The Family Cow (Share)…

Two weeks ago, I received this email from a woman named Marnie:

Hi Paige,

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.

Young Love…

Jennifer and Brandon got married last weekend at Rocker Oysterfeller’s in Valley Ford…. it was my first wedding of 2009, my first wedding since my own wedding, and my first wedding at one of my favorite venues in  …. so I had lots to be excited about.

He is 21 and she is 18. He just returned from Iraq and they actually got legally married in February so she could qualify for his military benefits, but her mom really wanted her to have a ceremony. It was a very small ceremony with just their family, which meant I had lots of time to play with the two of them in all the cool spaces around Rocker’s.

He is from my home state, South Carolina, and she is from Nevada. So to make him feel more at home the menu included good ‘ol fried chicken, cornbread and a John Deer tractor cake. I have promised that I would include a food specific section on my website, so I took advantage of the good food and beautiful presentation that Brandon and Shona (the owners and chef of Rocker Oysterfeller’s) put together.

Rocker Oysterfeller’s is an awesome location for a wedding. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in having a smaller wedding in Sonoma County. It comes with everything you need… beautifully  intimate setting, amazing food and places for your guests to stay… and you will want to be friends on facebook with everyone who works there by the end of it.

Sorry for the small thumbnails, but I had so much fun taking photos that day that I couldn’t edit the photos down anymore than this.

A lot to learn…


It has been a busy seven months for this little one since the last time I saw her. She has learned all the usual stuff that babies have to learn… like how to hold her head up, and to sit up, and to roll over, she has a couple of teeth now, and she is practicing standing while holding on tight to mom and dad’s hands. But Elena has an extra challenge that she has to learn how to work with.



When Elena was born, Elena didn’t pass the routine hearing check that the doctors ran. The doctors said not to worry, but to check her ears again at her next visit. After additional tests, the doctors eventually told Rich and Susannah, Elena’s parents, that her hearing is severely impaired. No one knows yet why it happened or how serious the damage is, and the solutions for correcting impaired hearing are not easy… but because the doctors were able to catch it early in her development, Rich and Susannah will have a better chance of helping her have a normal hearing and speaking life.


After Rich and Susannah found out their daughter could not hear, they started learning sign language and teaching her signs, and they got her her first pair of hearing aids when she was 4 months old. The first day they put in her new hearing aids, their dog, Rudy, had a new squeaky toy that he was enthusiastically chewing. As soon as Elena could hear for the first time, she heard Rudy’s squeaky toy, and she started laughing and laughing and laughing. Rich and Susannah had never heard her laugh like that before. They laughed and laughed and cried too.





I learned a lot from Rich and Susannah about what options are available for children with hearing impairments. Cochlear implants are better today than they used to be, but there is still a long way to go in repairing hearing loss. Rich and Susannah are hopeful though, especially now that we have a new president who is in favor of stem cell research. Their doctor told them that in 10 years scientists and doctors may have a better solution to help their daughter hear… and not just hear people talking, but so she can hear music too, like the other children her age.


Messy… but cool…

Here is just one more photo… well really there are 19 more photos in this one photo…. from my night at the JB Blunk Residency that I have been posting about… the photos that were lost but not really lost.

Anyway, I wanted to try and show the amazing scope of the environment, but I wasn’t getting it with even my widest lenses. And I have never been able to afford a panoramic camera that I have wanted for years and years. So I decided to create a 180º sequence in photoshop using the Photomerge tool… which I have only used once before. For this photo, I stood on the railing and took about 30 photos, which are pretty borring on their own.

And tonight I made this! It’s kind of messy… but really fun. I am going to clean it up and play with other merge options, but I thought it was useful to see how it looks before it is tucked in around the edges.

Just Like Fishing…


In my last post, I confessed that I “lost” some files. And just like fishing, those were the ones that got away… so I raved and raved about how great those photos were and I woefully mourned their loss.

Well, today I found them.

I think they were bigger and better swimming in my memory. But I did get the beautifully made bed photo that I wanted, so I feel a little better after-all.




Photography Lesson number 2 in 2009… save your files in the correct folders the first time.

J.B. Blunk Residency…


If you are an artist who is need of a quiet and inspiring place to recharge your creative spirit and make some serious art… then you should look into the J.B. Blunk Residency. You can read all about it on their website, so I won’t go into too much detail here… but I will say, it is absolutely amazing – inside and out!

Everywhere you look you see something inspiring…. the view of Tomales Bay and Black Mountain that you can’t escape from if you try, the wall of handcarved wood, the sculptures in every corner, the huge workshop stocked with anything you need, the cozy wood-stove that warms your entire being…

I was only there for one night and I am a believer.


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And now for my confession… I was so proud of myself.

We arrived in perfect time, right before the sun disappeared for the evening, so I ran around and photographed every possible angle – inside and out. And then after the sun was down, I sat in front of the fire and edited all the photos to perfection.

I was so happy to have such a head start on this project that I didn’t realize I hadn’t copied the files to my computer, instead I was editing them from the card reader. And then… I promptly erased the card so that it would be ready to go for my sunrise session. But I didn’t realize my mistake until days later when I franticly searched for those perfectly edited files.


So that explains why the only photo I have of the bedroom is the one with the messy bed – while beautiful even messy, it is not exactly the scene you would put in a brochure. I took a zillion photos the night before, with the room all perfect and the sunset shining through the window… and all of those photos are gone. I am heartbroken and haunted by all those lost photos. But… the good news… I learned my first lesson in 2009.

Copy files first – then edit – then double check.


A list for Santa (Rosa)….

Both my brother and one of my best friends recently made requests for prints to decorate their homes. Their requests turned into a fun project for me… it’s like cleaning out the closet and trying on a pair of forgotten pants and realizing you love them, and suddenly they become your new favorites.

But the fun part about photos is that not only do they become my new favorites, but I get to share them with other people too. I am making my list and sending my order off to Santa (Rosa,) so if you see something you like… it’s not too late to share the photo spirit this Holiday Season.


LA Cowboy.


Oak Hill Farm, Sonoma.


Behind Mia


Farm Art.


London Graffiti…. above and below.


How to Work with Different Agendas…


Parents want family portraits…


Kids want to climb trees…


And run…


And explore…


So I suggested swinging, and when the swinging stops… then we take the photos…




And when the swinging wears off… then start hanging them upside down…



And when they fall on the ground in excitement…


Everyone falls on the ground in excitement… and there we have our family portrait.

Windrush Farm Holiday Art Sale 2008 – and the Photo Booth with Hats


Thank you to everyone who came out to support our annual Windrush Farm Holiday Art Sale. It was another really fun day on the farm with… good art, good people and good food. We loved seeing all your faces and we’re happy you shared your faces in our Photo Booth.

To see the rest of your faces from the Photo Booth, please click the link below:





More Kiea and Colin (I had to!)…

I just loved the digital photos from my ‘after-the-wedding-photo-shoot’ with Kiea and Colin so much, so it isn’t a big surprise that when I finally scanned my Rolleiflex film… I love these photos too. These first three are my absolute favorites. I accidentally scanned them with the scanner set on color film… which gives black and white negatives this sepia look… maybe that is how sepia is made, I don’t know… but I like the way it looks on these, so I didn’t fix them.

This one above is a little too Gone with the Wind for my liking, but I wanted to include it anyway.

Yay, Rollei… I love you still.

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