Tag Archive | Spring Valley

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Farm Fences

In response to Ann-Christine’s topic of #10: Fences, this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, let me take you on a quick trip to Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

Here, fences are not so much an intrusion as a picturesque part of the overall scene.  Many of them are weathered and some used only as a temporary measure but all of them seem to blend in with their surroundings.

Naturally, the animals on the farm play a large part in many of the fence images in my Spring Valley photo files.

And flowers play an important role in the pictures too, the fences sometimes appearing to be merely an adjunct to their cheerful color.


Whatever purpose the fences serve, they are nearly always a welcome addition to any image of Volkening Heritage Farm.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Shadow

The subject for The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post is shadow and, while I have plenty of pictures that have shadows incidental to the overall image, I don’t seem to have taken many where the shadow was the focal point. This was the best I could manage.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge, which this week was set for us by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/shadow-2017/


A toad contemplates its shadow at a local nature center.


Two barns, one at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and the other at Old World Wisconsin, patterned by shadows from nearby trees.


Littlest grandson keeping a close eye on his shadow during an early April walk at Spring Valley.


The ‘pergola effect’ shown here at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the gardens at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville SC and the Rose Garden at Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois.


Trees in autumn cast long shadows at River Trails Nature Center in Northbrook, Illinois.



Hooray!   This is what it looks like at Spring Valley now that the snow has almost completely gone.  So much that lay hidden for so many weeks and months has been uncovered and life is getting back to normal.


I feel like embracing the whole of the great outdoors on a day like today!  It feels so good to get out in the fresh air without being encumbered by heavy coats, scarves and gloves.  After the winter we have just experienced I can fully appreciate every little sign of life that I come across on my way around the nature center even if it’s only a bird’s feather or a patch of lichen on a fallen tree branch.



Along the way I passed this bonfire, part of a controlled burn that is carried out intermittently at Spring Valley.  Someone was busy clearing fallen branches and twigs, making way for new growth among the trees.


Now that the snow has melted it has left a lot of soggy areas but even these are a welcome sign that Spring may finally be here.


Plenty of activity at the farm as workers prepare fields and enclosures, getting them ready to receive visitors for the first of many events held here during the coming months.



Walking along the path leading away from Volkening Heritage Farm I heard a slithering among the fallen leaves and spotted this garter snake, just one of the many creatures beginning to stir now that the weather has taken a turn for the better.


Of course, I might have known all this was too good to be true.  Although the temperatures climbed all the way to 68F today, they are due to plummet back down to the 40’s in a day or two. But I enjoyed this welcome respite from the cold and made the most of the opportunity.



Spring Valley in Winter


A couple of weeks ago, rather in the spirit of  ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’, I decided to take a walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.  It was the first time I’d been there since the beginning of this endless winter and, despite the fact that the temperatures were well below freezing, I quite enjoyed it.


Apart from the man with the snow plow, who had thankfully cleared a path on the roadway around the perimeter of the place, I seemed to be the only person there.  There were no signs of wildlife either.  Evidently I was the only one brave or stupid enough to ignore the dangerous wind chill warnings but I just couldn’t stand being cooped up inside any longer.


Despite the fact that there was little or no action on the wildlife front, there was still some beautiful scenery and, despite mittens and enough layers of clothing to make me look like that kid from A Christmas Story, I was able to get a few shots of the surrounding landscape.


The silence, despite being so close to nearby houses and main road, was uncanny. Even the airplanes flying in and out of O’Hare airport were too high in the clear, blue sky to make anything but the faintest sound (or perhaps it was because of the balaclava and two hoods that I was wearing that I failed to hear them.)


Even though it had been two or three days since the latest snowfall, the snow clung tenaciously to the tree branches, frozen in place, not yet dislodged by the winds that would follow later in the afternoon.


Understandably, the usual trails and paths had been left untouched but here and there were signs that someone or something had braved the deep snow, not letting it deter them from traveling along their usual route.  There was a time when I would have thought nothing of following in their footsteps or even blazing my own trail but now, as I stumble somewhat cautiously into the ‘golden years’ I’d rather be safe than sorry and stick to the safest options.


Even so, the road was somewhat slippery in spots and I took heed of the signs that appeared occasionally along the wayside, warning pedestrians of dangerous conditions. Slow and easy does it in situations like these.  Because the path that goes over the bridge that spans the creek was several feet deep in snow, I kept to the plowed road that fords the water a little further along.  Naturally the creek, which is never all that deep, was frozen solid and I made my way very carefully across to the other side without incident. (Visions of a bad fall that I had taken a few years before in an icy parking lot always make me wary.)


But all’s well that ends well and I made it right the way to the farm and back without incident.  The man who was plowing the road passed me a couple of times on my walk and we waved to each other. I hope he realized that I certainly appreciated his efforts because without them I would never have made it around the center.