One of the 13 stories in the historical fiction collection in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Almost Famous Women” is a haunting sketch of refugees in World War II in Bergen Belsen that are thrown discovered tubes of red lipstick in the process of liberation by the British soldiers. No cameras, no mirrors, but nonetheless, some empowerment for these women that comes with a single stroke of waxy red to their lips, a contribution to move forward another moment, God-willing another day and more.
Pre-Order an autographed copy of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Almost Famous Women” in the next 2 days to enter a raffle to win a copy of the book, a visit by the author (up to 2 hour drive, or by Skype), and a dozen of Wing & A Prayer Farm’s “Almost Famous Women Biscotti.” Make sure to include “Almost Famous Farm Women” in your order notes.
In my post “Almost Famous (Farm) Women – Conversations“, I wrote about the audio-documentation that Amy Anselmo has created to share about the local farm women in our tri-state area that are involved in a variety of agriculture, literally giving voice to the subject.
While thinking about the numerous “Almost Famous Farm Women” that I wanted to highlight to honor Megan Mayhew Bergman’s launch of “Almost Famous Women,” I instantly thought of Iowan photographer Marji Guyler-Alaniz’ work from her website www.farmher.com in which her long-term project is to gives us pictures of the women in agriculture and capture them in their natural element. I contacted Marji and she gave me a blessing and permission to share from her blog’s bios’ of contemporary women farmers that she’s compiled in the past year.
What I love about Marji’s work is that she tells the story of women farmers by catching them working, resting, happy, concerned, thoughtful – in the field and in the barn – to convey the story and feeling of what role these FarmHers play from raising to harvesting to managing business. It’s not a series of Cover Girl photos, head-shots, studio session stills. It’s actual hands-on working photo-documentation.
I find Marji’s documentation inspiring and admirable. Women farmers caught on film telling stories through their work. Beauty & energy in the plow and field.
Naturally, I was drawn to the following story of Sharon Krause, an engineer by profession, now a sheep farmer in Dallas County, Iowa, who has a sheep sorting system designed by Temple Grandin after she’d had an opportune meeting and conversation with the animal scientist near a Des Moines speaking engagement. Sharon’s farm, Dalla Terra, now has a low-stress system of sorting her animals, conserving the sheep’s energy and health by watching out for their well-being in a holistic manner. In Marji’s words “Yet another example of that care and concern that permeates through the FarmHers and RanchHers I have met, and the millions more I haven’t.”
The following is re-blogged with permission from Marji but take a few minutes to check out the entire gallery of her visit to Dalla Terra Ranch on the FarmHer website.
July 13, 2014 •
One Sunday morning near the end of winter I was working on my second cup of coffee and perusing the newspaper when I ran across a story about a woman named Sharon Krause. Buried in the story was a brief mention that she raises sheep at her Dalla Terra Ranch in Dallas County, Iowa. I had been looking for an operation with sheep to photograph and time and money restrictions needed that operation to be close to my home…it was a perfect fit! So, I sent her a message and she welcomed me to her ranch. I visited Sharon on a sunny, late spring day when the fields were bursting with new baby lambs (and I am pretty sure these were the cutest lambs ever to exist).
Sharon’s Dalla Terra Ranch is 150 acres of gently rolling Iowa prairie paradise for the ewes and lambs she raises. The thick Iowa pasture provides all of the nutrition that the animals need to remain healthy and strong so she is able to fully raise her sheep at pasture.
When I first arrived, I watched as Sharon worked with some bottle babies that she was teaching to feed themselves.
From there I rode along as she did a pasture check, making sure all of the sheep were doing fine. As we finished in the first pasture and headed into the second, Sharon ran across a weak lamb. At that moment I saw the same compassion and concern that has been at the heart of every FarmHer and RanchHer I have photographed. Whether the farm has one or one thousand head of livestock, it is their duty to care for the animals. When the animals are sick or get injured, it hurts. And I tend to think it hurts FarmHers and RanchHers just a little bit more.
As we moved on to the last pasture for the day, Sharon went inside the fence to give a good pet to one of her trusted sheep dogs, Bo. This is one of my favorite pictures because almost every farm or ranch comes with a much loved dog, and I was lucky enough to capture that bond between Sharon and Bo.
As we wrapped up the day, we drove through the pasture, past the sheep sorting area and back to the barn. I was reminded to ask Sharon about her sheep sorting system that I had read about on her website. It was designed by the world famous Temple Grandin and I wanted to know more about how that came to be. The story is simple. Sharon admired Dr. Grandin’s work. Dr. Grandin was speaking near Des Moines so Sharon reached out to her and asked her to come to the ranch to help her design a system for her sheep. And Dr. Grandin came. Now Dalla Terra has a sorting system for the sheep that allows the animals to move through quietly, without the agitation and fear that comes with more traditional sorting systems. Yet another example of that care and concern that permeates through the FarmHers and RanchHers I have met, and the millions more I haven’t.
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