Tag Archive | horses

A Day At The Races

Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one day at the races at Arlington Park.  Our granddaughter loves animals and especially horses so Arlington was high on our list of things to do during her visit.

I will say this, however, that a trip to Arlington may, on the face of it, seem like a cheap day out – parking is free and entrance to the Park is reasonable on certain days – but once inside, beware.  Apart from the obvious temptation to have a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees, the price of food and beverages is ridiculously high! I could have bought a decent bottle of wine for the cost of a small bottle of water and a thrifty shopper could have fed themselves for a week on what I shelled out for ice cream (the first thing the kids ask for when we go somewhere like this.)

Still, the high price of feeding and watering the troops was well worth it, just to see these beautiful creatures step daintily past as they made their way out of the paddock, hopefully with the winning jockey on board.

The horses aren’t the only things racing about at the track.  There isn’t an awful lot of time in between each race so we must decide which horse we like according to name, color of the jockey’s silks or the even more scientific method of sticking a pin in the list of runners, then run up the steps to place a small wager, out again and down the steps to view the horses in the paddock to make sure our choice is still alive and kicking, then back up again so we can go down to the rails to cheer the winner home. It’s quite exhausting!

Things usually go very smoothly at Arlington.  I’m always impressed by how efficiently everyone does their job, from the stable lads and the people who maintain the track to the person who plays the bugle (or is it trumpet?) before each race.

We did quite well that day. Three winners out of seven races which, for us, is about par for the course. And the pleasure we got from seeing our granddaughter meeting one of the horses face to face so to speak, rounded out our trip to the races very nicely.

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Is It Spring Yet?

I thought it was, a couple of weeks ago, when I was walking through Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. The snowdrops were in bloom, birds were singing and everything looked poised, ready to leap into action but apparently Mother Nature had other ideas as evidenced by a thin film of ice on the outer edges of the lake when I visited there yesterday.

I thought the patterns in the ice would make an interesting picture so I balanced precariously on the edge of the observation deck in a chilly wind to capture these images.

There were several school groups visiting the Center while I was there and while I’m absolutely delighted to see the younger generation getting healthy exercise in the fresh air and looking at something other than their tablets and smartphones, it doesn’t bode well for spotting any kind of wildlife that’s easily scared off by the sound of about 50 screaming kids.  However, it didn’t deter a flock of chickadees that were flitting back and forth among the trees down by the creek.

As many of you are aware, I have a  life-long fear of birds which is a bit of a handicap when I’m out on these nature rambles, but a long lens is an extremely useful tool which makes such pictures possible. It certainly came in handy when I got to the tall trees by the farm where a woodpecker was bashing away at the bark at the very top, next to what appeared to be its nest. This supposition was confirmed when a second bird arrived.

Moving on to the farm, there didn’t seem to be much activity. Even the horse had decided it was too cold to venture outside and gazed morosely back at me from the barn door, as though it was somehow my fault that the weather had taken a downturn.

I was so busy looking at the horse that I was almost taken by surprise by a ruthless gang of chickens. They are my worst nightmare! When I was much younger, I tried to conquer my fear of birds by going into a hen house to collect some eggs.  The results were disastrous, for me and the eggs as I ran screaming back to the farmhouse.

I backed away as the last, a beady-eyed thug, made straight towards me and, with a final click of the camera, I beat a hasty retreat down the path, passing a robin busy looking for its next meal.

The weather forecast doesn’t offer much improvement for the coming week, with rain and chilly temperatures being the recurring theme for our area so it may be a while before I venture into the Valley again.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Down on the Farm

The topic for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is anything farm related.  I have some happy childhood memories of staying at a farm during one summer holiday and, although I don’t think I’d fancy living a farm life, I still enjoy visiting them either locally or when we’re away on one of our trips.  These pictures were taken at Kline Creek Farm, run by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, in West Chicago. This living history farm is open year-round with free admission.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: All Things Farm Related

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Did I ever tell you the story about this rabbit that I knew?  Well there was this rabbit and one day he decided that he was going to………….oh look, isn’t that a heron over there!

Beautiful birds!  It reminds me of the time I saw one when I was staying in……………Oh for goodness sake? What a racket! You can’t hear yourself think!  Here’s another plane coming in for a landing!

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, about that rabbit……………..look at those butterflies.  I’ll just see if I can get a picture now the breeze has dropped.

So this rabbit………….watch out! Don’t step on that frog. Wow! That was a close thing!

Now where was I? Oh yes. The rabbit decides that he’s going to…………….I thought I could hear a church bell ringing!  Yes, over there.

Perhaps we could just go in and have a look…………..no, wait a minute. Let’s see those horses in the field over there.

So, getting back to the story about this rabbit…………….I wonder what these flowers are called.

Well, this rabbit takes a chance and hops across……………….ooh, shiny!

It doesn’t take much to distract me.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Ooh, Shiny!

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Letters G or H

The letters for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week are G or H and, keeping to my chosen theme of nature and more specifically animals, bugs and the like, I didn’t have too hard a time coming up with the goods.

The patterns on this giraffe make for great camouflage among the leaves at Brookfield Zoo.

Despite being stripped of his brilliant color by the b/w treatment of this image, a greedy goldfinch in our garden still makes a good subject for the letter G.

A giant grasshopper; at least it appears that way thanks to this close encounter at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

A hopeful hen looking for food and a handsome horse waiting to do a little light work at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Spring Valley Nature Center, Schaumburg.

A hungry hawk making short work of a hapless sparrow.

This picture of a huge hippo was taken back in the day when Brookfield Zoo still kept a number of large mammals.  Somehow the whole zoo-going experience just hasn’t been the same without these giants.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/23/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-g-or-h/

 

A Golden Day

What better way to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series than a leisurely stroll around Spring Valley Nature Center on a sunny, 65 degree day in November!  Yes folks, miracles do happen!  After all the baseball hype and excitement of the past few days, it was nice to get away from it all yesterday and just relax, if you can call walking about for two hours relaxing.  For some of us it is, especially when you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat for what seems like a lifetime, waiting for the Cubs to finally win the big prize.

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And it seemed like Mother Nature was celebrating with us, everything basking in a golden glow.  Finally we could take a deep breath and enjoy life after all those years of torment.

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It’s been a couple of months since I was at Spring Valley but apart from the new children’s play area that is being built near the entrance, things are pretty much the same.  The farm will probably be closing for the winter soon, so I was glad to be able to make one last visit there this year.  One of the horses, that had an abscess in its hoof, was being attended to by the resident veterinary technician who kindly let me stay and watch the proceedings. She did an amazing job and the horse didn’t seem the least bit bothered as she applied some gooey green stuff to the hoof.

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After that, I went on to the farmhouse where I met a young lady in costume who kindly posed for me. Everyone at Volkening Farm is very friendly and helpful.  I would have visited the house but unfortunately the immediate area was being patrolled by a ruthless band of chickens and as many of you will know, I have a terrible fear of birds, and chickens in particular, so I stayed well back and used the long lens, glancing around me every few seconds to make sure none of them were creeping up behind me.

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Leaving the farm, I walked past the track to the arboretum and headed towards the cabin that used to be the old visitor center.  A nice surprise was awaiting me on the path, two deer that stayed just long enough for me to take a couple of pictures.

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Leaving the cabin, I went along the road to the pond and found several frogs making the most of the sunny day.  There was a handy bench by the water’s edge so I got comfortable while a duck paddled over, thinking there might be something to eat in the offing. It soon realized there was nothing doing and steered away to the other side of the pond.   A dragonfly landed nearby, blending in nicely with its surroundings.

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I would have stayed longer but time was getting on so I bid goodbye to the frogs, (I’ll swear I heard one of them croak “Go Cubs!” as I left) and made my way back to the parking lot. There most likely won’t be too many more days for strolling around but, as we always used to say with the Cubs, “Wait till next year!”

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Local

For this week’s Photo Challenge on The Daily Post, Jen has asked us for something local (as in home.)  I have written several posts on one of my other blogs, Incidentally, at http://skfjrifnd.wordpress.com/ about the towns and villages in the Chicago area.  I wish I could think of here as home but that term will always be reserved for dear old England, so for now I will just share a few images of my favorite places to visit that are within an hour’s drive of our house.  I suppose they could be considered local.

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The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe; one of the most worthwhile annual subscriptions that I’ve ever kept up has been to this place.

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Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg; always a pleasant walk and a good opportunity to do some nature photography as well as visit the farm animals.

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Millennium Park in downtown Chicago;  despite all the bad things that I read about Chicago these days, I still enjoy the occasional visit, especially to Millennium Park where there are so many good things to see.

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Morton Arboretum in Lisle;  I have to visit this place at least twice a year, in the Spring to see the daffodils and in the Autumn for the fall color.

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Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights; always a favorite venue during the summer months and a fun day out even if I don’t always pick the winner.

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Brookfield Zoo;  We’ve been taking children and now grandchildren to the zoo for more than forty years. The big cats are always popular. “Here kitty.  Nice kitty.”

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BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett; one of the most beautiful buildings in our area and such a peaceful place.

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Lilacia Park in Lombard; I never miss the Lilac Festival. It was always one of my mother’s favorite parks.  For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/local/