Farm and Ranch Museum hosts bird photography exhibit

Birds of New Mexico in their natural habitat are featured in a new art exhibit opening at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum.

“On the Wing: The Avian Photography of Nirmal Khandan” will be on display through December 3.

Khandan began photographing birds in his native Sri Lanka before moving to Las Cruces 17 years ago. The drastic change in environment made his artistic journey challenging and fun.

“Birds are unpredictable,” he said. “It’s nice when you can capture an image with a clean background in their habitat. In this exhibit, I have compiled portraits of a variety of birds photographed in their natural habitats here in New Mexico. While most of them are residents, some are migrants. Others may be regularly spotted here, but some (like the Great Kiskadee) are a rare sight in our area.

“I hope viewers will appreciate the fascinating details of the birds, as well as gaining some insight into their behavior and the way in which they interact in their habitat,” he added.

Khandan, whose work features all types of nature and wildlife photography, began sharing his images on social media and is excited to reach a wider audience. His show includes 32 images that are beautifully colorful and display great detail.

While his technical expertise and talent in composition are evident, there’s much more to his work. He hopes to raise awareness of the importance of habitat.

“I hope this exhibit will help raise awareness, especially among younger generations, about the diversity and beauty of local avian life, and encourage the preservation of our ecosystem in the face of rapid urbanization, climate change, and habitat loss.”

Meet the Producer: Jones Debouillet Sheep
The new “Meet the Producer” exhibit in the museum’s Horse & Cattle Barn highlights a breed of sheep developed in New Mexico. Debouillet sheep were produced by the late Amos Dee (A.D.) Jones of Roswell and Tatum, New Mexico. In 1920, Jones started crossing Ohio Delaine rams with his herd of 5,500 Rambouillet ewes. By selective breeding, Jones produced a long-stapled, fine-wooled sheep with a large smooth body. It combined the length of the staple and character of the Delaine fleece with the large body of the Rambouillet.

The name, Debouillet, is derived from the names of the two component Merino breeds, “De” taken from the Delaine and “bouillet” from Rambouillet. The name was given to the breed by Jones’ wife, Portia, in 1947. Today, the Jones’ Ranch in Tatum is operated by A.D. Jones’ son Ralls (Punch) and Ralls’ daughter Deb and son Dirk. The museum has two Debouillet ewes in its livestock collection.

September 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Crafts for Kids: Community Helpers
Come create crafts celebrating all of our community helpers. Crafts are free, but regular museum admission is required for all family members: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children four to 17, and free admission for children three and under.

September 9, Time to be announced: Crafts for Kids: Bear Hugs
September 9 is National Teddy Bear Day. Join in creating crafts all about teddy bears. Crafts are free, but regular museum admission is required for all family members: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children four to 17, and free admission for children three and under.

September 14, 7 p.m.: Culture Series: Blood on the Sand: The Tularosa Basin Range War
The murder and disappearance of Albert Fountain and his eight-year-old son, Henry, near White Sands in 1896 is one of the great, unsolved mysteries of the Southwest. Author and historian W. Michael Farmer’s free presentation in the museum’s theater describes the events, politics, and bloodless range fights often overlooked in the history of this tragedy. The murders were the culmination of a simmering range war where combatants were cattle companies represented by wealthy investors that deliberately overgrazed free-range land, versus small ranches struggling to survive the drought. Farmer, a member of the Western Writers of America, learned about the rich mosaic of historic figures depicted in his books while living in Las Cruces for 15 years. He has a Ph.D. in Physics and has conducted atmospheric research with laser-based instruments he developed.

Farmer’s first novel, “Hombrecito’s War,” won a Western Writers of America Spur Award Finalist for Best First Novel in 2006 and was a New Mexico Book Award Finalist for Historical Fiction in 2007. His other novels include: “Hombrecito’s Search,” “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: The Betrayals of Pancho Villa,” “Conspiracy: The Trial of Oliver Lee and James Gililland,” “Killer of Witches, The Life and Times of Yellow Boy, Mescalero Apache, Book 1,” winner of a Will Rogers Medallion Award and Finalist for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in Historical Fiction and Adventure-Drama, “Blood of the Devil, The Life and Times of Yellow Boy, Mescalero Apache, Book 2,” and “Mariana’s Knight, The Revenge of Henry Fountain, Legends of the Desert, Book 1,” which were published in May and June of 2017.

September 16, Time to be announced: Crafts for Kids: E is for Elephant!
Do you love elephants? Come celebrate these magnificent animals by creating crafts dedicated to them. Crafts are free, but regular museum admission is required for all family members: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children four to 17, and free admission for children three and under.

September 23, Time to be announced: Crafts for Kids: Leaves are Falling Down
Fall has arrived. Come celebrate the arrival of autumn by creating a craft dedicated to this season. Crafts are free, but regular museum admission is required for all family members: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children 4 to 17, and free admission for children 3 and under.

The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children four to 17, and $2 for active U.S. military members and veterans. Children three and under, and members of the Museum Friends receive free admission. The museum is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

For more information, call 522-4100 or go to nmfarmandranchmuseum.org