I absolutely love the juxtaposition of this sepia tone image - barefoot children, women in white, and a baby cow. Growing up on a farm, you quickly find out that white is never the best item of clothing to wear when near animals!
Taken between 1905 and 1909, the women in the photograph are quite stylish. The woman on the far left wears a lingerie dress (popular among young women around this time, and called so because of all the lace, tucking, and insets on the white gauzy fabric - not that it was lingerie), while the second woman wears a pigeon bodice and gored skirt.
The final two women's outfits can't quite be made out, but look to be of a high quality - potentially of silk or a heavy cotton. It's a shame you can't see more detail in their dresses - I'd love to see the intricate lace of the woman in white, not to mention the details of the bodices of the women at the right.
I think the owner of the calf is the woman that is third from the left, but it's quite apparent that the others are just visiting for afternoon tea. Their various states of dress may also hint that this wasn't a formal tea, but an informal gathering of friends.
Besides the calf posing in the center of the photo, the spring distinction is identified two ways - 1) the trees have slight flowering and few leaves on them - hinting at March or early April, and 2) the children wear long sleeved outfits. While they might be barefoot, it illustrates that the days still had a touch of coolness to them, and warranted a little extra clothing to ward off any chill.
I'm trying to trace who these women might be. I purchased this and a number of other family portrait photographs from around the same time from the Morgan estate in Roanoke, and I'm hoping that if I can figure out at least one person, I might be able to dig up more information about the family itself - its complicated family tree, where they might have lived, their occupations, and the boring details that make up our lives. I've figured out the Morgan part (I think), but there are several different ways this could go - is it one of Joel Morgan's sisters or sisters-in-law in the image, or is this an image of Joel's wife Cora and friends a few years before they got married? This is an other great reason to mark all of your photos if you know who the people are. Either way, I believe the image was taken in Franklin County, as both Joel and Cora were born there - so that's a neat little tidbit. I'll keep digging, and searching for similarities between the photos I acquired from this estate. I'll keep you posted!