Thursday, July 30, 2015

This is Magic....


and this is Boo!

They were the two horses Mitzi and I looked after for a few days (and the latter name made me laugh, as my nickname for Mitzi is "Boo" though I have no idea why I call her that!)

It was difficult to get any really good photos of Magic and Boo, as managing a camera and a very nosy, curious, intrusive horse with no sense of personal space was kinda tricky.

What ya got there in front of yer face?

Is that a bag of treats in your hand?

It was even trickier to get photos in good lighting as first thing in the morning all they wanted was food food food - no waiting around while I adjusted the focus or looked for the perfect angle without trees growing out of their heads or boards hiding their noses.

Did you bring breakfast? Didya? Didya?

And while they ate their morning yummies, I put on the fly masks, so that was the end of the morning's photo ops.  After all, who wants to be photographed with a mask over the face?

This is a hold-up!
Hand over the treats!

Do you think she recognized us?

Boo was the character.  Filling the water buckets was a hoot with Boo around - she liked to drink the water as it came out the hose or bubbled around in the tub.  Reminded me of a dog I once shared my life with.

Hey, turn it a bit more this way, wouldya?

Magic had his own form of entertainment - trying to see how many times he could high-tail it into Boo's stall instead of his own, or steal Boo's food before or after Boo had a chance to eat her fill.

What's the problem?  I like this stall and this hay better!

Sometimes after dinner, when the air was starting to cool, they spent some time in the pasture without their fly masks and I was able to try some backlit shots from the fence.

Does this sunlight make my butt look big?

Horses in the evening light

But evening was Mitzi's favourite time for a long walk - not too hot, lots of bunnies and deer to watch, mama pretty much finished with horsey stuff. So not a lot of horse photos then either.  Just Mitzi photos.

"Home, home on the range..."

"Where the deer ...

and the bunnies do play.."
(Don't you love Bunny's translucent ears?)

And as night fell, we sat outside listening to the owls and the frogs and watched the tall skinny trees turn to silhouettes against the night sky.

Then we went inside to sleep deep sleeps until the morning sun rose and the horses once again said...

Hey, you there, get out here and feed us!

Yeah, all we've got is some dried up scrub grass!
And all too soon it was time to head home.

Til we meet again, Boo and Magic

Thanks, Marina, for giving Mitzi and me the opportunity to spend time at the ranch and for entrusting Magic and Boo to our care.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Littlest Cowpoke

Mitzi and I were up island horse sitting for a few days this week.  To my surprise, Ms. Mitzi loved it!  She took to farm life like, well, a farm dog.  She's just a lil ol' cowpoke at heart.

The Littlest Cowpoke

Watching the herd

The herd

Sniffin' fer cattle rustlers

Cattle rustler?

Another cattle rustler?

Restin' up after a long day's work

This cowpoke business is exhausting!

More photos of our adventure in a couple of days - first I have an impending deadline for my newspaper column, so photo editing will have to wait.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Please stop this thief!

You may have noticed that recently I began putting my copyright and name right on many of my images - not all, as it is time consuming and even without the watermark they are still protected by copyright, but certainly my favourites. I learned how to do this because increasingly my images are turning up on other people's websites, facebook pages, and even in books for sale without my permission.

However, today I discovered that hundreds - literally hundreds - of my images (including those taken in the past couple of weeks and clearly signed with (c) 2015 Jean Ballard) are being sold as posters by an online vender - along with the art of many others including my wonderfully talented artist friend Deb (Riley's and Lily's mom, for those of you who recall my friends' dogs better than my friends!).

While I am no fan of online petitions, as they are mostly ineffective, I have gone to and signed a petition to shut the poster website down.  I have also posted the link on facebook to encourage others to sign and to share.

Taking people's creative work without their permission is theft.  Selling it for profit, with no compensation to the creator of the work, is the same as selling stolen goods.  It IS a criminal offence. Unfortunately international law is complicated and lawyers are very expensive.  The company, it its small print on its Privacy Page, tries to pass along the responsibility for the theft to its buyers:

[We] respect the copyright of others. This means we don't steal photos or images that other people have shared and pass them off as your own. We have no base of images, and doesn't host and store the image on servers. only helps the user to find the images interesting him, the site uses data of the most known third-party search engines.Process of search happens at user's browser.The user himself makes search queries, all content displayed in a window of the browser is received from third-party search engines. The displayed images are loaded from third-party servers, and aren't host on the site hosting.When the user make the order, we get the image from the user, he is responsibility for doesn't bear responsibility for the images received from users.

In other words they have found a loophole - but that doesn't negate the fact that they are knowingly printing the posters from images they encourage others to use, fail to check that copyright permission has been received, and get a profit from the sale of these posters they've made from stolen images.

Please help stop this thief.  Sign the petition, don't buy from this site, and share this information and my request with your friends.

Here is the link to the petition, which also tells you the name of the offending company:  Click here for petition. 

Thank you.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sandy heroes and villains

Today I drove up island to meet a friend-of-a-friend who would like Mitzi and me to house-and-horse sit for a few days this summer.

HORSE sitting??
I hasta sit on a HORSE???
Me:     No, Mitzi, it just means we'll be looking after the horses.  Not sitting on them.
Mitzi:  Well that's okay then - but dem horses better not sit on ME!  
Me:     We'll keep you well away from them, Mitzi.  

Anyway, I had a little extra time, so decided to pop into Parksville, a small mid-island city I have always enjoyed and usually visit at least a couple of times a year.  In fact, I was there just this May, when my daughter took Mitzi and me to a beachfront resort for Mother's Day weekend where we enjoyed beautiful sunrises, great seafood, and of course each other's company.

Parksville has a lovely sandy beach which, even when busy, isn't crowded.  Ocean, mountain views, boardwalk, and breezes perfect for kite flying - it's a community I could see myself living in one day.

Each summer, Parksville hosts a sand sculpture competition - this year was the 33rd Canadian Open, with the winners going on to the World's.  Today, I decided to check it out.  While it seemed small as such competitions go (having attended larger ones in Harrison BC as well as on the Oregon coast), it does draw master sculptors from across the country and around the world, who demonstrated their artistry with their representations of this year's theme: Heroes vs Villains.

There were, predictably, sand sculptures of caped superheroes and fairytale villains. In fact, the winner in the doubles was this one of The Joker and Batman, as a young child informed me:

First place, Doubles.
By Marielle Heesels (Netherlands) and David Ducharme (BC)

There were a few where I had a hard time figuring out how they fit into the theme, like this one of a baby:

Or where the subject was unknown to me but the detail, let alone the physics of the sculpture, was mesmerizing:

Such detail - and physics!

The first prize in the solo division went to a sculpture of Einstein, which, while very well done, didn't appeal to me as much as several other sand sculptures.

First place, solo
by Abe Waterman, PEI

Back of Einstein

I had three clear favourites - not necessarily technically the most difficult, but certainly ones that tugged at me for their creativity, their capture of emotion, and their spin on "heroes and villains" theme.

The first to grab me was - not surprisingly - an animal one:  Here Kitty, by Bruce Phillips of California

I particularly liked the expression on this little mouse's face!
The second to grab me was a piece in which mom and dad were in their super hero capes....on one side, a young child looking up to them - and on the other, surly and slouching and hands busy with smartphone, was teenage daughter. We know which child considers her parents heroes, and which considers them villains!

Sculpted by father-daughter team  Guy and Melineige Beauregard, of Quebec,  I wondered which of them had come up with the idea.  Just look at how true-to-life the sand daughter looks!

But the piece that I stared at for the longest time was a piece particularly meaningful across the province this year - the hero firefighter and the villain fire.

Firefighter weeps with exhaustion and sorrow,
his cap and pack behind him.

On the other side, the villain fire
rages with anger

Sketched into the mountain of sand was a familiar sight, one I photographed on my recent trip on the mainland - smoke rising from forest, helicopter dumping water just above the tree tops:

How well I remember this sight
from my travels to Lillooet
That piece, by Peter Vogelaar and Denis Kleine, both from BC,  came in third in the doubles.  But to my way of thinking, it won hands down - for capturing the theme in a way that spoke to my heart.

The firefighters are truly my heroes this summer. And fire (and those who cause it) the villain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

There's a new kid in town!

No, not at my house!  Mitzi clearly loves being an only dog, and so I have made a commitment to her that I won't adopt any more dogs as long as she is alive.  

Over the past six months or so, I've been growing weary of this area and of blogging - many of my small circle of local friends, especially my hiking buddies, have moved away or passed away; my own family of critters has shrunk; and while I love the beauty of the area, one can only post photos of the same spots so many times before readers lose interest.

Just how many times can I photograph
this same view?

When I began this blog in January 2008, I lived on acreage in the Fraser Valley with seventeen critters - a foster family of twelve potbelly pigs, an alpaca, three dogs and a cat, as well as frequent visiting critters both domestic and wild. Friends' dogs, coyotes, bears and their cubs,  runaway llamas or chickens - there was always something new to write about. Now, with one cat and one cat-like non-hiking dog, there's not a lot to say. Or do.

Martin the alpaca was always
good for a story or two

And remember Brazen the coyote
who visited the farm frequently but never
did any harm (except to wild rodents)?

Heck, we even had lots of snow there to
make for a good story.
This is Belle checking out the white stuff. 

I've never stayed very long in any one community - I think my record, as an adult,  is ten years and I've been here six - and so I began surfing the real estate sites for other affordable and interesting possibilities.  The grass is always greener, is it not?

Nothing was ever greener than
the beautiful five acres we rented.
Sadie and I both loved it.
Sadly, good things sometimes end.

But....then I heard a rumor.  And the rumor was true.  And all of a sudden the grass around here was looking mighty green (okay, maybe it is the sun glasses - our actual grass is really very very brown right now). There's a new kid in town, and one that I want to get to know.

The new kid in town - well, in nearby Chemainus - is an animal sanctuary.  A sanctuary that has, among other critters,  potbelly pigs!  RASTA (Rescue and Sanctuary for Threatened Animals) has been well established in Alberta for a number of years, but the difficulty of looking after so many animals in harsh winter conditions led the owner to decide to relocate the sanctuary to Vancouver Island.  And the property to which she is moving, with all the animals, is just ten minutes from my home!

Guess who has already offered to volunteer there?

The property has a house on it, but little else, so they are currently clearing brush, building fences, and drawing up plans for a barn. A few of the pigs are here already, in a temporary foster home, and the rest of the animals will be here by the end of the summer.

If you live in the area, think about volunteering.  There's a work party tomorrow (Sunday), and there will be an ongoing need for volunteers in many capacities.  Check out their facebook page or their website for more information.

I look forward to getting to know them.  And I hope you will be able to look forward to entertaining stories and photos here at  'My Life (volunteering) With The Critters'.  If you have read my earliest posts, you'll know how very entertaining piggies can be!

Yes, we are, we are very entertaining!
Even when we are tired little piggies all tucked in for the night.
(This little piggy I fostered made his own blanket from a larger one, and then
pulled it over himself just so!)