When Opportunity Knocks

My brief time as a new resident of Almonte/Mississippi Mills has opened many doors – photographically speaking – for me. Almonte, and the five other hamlets that make up Mississippi Mills are islands of comfortable small-town life in a sea of rural farmland, livestock and weathered barns… with weathered barn doors that beckoned me inside.

Among the most rewarding of those opened doors was the barn door I walked through at Arlee and Diane Sheets’ Rock-N-Horse Farm. I had little to no knowledge of farm life nor of the animals with which we would spend hours upon hours, learning and photographing their unique personalities. Arlee, like all farmers is a tirelss worker, but he is also a very patient teacher who took the time to explain aspects of farming and animal husbandry. No question was too dumb for Arlee, or at least he never voiced that thought aloud.

The opportunity to get to know Arlee and Diane, and to photograph the many aspects of Rock-N-Horse Farm over the past eight months has been unbelievably rewarding. The century-old barn is full of atmosphere, charm and history. I like to think that through my photos of the farm, I’ve been able to capture not only some of what makes the Sheets family farm so special, but also to tell something of that story that all farmers share. 

Four decades in and this image of Marvin Sheets, Arlee’s father, may, for many reasons, be my prodest capture to date.

Like photographers, young know the value of a good beam of sunlight, especially on a chilly darn in the barn.

Frosty had a challenging start to life when he was born outdoors mid winter. His frozen nose and tongue are  now. He remains among my favourite barnyard critters.

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