Five Marys Farm – Harvest Session

I recently spent a day in the breathtaking Siskiyou County in Northern California with the Heffernan family on their 1800 acre ranch, aptly named, Five Marys Farms (with Papa Brian, Mama Mary and their four little Marys in tow). I rose with the sun, roamed through their grassy prairies, ran through thick woods and admired the snow capped mountains surrounding the homestead that was first established in 1858.

The day was filled with caring for the animals as a family; Black Angus cattle, Navajo-Churro sheep, Glouchester Old Spot pigs, Red Bourbon turkeys and their 40+ varieties of laying hens as well as the heart filling laughter that poured through every wooden wall of that original grain barn-turned-tiny farmhouse.



This video. Well, the images too.

Can I humbly say that it is my favorite work I’ve done yet? I love it.

I hope you do too. And mamas, make the video full screen & call in the kiddos because I’m sure they would love to watch as well!





Mary, the mama of Five Marys Farms, so kindly wrote the story of how they recently came to be a farming family and it is pieced throughout the photographs below. This is surely a long, rich post so give yourself time so you can make it all the way to the bottom…


s_0361 s_0362


Mary:  “Two and a half years ago we were living a busy life in the Bay Area, Brian was a lawyer and I owned a few family based small businesses, and together we owned and operated two restaurants. Brian was raised on a farm in California where his dad farmed trees and row crops and I am a sixth generation Californian with farming roots – so we both always were drawn to the idea of buying a farm to split time between the bustle of Silicon Valley and the wide open California spaces. It was a “someday” dream since we met.




We looked for rural property several times after we were married but nothing ever worked out at the time. The restaurants pushed us to look for really premium meat raised with idyllic small farm husbandry but we could never find the right volume, quality and consistency we needed year round – and so we decided to try and do it ourselves.




We found our ranch by chance – looking primarily for land and water to raise cattle, not really for a place to live (at least at this point in our lives). It all happened quickly and soon we were the owners of a beautiful ranch that needed lots of work, cows and infrastructure. We naively thought we could do both – live a busy life in the city and be weekend warrior ranchers.




We drove up and back to the ranch every weekend for 8 out of 9 weekends – a 6 hour trip each way with four carseated kids in tow. We had lots of “windshield time” together to consider and discuss what we really wanted for ourselves and for our kids. The 8th trip we decided we decided to pick up our life and plant our roots right here on our ranch for good.




We fell in love with this land, with our small town here, with the incredible community of people willing to help us new folks learn the ropes, the local schools, and with everything about working hard together as a family raising animals everyday – with the lifestyle of ranching. We knew this was where we wanted to raise our children and grow old together.




So we sold our businesses, sold our house and have never really looked back.Ranching is no joke – it’s work 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no time for vacations or days off. We are up with the sun and, since every animal gets fed before we do, usually eat dinner after dark.





There are livestock in my living room and kitchen half the time, my girls are always covered in dirt and my wardrobe consists of blue jeans and torn flannel shirts and boots every day.




The daily ranch to-do list is truly never-ending and there are obstacles and hardships at every turn – back breaking work, broken pipes, drought, flooding and animals that die no matter how hard you work to take care of them. It’s unpredictable and raw, with intense emotions in the highs and in the lows.





But when you ask either of us where we’d go if we had the chance for a vacation both of us would honestly answer there is no place we’d rather be than right here experiencing this life together as a family.




If we weren’t here everyday – we might miss the wonder of a new baby calf being born, or a newborn lamb learning to walk for the first time, or a squealing little litter of 9 piglets learning to nurse, climbing all over each other. We feel pretty lucky we get to call this life together our own and are very proud of the meat we get to put on other families’ tables.”







I was so impressed while visiting Five Marys Farms at how the children were never viewed as an imposition. It was the most beautiful thing to watch as parent and child just worked and played alongside one another joyfully.

I was so intrigued and asked Mary to share a bit about how they’ve instilled such a thoughtful nature and work ethic into their children and she wrote her heart out in the most beautiful post on her Five Marys Farms blog… mamas, I promise her words will encourage your weary hearts and inspire you to reach your children right where they are at rather than fitting into another family’s mold.

Find her most recent blogpost as well as info on how to order their farm raised products (to ship nationwide!) on their website here.




Posted in * Family Sessions, Favorite Sessions, Harvest Sessions | 14 Comments

The Burke Family – Covered By Grace.


“Come thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.




Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above,

Praise the mount – I’m fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love.




O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be,

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter

Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.




Prone to wander – Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love,

Here’s my heart – O take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above.”

– Robert Robinson, hymn written is 1758




Mae, the radiant mother in these images, offered these words about her heart just after the photo session…


“We are in a season of always needing Grace.


Grace that covers half-hearted measures of attention to my girls. Grace that covers overheated tempers with my husband. Grace that covers blood deep desires to see my name renowned above my Savior’s. Grace that covers receiving more from my friends than I am giving. Grace that pulls me closer to the cross despite my intense efforts of pushing away in laziness.


It’s hard to allow yourself to be fully laid open in front of someone else to photograph, to not be in complete control of the image that is being presented to the world. It brings me to a level of vulnerability that I demand from my family, clients, and friends, but may not be fully prepared to rise to myself. But Joy knows. Joy knows this Grace deep, it’s the same that covers her, and under that Grace she was present with us. Exactly where we are, our need and all. Thank you, Joy, for this literal image of the presence of this Glorious Grace in my life as a woman, wife, mother, Daughter of the Most High King and Servant Savior.”




Mae, I saw you.

I saw you hold the faces of your babies and kiss the forehead of your husband and laugh through all the tears.

And it was so very beautiful.


s_0183 s_0184 s_0185 s_0186 s_0187 s_0188 s_0189 s_0190 s_0191 s_0192 s_0193 s_0194 s_0196 s_0197 s_0199 s_0200 s_0201 s_0202 s_0203 s_0205 s_0206 s_0207 s_0208 s_0209 s_0210 s_0211 s_0212 s_0213 s_0214 s_0215 s_0216 s_0217 s_0219 s_0220s_0221s_0222s_0223s_0224s_0225s_0226s_0227s_0228s_0229s_0230s_0231s_0232s_0234s_0235s_0237s_0238s_0239s_0243s_0240s_0241s_0244s_0245s_0246s_0247s_0248s_0249

Posted in * Family Sessions | 1 Comment

wildflower. mother. wife. believer. artist. writer. dreamer.



favorite sessions


search the blog