We had quite a bit of excitement last week when a neighbor decided to try out his new drone…in our front yard. Dad was in the garage when he heard a buzzing sound. Looking around, he noticed there was a drone hovering over our driveway and peering inside the house. Realizing what it was, and assuming someone was attempting to spy on us, he grabbed a gun to shoot it down (too bad the safety was on…). Meanwhile, mom noticed someone parked on the side of the road down the street and confronted them about the device. It turns out the neighbor was just trying to get a few pictures of the house and farm to send us. Thankfully, no drones were needlessly hurt in the process, and our neighbor claimed he didn’t realize it would scare us.
Over the years, there have actually been a number of people that pull off the side of the road and wander onto the farm to take photographs. It usually causes a stir, because we’re never quite sure what someone is doing or why they might be taking photographs. We also don’t take kindly to people trespassing on our land.
But that doesn’t mean you have to forego all country photography!
There are so many pretty things in the country, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated on this website, and I understand that people are eager to take photographs. Before going it alone, let me offer some rules of etiquette to keep everyone safe.
1. If possible, ask first.
Most farmers are pretty decent people and I’ve never met one that bites. If you really want to take photographs of something on the farm, at least ask us first. Give us the chance to warn you of any hazards on the farm, give you advice for how to best handle the request, and let us set parameters around the request. You may not think you’re in the way or bothering anyone, but it’s always better to check and make sure first. More often than not, you’ll find that we’re pretty proud of our crops/animals/equipment/buildings/land and we will be flattered you want to take a picture of it.
Otherwise, if you don’t ask and still proceed onto the farm, you’re technically trespassing. Trespassing is one thing that may actually make us bite.
2. Never walk into animal barns or pastures without permission.
Here’s the thing: that cow or lamb or pig might look cute and cuddly from a distance, but you have no idea how that animal is going to react to you. Some farm animals can get aggressive simply because they don’t like the way you’re acting, so it’s better to leave them alone unless you have the farmer there with you.
Furthermore, animal farms are vulnerable to diseases, viruses, and bacteria. These hazards are a big deal to us and could literally wipe out our entire farm, just like the situation with the avian flu. Without taking proper safety precautions, you may be an unknowing transmitter. This is where asking comes in handy – if a farmer is concerned about this, they can instruct you on how to take precautions or ask you not to go into the barn.
3. Never assume a field is empty.
A field may just look like a bunch of dirt to you, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a crop in it. Newly planted fields can be particularly difficult to identify, especially if the crop isn’t up yet. In some cases, a field may just look like a weedy mess, but that may be because the farmer is utilizing no-till, which allows him to plant right over the weeds. You also do not want to walk into a field that has just been sprayed. The best bet is to assume there is a crop in the field and that you will cause some type of damage to it if you proceed. And never go into a field that has crops growing. Again, you cannot know that your presence in the field won’t somehow hurt the plants. For example, cantaloupe blossoms can be incredibly sensitive to dirt and dust and your actions may prevent that plant from producing the fruit altogether!
4. Take Care
Even if you skip the first 3 tips here (which I really urge you not to do), this one is important. If you’re going to pull off the side of the road to take photos, make sure you aren’t blocking traffic and that your car is completely off the road. If you’re going to walk across a lawn or field, make sure you watch your steps and avoid uneven ground. If you’re going to get close to an animal – domesticated or not – approach with caution. These might seem like “common sense” tips, but more than likely this is the type of thing that will inevitably cause an injury. Not paying attention is a super easy way to end up in trouble.
When in doubt, it’s better to not take the photograph and avoid having an unpleasant accident or encounter.