Category Archives: animals

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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.

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Finley, a Cavachon who will be 2 in September

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Reagan, a 4 month old Golden Retriever

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and Jackson, a 2 year old Basenji Greyhound.

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Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

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Ames Nowell State Park

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Cutler Park

 

 


New England Morgan Horse Show (Northampton, MA)

Dates Of Event: July 26-30, 2016

Location: Three County Fairgrounds, 54 Fair St, Northampton, MA

Hours:  The day I went there was an all day event, climaxing in a celebratory event in the evening at he fairgrounds.  The events began at 10.

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a free parking lot across the way from the fairgrounds which holds about 40-50 cars.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fun For One: Not so much, unless you really love horses

Highlights: horses, competitions, skilled riders of all ages

Lowlights: lack of concession stands, seating for most spectators is not close to the riding area (you can stand at the fence to watch though)

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Every year, the New England Morgan Horse Association holds a special event to display the best riders in their organization (some come as far as Idaho and even farther away).  The 5 day event displays riders of every age group and skill set.  While the youngest riders stick to walking and a light trot, some of the more experienced riders showed off their advanced skill sets like this harness rider.

The poise and skills of all of the riders in every age group was remarkable.  Just watching children smiling and having a fun time while riding such powerful and majestic animals was impressive.  I felt a surge of pride for these kids I didn’t even know!

One class of riders was as young as 11 and under.  But, they were great.  At their ages, I was riding the coin operated horses outside of the department stores at the mall.  Something I was not aware of is the riders will often make “clicking” or “kissing”sounds to communicate with the horse.

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We could not stay for the all day event.  But, the two hours we spent was jam packed with competitions, shows and riders trotting with their horses.

I didn’t see much along the lines of concession stands, except for a lemonade truck.  But, since it is a free event, you could leave to get lunch at one of the many fine dining establishments in the Northampton area (try Jake’s or Sylvester’s) and re-enter at your leisure.

One of the great things about the event was the attire of the riders.  From the glitzy too the more traditional, they all looked great.

And yes, they even let dogs into the event.  In fact, I saw quite a few dogs at the horse show like Rylee, a 5 year old flat coated retriever.

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And Annie, a Jack Russell mix.  Annie’s mom saved her at a rescue shelter.

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Similar Events In New England I Have Been To:

None

Similar Events In New England I Have Not Been To Yet:

Arabian Horse Association Of New England

Equine Affair