The Last Homestead
The entrance gate, at the top of the lane, to the Triple H Homestead Ranch.
“Most people have homes, but not everyone has a homestead: that means your family owns more than a house. The homestead often consists of a farmhouse and land devoted to crops or animals….” vocabulary.com/dictionary/homestead
The stable and work/butcher shop
It was early September when Jer dropped me off at the Triple H Homestead Ranch. I don’t drive because of a chronic inner ear condition, so I was to stay, no means of transportation, at the Triple H for two weeks, painting and photographing. No drive-by sightseeing, no running out for a cauliflower for dinner, just eating, walking, photographing, and hopefully, painting. I lived in the bunk house, which consists of 3 bedrooms and a kitchen-living room area, all of which attach linearly to the stable.
I grew up in the country, at the end of a road that went into the woods and over the mountain. In my childhood, neighbors had livestock, and we had a big kitchen garden. I wandered through the woods and corn fields and watched my male relatives work on cars – chevys, mostly. So the Triple H felt familiar, bringing old sounds and smells and sights to mind.
Two rooms of the bunkhouse at the far right.
The porch off the bunk house kitchen. The juniper to the right was always filled with birds.
When I wasn’t wandering around, taking photos or mooning over the piglets, or painting in the sun and wind, I spent most of my time on the bunk house porch, reading, eating, watching and listening to the animals. The barnyard is a hotbed of activity, cows bellowing and sleeping, Ramona the pig snuffling about her 7 piglets, the chickens cackling in late afternoon and the rooster announcing the time as 3:45 AM.
I brought some CDs to play and there was a radio, but I never got around to breaking the “silence” with them.
“Silence” is in quotes because the country is not silent at all. Turkeys sounding off, a cow “in season,” hens and a rooster clucking and crowing, pigs grunting, the scratching of the bunnies on the other side of the bunk house wall, birds, of course, wind soughing or howling through the trees, and myriad other strange noises – not familiar but not exactly unfamiliar.
The chicken coop in the barnyard: because of hawks, the chickens must have overhead wire as well as conventional fence. The turkeys share the space, although they are separated by a wire fence from the rooster and his harem
My plan was to carry my camera everywhere with me, with special emphasis on photographing light in the mornings and evenings. I also planned to paint small (4×4 inch) boards first, then move to slightly larger ones, and then, if time and energy permitted, go to the big 30 x 40 inch Baltic birch painting surfaces.
I was at the Homestead for two weeks, mid-September, 2016, when the weather ranged from shirt-sleeve sweaty to downright frosty. All the necessaries except food were provided by my hosts, including wine glasses and good coffee. My Portland-bought provisions were adequate, and Rose freely offered whatever Darrell’s garden was producing – raspberries and fresh corn and zucchinis. Late every afternoon, I rambled down to the Howe’s home, said hi to the rottweillers, Brandy and Bella, set up my laptop in the lawn under the shade tree, and chatted to Jer via emails. Those emails provide a base for this photo essay — ideas and letters and photos, ten days’ worth, meandering, maundering, and wide-eyed.