Late spring and early summer are calf season. It’s a great time to travel through the countryside if you’re looking to photograph baby animals. As I was meandering through the backroads of the Palouse on a mostly rainy day, I passed a ranch and spotted this very young calf with his mother. I pulled to the side of the road to get some shots, and was noticed by the (human) residents, who graciously invited me onto their property to get some closer images. I readily accepted.
I got to go into the field where the cows were gathered, and this was the youngest calf, just a couple of days old and cute as can be. He’s barely taller than the grass. Momma-cow kept close tabs on him…and watched me like a hawk! She wasn’t too sure about letting this stranger get anywhere near her or her precious baby. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses. They’re not just for wildlife. These images were shot with a 200 mm which allowed me to stay over 20′ away. I didn’t want to get any closer than that, since I’m sure those horns are as sharp as they look. Also, since I was squatting so as to be down at eye level with Momma, I knew I would need an extra second or two to get to my feet if Momma decided I was a threat to her calf and I had to sprint for the gate which was only a few steps behind me. Fortunately Momma was cool, and tolerated my presence in the field as long as I kept my distance.
By the way, these are Corriente cattle, which come from Mexico. They’re descendants of the cattle that the Spaniards brought to the “New” World over 500 years ago. In the US they’re mostly used for rodeo events like roping and wrestling. I hear their meat is very lean and healthy.
After a couple of minutes of shooting, I could tell that Momma-cow was beginning to lose her patience, and my equipment had been out in the drizzle long enough. I knew I had some good shots, and I left the field so that my more than cooperative subjects could relax.
The cordial human residents of this beautiful land also invited me to have a quick tour of the barn, which was a real treat since 99% of my barn photography takes place from outside the structures. The land has been in this family for several generations now, and it was a patriarch who had built the barn many, many years ago, along with a beautiful farmhouse nearby. I really appreciated hearing about the history of this family and their multi-generational ties to this beautiful land.
I promised to send the gracious humans some jpgs when I got back to my lodging that evening, which I did. I believe in keeping my photography karma clean. And I know I never could’ve gotten these shots from the road.
It’s people like that who make it easier to be in the right place at the right time.