Category Archives: animals

Baby Animals On The Shaker Village (Hancock Shaker Village,Pittsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 13, 2019

Location: Hancock Shaker Village, 1843 West Housatonic St, Pittsfield MA

Cost: Adults    $20 ($18 for Seniors, AAA members, MTA cardholders, and active and retired U.S. Military)
Youth     $8 (ages 13-17)
Children (12 and under) are free

Hours:

Hours mid-April through late-June 10am-4pm

Summer and fall hours July through October 10am-5pm

Parking: There is one average sized parking lot with additional lots for overflow parking

Handicapped Accessible: The Visitor Center, restrooms, galleries, store, cafe, and all meeting spaces are wheelchair accessible. Compact-dirt pathways and boardwalks throughout the Village provide access to the gardens and grounds, as well as the mile-long Farm & Forest Trail, which also features interpretive signage. Some buildings in the historic Village are wheelchair accessible via ramp, including the Round Stone Barn and the Trustees’ Office & Store. Keep in mind, however, that most buildings in the historic Village are NOT wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available free of charge with advance reservation

Pet Friendly: No, but service animals are allowed.

Website: Hancock Shaker Village

Highlights: historic homes, animals, educational tours, demonstrations

Summary: The baby animals have arrived at Hancock Shaker Village.  In addition to the baby animals, there are tours of the historic homes and educational opportunities for visitors at the village.

IMG_7072

Spring in New England can only mean one thing: baby animals at Shaker Village!

Each year, dozens of animals arrive at the museum for the new season. The animals are housed in the appropriately named Round Stone Barn.  The barn, which was built around 1839, was burned to the ground December 1, 1864.  One hundred tons of hay, ten bushels (roughly 93 gallons) of provender and two adjoining sheds went ablaze during this fire.  It was rebuilt during the mid 1870s.

IMG_6781

IMG_7045

Sheep, goats, pigs, chicken and other animals were present during my visit.  People were encouraged to go into the pens with the animals and pet them or take photos.

But, there weren’t just babies at the village.  Older animals, in some cases the mom and dad of the babies, were also at the museum.

Being located so close to the mountains and countryside of New York (we actually drove through New York for a brief period of time), the views from the farm were beautiful.

The farm also includes historic homes.  The self guided tour has signs with information about each house with background about each place.

One of my favorite buildings is the Blacksmith’s shop.  The Shakers made all of the metalwork used for their buildings.  In the Blacksmith’s shop, which was built in 1874, a blacksmith conducts demonstrations of how they make the hardware they use.  He was the third generation blacksmith in his family and the last.  No one else in his family wanted to continue the blacksmith trade.

There is also a room with tanning vats, a cider press and a turbine.

IMG_6977

But my favorite buildings from that era were the homes, offices and stores.  The Trustees Office and store and family living quarters housed the souvenirs people would buy during their visits.  It was also the place where people on business trips could place orders for goods.

The buildings and sheds on the farm give the premises a very old time feel.

There was also a play area for children where they could play with toys from that era and play with other toys.  There was also face painting, horse rides and a balloon shaping artist.

The only really difficult part of the photography session, besides the animals moving when I took their photos, was photographing the blacksmith.  It had all of the elements of a challenging photo shoot: low light, motion when he used the tools to make the hardware and the fire which was in stark contrast to the low light in the room.  I wanted to show the flame on the stove and the light on the tool he was using.  So, I didn’t want to boost the ISO or aperture too much.  So, what did I do?

The hard part for me is when there is motion and low light.  You want to use a fast shutter speed to photograph motion (500 or higher).  But, when there’s not a lot of light you need to use a slower shutter speed.  I didn’t have my tripod with me (and the museum doesn’t allow tripods on their property).  So, I used a fast shutter speed (500) and lowered my aperture to the lowest setting (3.5).  To make up for the lack of light I boosted my ISO to 2000 which is pretty high.  I knew that I could add noise reduction to address the noise or grainy photo from the high ISO in the editing process (which isn’t without its drawback that I will address in a future post).

It was important to capture the motion without seeing any blur and I wanted to make sure the fire looked as realistic and was an accurate display of what I saw, so I went with a high ISO.  Even if I did have my tripod with me it wouldn’t have been very useful as I needed a fast shutter speed rather than a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the blacksmith.  You can always adjust the image by using noise reduction and using a higher or lower contrast and exposure setting when you edit in LightRoom or PhotoShop, although you do want to get the best photo as possible in the camera to avoid having to edit it too much.  I did end up using a low exposure in LightRoom to show how dark the room was when I took the photographs and to highlight the light from the fire.

Below are some of the photos of the blacksmith which show how I had to adjust the settings to capture his motion and the light from the fire.  As you can see from the photo, the high ISO (2000) allowed me to capture both the motion of the blacksmith as he used the pulley to add oxygen to the fire to keep it going and you can see the sparks clearly from the fire.  The noise reduction tool unfortunately can take away some of the details.  But it was a give and take.  I used the noise reduction to get rid some of the grain from the high ISO knowing that some of the features (like the background) may be a little dull.

IMG_6962

2000 ISO, 18 mm, 3.5 aperture, 1/500 shutter speed.

IMG_6965

2000 ISO 18 mm 3.5 aperture 1/500 shutter speed

I had to use a fast shutter speed (500) to capture the motion of the tool he was using without getting any blur and I sacrificed my ISO (technically I probably could have used a lower ISO, and I do have some photos of the blacksmith with an ISO of 1250).  I think I was playing it a little too safe with the high ISO

I ran into the same situation photographing the animals.  The barn was not well lit and the animals move around a lot.  I just had to use a high shutter speed (500 or 1000) and a low aperture (3.5 for most shots) and I was able to keep the ISO relatively low (around 400 for most shots) .  Again, I was able to use the settings in LightRoom to add color and bring out some contrast in the photos.

Shooting outside was not too hard, especially since I had some cloud cover which prevented sun glare and other issues you can run into when the sun is bright.  However, I have to fess up that I did have a 640 ISO (I should have bumped it down to 100 or so) because I forgot to adjust it after photographing the animals i the barn.  So, always check your settings when you’re changing locations at a photo shoot!

 


Five Days Of Foliage Day #3 – Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 21, 2017

Location: 87 Perkins Row, Topsfield, MA

Hours:

November–April:
Tues-Sun & Mon holidays, 9 am-4 pm
Closed Mondays

May–October:
Tues-Fri, 9 am-4 pm
Sat, Sun, & Mon holidays, 9 am-5 pm
Closed Mondays

Trails:
Tues-Sun, & Mon holidays, dawn to dusk
Closed Mondays

Cost:

Members: Free
Nonmembers:
$4 Adults
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)

Parking: There is free parking for about 30 vehicles

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No

Website: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Original Post: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

IMG_9251

Located only half an hour north of Boston, MA, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary offers 12 miles of trails, diverse wildlife and some pretty good foliage.

I visited Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in July, 2016 (the link to this post is posted above).  But, like many of the places I have visited more than once, I found some hidden gems that I missed the first time.  Specifically, during my initial visit I missed out a cute walkway cut out of rock which I found during my recent visit.  I have considered revisiting places I have already photographed in the upcoming year to make sure my posts are much more comprehensive than they have been in the past.  It’s very easy to miss things if you don’t do your research beforehand or if you have a difficult time with the conditions.  In any event, it’s an idea I’m tossing around.

Since I had already visited Ipswich River Sanctuary and I was focusing mostly on foliage photo opportunities, I walked along the Ipswich River along some boardwalks, fairly easy trails and a few side trails.  There are lots of birds to photograph and the wildlife seems to be pretty friendly.  In fact, a chipmunk greeted me and came within inches of me.  I think they are used to seeing people and people may often feed them.  Unfortunately for the little fella, I was all out of acorns and nuts.

I have also seen deer at Ipswich River Sanctuary during both of my visits.  Actually, I have seem them multiple times during both of my visits.  During my first visit, I spotted two bucks drinking from the river.  They got away before I could photograph them.  But, I saw a deer later during my visit which I was able to photograph.

During my most recent visit, I saw a few deer running off into the woods.  But, again, I saw them later.  Except not in the sanctuary.  This leads me to my next observation.  I took a wrong turn, more accurately I missed a turn, on my drive back from the sanctuary.  I ended up on Central St where I found a mom deer and two of her little ones grazing on the side of the road.  After stopping abruptly and making sure she didn’t charge, I quickly grabbed my camera from the back seat without leaving the vehicle and took some photos of the deer family.

It was both exciting and shocking to see the deer by the road.  I know this happens often but I had never been so close to any animal on the road.  Not for one second did the momma’s eyes look away from my car.  You can also see how she is shielding one of her babies in the photos I took.

There was a lot of color at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.  However, my issue was more with lighting and shadows.  The weather was nice and there are lots of places to explore at the sanctuary.  But, I couldn’t stay long as I was going to Salem to do some Halloween photography.  So, I couldn’t stay too long.  I had to work with what I had.

Read more about my visit to Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary here…


The Farm At Carter Tree Hill (Marlborough, CT)

Date Of Visit: July 22, 2017

Location: 86 E.  Hampton Rd, Marlborough, CT

Hours: the website says to call for hours (860-906-7866)

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for a couple dozen cars.  More parking may be available in nearby lots when they have special events

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: Family-friendly working farm with an eatery, general store, bed and breakfast, carriage house for events and farm animals

Tips:

  • It’s easy to miss the farm if you’re not looking for it

Website: The Farm At Carter Hill

Now that I have posted most of my posts from Salem up (I may have a few more to post later), I am catching up posts about places I visited this past summer and this fall.

One of the more enchanting places I visited this summer was a place I found by happenstance.  During a trip to a park in Connecticut, my passenger and I noticed an old pickup truck parked by the side of what appeared to be a farm.

IMG_2002

Tucked away off Route 66 in Marlborough, CT, Carter Tree Hill Farm has a farm, general store, barn used for entertainment and  events.

The animals in the farm area are very playful and friendly.  They really seem to like to play on their car.  My favorite part of the farm, the farm area has several goats, chickens, ducks and even a peacock.

It was late July during my visit and the flowers were in bloom.  Vibrant flowers were scattered around the farm and gardens.

The peak time to visit Tree Hill Farm is probably during the warmer seasons and fall.  It must look very pretty there during the autumn with all of the leaves on the trees changing color.  I also think it must feel good to be able to spend one of the first mild spring days there drinking a beverage outside after one of our long cold winters.

During the summer, Carter Tree Hill Farm shows movie on their projection screen.

IMG_1958

The Carter Tree Hill Farm consists of a general store, outdoor eatery, bed and breakfast, ice-cream and outdoor pavillion for weddings, carriage barn for private parties or events and Hogs Breath Tavern as well as an animal farm.

The friendly staff made us a coffee and pored me an orange juice at no charge and allowed us free rein to explore the property.

The affable staff at Tree Hill Farm work hard to keep the garden and flowers clean and pretty.  You can tell they take a lot of pride in their work by the way the property is kept after.  We also spent a while talking to a worker about how much he loves to work on his plants and vegetables at the farm.

There is also a an old time filling station (not in use) and a barn where you can buy home made jellies (try the marmalade), other snacks and other merchandise at Carter Tree Hill Farm. Look at that gas price!

With its ample space, colorful plants and flowers and barns and animals to watch, Carter Tree Hill Farm is a great place to bring the entire family.


Retreat Farm (Brattleboro, VT)

Date Of Visit: August 6, 2017

Location: 350 Linden St, Brattleboro, VT

Hours: Open Wed-Sun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Mon & Tue)

Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, free admission for children under 2

Trail Size/Difficulty: roughly 1.5 miles, Easy

Fitbit Stats: 1.59 miles, 3,327 steps, 297 calories burned

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Parking: There is parking for about 20 vehicles in the parking lot

Website: Retreat Farm

Retreat Trail Map: Retreat Trail Map

Highlights: animals, educational, trail, family friendly

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to take the roughly 1.5 mile Nature Trail behind the farm
  • you can get in the pens with some of the animals
  • if you do go on the trail, try going up the “Skyline Spur” trail
  • follow the signs to the Nature Trail or Lil’ Lamb Loop to access the shorter mile long trail behind the farm
  • Located right next to Grafton Village Cheese Co

IMG_7856

It’s easy to find Retreat Farm.  Just follow the pinwheels.  If you’re lucky, you might even be able to take one home.

The signs and some of the advertising for the Retreat Farm tout it as a “children’s farm” but it is fun for the entire family.

Retreat Farm has a variety of birds and animals in their barn.  They also allow you to go into the animal pens of some of the animals and pat some of them.

There are also three piglets: Basil, Olive and Rosemary.  They moved around a lot.  So, it was hard to keep track of each one.  But, I am pretty sure Rosemary is the first one pictured with the white and brown pattern.

Carlos, an 11 year old Brahma-Red Holstein bull, has been a resident for some time at the farm.  Standing over 7 feet tall, Carlos is truly a gentle giant.  In fact, he is so gentle visitors can feed him by hand.

Naturally, there are lots of toys and activities for children to partake in and places for adults or younger people to sit while their children or nieces or nephews play.

There is also a short trail (about 1.5 miles) behind the farm.  The trail is actually part of a much longer 9 mile Retreat Trail.  But, as long as you stay on the trail behind the farm you should not end up on this larger trail.

I found people of all ages and fitness levels on the trail.  It’s pretty straight with a few inclines.  But, I would rate it as being easy.  There is one very shallow and narrow stream that you will have to cross.  You can basically walk right through it.  So, it’s not a big obstacle.  The views are very nice on the trail.  There are also various plants planted along the trail such as False Solomon Seal.

If you do decide to go on the shorter trail and avoid the 9 mile trail, follow the signs to the Nature Trail or the Lil Lamb Loop.

Along the main trail, there is a side trail wit a staircase called Skyline Spur.

IMG_7789

The short flight of stairs take you up to an area where, during the winter, there is a ski jump.  This ski jump will be used as one of the venues for the Olympic trials for the next Olympics.

Pets are allowed on the trails behind the Retreat Farm, which are open to hikers and snow shoers year round.  I saw this cute dog on the trail.  Avive, a friendly 2 and a half year old Irish Setter, greeted me when I got off the Skyline Spur trail.

IMG_7805

One of the gems of the much longer Retreat Trail is the Retreat Tower.  It’s not very far from the farm.  Due to time constraints, I could not take the trail to the tower.  However, Brandy Ellen and her companion were able to hike to it, take some photos and provide a good synopsis of their hike and a summary of the history of the tower. It has quite a storied and sad past.

Take A Hike…

 

 


Family Farm Fest (Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 15, 2017

Location: Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd.
Sturbridge, MA

Cost: Adults $28.00
Seniors (55 and over) $26.00
College Student (with valid college ID) $14
Youths (4-17) $14.00
Children age 3 and under Admitted Free

(if you do visit again within 10 days of the purchase of your ticket, your second visit is free)

Hours:

March – April
Open Wednesday – Sunday | 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

Open Daily | April 15 – 23 | 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

May – October
Open Wednesday – Sunday | 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

(hours vary upon the season)

Parking: Free parking with the purchase of a ticket is available for about a couple hundred cars.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes.  Old Sturbridge Village offers handicapped parking, and , upon request, wheelchairs for some visitors.  Only about half of their historic buildings are wheelchair accessible

Web Site: Old Sturbridge Village

IMG_0923

Warmer temperatures and longer days of sunlight are not the only things coming to Old Sturbridge Village.  The baby animals have also arrived!

Just in time for April school break, Old Sturbridge Village is home to a variety of barnyard animals.  It is always a treat seeing the baby animals at the living history museum.

 

I have already made multiple visits to Old Sturbridge Village (click here to view my original post about my first visit there in July of 2016) and I am sure to make many more visits when they have fun events like this one.

Although they did not have as many animals as the Strawbery Banke Musuem’s baby animals exhibition, Old Sturbridge Village still had a wide variety of animals to view and, in some cases, pet.

Many of the animals, particularly the little ones, were pretty tuckered out after all that traveling and playing.

Meet Jake (on the left) and Patrick (on the right).  They are donkeys who were rescued from a farm in Texas and are looking for a good home, if you’re interested!

In the fields in the middle of the common area, there were chickens, alpacas and pigs and other animals in their pens.

This mommy hen was digging for food for her chicks.

There were also living actors playing parts of the people from that era (the 1830s).  They also interacted with the audience and they were very informative.

Fun fact: it took a shoemaker about one whole day to make…that’s right one shoe.  One.  Well, I guess it’s a “fun fact” unless you’re one of the shoemakers.

Okay, nerd alert: I could listen to these living actors (I hope they’re “living”) all day.  But, I couldn’t spend too long as I had photos to take and only so much time to spend there.  One day, I plan on just spending the entire day and taking it all in.

These aren’t real actors in case you were wondering (although in the first photo, the woman looking mannequin looks like a ghost).  These mannequins are dressed in common attire of the day.

The kids got a blast out of the firing of the musket (he was shooting blanks).

Thiss gentleman was building the frame of a house, with a little help from some friends.

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking photos of the beautiful buildings and landscapes at the village.

 


Westfield Fair (Westfield, MA)

DSC_1003

Dates Of Event: August 19-21 (it’s usually held the third weekend of August of each year)

Location: 135 Russellville Rd, Westfield, MA

Hours: Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m., – 10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Cost: $8, $6 for seniors (over 65),  Children under 12 get in free with an adult

Parking: There was ample parking on the fair grounds

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: petting zoo, animals, tractor pull, demolition derby, arts and crafts

Westfield Fair

Summers bring to mind beach weather, vacations along the shore and, of course, fairs.  In fact, fairs often mark the winding down of the summer vacation season.  And no one may do city fairs better than Westfield, MA.

The 89th Westfield Fair had a very down home/country feel to it.  From the sheep show (yes you read that right), to the arts and crafts fair and the tractor pull, everything seemed more like “country fun”than the city fun I am more accustomed to.  I’m always game for new experiences, though, so I figured I give them a try.

Children from the Pioneer Valley (the section of the area that encompasses the Connecticut River in Massachusetts such as Westfield, Springfield and Chicopee to name a few cities and towns) showed off the animals they have been caring for.  I was taken by surprise by how the sheep seemed to like to cuddle.  It was remarkable how these little kids could handle and treat these animals with such care.  They also seemed very proud of their animals and the work they put into caring for them.

The sheep were evaluated and prizes were awarded to the best in show.

There was also a cattle show.  They take this show very seriously as you can tell by the care they were given.

The cows were also shown off and evaluated.  Some of the cows did not want me to moove, though (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one).  So, the children had to encourage them a bit.  Prizes were awarded to the participants.  Again, it is very cool to see some children who are barely as tall as the cows they were working with handle them so well.  Many of the participants have grown up in families that farm so they have a lot of experience in husbandry.  The pride they all take in their work is evident by their reactions.

Perhaps the most popular event during the day time was the tractor pull.  The Western Mass Tractor Pullers Association sponsored the event which featured tractors of various styles and eras.

The highlight of the event for me was the petting zoo and alpacas.

The goats, pig and other animals took the food from everyone very gently and they were very friendly.

I’ve always marveled at the folksy ways of the Western MA community.  Their down home, folksy ways are evident in so many ways, even their arts and crafts.

And no one knows how to bake like the folks in the western part of the state.  Someone had the unenviable task of tasting all of the goodness on these shelves to decide the winner of the bake fair (the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake won).  Talk about pure drudgery!

There were several fun events and activities for children such as a climbing wall, a kiddie tractor pull event, musical performers, face painting (I went with the cat design), food trucks (the fries were to die for) and, of course, amusement rides (I declined).  A play train was available to cart you around to the various events.

Vehicles, specifically trucks, are a staple of the fair.  Everywhere you look there seems to be a souped up vehicle tricked out or a vehicle used for farming on display.

 

As we were leaving, we could see the participants of the scheduled demolition derby prepping for the event.

I can’t wait until next year’s fair!

Below is a video of the tractor pull event.

Tractor Pull At The Westfield Fair

Please Connect With Me On Facebook:

Facebook


Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: August 7, 2016

Location: Dorrs Pond is part of Livingston Park which is located at 244 Hookset Rd, Manchester, NH (off Daniel Webster Highway)

Hours: Open 24 hours (use your best judgment if you go at nighttime)

Cost: Free

Parking:  There are about 70 or so parking spots by Dorrs Pond.  There is also additional parking by the play area and field by Livingston Park.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Size: 1.2 mile loop with some short side trails.

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 or 2 hours

Fun For One: Yes

Highlights: abundant wildlife, popular trails for runner, cyclists and walkers, pretty views, very well maintained, benches for sitting, skating on the pond during the winter

Lowlights: short loop (only 1.2 mile) so many runners have to complete the loop several times to get a good workout, some side trails end abruptly at parking lots or just stop without going anywhere

DSC_0338

Once an artificial pond to serve the people of Manchester, Dorrs Pond now serves a scenic retreat for cyclists, runners, nature lovers and dogs.

“hidden gem” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot.  But, the photos below will show how this description is apt for Dorrs Pond.  In fact, I, and many people I talked to about it, had never been to this pond or ever even heard about before I went there.

One of the great things about Dorrs Pond is it is not a particularly difficult trail.  The trails are Dorrs Pond are pretty level with a few small inclines

The views at Dorrs Pond are beautiful.  Vivid greens and a variety of green, purple and other vibrant colors dot the landscape.

One of the best parts of Dorrs Pond is the wildlife.  There is a variety of birds, amphibians and other animals at the pond.

I also found this interesting shelter.  Unfortunately, no one was home.

During the winter, skating is allowed on the pond.  Also, there is a play area, playing field, restrooms and pool for children (and some adults) in addition to Dorrs Pond at Livingston Park.

Doors Pond is a great place to bring your dog.  The trail is not too long and the inclines are not very steep.  And it was a perfect day for taking your pooch out for a stroll.  I saw lots of dogs at Dorrs Pond.  Here are a few of the cute dogs at the park Sunday:

Katie, a 9 month old German Shepherd.

DSC_1000DSC_1001

Finley, a Cavachon who will be 2 in September

DSC_0114DSC_0113DSC_0116

Reagan, a 4 month old Golden Retriever

DSC_0149DSC_0152DSC_0160

and Jackson, a 2 year old Basenji Greyhound.

DSC_0279DSC_0278

Please follow me on Facebook: New England Nomad

Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

ames

Ames Nowell State Park

cutler1

Cutler Park