Grand Prize Winner
Charlotte H. Smith, Santa Barbara County
Grandmothers are legends in their own right but rancher Charlotte Smith, also known as Grandma Do-Dee, takes the role of nurturer to a whole new level. The families of Tepusquet Canyon benefit daily from Smith's love and devotion to her close-knit community.
Using a digital camera she received as a birthday gift, Smith captured this year's grand prize with a photo of 6-year-old neighbor Kayla Minetti with “Hippie Chicken.” Hippie Chicken earned his nickname for his wild top feathers and legendary barnyard antics. According to many who stop by the Las Flores Cattle Ranch, no visit is complete without a trip through the barnyard and Smith's chicken coop. Kayla, who is a bit shy, loves to join in with the other children and chase the chickens.
Smith is this year's only double winner, also taking first prize in the From Farm to Fork category.
Family on the Farm
Janet Turner, Placer County
Janet Turner's family has graced the pages of California Country magazine so many times over the past decade that it's almost like her children have grown up before our readers' eyes. This year Turner's winning photo shows son Layton, a kindergartener, and his little sister, Mattie Rose, age one and a half, performing one of their chores at their uncle's ranch in Sattley. Turner and her husband, Buck, strive to teach their three children the importance of proper care and feeding of their herd. The couple are raising their children on their ranch, continuing a long tradition of cattle ranching and caring for the land.
Hilda Baisel, Stanislaus County
Sean Dunagan of Oakdale helped make Ty Cross' Thanksgiving Day wish come true last year. Hilda Baisel, Dunagan's wife and avid photographer, snapped this moment between two friends and placed in the Family on the Farm category. Ty, who is a “city kid” and the son of a close friend, saw Dunagan's tractor when he arrived for their Thanksgiving Day festivities and just had to have a ride on it. According to Baisel, it did not take too much coaxing for her husband to climb in and show Ty around their cattle ranch. The couple have lived in Oakdale for about 12 years and enjoy sharing their country way of life with friends and family.
Caring for the Land
Leah Bigham, Fresno County
The friendship and loyalty that a working dog can bring to a farmer is priceless, and this is certainly the case for Leah Bigham and her Australian Shepherd mix, "Posse." Posse is shown here watching over her family's ranching operation. Bigham was riding around on her horse with Posse in tow when they took a break and she noticed that the dog was posing for her. Posse was a New Year's surprise from her dad and one that she says she will always cherish. Bigham, who operates a local feed store in the Fresno area with her family, says she is proud of her farming heritage and enjoys working with her family as they support the farmers in their area.
Tracy Vineyard, Placer County
Recycling and caring for the land are a regular way of life for Tracy Vineyard and her family. When son Andrew brought home a school project that had to do with the importance of ecology, she and the 12-year-old set out to do their regular chores--which include collecting recyclables that find their way along their property and frontage road--to satisfy one of the requirements. Vineyard recalls that the beautiful spring day provided the ideal opportunity for this busy mother of four to spend time with her oldest child doing something good for Mother Earth and getting some homework done, too!
Stacy Schmidt, San Benito County
A rare winter snow provided avid photographer Stacy Schmidt with the opportunity to take this shot of a serene landscape. Schmidt grew up on the Pine Rock Ranch in Paicines and returned to the ranch after college to be with her husband, Alex, and raise their family, which now includes 3-year-old Tristin. Schmidt can only remember seeing snow deep enough to make a snowball a few times in her life, so she raced around on a three-wheeler to capture the excitement of this uncommon view.
Janet Davis, Placer County
The sheer beauty of Stahley Hill in Auburn and a springtime horseback ride with her husband provided Janet Davis with the perfect backdrop for her photo. Davis began taking pictures and creating memories like this one so she could share them with her mother, Margie. She describes the view from Stahley Hill as one of the last 360-degree panoramas of Auburn and the valley below. The hill is located on a historic pioneer ranchland, which Davis and her husband, Bob, enjoy exploring every chance they get.
From Farm to Fork
Charlotte H. Smith, Santa Barbara County
It was a perfect day to can so Charlotte Smith gathered up her granddaughters and did just that. Sarah, 10, and Shauna, 9, enjoy spending time with their grandmother and learning the many lessons she has to teach them. Smith, who is also this year's Grand Prize winner, took this photo during a break in the canning action.
The garden at the Las Flores Ranch provides a bounty of fruits and vegetables, and Smith takes great pride in the fact that they raise and preserve much of it themselves. She says she enjoys sharing her homegrown creations with her family and the lessons behind them with her grandchildren in the hope that they pass them down for generations to come.
Cathy Wolfe, Contra Costa County
The roadside produce stand is almost a thing of the past, but Cathy Wolfe and her family hope to keep theirs thriving as the hustle and bustle of urban life in Contra Costa County approaches them. Wolfe's grandfather established their original farming operation in 1936. She joined the operation when she returned after college graduation and now oversees many of the aspects of the farm. Wolfe says she enjoys raising heirloom variety tomatoes and photographed what she describes as the “fruits of her labor” just minutes after harvest.
Kids & Critters
Misty Tartaglia, San Luis Obispo County
This tender moment between Reese Tartaglia and her horse Biscuit shows the strength of connection between human and horse. Reese's mom, Misty, a winner in the 2006 photo contest, captured the moment on their ranch in Harmony.
Biscuit was named by Reese's dad, Derrick, after the legendary Seabiscuit. The quarter horse was purchased as a yearling and trained for use on the family's cattle ranch. But Biscuit quickly stole Reese's heart and has been a bright spot in many of the 3-year-old's days. But the admiration is mutual, as Biscuit loves to lower his head to greet little Reese for kisses.
Armin Neubert, Monterey County
For 86-year-old Armin Neubert of Pine Canyon, a fond memory of his granddaughter's joy during a day with her grandparents and a friendly goose prompted this entry and produced an award winner in the Kids and Critters category. The photo of Kate was taken at a reservoir at Neubert's ranch. Jeanne, his wife of 60 years, points out that her husband--a Christmas tree grower and animal lover--has always had a zest for life and a love of wildlife photography. Both Neuberts have participated in the Farm Bureau's photo contest over the past decade.
All in a Day's Work
Erika DuVal, Modoc County
Erika DuVal and the crew she was working with had just finished baling hay for the day when she saw the perfect opportunity for this shot. According to DuVal, these eight John Deere tractors are kept in top working condition and had just been used to bale 2,500 acres of alfalfa hay. Each day the owners line up the tractors like this when they've finished their work, a tradition that DuVal believes represents the enormous pride they have for keeping the “Johnny Popper” traditions alive in Modoc County. This is the first time the new mom and avid photographer has entered the Farm Bureau's photo contest.
Dorothea Garrett, Shasta County
When it comes to the care necessary to maintain the flock of emus that roam Dorothea Garrett and John Smelcer's ranch, the term "hands on" is an understatement--especially in the case of a character named Bullet, shown kneeling in front of Garrett in this cleverly shot photo. The distinguished member of the 80-bird flock was born right in Garrett's hands. She said that the egg started to crack and out he popped like a bullet, hence the name.
It took several tries using a timer to get this photo. Emus are extremely curious birds, Garrett explains, and found her husband's hat irresistible. They kept nibbling at it and knocking it to the ground, just as the timer would go off.
The couple began raising emus in the early 1990s, after restructuring their ranch from a horse-boarding operation so that could maintain the farming way of life they both enjoy.