Timm Ranch sheep shearing with Fibershed.
If only all photo shoots could happen at sunset, with perfectly fluffy puffy clouds, donkeys, barns, brand new tiny lambs and a community of lovely people who work to take care of them. Thank you, Fibershed, for bringing me out of my editing shell to Bodega Pastures. Look for a full Farm Story on Fibershed coming soon.
Two weeks ago, I received this email from a woman named Marnie:
We have this 21 person local cow share going on in Nicasio, right above the Nicasio Resevoir. We are all getting together to have one of our cow share meetings. We talk about our cow and share products we have made from her milk in a kind of pot luck. Everything from butter and cheese to moss artwork! We were wondering if you would want to take a photo of all of us with our cow up here on Black Mountain?
I had never heard of a cow share before, but after living on a farm with two Jersey cows for a year and a half, I know how much work (and milk) is involved in caring for a cow. During my time on the farm, I had countless, seemingly endless, milking sessions, by hand, with two Jersey cows, so I know that even one Jersey cow produces way more milk than a single family can consume.
There were many mornings when I would have paid someone to come and take over my milking duties… those were usually the mornings when Barbra, the cow, kicked over the full bucket and I watched my hour of warm, white, liquid, labor spread across the dirty barn floor. So I thought the idea of a cow share was brilliant and I couldn’t wait to document the gathering.
I learned that the cow share initially started off with five families. But with two milkings a day, seven days a week, sometimes people couldn’t make their designated milking, so another family would be brought in to substitute and eventually the cow share grew to 21 people.
Unfortunately not all of the 21 people were able to make it for our photo shoot. But of the people who were there, I was excited to see many familiar faces, in addition to an absolutely gorgeous backdrop for our photo shoot.
After the group photo, we came back and had a picnic of all the yummy products people had made with Rosie’s milk…
Including feta cheese…
And ice cream…
The group was clearly proud of their girl Rosie…
…they had baby pictures to prove it.
As we were picnicking, more people showed up, and even though we still didn’t have all 21 people, we had more people than the first photo. So we decided to do another group photo, because the more people in the photo, the more effective the message of the cow share.
But as we were trying to encourage some of the reluctant members to be a part of the second photo shoot, as well as to move quickly, because Rosie’s dinner time was rapidly approaching and she was getting antsy, it became clear that 21 people is a big group of people. And big groups of people are hard to manage, especially when technically there isn’t a manager.
As we stood on the hillside, after the second group photo, the group had an impromptu talk about the future of the cow share and the challenges that it presents, especially for Marnie, who ends up spending the most time worrying and caring for Rosie because she owns the property where Rosie lives. She confessed caring for Rosie and managing all the milking schedules was a lot more time-consuming than she thought it would be, so she felt like Rosie had to go to a new home.
The group seemed surprised and disappointed by the news, but not discouraged. Challenges and hurdles are inherent when working with large groups of people… and cow shares, as wonderful as they are, are no exception.
Sharing anything takes lots and lots of communication, and sharing a giant living, milk producing cow… probably takes even more communication. So it seems Miss Rosie will most likely lose her glorious view overlooking the valley, but hopefully this cow sharing, milk loving, community will continue to go on, and with good communication, it will only grow stronger with time.
The night after I returned from my 3 week East Coast jaunt, I had to do another photo shoot for the cover of the farming book I have been working on, because the marketing department changed their minds and said this…
We're hoping to find an image that speaks a little more to the subtitle of the book: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in
I'm thinking of something informal looking, the aftermath of a meal outside, before the table is cleared off. A meal involving vegetables and wine of course. Some background (blurry or otherwise) showing the farm might be nice. I don't think there need be any people in the picture (but maybe animals are OK!).
But the deadline was, of course, set for the Friday after I returned. So, nothing like jumping right back in. Luckily, I had Mimi, Arann’s mom, who is an experienced food stylist, with me to help make sure everything was as photogenic as possible, because I didn’t even have time to think about that aspect as well.
Now, which of these photos as a cover of a book would tempt you to pick the book up to find out more…
So, it is cover time for Jonah’s book. They want color, veggies, something different, something to show the bounty of the farms and something to compliment the title, which is: Field Days.
This was my first attempt… any thoughts?
The one above would probably have some cropping. I don’t know if it is cover potential, but I am proud of it.
Then there is this field photo, or the one that I posted long ago…. click here.
Thanks for voting!!
Another year, another Easter, another Sunday in Todd’s Hunting Room.
“91 years old and nothing aches.” A farmer all his life with nothing left to farm except the weeds. He still has 15o acres left over from the land grant that was given to his great grandfather by the King of England, and to the developers’ dismay, he is saving it for his kids.
The house in the painting is Holly Hill, his family lost it during the depression and the man who owns it now has added an Olympic size pool. The photo on top of the tv is of Walter and his wife, who passed away last Christmas. He said he knew he was going to marry her the minute he saw her and now he pulls weeds to keep his heart and mind busy. Walter watches Fox news, the stock market channel or the gospel choir everyday.
Walter has been sitting at the same end of the pew, in the third row, for all of his 91 years. He believes God saves fools and babies.