Back To The Boneyard

Things have changed a bit since I last photographed the Boneyard.  A little rain brought up the green grass and the wildflowers.  The new growth hid the scatter of small bones and only the larger skeletons poked through.

This guy looked a little different in color and surrounded by Spring.  I think I prefer the black and white from last January but the contrast is interesting.

Of course not everything was so pleasant among the dead.  In the months since my first photo shoot this new carcass had arrived, full of maggots and smelling of hot rotting flesh.

The carcass was so putrid that nothing would grow too close to it.  The rot was still too fresh so under and around the body there was simply bare dirt mixed with great swaths of hair that had fallen from the horsehide and mane.

The other horses in the pasture didn't seem to mind grazing so close to their fallen brothers.

It was a beautiful evening.  The setting sun highlighting the grass and water running in the gullies and streams.  Spring was in full swing.  Much less apocalyptic than my last visit.

The Boneyard

Welcome to the boneyard.  The final resting place of the ranch animal.  When I was a kid I remember that we used to scatter our dead livestock throughout the hills to try to avoid such a phenomenon, but over the past several years my aunt has taken to dumping her dead all together in the mouth of the back meadow, creating what is now the boneyard.

Admittedly, it isn't for everyone, but I think the boneyard is one of the most interesting places on the ranch.  It smells just like you think it might.  The bones, both the bleached and the bloody, lie scattered together across the dead grass in slow decomposition.  Some still carrying leathery bits of hide and rotting strands of stinking sinew.  It's horrifying and enthralling all at once.  In short, it's nature at work.

Black and white seemed the only fitting way to capture such a landscape.  I think it allows the image to be more than just grotesque.  It becomes intriguingly horrific.

The calf.

The hanging goat head.  Perhaps strung up to try and preserve it?  If so, it's not working.  I don't know.  I didn't hang it.

One of the fresher horse carcasses.

The sheer volume of carcasses that have been deposited in the boneyard must be the reason that they were not interred (I counted 20 horse skulls, at least two pigs, the calf, and the goat).  It would take innumerable hours to bury so many beasts.  Also the rocky adobe soil is not exactly conducive to digging.  So instead they are dumped and left as carrion for the vultures, crows, and coyotes.

In one way it is a blemish on an otherwise pristine landscape.  An unnatural collection of death.  But at least it is an interesting blemish.