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Following John on his shoots around the world.

Calf branding at Tongue River

A quiet afternoon today and a chance to catch up on recharging, downloading, and blog writing. The cell coverage here is sketchy at best so the sending of this blog might be interesting.

I happily met up with my Airstream trailer and the VW Touareg towing it upon arrival in Amarillo. Thanks to my friend, Bryan Beard, for hauling it down here successfully and without incident.

The drive east out of Amarillo to Tongue River was pretty uneventful. Despite the sign we didn’t see any rattlesnakes at the rest stop!

We pulled into the ranch HQ about 5 pm and we were directed to the branding operations out in the field. We found the horse trailers and tents of the men. The pens were quiet and we proceeded to enter the chuck wagon and introduce ourselves. The ranch runs a traditional operation. A kitchen pulled by horses and all the cooking done in dutch ovens over coals from the fire. My wife would be very jealous of the biscuits and gravy they served this morning :-) .

The boys here are a soft-spoken and polite group. Most of the guys here respond to questions with a “yes sir” or “no sir”. A few questions about the project from them and some broken explantions from me. We had a night to relax, the branding was to start the following day at 6 am or so.

At dawn the cowboys saddle up and head out, rounding up the calves and their milking cow mothers. The branding is done by a two teams of guys so they can do two calves at a time. It’s been interesting to see the similarities and differences compared to the work done in Argentina. We shared some of those images with the boys here. Fun to see their reaction and interest in how things are done on the other side of the world. The lack of language barrier has been nice because we can ask questions to almost anyone. One difference I have noticed is that we need to be really award of our impact here. The only reason I’m here is through their generosity and graciousness. Thank you Tongue River Ranch for this opportunity.

For the most part we are eating on our own, here in the Airstream. I made a bunch of meals before leaving so it’s only a matter of reheating and eating! Last night we choose chicken curry because it was leaking in the fridge and tonight it will be beef stew also due to some leaking items. Been sleeping well but having to get up around 5 am every day. Cold nights (freezing, or just about) and warm days (mid 70s).

Well I better scoot and try and get this and the images up online.

Until next time! Ciao, John

Our flight out of Portland was a red-eye, getting into Houston at 5:30 in the morning. A pretty ugly scene as the plane was packed. I’m getting over a cold that I have had now for over a week and my throat was really sore on the flight. Something about the night time makes it worse, I’m not sure why cause this morning it’s much better. When I would yawn… very painful!

Texas is blue skies and sunny. Meeting up with my truck and Airstream trailer in Amarillo. I’ll tell you more on the ranch we are visiting in later posts.

We’ll be shooting for about a week and then I’m driving back to Oregon. I’ll be gone about two weeks total. I’m going to miss my family very much and I want to thank my wife, Jennifer, for her support while I pursue this project. Our daughter is a great kid but she is a handful when it’s only one of us around. I really appreciate the opportunity to explore for a while.

No photos on this post. It would just be a shot of a very tired guy anyway.

Well okay here is one from the air. Very flat out here.

Waiting for our red-eye out to Texas. David, my assistant, getting some shut eye.

Here is a small back story to my current photo project, “Cows around the world”.  Now that’s not really the title, and not really even the working title.  I’ll give you a quick overview of the project.

I’m photographing and documenting pastoralist cultures around the world that have relied heavily on cattle for their way of life.  I look to find people that are passionate about cows, not the most glamourous creatures in the world.  But for the Masai of East Africa or the Gauchos of Argentina the cow is their lifeline.   It is through these animals that their cultures have achieved an affluence.

Many of these cultures are fading.  As the world becomes more urbanized and …. this way of life is being lost.  I hope to record these quiet but proud cultures while they still exist.