eyes to the sky

Picture perfect weather has been hard to predict this Fall, it's spotty at best. I had to reschedule a recent portrait session no less then three times. Final decision is always the clients. I am a firm believer that "photos reflect the weather" and adds to the story. I can shoot in any weather, and can't figure out why no one wants photos taken in the rain?? Lol! 

The mysterious night sky has always made my soul wander. I love the unique vastness, and yet rarely spend time soaking it up or shooting at night. It's all about timing, location and not sleeping. All challenging things for this girl. 

I have an educational dark sky photo outing coming up, and the lack of night shooting finds me struggling in the dark. I need to practice!! I was so bummed when we were socked in with thick clouds on October 13th. No visible Full Moon for us.

Imagine my surprise when skies cleared by morning, and the Full Moon was setting just beyond our tree line! My favorite shot looked like a giant dandelion in the sky.

Moon Set 10/14/19 at 6:51 AM
Yesterday, Brad was on his way to the barn to let the horses out. I was sipping coffee, trying to wake my groggy head up. I had just dismantled my tripod/camera and put everything away (literally) in preparation for an overnight guest, when he came bustling back in the door "Quick, hurry come outside, you gotta see this weird circle around the moon..." a man after my heart!!!

I "ran" outside to look, gasped and went back inside as quick as my sleepy body could manage, to reassemble my camera. I was in total panic mode!! Scrambling. The sky waits for absolutely no one. I forgot more things then I remembered, and had to shuffle in/out, several more times. In the dark. I said a few choice words. Eventually the circle faded, and I thought I blew this unique opportunity. Thankfully, I didn't. 

Moon Halo 10/18/19 at 5:42 AM
I had no idea what we saw, and thought perhaps it was a Moonbow. I've never seen one. The camera picked up a little color on the edge of the circle. I learned moonbows appear opposite the moon, and what we saw was a Moon Halo. 

"Moon halos occur when millions of tiny ice crystals in thin clouds high up in the Earth's atmosphere split and reflect the sun's light bouncing off the Moon. The phenomenon is quite rare, as the ice crystals have to positioned exactly right in relation to where you are looking up in order for the halo to appear" 

Not exactly dark sky shooting, but Mother Nature is on her own schedule and practice is practice. I love learning (and experiencing) new things, morning, noon and night!!!


a different show season

2019 proved to be a different show season for Brad, for several reasons. Mainly because it was just Brad & his trainer from the barn showing Cierra. Our Ranch buddy ended up not showing at all due to family illness. Other past attending Western/English riders from the barn either moved onto other trainers, or decided showing at lower levels was a better fit. A sweet young teen we've known for years (brand new to showing) got a schooling class under her belt towards the end of the season. Intimidating level to begin at, but she grew up around horses and is a good rider.

Brad agreed to go to five shows, adding a new one this season. At the last minute, they ended up pulling out of the very first show. Cierra has developed allergies and needed medicine. AQHA shows do random drug testing, and give penalties for positive results to both owner & trainer. They decided it wasn't fair to Cierra, and didn't want to take the associated risk. They ended up attending four shows after all.

new venue (to us) was the second first show

record hot humid temps made for a very small show
our grands came to watch Brad anyways

The first couple shows Brad placed near the end of his classes. His trainer didn't do a whole lot better. I guess there were positive things happening that they achieved. I would be remiss if I didn't say after endless years of non-stop training, it's hard to watch the same struggles in the same areas. Let me make one thing clear, it's not remotely related to winning. It's about what I see, and inevitably hear. With all that *not* being said, Brad continues to be happy with his choices and that is all that matters. 

I wish he would bring sweet Cierra home, to be a horse. She deserves it, and then some. I believe she needs to rejoin her family and breath fresh air on a regular basis. Of course that means he would need to buy another show horse. Sigh. It is completely his decision on when to "retire" her, and no doubt a hard one. If only we had a riding arena, Cierra could benefit from a change over the winter. I am supportive, really I am. I'm more then thrilled Brad is living his dream!! I even slap a smile on and attend all his shows. See :))))) 

Another difference this show season is that Brad is no longer showing Cierra in Ranch Conformation. For a couple reasons. It is always the last class making the shows excruciatingly long, and she is older now. Conformation is a young horses class.

Tank (7 months) at Brad's third show
Brad really wants our puppy to be a show dog. I brought Tank to a couple shows. It's hard being the new guy, when most dogs live at the shows. There are gazillions of dogs (many run loose) and Tank doesn't know what to make of the show dog madness. He did pretty good, but I end up watching only Brad ride from afar and leaving early. It's just too many hours. I missed Brad feel the thrill of putting it all together for the first time this season. He even won his Ranch Riding class under two of four judges (out of 11) at his third show. Impressive considering the majority of his competition are very seasoned talented riders, that show a lot.

AQHA Ranch Riding continues to evolve as a discipline in the Midwest. Class numbers have increased, judges are more familiar with requirements and patterns have become more difficult. Especially Ranch Trail. Sadly Youth Ranch classes continue to have little to no entries. A sign of the future. The young gal that showed with us went in Open, instead of being the only one in Youth. You have to be 18 to show in Amateur. 

Brads show season typically ends with a four day State Show on Labor Day weekend. The venue is closer to us, so I was able to leave Tank at home. Brad practiced and waited alllll day to show, into the evening. Waiting for endless hours is sooooo boring!! I felt so bad for Brad when he scratched, just before getting called up on deck. Cierras allergies suddenly flared up. It was extremely dusty, a lot of horses were coughing. Something to do with the shavings. Brad loves his horse, and made the only right decision. They loaded the two horses earlier then planned, and took them back to the barn between Ranch show days. Thankfully Cierra improved enough to show the last day. Brad & Cierra had nice rides, and ended the show season with positive rides. 

If you are interested, below are video clips from his last rides at the State Show. Ranch Trail is first (2:40 min) For reference, three judges placed him 3rd, 4th, and 5th out of 12. The second video is Ranch Riding (1:40 min) he got 2nd and two 4ths, out of 15 entries.

Happy that Brad was able to put things together and feel good about their rides!! They practice weekly (year round) and he really loves his beautiful girl. I love watching them together, they make a good team!


random summer snippets

When a season rolls over into a new one and you haven't posted for months, you begin wherever with snippets. Below are a few of our summer projects & highlights, in no particular order:


Early summer, Brad finished the visible side of the barn. He seeded grass & built a flower bed that runs the length of the barn. I transplanted some of my favorite daylilies from our old place. Hoping they get established, as it's not ideal light.

Clematis transplant, also from my old gardens
I've never tried growing them up tree's.
It's doubtful it will overwinter, but at least I tried!


Half of the storage side of the barn floor got poured, making it easier to stack hay etc. The original plans are for the other half to remain gravel/sand, for potential future stalls. Although it's highly unlikely we will ever put more stalls in. We have more then enough for us. 

Boarding/training barns around here are closing up at an alarming rate. We've already been asked if there was a possibility, and said no. We are not set up for other owners, and have no arena. We also don't want the guaranteed headaches that go with taking care of other peoples horses. However, one never knows what the future holds. So for now, the plan remains.

Between the endless rain, we managed to get three cuttings of hay this season. We sold all alfalfa, and first crop hay (gold bales on left below, holding for some goat people). We kept the rest of the hay for us, and our horses think it's yummy!! We did have some spoilage with the big bales, but it's sorted out. Brad rearranges this side of the barn on a regular basis lol, and assures me we have plenty of hay.


Apparently it was a frog lovin' summer. We had tiny green "tree" frogs, everywhere. You had to look, before grabbing an exterior door handle.

side of the barn

hanging out on my potted elephant ear

What you see below is what our horses at home have done daily this summer, actually the past year and a half. Not much to share, other then these three are loving pasture life. 

Brad's current project
re-fencing the preexisting fence in the lower pasture


Natures beauty continues to surprise and delight me, especially our sky.

our tree line sunset in june

rainbow in june
I never did find the pot of gold!

We continue getting ready for Winter, as you all know they predict a cold one. Hoping to get back here to share more about our other animals, before the snow flies. Until then, enjoy all the wonder that Fall offers!!

our tree line sunset in september