Becoming Hens

The girls are growing up, 2018, Archival Digital Print

In a matter of hours, from the morning feed until the evening one, the six Claras went from adolescent chicks with pale beige feathers and lots of down showing to young hens with russet feathers, real chicken tails and the beginnings of combs. Now I wish I had been in there all day and snapped a photo once an hour.  What a transformation as life does its thing.

 

May Rain

May Rain, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Everything is muted in these spring mists, all values close and a general dreaminess about the land. I saw a social club of six Turkeys out for a walk in the mist as I was driving to the store to get, what else? bird seed. They ambled along together with full ruffled feathers so they looked like grade school bulletin board Turkeys there in the cornfield behind the homestead.

 

Two Claras

Two Claras, 2018, Archival Digital Print

This was taken over a week ago and already the girls are the size of Bantams and much more curious about the world. Clara Christina Columbus now jumps on top of the water jug to consider where she might go. To prevent her giant leap for Chickenkind I’ve added screening. The Columbus chick is the most curious of the six whereas Clara Voyant, named by my neighbor, Betty Grindrod, is dreamier and in her own world.  And Clara Madonna, the bottle blonde, is just taken with her own beauty.  Their markings and personalities are all different and I continue to marvel at the wonder of growth, DNA wiring and individuation.  My brilliant former TA John Gross is coming up from New York this weekend to help me prepare the shed and soon the outdoor pen will be replaced with a varmint proof construction.  Then we shall await the eggs.

 

New numbers on the Homestead

Six New Chicks, 2018, Archival Digital Print

This morning, six Rhode Island Red chicks joined the Homestead. They are so pretty and innocent with the smallest of peeps. They will live under warming lights indoors for six weeks until they have healthy plumage. Then to the henhouse behind the studio. I’m growing Calendulas from non-GMO seeds for them as well as other nice greens. They will be free range during the day and protected at night from the hungry Others. All are named Clara.

 

The last storm and other things

Early Morning, The Last Storm of Winter, 2018, Archival Digital Print

We have passed it. The last storm of this winter came last night, wet, soggy and all its determination gone. Winter has given up and this is his last effort in the losing struggle.  My studio is safe and dry, the plumber came today and repaired the leak in the house and now the ceiling must dry before the contractor can repair.  All is well on the Homestead.  Even the Coyotes were more tuneful last night.

On the national front, it’s not so good.  We learn of the Secretary of State’s dismissal, this apparently done not by personal message but a tweet.  The shadow side of our national nature stares at us unblinking. No icing nor military music, nor parades will cover up the darkness that is lose on the land.  The Democrats are like the old Kaiser, desperate for power but too old and weak to take a lead in opposition.  They are no where these days.  Does anyone remember history?

 

Thank you, Readers

Wire, Snow, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Thank you, Readers, for your kind emails and comments. You have been most generous. For those of you who have wondered about purchasing my photographs, just email me and we can make arrangements.

Wire, Snow continues my attraction to the minimal which reads like drawing. The winter is the time it is easiest to see these expressions on the land.  To my continuing surprise, every day brings something new to my eyes and senses.  I had set up this crude wire circle to protect the shoots that were starting to peek above the earth.  I wanted to keep the puppies from running over them.  Once the big snow came, it turned into another order of visual surprise.

 

16″ and counting

March Snow, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Yesterday’s storm was unique for me in that the snow was slow and steady but there was no wind. The flakes were in no hurry to reach the ground and the blanket rose and rose steadily from the afternoon into the night. I had so many dreams last night!  I went to several places and met new characters.  Maybe the snow brought magic.  To wake up in a warm bed with all this white outside was delicious.  Each and every day is a new experience here.

Now I have a leak in the ceiling of the nerve center where my books and computers live.  The plumber has been called.  I’m a pro with leaks having had so many over the years of living in lofts and rolls of plastic always at the ready. I’m going to check on the studio now, but I have a new roof there so expect it to be fine.

 

Acuities

Backyard Sheet Music, 2018, Archival Digital Print

There are so many accidental finds in my day.  The acuities I’ve developed here in Columbia County are different from those I learned in my years in Manhattan.  Whom to avoid on the subway is a subtle skill. In an imperceptible glance we sense the stay-aways in a car, and what the general mood is. All of us new arrivals remember the joy we felt entering a car at rush hour and seeing big swaths of empty seats.  A miracle of good luck.  That odor stays in ones nostrils for much of the day.  We didn’t know what that empty space telegraphed.  But, we were fast learners, too.  Walking down a street we learned to sense trouble and differentiate it from excitement.

Now and then I can feel an animal looking at me even though I don’t see it, a gaze zeroing in on me that triggers a primal nerve embedded in my neanderthal self.  Just as when the dogs go out in the morning, they know when an intruder has been nearby — recently it has been Coyotes.  It is part of who we originally were. My Pyr Shep Billy learned the scent of the Black Snake he encountered one afternoon in the driveway in our short stay in Virginia. He was a city boy just relocated to the country.  He never forgot it and sniffs with cautious recognition when serpents are around up here.  These hints of primal knowing make me think of our Native Americans who lived with the land. We must have seemed to them like the tourists on the subway seem to us — unknowing and unaware of the flood of signals around them, the cues of how to live.  For them to be human was to be part of the land not against it, not in battle with it, not eager to steal from it nor unmindful to give back in equal measure. Our out-of-balance natures missed all those signals in our greedy wanting and now we’re in trouble.

I feel lucky for these glimmers.  I feel lucky to live in an area where the Organic Farming movement is already established.  The land does feel different up here.   I cannot describe it, but it startled me the first time I walked on the soil of an organic farm because the earth radiates in a different way.  To experience it is to know it.  Why not send the President up here for a few weeks without his gadgets and Twitter feed, without his hot blonde women and toadyish men, and permit him to sit in the backyard and watch and listen, to follow the arc of the sun and the moon.  It’s a gift he will most likely never have.  He won’t see the backyard sheet music, nor feel the critter’s gaze, nor be surprised by a Black Snake, nor engage the wonder of the planet.  A loss for him and for our home, Mother Earth.

 

Fog and smells

Trees from the Train, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Dense fog has settled over us this morning. It is a misting facial to the land, so damp that droplets form on my skin almost as soon as I go out to feed the birds. The Coyotes are hanging around much closer than last year, and noisy at night. The dogs smell them and growl, then bark, protecting the homestead. When we go out in the morning they immediately find the vile spot that these interlopers marked.  But, me, I am teased by hints of spring and all critters are welcome.

 

The Drawing Line

Before the Rain, 2017, Archival Digital Print

Drawing outside yesterday I was marveling at the tools we have created for ourselves from the first human first noticed his capacity to create a line. Now the choice has expanded through so many tools, points, colors and effects but it hasn’t given a line any more meaning or power nor made the Art of Drawing any better. What power can invest a line in one person’s hand and not another’s.