Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Card Line in Process

I have always thought of this little blog as being a diary of some sort...just not a personal one.   Now that I have written this blog for more than a year, it is interesting to me to go back and see what photos I captured last year this time, or what I may have been reading or writing.
So I am just plopping in this entry to remind myself that today I took the plunge and took the card lines I have been designing to the printer.  It took quite a few months to baton down what I wanted to start with.  So many images to choose from.
And I want them to be not "just another" photo card.
To anyone out there who may be interested, when I actually hard copies to sell (end of July at the latest) I will set up my retail page and introduce them.  I will be wholesaling them to retail establishments later also.
As I keep telling step at a time.
After cards, well, there are lots of possibilities out there...and I do call this site Farm Girl "Studios".
Exciting, yet traumatizing also.
But there is only one life to live....and have to just get out there and do some things.
This is one of them.
So to myself who reads this again one year later....
"Well, How's it going?"  "Keep on creating"
"Have a pair of goats yet?"

                                                                                                     copyright 2012 Stepka


Never saw this little creature peeking at me, until I saw him thru the lens.

                                                          copyright 2012 Stepka

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Magical Evening Light

Right between 7:30 and 8pm is just a magical time for taking pictures.

I went to the park last evening to see if I could find some jack rabbits to shoot (via camera of course).
One evening a few years back, I was in the park and saw around 20 of them all congregating in a group, ears popped up.  Very odd.  Some sort of convention was happening. So of course, now that I look for them...not a one peers my way.

Well, no rabbits this evening, but a swan was swimming by herself in a secluded pool...and that lovely magical light appeared.

                                                                                                    copyright 2012 Stepka

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Remembering people, animals and places. 

                                                                                                            copyright 2012 Stepka

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ta Da Dah!

Meet Mary (the terrier) and Mini Hog.
Photographed by Charles Sainsbury-Plaice, Country Life, Jan. 12, 2012

As promised, here is a cropped version of that adorable photo I came upon in the Country Life (British) magazine.  Mini Hog is an african albino hedgehog.  The photographer is also the proud dad of both of the tykes above.

I just want to poke that little tummy and kiss both of their snouts.

Update:  Just found out that Country Life does have a website with short, but some very good articles on animals, gardening and so forth.
For more unusual animal friendship, go to: 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I was on a small river bridge yesterday, watching river swallows flirting back and forth under and over, trying to get photos of one in mid flight.  Impossible.
I noticed though, how groups of them landed quickly under the bridge,  never stopping their fluttering, digging their beaks into the wet mud, and then taking off with a small load of mud for their new nests.  They scooped up such a tiny amount of mud, I can not imagine how many trips it would take one to finish their nest.  They gathered the mud without stopping to rest - their wings were constantly in motion.  Exhausting even to watch.
As I was walking away, It just occurred to me what type of "mud" barn swallows must use for their nests.  Well, maybe they just mixed the fresh cow dung in with some fresh mud. 

                                                                                           copyright 2012 Stepka                    

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Biting at the Bit

(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, but does look pretty and it is reminiscent of a photo that could be seen in a Country Life magazine article!)

I am biting at the bit because I saw the darn tootiness, cute photo in an old Country Life magazine, that I picked up in a thrift store...and can not scan and share since I forgot my darn portable scanner at work.

Let's just say this.  The cover of this Country Life magazine (January 12, 2011) is titled "Love a duck - Extraordinary animal friendships"  The cover is wonderful enough.  It shows a large cross eyed dog (Rottweiler?) sitting next to a chair occupied by a quacking duck. 

You think that is unusual?  Just wait till you see the photo inside.

Again the British Magazine press has enamored me.  Yes, this is a large format weekly magazine that has a feature page showing a photo of a prominent young lady of British society, and yes, it has page after page of stately manors for sale for around 1 million and a half pounds and more....
but it also has great articles on artists, farming concerns, history and dogs and ducks and badgers and other animals   All around a fun and interesting read.

And the photography in general is fantastic.

So you will just have to wait till Friday morning to see the photo that caught my eye.

                                                                                                            copyright 2012 Stepka

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Birds of Shollenberger Park

                                                                                              copyright 2012 Stepka

Friday, May 18, 2012

Park Benches

Love the benches that are scattered throughout the local parks.  Most have heartfelt messages on plagues that donors have asked to have installed to commemorate loved ones.

This one is one of my favorites.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shollenberger Park - Mustard Wonderland

Beautiful Weeds


                                                                                                copyright 2012 Stepka

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Docile as a Sheep"

Whoever coined the phrase, “docile as a sheep” never actually experienced having to herd a flock of 400 thru an 8 foot gate into a shearing yard.

You would think that with so many sheep, our dad would have invested in a great sheep dog.
Nope…Dad just had us 2 kids instead.

Unfortunately, even though young and sprite, we just did not have the fast reflexes, maneuverability, and speed of a sheep dog.

I did have the stare technique down however.
Toss that in with a few select swear words and hands a’ waving, you’d think those sheep would have just stared back in horror and walked as one thru the gate into the shearing shed.
Yeah, right.
Let just one slip out of the group and the 399 others will turn their haunches right around and dart right back out after the one that escaped.

Yes, docile is not the word to describe a stampede of 400, bugged eyed, crazed sheep running right towards you.
You just got out of the way, waited till they settled down …and started all over again…and again…and again.
                                                                                     copyright 2012 Stepka

Monday, May 14, 2012

Poppies on the Wane

                                                                                                 copyright 2012 Stepka

Friday, May 11, 2012

Joe Lawrence, British Artist

                                                                                            photos by Cristian Barnett
                                                               British Edition Country Living Magazine, April 2012

Another wonderful British Edition of Country Living.
I was enchanted by an article about British Artist, Joe Lawrence.  His animal sculptures capture the essence of their spirit, activities and movement.
Look on his website and see all his creations, from chickens, to barn owls to foxes.  Tiny creations like the chicks above to life size sculptures.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Saw these 2 in a Sonoma shop. 
I fell in love with the one on the left, but left him for someone else to take home.
So soft.
The person who I was with thought they were scary looking.
Funny how two people can see so differently.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Junk Yard Dog" - Artefact Design & Salvage

If you are ever visiting the town of Sonoma, stop on the outskirts first at Artefact Design and Salvage.  This is an absolutely beautiful store full of large unique pieces of salvaged architectural pieces and other goodies inside and out.
And outside, you may be lucky enough to find Axel playing with his bucket.
Axel is the resident love bug and boy, does he love his bucket.
Ever play fetch with a bucket?  Throw it and Axel will happily fetch it, bring it back, but don't expect him to let it go easily.  Tug of war is his specialty.
Check out Artefact's website.

                                                                                                     copyright 2012 Stepka

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Boulder House Double Take

What can one say, but wow.
I took this off Forbes 10 best Camouflage House list.  Never knew there was such a list.
Anyhow, hard to believe this is a real house and not something from George Lucas Studios.
If you'd like to is way over in Portugal.
No electricity...just candlelight and fireplaces.
A few more views are in this link:

And here is the article I found it on:  Forbes 10 Best....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Study in Contrast

The hillside in the foreground was green a week or so back,just like the hillside in the back, except with lots of weeds and tall grass.
The sheep went thru and this is what is left.
It will turn back to green in winter, but I yearn to sit in the high grass that was there just a few days ago, watch the hawk fly past and read a good book.
Have to go up to the park for that now.
Then again, no fun worrying about fire danger in summer if all was still tall, brown and dry.
The other hill will turn brown on its own soon  enough.
The sheep did their job.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Morning Glories

Last year's Morning Glories

When the sheep appeared in the open space, I thought, I have to get some wire to put on the other side of my fence where they would be munching down all the weeds, and where I had some morning glories leaves sprouting out of the ground also.
Ran to the hardware store and got some wire, but by the time I got back the sheep had already munched their way along the outskirts of the fence and no morning glories to be seen.
It is early in the season though and now that the sheep have moved off to another section of the space, I already see green shoots of grass coming back and I know I will most likely have new shoots of glories.
Amazing what sheep droppings do to the soil.

And I have been finding plenty of morning glory shoots on my side of the fence that I pulling out of the lavender bushes and tying up with string.
Should be another great year of beautiful colors.

                                                                                  copyright 2012 Stepka

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fresh Vegetables

Been puttering in the back planting just a few vegetables.  So want to have some fresh sweet peas - NOW!
Nothing like fresh from the garden, but having to wait - not.

My favorite vegetable was sweet peas from the huge garden on the farm and sweet corn.  We had a little rat terrier dog that just loved to go into the garden with us and munch on the sweet peas too.  Plenty to go around.

So will have a few tomatos, strawberries and peas...
Next - thinking of where to plant some sweet corn and a few sunflowers too.

Anticipation is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

San Francisco Article: Dogs Keeping Coyotes at Bay

                                                                                  photo by Michael Macor / The Chronicle

In the Midwest, we did not have to deal with coyotes and wolves killing sheep in the pasture.
It was the local farmers' dogs who would go wild and get together in packs and go after the sheep.
I remember my father sitting vigil at night with a shotgun after a pack tore into the herd one night.
It was a given that you had to control your dogs...and the fault of the owner if the dogs destroyed livestock.
Consequences were brisk on caught in the act.

Here in the West, coyotes are everywhere.  I had not heard until reading this article in the Chronicle, what  radical methods were used as late as the late 90's.  They proposed use of protection collars on sheep, "which contained bladders full of lethal Compound 1080, or sodium fluoroacetate."  When the coyotes bit the neck of the lamb or sheep, they would also bite into the bladder, poisoning themselves.

At around the same time, they were also pushing nonlethal methods of protections...namely dogs.

Now, where ever they have adopted dogs as a deterrent in the field, losing lambs to predators has fallen drastically.  I have driven past these pastures going toward the coast and have seen the beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs blending in with large flocks of sheep.  Wonderful sight.

Very good article by Peter Fimrite.  Link is below.
Dogs Winning War Against Coyotes

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mountain Lion Sighting

Was out with my cup of coffee on the sidewalk looking at the sheep when a couple with a beautiful German Shepherd stopped to look also.
The German Shepherd did not bat an eye. Good dog.

Anyhow, after commenting on the wonderful variety of wild and domestic animal life we are surrounded with in the midst of a small town, they asked if I had seen the Mountain Lion.
Nope, I said...I know they have been spotted in park up the road...but down here?  Where did they see it, I asked.

Right above me is a new home being of those monstrosities of stone and way too many rooms.  (some cleaning service is going to have a nice job there once it's built).
The home is the 2nd in the row that juts up to another open space area.  They were walking down one evening after walking their dog and were looking at some construction people on the roof, when they spotted movement to their right under the eaves.  They watched as a mountain lion unfolded itself from underneath some scaffolding, leaped off and vanished into the brush.

Plenty of sheep and goats are up in that area right now doing their weed wacking thing.
I have a feeling there is a big cat licking his chops nearby.

                                                                                   copyright 2012 Stepka