In January 2013 I began a year long project in collaboration with Ray & Vicky Erickson, owners of Erickson Ranch in Suisun Valley. I began visiting the ranch once (and often more than once) a month to document the seasonal cycle of the ranch, the events, as well as to make a historical record for Ray & Vicky. Some days I wandered on my own, taking in the great expanse of the fruit orchards, flower gardens and vegetable plots. Other days I hung out with Ray and marveled at his never ending knowledge of, well, everything related to the ranch and the surrounding area; the land, the fruit trees, the birds, the animals, the history...his knowledge is awe inspiring. He is one of the most interesting people I have met in my life. And nice as can be, to boot. I learned so much over the last year and feel like I've made two lifelong friends in both Ray & Vicky, this project has become so much more than just a year of photos.
One of the things that emerged after photographing at the ranch for a year is the astonishing, ever changing beauty I came across each month. Each month that I explored the ranch I found myself ooo'ing and aw'ing over one aspect or another. I never ran out of things to photograph. Mother nature is a truly inspiring entity. From the barren soils of the winter, the most beautiful things emerge throughout the growing season and once again return to the earth as the cold approaches. And guiding mother nature here is the hard working rancher and his family. Over the next year I will share the images from 2013 during their corresponding months. I tried to do this as I made the photos over the last year and I decided I really needed to soak in the year and just focus on photographing, learning and being in the moment in order to truly understand what I was producing. I'm so glad I did, reflecting back over the months after seeing the year as a whole has been an amazing journey.
January at the ranch involves a lot of projects; fixing equipment that has been broken over the course of the year, tending to the trees, preparing to graft (which -at a very basic level- is a small shoot of one tree inserted into another) and planning the marketing & business aspects of the ranch for the upcoming year. The land is very bare, trees skeletal and last year the mud was a four wheeler's dream. My very first visit I photographed a lot of the details around the property and the land. Ray walked and drove me all over and explained what was what and what they do. Sometimes I feel it's better to give in to the conversation versus being so adamant about taking a photo. I'm glad I recognized that early on, because it ends up over the course of the year I would fall into such interesting conversations and really get to know Ray & Vicky. All the while having plenty of time to make photos.
This year, promises to be a different year for the ranch with the looming threat of drought here in California, so the photos I made last year reflect the ranch under a different set of conditions than you might find this year. But in speaking with Vicky and Ray, they both share the same sentiment - it's all about adjusting and continuing on.
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