Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Watermelon and Some Dairy Cows

There is a farm on my way to and from work that I drool over almost every time I pass it.

From and artistic perspective.

There are dairy cows and calves in a lovely little rolling pasture with a greying wooden hip-roofed barn and hay and straw bales surrounding it. The pasture is bordered on 3 of the 4 sides by large maple trees and has 2 or 3 large maple trees in it. The pasture backs up to a lovely old clapboard house with a small bunch of flowers behind it and between it and the pasture. There are a couple of old pieces of machinery that the hens wander through. The little calves are just so sweet and darling.

It all begs to be photographed and painted in some way. I want to take photos of everything and hoard them until I can figure out the best way to make that place come to life in some artistic way.

The light is perfect in that pasture at every time of day. In the morning it comes from the front but at an angle. All through the middle of the day it is overhead but still at a slight angle and in the late after noon it comes from the back and a bit off to the side. It hits those black and white cows and highlights every dip and bulge on them. The blacks have blues in them and the whites are golden. The light bounces off of the small rolling bumps in the closely cropped pasture and there are always shadows that show the depth of the land. The trees in the pasture cast lovely shadows on the ground and on the cattle. There is always side lighting. Even the back lighting in the evening is side lighting.

It is a golden place to me.

I have never stopped to take photos until this past Wednesday on the way home from work.

The cattle were all grouped up under a tree near the page wire fence line and were lying down to chew their cuds. There were Canada geese spread all out across the rest of the pasture right back to the treelines. The ground was this living moving mass of green and golden mouse brown with little white bums. I had to stop. I stayed back so I didn't alarm anyone and snapped away.

A hay wagon pulled in across the road and a fellow came over to talk to me. He told me to pull my truck in their driveway so that I didn't get it hit on the shoulder of the road and to take as many photos as I wanted. He told me to go in with them if I wanted to. They were quiet and wouldn't mind me. He gave me permission to sit and sketch there anytime I liked. He offered me a pumpkin and when I declined, saying I had some at home, he offered me a watermelon. Which I took him up on completely unable to believe my luck.

I found out he is milking 6 head right now. The rest are pregnant and dry. He just milks them to feed the calves. And then I realised they are veal calves... I was sad for a minute, they are so young and they will have such short lives. And then it hit me. Although they will have short lives they will be good lives. They are living out doors with each other and their mothers and they have freedom and space.

It drove home to me that quality is more important than quantity.

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