Jumping back in…..

You may have noticed, in this barren wasteland of a blog, I posted below something that was completely opposite of what you may expect here.  I’ve been stressing about following up on that post.  So many things have changed since May, and I want to share.  The problem is, I don’t know how to share anymore.   I don’t feel I can just blast everything out there.  I need a warmup.  I need to get used to personally blogging again.   I have so much to say…. but don’t know where to start.  Every single day is a gift…… and I don’t know what parts to share anymore……

So many changes.  I plan to be giving some insight on personal and business changes.  I started to a few months ago but was told I have to keep my mouth shut, and not let my customers or other photographers know because I should put on some fake facade that things are different than what they are.   Why do I listen to anyone?  *shaking my head*

I have never put on an act.  I’ve always been myself.  So why am I hiding from all of you?  That ends here and now.

I’m jumping back into the blog.  I have nothing to hide.  Some crazy and wonderful things have happened over the past few months, and I want to share, honestly.  Give me a little time, though, but it will happen.

Where do you restart?  I don’t know.  How ’bout the punch in the arm I got last night?  Haha…. once I share a bit of normal every day stuff, I will delve into the deeper stuff, promise.


I tried to sweep my front porch off last night and was punched in the arm.  Well, for a second, it felt like a punch, until the sharp pain took over…. I went running.  Dean was kind enough to follow me around making sure I wasn’t going to have a reaction to the yellow jacket sting, and brushed the last one or two out of my hair.  Late last night, he sprayed out my muck boots that were on the porch.  Evidently, there was a nest.  He showed me the nest this morning.  Gross.  Can we find beauty in it?  I tried…..

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Blog Changes….. Turns Personal….. What’s important?

I think there are a lot of things in life that come full circle.   12 years ago, I started this blog as a family/personal blog, and then as my business had grown, I felt pressured to turn this into a business blog, and then I floundered around not doing anything with it, because I was confusing myself.  A few things happened in the past few months that really have made me realize where my love of photography came from.  It came from being able to capture my family and our experiences.  I’d like to change this back to a personal blog.   I have a business site so there is really no reason to have two business sites.  Feel free to browse and connect here for fun or, if you are looking to book a photo session, please go to http://www.jottephotography.com :)

Not too long ago, I was balancing my full time photography business, my college work (restarted college late in life), and my family.  Owning your own business is about the most difficult and time-consuming and stressful situation.  I’m not talking about the photographers that do this “for fun”… I’m talking about those who absolutely do this to support their families and run their businesses as businesses, not as hobbies.

I took my husband in for routine sinus surgery and biopsies of a “mass” (kind of in the back of his head).   The surgeon came out and spoke to me about an hour and a half later than expected, the surgery ran long.   I love this surgeon. I’ve known her for years.  She performed surgery on both of my children.  I actually used to transcribe her medical records years ago.  She was not one to fold under pressure or freak out, but I could see the concern on her face.  She was concerned because his blood pressure could not be controlled during surgery, and he bled out pretty bad, definitely way more than one would expect with sinus surgery.

I took him home.  He didn’t look right.  This is my big strong man that two hours after his last knee surgery was eating a plate of meatballs and pizza.  I ran over to the barn to check on our pregnant mare,and when I came back a few hours later, his skin looked so pale it had a green cast to it.  Something was WRONG.

I asked him how he felt.  “Not good.”  His heart was pounding out of his chest at rest.  I ran him down to the emergency room.  The moment I got him through the doors, the hospital staff took over… right to triage.  The worried looks on all the nurses was very concerning.  Lots of horrible pictures in my head of what could happen.  Needless to say, it was a long night…… It took hours, but they were finally able to control his heart rate and blood pressure.

That night was a turning point in my head.  I know it may sound odd, but at that moment, I realized what was important to me and what was important to my life.  I realized that I had been living so stressed out with my business and everything else, that I had to make changes.

I’ll go into more detail about the changes later on…… but this photo, I took with my cell phone the next night after we had gotten out of the hospital and posted it to my personal facebook page.  It kind of says it all….

“Head on his chest, listening to his heart beat the correct way…..the best! — with Dean Otte.”


My perspective on a lot of things changed that night.  We have made a lot of changes to our personal and work lives…….


#StormyWatch Pixie’s birth.

I am absolutely OVERWHELMED by the amount of people who joined us from ALL OVER the world watching and waiting for Stormy’s to give birth to this special little filly.   When I originally set up this surveillance camera situation, I did it so that Erynn (my daughter and owner of Stormy) and I would not miss the birth.  I decided to go ahead and host with MareStare and open it up for anyone to watch.  I had no idea that we would get thousands and thousands of people joining us.

I’m so happy that we were able to share this special time with all of you.   I’m working on getting some of the video footage, but if you were watching at around 2 a.m. this morning, you realized that 1,000 pound Stormy, dropped to the ground and birthed this foal so quickly, there was nothing we could do about the camera angle.

Here’s the birth story in still photographs….


Erynn (age 15 tomorrow! ;)  Yes, this little one was born one day before Erynn’s birthday! and I had had some false alarms with Stormy.  She had so many signs of impending birth, but it just never happened.  We spent 6 nights – overnights – at the barn.   We were finally a bit frustrated.  Monday night, I went up to the barn as usual and checked on Stormy.  Erynn had reported her milk was opaque white and I checked her udders and WOW – they were huge – bigger than the “huge” they were already.  I knew that within the next 48 hours, she would deliver, but I assumed that night would be a good time to watch.


We came home, and I was getting ready to take a shower and was relaxing with the laptop, when I saw Stormy lay down.  It was only 9 p.m., Stormy doesn’t lay down at 9 p.m.  “That’s it, Stormy’s down, let’s go….” and off to the barn we went.   We stayed up in the camp room, watching Stormy from the laptop.  Erynn fell asleep and I started the awful setting my alarm for every 30-45 minutes so I could assess the situation, and then sleep another 30-45 minutes.  I had been doing this for weeks.

Around 11 p.m., Stormy was munching on some hay and then stood still.  I thought – NOOOOO!!!!  Not again!  This must be a false alarm!  I knew I was going to be miserable for work the next day and was just overall upset…. I kept drifting in and out of sleep, and around 1:30 a.m., I realized that Stormy was very much in labor.  She was kicking at her belly, yawning big, stretching her neck, and pacing.   At almost 2 a.m., Stormy laid down again.  I woke Erynn up.  We sat and watched the screen and I figured Stormy would get back up, pace, do her thing, and lay down again.  We knew her water hadn’t broken yet, so this was still a process, right?

Something told me to go down to the barn and check on her.  We stumbled our way through the darkness, and started calling “Stormy!  It’s us…. ” so as to not startle her.  She stayed laying down.  Ooo… this is promising.

We peeked in.  Yeah, I better get my camera.  I went back out the door to grab the camera, and Erynn says, “Her water broke.  I see feet!”  Sure enough – yes… yes… there were perfect little white feet with… ummm… black spots?  What????  Could it be?  Could we actually have a dark foal?  This was our hope as we think Stormy is beautiful, but do you know what it takes to keep a white and champagne horse clean????  But we just knew this baby would be light.  We knew the genetics.  We knew we could have a black, amber champagne, classic champagne, or bay base out of this… but with the sabino gene factoring in as well, there should be a lot of white.


I didn’t even have time to assess whether or not the feet were front or hind or whether or not things were going as they should be, because Erynn said quietly.  “It’s DARK!”

There… that was when you could see this little dark nose emerge.  WHAT?  We have a dark baby???!!!

Within MINUTES… the baby just quickly slid right out….

When the baby slid out, you can see, her little head was under Stormy’s hind leg, under the joint, so when Stormy would sit up a little – to a sternal position – I felt like the baby’s head would have been hit.  Maybe it wouldn’t, but my gut said – we waited over a year for this baby! (infertility issues then the entire 340-some days!)  I’m not letting anything happen!  So I snuck in the stall, grabbed baby’s head, and pulled her just out of Stormy’s leg reach, and while I was at it, I tore the sack open with my fingers and brought it over her head, and quickly exited.

The second Stormy saw her baby, she let out this low whinny…..  She was in love…..

at this point, barn owner, Dolores, came in, and she was also shocked that we had – what we thought was, a black and white baby!  We then watched the interaction between mom and baby.  Dolores had witnessed this so many times in her life, it was wonderful to have her there to tell us what is normal.  She said that Stormy was a wonderful mother and that the baby was nice and strong.

My favorite moment………..


As we watched the little one get up and walk for the first time…. we realized something.  This was NOT a black and white foal.  We were making notes of the pink skin around the muzzle, around the eyes, and on the “girlie parts”.  This was a champagne.  Stormy’s champagne genetics came through on this one.  However, this is not a classic champagne.  She’s darker…. with a bit of a surprise……

We went home and went to bed…. much needed sleep at LAST!   We would come up later and assess this strange champagne color again later….


Later on, we returned…. We took Stormy and newly named Pixie outside.  Pixie is such a sweetheart…. but she hasn’t quite grasped the fact that Stormy is demanding she stay right by her side….

Back to the colors……. so we are looking at this little one and seeing Taser’s lack of white markings on the face, Taser’s white across the shoulders…. and then the sabino tall white socks that we have seen plenty in this line…. but Stormy’s pink skin – that champagne gene…. which place that champagne gene over black, and you get this…….. a chocolate brown.  We are not sure where this classification is in the champagne registry – is it sable?  Is it some sort of dark classic champagne?  We are not sure…. but she’s gorgeous!…  And her little surprise?  She has blue eyes!  (Stormy has one blue eye and one amber eye).

and Erynn Otte – my beautiful daughter…. is in love as well!!!    This was the perfect one-day-early birthday gift!

A disclaimer:  Not all  horses will allow you to handle their foals.  Stormy was handled by Trisha, her previous owner, from the time she was a day old.  That is why Stormy trusts us completely.  We plan to raise little Pixie the exact same way.  Erynn is already working on the imprinting and training of this little one.



CNN again…. #StormyWatch

Follow up on CNN….



….. and another evening passed…. no foal!!!   For those who know a little something about foal births… here are Stormy’s signs…  I apologize if this sounds gross to anyone…;)

  • V-shaped belly – looks like it is about to burst
  • Feeling movements of the foal in the flank area a couple days ago, now haven’t been able to feel it in the past 24 hours.
  • Entire hind end, up at bottom of spine, and upper legs, all squishy, like Jello (softening of everything in prep for birth)
  • Yawning and chewing without food in her mouth
  • Holding tail up high and/or off to the side
  • Very full udder
  • Waxing of the udder – good amount
  • Swollen “girlie bits” – very very swollen and loose
  • PH of milk has been tested at 6.2 for quite a while
  • She will go into agitation at times where she’s whipping her tail everywhere, “dancing” – shifting weight back and forth fast and quite a bit (this has been going on for days – usually anywhere from mid morning to around 2 p.m.) and sometimes pushing her rump into the wall.

We are at day 339.  She is plenty far along enough to birth this foal…. we are just waiting….


You can watch at:   http://www.marestare.com/fcam.php?alias=mcmjotte

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Stormy Girl on CNN #Stormywatch

If you have been following, you know or are watching Stormy’s live feed – waiting on her birth.  We are currently on her due date, and it’s a full moon!  Let’s hope for something to happen tonight!  We had a scare on Friday, thinking she was ready, but wasn’t quite there…….. but check it out…. Stormy on CNN hahaha;)  http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1132519


Stormy seems to have her own cult following.  We never expected anything like this, but wow…. Stormy has no clue people are watching!  Or maybe she does and that’s why she’s not having the baby yet;)

At any rate, has Stormy been showing signs of labor?  Sure has…. we think the baby has turned and is ready as I feel movement in her flanks.  She has waxed for those who have asked and know what that means.  Her entire hind end including around her tail, spine, and back of legs is like jello (the entire area is supposed to soften).  We did do a pH milk test and it’s as low as it goes…. last night she was pretty agitated in her stall and this morning to noon, she was extremely agitated, swinging her tail everywhere, doing a little “dance” with her front legs, yawning and fleming, shaking her head, biting her belly, and pawing at the floor…… so all signs point to yes, but she’s on her own time table unfortunately.  When we showed up tonight, we walked her around to stretch her legs, and she’s now back in the stall in total peace and quiet.

We can’t wait to see this foal.  It’s a full moon tonight… yay!






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Camera is up! – Day 324 – Foaling Camera/Video

The horse-cam is officially up and running.   I am going to be streaming at certain times of the day.  I have to limit my usage of my internet hotspot to insure we don’t run out of gigabytes before the birth.  As she shows more and more signs that she is ready to have the foal, I will start running the feed 24/7.  She’s not quite ready for 24/7, but I figured I would share the links for those who want to bookmark and check in here and there.

The cam is up!!!! http://www.marestare.com/fcam.php?alias=mcmjotte

Iphone/Ipad link:

What you’re seeing:  When the cam is running, you will see Stormy in her stall.  This is not the “foaling stall”.  We will either move her or take out a divider between two stalls when she is ready (and yes, the camera will follow  - about that time is when I will be streaming 24/7.

I had a bit of a surprise when I peeked in on her this morning….. she was sound asleep, but you can see she is bagging (her udders are getting bigger).  Still not quite ready.

When she is ready to foal, we should see her being “unsettled”.  Up and down, swishing tail a lot, and biting or kicking at her belly.  Occasionally they rub their backside against a wall seeking a bit of relief from their discomfort.    Again, when this begins to happen, the video will be going 24/7!  :)

Thanks for watching  - I will keep you all updated.  Stormy is officially on day 324.  Foals are born between days 310-360, so who knows how long we have to wait.  It could be very soon, it could be weeks!

Sleeping Stormy above…. I’m off to a photo shoot in Virginia today (*cringe*  I hate being so far away from her even though I know she should be fine)  I’m not sure if being able to see her whenever I want by video is a good thing for me.  She was biting at her belly this morning, but I’m going to keep telling myself, she was just scratching her itches… haha…. but maybe if I leave early enough from my house, I can run in and sneak a peek in person…:)

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Newborn Baby Photography Workshop / Mentoring

As you may or may not know, I offer mentoring one-on-one and occasionally a photography workshop (you can see more at www.jotte-workshops.com ).  In this case, a photographer traveled here and had requested more hands on experience with newborns and studio lighting.  All mentoring is by request, so I typically cover anything from lighting to business to posing to editing……

It was so nice to meet all our models for the most recent one on one especially a fellow photographer’s baby!  Meet sweet little Anna….


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Stormy’s Foal – Genetic Calculations – Champagne Possibilities

Note:  *** For anyone just joining us, the blog is being taken over right now for the Countdown to Stormy’s Foal’s birth.  We are streaming live video in a few days to start monitoring, so anyone who wants, can watch the birth live.  To read everything about Stormy’s Foal, click on Categories above, and scroll to Stormy’s Foal.  To contact or browse J. Otte Photography Portraits/Weddings, etc., click on the side bar or above to the galleries.  Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook as we will be giving a “play by play” of any birth activity!


Well, it’s day 308 (ideal date to get to is 320 and beyond), and we just noticed that Stormy’s udders are starting to change.  They are becoming thicker and denser all around the area, so this is feeling like we are starting to really countdown…..   I will be setting up the camera shortly and releasing the video feed for anyone who wants to watch.


The big question on all of our minds – what is this foal going to look like?

Can’t wait to find out….. let’s look at the basics.



Here we have Stormy……

  • Breed:  Tennessee Walking Horse/Paint
  • One blue eye, one amber eye
  • Color:  Champagne and White with Black/Brown through her forelock and tail
  • Her base skin color is pink with freckles
  • Her father was that champagne-ish color, and her mother was a bay paint (see below)


And here we have Taser…

  • Breed:  Friesian/Paint
  • Dark eyes
  • Color:  Black and White
  • His base skin color is black
  • His father was black, and his mother was a bay paint


Where does this leave us?

We did the best genetic calculations we could, using several different calculators and here is what we have come up with….

75% chance the baby will be a paint (a color and white)


or there is a 25% chance we will see a solid black, bay, champagne, or classic champagne with possibilities of white blaze on face or white socks.

Then, there’s the eye color variable.  We have black/brown eyes like Taser or blue eyes (one or two, although two is fairly unlikely even though Stormy had a baby with two blue eyes in the past), or even amber eyes (this is a trait of the champagne gene).

Many of us at Muddy Creek Meadows think that the light color will be dominant (although of course we hope it isn’t light as light horses are so hard to keep clean! ;)), but the genetic calculators are really split right down the middle between light/dark.   We will soon find out, won’t we?

Here’s a photo of Stormy as a baby with her mother (and with Trisha – her original owner – hope it’s okay I posted that image… it shows Stormy’s coloring so well ;)) .  Since her father was champagne, the champagne gene diluted her mother’s coloring perfectly.  That gene is very strong.


CHAMPAGNE HORSES:   When we first had Stormy, we thought she was a palomino paint.  She is not a palomino paint.  Palominos have a base skin color of black.  Champagne horses are very odd in that they have a lot of freckling on their pink skin.  They also have amber eyes.  Check out THIS LINK and see more about champagne horses.  There are quite a few varieties of them.

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Baltimore Newborn Photographer – Family

Another on-location family/newborn photography session. 

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Newborns needed in Baltimore/Hunt Valley Maryland

This opportunity does not happen very often…  We are looking for two newborn babies, under the age of 2 weeks (as of Monday, April 14th).  I am teaching a small one-on-one type of mentoring with another photographer, and we need two newborns to come to a studio in Hunt Valley Maryland.


  • Must be under 2 weeks old as of Monday, April 14th.
  • Must be available to come to studio in Hunt Valley Maryland on Monday, April 14th
  • You will receive free photos for your time.

Send us an email at jodieotte@verizon.net for all details!

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