Brooks & Jennifer | Engagement Session

Meet Brooks and Jennifer…the soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. They met at college and will graduate in May. Brooks is set to be a full-time youth pastor, and Jennifer plans to teach. These two are total goofballs with each other, and I love that! It was a touch chilly (snow fell the following day), but these guys were naturals in front of the camera. Needless to say it was a fun shoot!

I am so excited to share with you these photos. Jennifer and I have been friends for a long time (we were both homeschooled and went to the same church), so I was ecstatic to be able to take her engagement photos.

The Details: Jennifer’s ring was once her grandmother’s and the quilt in the pictures was made by her other grandmother. It was very special to have those family momentums in such a special event as an engagement. We took their pictures at Historic Yates Mill Park in Raleigh. At the end of the shoot, Jennifer asked me to be her bridesmaids. Brooks and Jennifer will wed on May 27!

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Mary Dunn||Senior

I’m somewhat in shock that this girl is now a senior in high school. Mary, the daughter of Dale and Angie Dunn, is someone I have watched grow up over the years. She is so very vivacious, beautiful, well-rounded, and full of sass.  Mary is heavily involved in 4-H, has competed nationally in the Make It With Wool Competition, volunteers at the hospital, and shows cows.

She will graduate from Wayne School of Engineering High School and has been accepted into several colleges. She eventualy wants to go on for occupational therapy. She has a bright future ahead of her, and I can’t wait to see where life takes her!

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Jacob & Joanna||Engagement Session

My dear friends Joanna and Jacob are engaged! Joanna and I became friends at Campbell, where we suffered through many classes together, endured really late nights compiling the yearbook for Campbell, traveling with the ethics bowl team, and having late night talks and laughs. She has become one of my closest friends over the years.

Campbell is also where she and Jacob met. I’ve watched their relationship over the past 5 years, and they always have a great time together.

Jacob proposed in Florida on the beach underneath the stars. Let me tell you, I was beyond excited to get the text message of a sparkly ring on Jo’s finger! I was also super excited that Joanna let me take her engagement pictures.

Jo decided to take the photos at the NC State Fair, and we drafted our other college friend, Emily, to come and be a second camera. Thank the Lord Em came, because let me tell you, Marisa does not do fair rides. We battled crowds, walked a ton, ate some, and took literally 1,000 pictures. So, without further ado, I give you the future Mr. and Mrs. Shires.

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PC: Emily McIntosh
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Green Beans–Behind the Scenes

As I was driving home, I noticed a field of what looked like soybeans, being harvested. I was quite confused at the sight (and the leaves all over the road) because soybeans aren’t harvested when they are green. Dad noticed the field too and stopped to investigate. He determined that they were green beans!

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When I learned this, I grabbed my camera and asked Mom to drive. My plan was to just take pictures out the window, but there were workers standing right by the road. I quickly put the camera away to avoid being super awkward. Mom suggested that I should just go up to them and ask to take pictures. First of all, I was in purple stretchy shorts. Second, I had chicken shoes on (yard shoes with chickens on them and maybe even chicken poop). Unfortunately, Mom, in all her motherly wisdom, decided that I should go home to change. Now, I had absolutely no excuse.

I changed my shorts, but left the shoes (I was feeling bold). I asked Alec to go with me this time. I’m not sure that was the greatest idea because he was absolutely no nonsense about it all. All of a sudden, we were parked on the side of the road, and he was out of the truck telling me to come on. He walked up to the men, and said, “hey, my sister likes to take pictures, do you mind?” That was not the eloquent introduction I was going for, but it was something. I introduced myself and started shooting.

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After talking to the guys there, I learned that they were from Pennsylvania and were with Hanover Foods. They had been working their way up from Florida picking beans on contract. This allowed for a longer growing season.

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The current field they were working on was 147 acres, and they would harvest 41 million pounds of beans.

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The neat part was we have bought Hanover green beans before from the store. Now, I know that someone had to grow those beans that I got from a can, but actually putting a face to the name and seeing the process was pretty special. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look too. Special thanks to the guys for letting me take pictures and answering questions.

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Stop & Smell the Sage: A Look into NC Clary Sage Industry

Driving home from NC beaches, you may come across a sea of purple. Beautiful fields filled with flowering plants dot the sides of roads headed to the coast. These fields of flowers are not simply to look pretty, nor are they volunteer wildflowers. Rather, they are an upcoming crop for NC farmers. The flowering crop is clary sage.

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Clary sage has roots (no pun intended) dating back to the Middle Ages. Used for its calming properties and benefits to the skin, it is not to be confused with the sage you may find in your kitchen spice rack. Clary sage, also known as salvia sclarea, is an herb that is found in many household items for its fragrance. Think dish soap, perfume, and detergent. It first must be extracted, though.

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This is where a company in Bertie County comes in. Avoca Inc. is the largest extraction facility in North America for sclareol. They have been in the business since the 1960’s.  They take clary sage and produce sclareol  which helps fragrances have a longer life in items like soap and perfume. Avoca contracts with many farmers to grow a certain amount of acres. This is appealing for many  farmers because so many other crops have huge swings in prices. Clary sage is more stable.

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Planted at the end of summer (August) the perennial grows until winter. At this point it becomes dormant until warmer weather hits again. By Late May, early June, the blooms are in full force. Blooms can be purple, pink, or white, depending on the variety. Harvesting begins mid to late June.

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The smell the crop produces is obvious. It makes sense, since it is in the fragrance industry.  A special harvester is used that cuts up the plants into 1 inch cubes much like silage. The flowers have the highest oil content, but the entire plant is used. The harvest is sent to Avoca where they will extract throughout the year. Here is a video of harvesting:

Avoca contracts with over 120 farms, there are over 25,000 acres being devoted to growing clary sage in eastern North Carolina. North Carolina is definitely a major player in growing clary sage.

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I was super excited to see all of the purple fields on the way home from the beach. So excited, I made Alec pull over on the side of the road so I could jump a ditch and take pictures of sage in the setting sun.

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If you happen to see the purple (or white/pink) fields in North Carolina, know that they are much more than flowers. They are a farmer’s crop. So, roll down the windows to stop and smell the sage.

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Resources:

Avoca Inc.

NC Field & Family

Lintons Take Ocracoke Island

This week the Lintons are all on island time. We made the trip to Hatteras Islands for a few days. Alec and I came up by ourselves yesterday because the boys had baseball games rescheduled for Sunday. Today we were finally all able to be together and go on adventures.

We boarded a ferry and made the hour long voyage to Ocracoke Island where we visited a lighthouse, hung out with Blackbeard, toured all the beach houses, had a fabulous dinner, and soaked in a gorgeous sky on the beach. All in all, a great day despite chilly temperatures. Wish us luck tomorrow as we climb all the stairs to the top of Cape Hatteras!

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The Ferry

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Ocracoke Lighthouse

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The Beach

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Copyright Rural Ris Photos 2016 | All Rights Reserved | Pictures Available for Sale Upon Request

Mary Dunn & Alan Johnson||Prom 2016

I was so excited when Mary asked me to help her get ready for her prom (I’ve secretly been dying to get my hands on her gorgeous locks) and take pictures. This girl is my neighbor and like a little sister. I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful young lady who is accomplished and stays super busy with 4-H, livestock, school, and the community. Accompanying Mary to her prom was fellow showman, Alan. My first memory of Alan was him as probably a cloverbud asking a ton of livestock questions. Today, he’s mentoring the cloverbuds.

I couldn’t be more proud of either of these two, and was so glad I got to have a part in their evening!

Although there was rain, with rain comes rainbows, and that is exactly what we got. I hope ya’ll enjoy these!

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It takes a village

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Ya’ll looked wonderful! Thank you for letting me be a part in your lives today and all the other days too.

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Lambing Season- 2016-

When it comes to animals being born on the farm, I think I get the most giddy over the lambs. There is something about those little wooly babies and their over attentive mommas.

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Aspen was the first ewe to go. We walked outside to 2 little black girl lambs.

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Meet Lace….

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and Silver…

I just knew it would be a short time before the next lamb would arrive. I checked several times a day and through the night. Alas, it was like watching a pot boil. Finally, Aspen’s sister, Fiona, had a super splashy baby girl that is all diva. Meet Paisley…

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We now had 3 more mommas to lamb. I made my predictions as to who would go next. Of course, they decided to spite me and go in all sorts of orders. Our old girl Duff, was the third one to lamb. Once again, we had another little girl, but this one was white! Meet Eve…

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We were down to our southdown sisters. Sybil went first and had a super black little girl. I’m somewhat partial to Sybil, so this baby was really exciting for me. Meet Georgette…

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The last arrival was Edith’s little white lamb. Once again, we had a girl. While we just missed her birth, we caught her right after, so she was still getting cleaned off by mom. Meet Evelyn…

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We are so in love with our 6 little girls. They are all very different, and have way cool wool. We can’t wait to show them at State Fair. They have already been on several field trips to visit kids and tell everybody about wool.

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Now that lambing season is over, shearing season is about to begin, so stay tuned! For now, enjoy all of the cuteness.

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Southern Snow

Although yesterday was the first day of winter, here in North Carolina, it is a balmy 70 degrees and super wet(Santa, you might want to bring your swim suit). I have never seen a white Christmas. Well, there was that one time it snowed the day after Christmas, so I counted it, but still.

There are places here in the South where fields of white can be seen. I’m talking about cotton. It is a southern snow if you will, and it is beautiful.

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Not only is it beautiful, but it is also pretty important to America. Cotton is the number one value-added crop in America, bringing in $5.3 billion just at the farm level and more than $120 billion in annual business revenue.

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Cotton isn’t just about the fibers. All parts of the plants are used. The seeds are processed into oil, meal, or hulls. Oil is often used in shortening and salad dressing. Meal and hulls are a great protein feed for livestock.

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America’s currency is 75% cotton.

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One  bale of cotton weighs about 480 pounds.

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Weather affects the quality of the cotton. If the bolls (the balls of cotton) have opened and are rained on before they can be picked, the cotton sprouts and reduces the quality of the lint.

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Cotton quality is determined by taking a sample from the bale where color, cleanliness, staple length (length of fibers), and strength are analyzed.

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Thomas Edison used cotton fibers for filaments in his first light bulb.

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America is the third largest grower of cotton, and Texas is the top state.

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Eli Whitney’s cotton gin invention changed the face of cotton forever. It was able to process cotton 10 times faster than by hand.

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Cotton is truly the snow of the South. I must say I’m partial to it over the real deal. Actual snow wreaks havoc. Everyone freaks out a bit, roads are on gridlock, schools close, and bread and milk fly off of the shelves. Not to mention, here on the farm, it gets to be a mucky mess. So, now that it is officially winter, I will not complain about my balmy weather (however I would appreciate a lot less water), and will embrace the snow of the South…cotton.

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Sources:

Cotton Campus

National Cotton Council of America

 

Got to Be NC Show Pig Sale–We Are No Longer Pig-less!

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen where Alec and I traveled 1,200 miles and photographed/videoed 85 pigs at 12 farms all across the state for the Got to Be NC Show Pig Sale. We did it within 5 days and it was quite the adventure. Honestly, though, I loved it! After hours of editing videos and photos, they were posted on the online portion of the sale through Willoughby Sales. All there was left was to wait for the sale.

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Alec and I both planned on buying a pig at the sale. We had each picked out our favorites and set budgets for ourselves. I was stoked. When we arrived at the sale, I was excited to see so many people there. This was the inaugural sale, and I wanted it to do well. Because there was an online portion, there would be bidders both on the grounds and over the internet. It was a big deal for NC show pigs. As far as I know, this was the first of its kind in the state. There was free food, free t-shirts for buyers, and a lot of great folks.

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The problem with sales is you have to be strategic. I had 3 pigs picked out that I was interested in, but my favorite one was later in the sale line up. I was in the conundrum that I could wait until my favorite with the risk that it would go too high, and my other favorites would then be gone as they were earlier in the line up. I’m telling you, strategy and a bit of gambling is needed.

Alec’s first pick pig went too high for his budget, so he moved to the second, but when it got in the ring, he decided he didn’t like it. So, on we went to the third pig which went too high also. At this point, I’m getting a little squirmy for Alec. Our top 3 pigs for him were gone, and now it was a matter of picking one as they came through. One little guy came through the ring, and I nudged Alec that I liked this one. Alec watched him for a bit then bid. He got in a slight bidding war with another guy, and ended up calling it quits once he hit his budget. Dad and I finally talked Alec into going another $25. That won the pig.

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My bidding was much less eventful. I decided to pass up two pigs I liked to wait for my favorite and got her with no competition. I was stoked!

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Overall, I think the sale went well, especially as it was the first year doing it. Sure, there were some no-sales, but that’s alright. I hope to see it grow, and more people support it in the future.

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sale5It is truly exciting to see a great group of NC pig farmers come together to provide quality stock. Most of the pigs will be at the NC State Fair competing, so be sure to stop by the pig barn at the fair. For now, though, I would like to introduce you to our newest additions. I am no longer “pig-less”! They LOVE marshmallows.

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I am pleased to introduce to you my gilt, Alice:

 

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And, Alec’s barrow Gus:

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We should be getting two more pigs for the boys soon too, so stay tuned.