in there enjoying his lunch.

How do I know this? Being a member of Missouri Women Bloggers, I was invited on a farm tour organized by Missouri Farm Bureau this past Friday. We ate lunch at Kurzweils’ Country Meats and Restaurant, a family owned specialty meat market/restaurant close to Kansas City. Thus, my meeting the Garden City Chief of Police. (I am sure six women with cameras and name tags caught his attention right away, and he happened to know one of the ladies in our group). We conversed for a bit and when he found out what we were doing, he asked, “Why tour farms?”.

2015-09-18 MFBFarmTour

I guess I should have anticipated his question, but I did not. I was taken back by it for a second. Not because I did not have an answer for him, but that it was asked in the first place. Why would someone, anyone, not just a member of law enforcement, ask WHY would we, (he did not know that we were six lady bloggers), tour farms.

Aren’t farms places people go to learn and gain information? Don’t farmers know the ins and outs of raising food, fiber and fuel? Where else are you going to see cute baby calves?

Why tour farms!?! (Why indeed?) After my quick recover, this is what I told him; “Because it is important to know where our food comes from and to know who is raising it.” Do you agree? Are there others out there like myself and the five other women bloggers who want to know where our food comes from and who it is that is raising it?

I guess I have a different perspective on the subject. I love to visit farms. I love learning about different types of agriculture and seeing animals that are not on my farm. I had the best time in the “Calf Greenhouse” petting the baby dairy calves and letting them lick my fingers. I was excited to be welcomed to a farm that I have passed by on several occasions and thought what a beautiful place and to then know that the farmers there were just as gracious as I hoped. I was appreciative of the fact that they took time out of their busy days to show us not only their beef cows, but also the feed mill that they use daily to ensure a proper diet for their mama sows. With all of these things, how could one not want to tour a farm?

Did I learn anything new on this farm tour? I did! I learned more about the dairy industry and having a pumpkin patch from the Moreland Family. I learned about water collection for irrigation of crops from the Roth Family and I learned about state of the art technologies as it pertains to a feed mill from the Kurzweil Family. I was again reminded of how wonderful, intelligent, kind, resourceful, progressive, determined and happy farmers are. They love what they do and they are pretty darn good at it too .

Blessings to you and the Family Farms of Missouri,

Laurie – Country Link

*Other bloggers on the tour were:

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Photo Credit: Missouri Farm Bureau

Shanley: http://eatitkansascity.com/

Ashley: http://www.showmeashley.com/

Gina: http://ginascraftcorner.com/

Jennifer: http://faithfulhomestead.com/

Sarah: http://www.pen2page.me/

Focus on Missouri Agriculture – Photo Contest

Here it is the end of May and we are in the season of MUD. Mud is everywhere here in north Missouri. Our road is muddy, the fields are muddy, the pig pen is muddy and the spot where my garden should be is muddy. What do you do when things are this muddy? Focus on what you can do, not what you can not change.

This photo not only depicts what today’s cattle drive looks like, but also brings back the days of long ago when cattle drives were happening all across our country. This photo tells a story.

So focus we will! Today I want to focus on photos and how they tell the story of agriculture. All year-long as we tend the fields, care for the livestock and harvest the crops, I have a camera with me to capture it all. Why, you ask? The images I take not only serve as a reminder of what we have done through the year, but also serve as a connection to the land, the animals and each other. The stages of growth are captured. The compassion for life is captured and the beauty of what is all around us is captured. My camera connects others to this life and helps to tell the story of agriculture.

Are you a shutterbug like me? Do you have pictures upon pictures of farm life and work happening on the farm? Have you been to a you-pick berry patch lately and photographed your harvest? Maybe you love to photograph the diverse landscape of rural Missouri and have pictures of a beautiful sunset or a scenic farm stead? Do your photos tell the story of agriculture? If so, enter your photos in the Focus on Missouri Agriculture photo contest. The annual contest put on by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to promote and showcase Missouri’s No. 1 industry.

In its sixth year, this contest has yielded thousands of photographs capturing the diversity that is agriculture in the Show-Me state. The deadline is June 15th, (that gives you 15 days to get your pictures submitted!) and is open to any amateur photographer who is a resident of Missouri. Kids ages 12 and under are also eligible to enter pictures! They have a special category, “Children’s Barnyard“, for the youngest shutterbugs.

“Dad making bales” – This is Wyatt’s entry in the Children’s Barnyard category in 2014. The Children’s Barnyard winner and honorable mentions all receive a canvas print of their photos. 

Having entered the contest for the past four years, I encourage anyone I can to enter a photo or two or even 12, (the maximum number you can enter). To me, entering is a different way to get my pictures to a greater audience. Maybe someone will see my picture and feel connected to it or recall a happy memory. If I place as a category winner or even an honorable mention, than great! If I don’t, that’s okay too. Just entering pictures ensures that others will see them as the Department of Agriculture not only uses the winning photos, but others entered for promotion, social media campaigns and for educational purposes.

Now, you know all about the contest and I provided the link, so what are you waiting for? Don’t let a thing like an astronomical amount of pictures slow you down. (Trust me! I know the feeling!) Don’t think for a moment that yours are not good enough. All types of amateur photographers have entered and you can too! Would it help if I give a few tips? Come back on Wednesday and I will have tips and suggestions on how to pick, edit and name your photos for contests. Then you won’t have any excuse for not getting your pictures submitted!

Until Wednesday, blessings to you and all who have a passion for telling the story of agriculture,

Laurie – Country Link

*Disclaimer time: I was not asked by anyone to do this post. I have enjoyed entering the contest the past four years. I feel blessed to have had photos be category winners and honorable mentions. I want others to participate in this contest as well so that Missouri Agriculture really can be show-cased for all to see.

Farm Photography: Fences and Fence Posts

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I love farm photography! I have no idea if that is even a real thing, but 80% of the photos I take are on or of a farm or of farming practices. Having recently attended The Gathering Conference, a conference dedicated to Agriculture marketing, branding and photography, I became inspired to share with you more about the photography that I do and ways that you too can capture the simple beauty around you.

Fences and Fence Posts: Every farm (or neighborhood) has them, right? Some will tell you it is to keep certain things in. Some will tell you it is to keep others out. Whatever reason you have for having fences, have you ever taken pictures of them?

Fences show up in my photos from time to time. Sometimes I am trying everything I can do to not have a fence in the background or not have a fence post coming out of the back of someones head I am trying to photograph. Other times I am hanging off of a fence to get the best angle and or vantage point for what I am wanting to capture. One beautiful morning last week, I grabbed my Canon Rebel T5i and headed out to “capture” fences and fence posts.

Now fences are pretty easy to take pictures of: Reason one) They don’t move, Reason two) They form a line for your eye to follow. This morning I was not in search of an awe-inspiring photo, but looking to perfect what I know I can tell my camera to do. I chose to leave the house with only my 50mm lens. I have had it for a while now, but have not really tried it out. Best. Decision. Ever!

One of the things that was heavily discussed at The Gathering Conference was Aperture. My 50mm lens has the highest Aperture of any of the lenses that I have. It has an f-stop of 1.8. Now, I am not going to try to explain this to you. What I am going to do is show how the Aperture can effect the look and feel of your photos.

Here is an example of two different Apertures. Both were taken with the same camera and lens using the manual mode on my camera. The only thing that changed was the camera setting for the Aperture and the ISO. (We will have to talk about ISO another day.)

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A. f-stop 11.0, ISO 6400                                                                         B. f-stop 1.8, ISO 200

Can you see the difference?

What do you like about Photo A? What do you like about Photo B?

I prefer Photo B because it has a softer background and your eye is drawn just to the fence post. (Which by the way is made from a hedge tree and has been on this farm for probably more years than I have been alive. Well close any way.)

Photo A you see not only the fence but the trees in the distance and even the cows that you could not see in Photo B. (Yes, there are cows in Photo B. Trust me!)

Most of the time I like the look and feel of Photo B, but there are times that a lower amount of light needs to be let into the camera, thus the need for a lower Aperture like 11. Yes, this is why I did not want to try to explain this to you. Big number means little in the world of Aperture. When would you need a “lower” Aperture? When you want to have a sharp, clean image of everything you are photographing, just like in the next image.

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f-stop: 22.0, ISO: 3200

Here are a few more examples of how I used Aperture to blur the background in my pictures. (The official term is bokeh, not blur. Just so you know!)

The theme Fences and Fence Posts was not one I came up with on my own. Myself and other attendees of The Gathering have decided to share pictures on our FaceBook Group centered around a theme. This little idea got me out taking pictures so that I could improve on something that I love doing and for that I am very thankful!

Blessings to you and all who have a fence or two,

Laurie – Country Link

*This is a very simple explanation to Aperture and how to get the desired affect you want for your images. My biggest suggestion is to read your camera’s manual, switch your camera mode to manual and just start playing with the different settings. Getting the image you want takes skill, yes, but it also takes the desire to know what it is you are telling your camera you want it to do. 

Farm Picture Friday #54 – Small Packages

Farm Picture Friday #54 - Small Packages  COUNTRY LINKed

Last Saturday ended up being a pretty good day here on the farm.  At first I was not for sure how it was going to go.  You see the wind was blowing like crazy, it was cold and we had cattle to work.   Mama cows and baby calves all had to be brought in off the corn stalks they were enjoying eating so that they could be checked, vaccinated and poured.  I was not worried about the cattle at all.  We know to take our time and be careful with the ladies and they in turn are calm and easy to handle.  I was more worried about having three small helpers.  Three small helpers who were going to want to help, but because we still had (and have) corn to harvest, we were needing for things to go smooth which in turn makes things go quick.  In the end it was all because of three small helpers that we had such a good day.

The plan was to work the cows in the morning and then after lunch work the baby calves.  We had everyone moved through the chute and back together by 12:30!! (Just the right time to enjoy the chili that had been cooking in the crock-pot all morning.)  After working the cows, which our oldest, Wyatt, helped with, I gathered up the girls and told them it was their turn to help. Let me tell you, help they did!  I had a very proud farm mama moment when the girls got right in there and helped with the calves.  They were just the right size that the baby calves actually moved better for them then me and Gpa.  The kids walked behind the calves and gave a little push every now and then.  I wish I had a picture of all three of the kids helping, but I was lucky to get this shot of just Wyatt for today’s Farm Picture Friday.  Photography is not allowed when there are jobs that need done.  (Which means don’t have a camera in your hand when you are supposed to be working.)

Just goes to show you that sometimes the best help can come in small packages.

Blessings to you and all small packages,

Laurie – Country Link