Farm Aerials

My Anger grandparents and aunts and uncles had large aerial photographs of their properties hanging in their living rooms. Always pride of place. I loved them.


We didn’t have one, I guess because we lived in town. Not quite the same as a farm or houses that are apart from others. Where it’s easy to point and say ‘there, that’s mine.’

I’d asked my parents where they came from. “Guys fly overhead and take pictures, then come around and ask if you want to buy one. Happens every year.” I wanted one of those pictures. But nobody ever came to my door and asked if I wanted an aerial photograph. It seemed like a lottery, I thought, whether your house got picked or not. I forgot about it eventually.

National Aerial View

One summer day in 2014, the dogs and I were out in the field behind our house. A car pulled in the driveway. We came to see who it was. A man with a clipboard walked to meet us.


Gus Zebian from National Aerial View, he said. He showed me 4 x 6 photos of our farm. Aerial photos. Problem was, I’d become so accustomed to saying ‘not interested’ to salespeople that I said that to him. Dogs and I turned away and Gus walked back toward his car.

Halfway across the field, I realized what I was doing – passing up the chance of a lifetime. I’d just won the lottery! And I had said no thanks, not interested! Dogs and I started running back, yelling out to him. He got out of his car. And the deal was done.

Meet me at Tim Hortons


A couple weeks later, Gus called. My photo was ready. I wanted to surprise my husband with it so I didn’t want Gus to come here. We arranged to meet at the Tim Hortons in Hampton. Gus was outside waiting for me, so we did the deal there. I’ve wondered if people inside were curious about what was going on, after dark, passing money and a picture to each other.

I asked Gus where he was from. London, Ontario he said. He and his brother went across the country every year. His brother flew the plane and he was the salesman. The Zebians had been doing this for decades. So I told him about the aerial farm photographs in my family. Maybe we took them, he said.


There are other ways of seeing your property from the air now. Drones and Google Earth. Print them off, frame them and there you go – aerial photo of your farm, house or whatever. But, for me, a photograph of your place taken from a plane by people who might have also taken the photographs you remember hanging in your grandparents’ living room – that’s priceless. Connecting land and generations in a way I can’t see satellite or drone photography ever doing.


The top photograph is of my aunt and uncle Erie and Solon Laur’s farm near Mossley, Ontario. In the middle is the photo of our farm in New Brunswick. The bottom picture is of Borden Ave in Belmont, Ontario. My uncle and aunt Jack and Vivian Anger’s house is centre and my grandparents Austin and Murel Anger’s house is at the left.

  • Also see my Anger Photos for pics of those mentioned here and others.

Medina Spirit

Today, Derby Day, I’ll be thinking of Medina Spirit. He won the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Then, after testing positive for a substance banned on race days, he was disqualified in late February 2022. So, nine months after the race, Mandaloun was declared winner of the 2021 Run for the Roses.

Two months before the decision to disqualify him, Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout in Santa Anita Park in California. That was on December 6, 2021. He was three years and eight months old.

Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert was also suspended from racing for 90 days starting April 4th. So for the first time in a very long time, we will not see Bob Baffert or any of his horses at this year’s Triple Crown races. I will miss them. Even if I’m not rooting for one of his horses, I know enough to keep a close eye on them before and during the race.

Noble and cherished champion

In April 2022 his ashes were interred at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. He is buried beside Charismatic and War Emblem, two legendary champions and Kentucky Derby winners. On his gravestone, under “noble and cherished champion”, is inscribed:

2021 Kentucky Derby

2021 Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Tap or click here for larger view

It seems to me that a statement is being made here: whatever happened at last year’s Derby, Medina Spirit deserves to be honoured. He ran the best races he could, and his best was championship level.

Trainer Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert too has run innumerable good races in his over 30 year career in training Thoroughbreds. Old Friends founder Michael Blowen said about the doping controversy, “I just think he hasn’t been treated very well. If he committed a crime then I guess he has to pay the penalty, but to me, this is giving somebody the death penalty for stealing a Snickers bar.”

If anyone would look carefully at training methods and trainers, I think it would be Michael Blowen. He started Old Friends in 2003, having been horrified by the slaughter of the great racehorse Ferdinand the year before in Japan. If you’re ever in Kentucky, go visit Old Friends. We did in 2007 and Mr. Blowen was our tour guide. It was the high point of a week of wonderful horses, farms and tracks in an incredibly beautiful state.

The sole purpose of Old Friends is to provide a good home for retired racehorses – particularly stallions. In that, they are supported by the general public as well as racehorse owners, jockeys and trainers – including Bob Baffert. Michael Blowen is passionate about proper treatment of horses, so his opinions count for a lot with me.

Michael Blowen with an old friend and me in December 2007 at Old Friends

But here’s another side, from Pat Forde in Sports Illustrated, May 10, 2021. The article is entitled “Bob Baffert has turned the Medina Spirit controversy into a circus.” After outlining the many times Baffert horses tested positive for drugs in recent years, and Mr. Baffert’s dubious explanations, the author says:

“Much the way Lance Armstrong dominated cycling when it was known to be fueled by doping, Baffert has dominated horse racing in an era of rampant drug use. Are we really supposed to believe that when positive tests are linked to the most successful guy in a drug-riddled sport, he’s actually the innocent victim of circumstance and/or sabotage? Occam’s razor—which stipulates that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex—seems to apply here.”

Complex or Simple?

I don’t know the horse racing industry, so can’t know who’s got what at stake. I do, however, respect Michael Blowen’s opinion. And his farm is now Medina Spirit’s final resting spot.

  • You may also enjoy my story of meeting the great Cigar at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.