Leaves are turning colors, pumpkins are on the porch and that can only mean it’s time for the annual invasion of our nation’s rural vistas by the family photo crowd.

There’s a good bet that many of these families are day-trippers to the countryside in their tall boots, matching denim shirts and blanket scarves. So, let me be the first to welcome them to the country.

Folks, we’re happy you find our scenery so pretty that you want to memorialize it in your family’s Christmas photo that’s going to stay on Aunt Irma’s refrigerator until the end of time.

But take some friendly advice, okay?

1. Real farmers have real work to do in the fall. That change of the seasons you want to capture in its digital glory is gorgeous, I’ll grant you. But that golden light and crisp fall air also means it’s harvest for many different crops. So, the two-lane roads and gravel roads we rely on to get our crop from the field to storage are going to be bustling with large equipment. Please adjust your family’s schedule accordingly and give yourselves plenty of time to get to your photo shoot without zipping in and around a fully loaded grain wagon that can’t stop on a dime.

2. We think old barns, rows of hay bales and colorful fields of crops make pretty backdrops as much as you do. And we know that they’d just be lovely for your sweet Pinterest-inspiration for your Christmas card. We can sympathize with your dream, we can. But last time I checked Pinterest wasn’t a legal argument for trespassing. So you or your photographer better have permission before you start climbing that hay bale, or exploring that “abandoned” farmstead for the “country chic vibe.” By the way, you know what else really loves those places? Tetanus and rattlesnakes.

3. No, that cow is not giving that bull a “piggyback ride.” Animals consider the world their toilet, including the spot that your 5-year-old just plopped down in the grass in his special photo outfit. If you come away from your photo excursion without a few awkward conversations with your children, you didn’t really have the full experience. The good news is that any photographer worth his or her salt can edit out a cow patty or two.

All this may sound like we out here don’t want you to come out and take your photos. Actually it’s pretty neat that you want to connect to your roots and bring your family to the countryside. And I don’t know many farmers who would begrudge anyone coming out to the country to enjoy it.

But, let’s maybe manage our Pinterest expectations with fall harvest realities, shall we? Be safe. Ask permission. Prepare to get dirty.

And next time, maybe just hit up the local pumpkin patch or corn maze for your photo safari? Those settings provide safer entertainment for the kids, a great photo location and contribute to rural economic development in one swoop.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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