Since mid-April, I’ve been miffed at our weekend weather, all those soggy Saturdays and Sundays, or weather that resembled a steam bath. But, this weekend we lucked out as we have been blessed with coolish temps, low humidity and sun!
I decided this picture-perfect weather called for a scenic venue for today’s walk, so I headed to Taylor’s Heritage Park. I must confess, that it was not just that walking path and historical village that lured me there today – it was an event at the Park’s Petting Farm. Yes, I know I am a little long in the tooth to be visiting a petting farm, even though I enjoyed doing such a visit many decades ago.
However, each time I go to Heritage Park, I hesitate near the entrance while thinking “am I too old to go in here; will I look foolish?” But, when the petting farm advertised an event called “Christmas in July” featuring a beachwear-clad Santa sitting next to his main squeeze Mrs. Claus and a few reindeer … well, I was “in” and figured I might get even some photos to use on this year’s Christmas cards.
The event didn’t start until 11:00 a.m. so I left an hour later than usual. I figured I’d feed the ducks, meander through the village, do a couple of laps around the entire Park, then head over to the farm.
Well, what a difference an hour makes …
The early bird walkers and bicyclists were likely done with their exercise regimen by the time I arrived. The first thing I noticed as I walked toward the village area, was a woman with an easel, umbrella and stool near the parking lot across from Maggie’s Sweet Shop. The house is a candy and ice-cream store and also conducts music lessons. Around the perimeter of the house are several old-fashioned perennial gardens created and maintained by the Taylor Garden Club.
The artist had a canvas on the easel which already had an outline of the back of this house.
She also had a sketchbook with a completed watercolor of the sweet shop which she glanced at while working on the painting.
I approached her and asked if I may watch as she painted and also take some photos. She seemed a little reluctant at first, stating that the sun would soon be in her line of sight, so she had to work quickly. I responded “okay – no problem” and started to walk away. She relented, so I honed in on a few shots then scooted out of her way. As I walked past Maggie’s Sweet Shop, the door was open and someone was learning how to play the oboe.
I walked through the village and even visited the Goodwill Garden. I was surprised to discover there was a wooden gate barring access to the area.
It was not locked, nor was there a sign to “keep out” but I didn’t want to trespass, so I took some pictures over the fence. Last year I did a post detailing how many people have plots of fruits and vegetables in this community garden and that produce is donated to local food banks and other charitable organizations.
I peeked over the fence at the gardens bathed in warm sunshine, and was quite surprised that not a single person was tending to their plot … not even hoeing, harvesting, or watering their gardens.
While walking along the mulch path back to the village, there was a passel of pooches crossing my path. From a distance, I thought they were guide dogs in training, but they wore no harnesses, and then I spotted a Pit bull and an Akita in the group, so I realized my initial guess was wrong.
Suddenly I heard a loud voice call out “heel your dogs!”
Then came the command “tell your dogs to sit!” In short order, most of those pooches plunked their butts down on the asphalt simultaneously.
I cornered a young woman from the group to inquire about the dogs and was told it was an intermediate obedience class. Well, that was a first to see at Heritage Park. The group went all through the village area, and, even at a distance, I watched those dogs either walk quietly alongside their master or mistress, or sit on command.
In the main village area, I paused to chat with still another artist. It seemed unusual to see two artists in one morning. I’ve seen plenty of photographers around this Park, but never any artists. This time it was a garden of colorful flowers that was being recreated by a woman who sat on a stool, and, while balancing her sketchbook on her knees, she dabbed her brush in the array of small pots of paint.
Here is the patch of flowers …
… and here is a close-up of her painting thus far.
Like before, I asked if I might take a photograph of her and her work and she was more than happy to accommodate me. We chatted about my blog and walking and the weather.
As I headed to the walking path that encircles Heritage Park I had to pass the first artist again, so I stopped and glanced over at her painting. It was half completed as you see below.
The petting farm is at the other side of Heritage Park, so that was a trek in itself. I wandered around the back and side of the farm while I awaited the 11:00 a.m. admission time for the event.
There was only a handful of people, all with kids in tow, when I arrived. As I mentioned above, I just swallowed my pride showing up at an event geared for kids, and told myself “okay, just blend in, even if you are five feet nine inches tall … just blend in with the crowd as you’re here for some entertainment and a few photos for today’s blog post.”
Christmas music was blaring from many speakers. The barnyard had doors from the barn to allow the animals to access their individual pens outside. Most of the critters were out and about and eating, so it sure was hard to coax a smile out of them with their head bent to the ground or nose deep in the hay trough. Maybe I had to grab a handful of hay and thrust it at them? Uh … maybe not. I decided to wait until they got closer and hoped that they brought a little personality, (but no horseflies), along to the edge of the white wooden fence where I stood. There were many trees around the pens, so while the canopy of leaves afforded the animals some welcome shade, it didn’t help much for the photos, so these are the best of the bunch.
The cow’s name is Gracie and she looked very bony (does this girl have a pair of hips on her, or what?) This was one bored-looking bovine who gave me the once-over as she slowly chewed her cud.
The pig was waddling around the barnyard giving an occasional grunt or snort.
There are two alpacas, Rudy and Perry, but only one was out in the daylight today. It wasn’t wearing a nametag though.
Well, the goats were being goats – they were chowing down most of the time. Hey, these goats were quiet and didn’t make any screaming or howling noises like those goat videos you see on the internet. Perhaps those goat videos are fake news?
Another goat checked me out between the fence slats.
Now this is what I call synchronized eating.
There were no photo ops with the pony – all he did was eat, just like the sheep.
After I walked around the barnyard area, I went to the wooden bridge over the pond where there were plenty of Koi fish darting among the water lilies and some other yellow pond flowers. But these were coy Koi fish. Every time I approached them from the wooden bridge, they hid under the pond lilies. I guess they were coy AND camera shy.
The Pekin duck and Hybrid Mallard were delightful in their child-sized pool.
The farm had started to fill up by now and I wanted to ensure I made the rounds to see the stars of the show, Santa and Mrs. Claus and their reindeer. I saw the big guy and his main squeeze, but I was told the reindeer were not arriving for a few hours because their caretakers thought the warm temps might be too much for them as the day dragged on (the event ran until 4:00 p.m.). Well, that was a bummer for sure but I did get a shot of the Clauses.
There were a couple of trains that took kids and their parents around the entire farm area, but I didn’t climb aboard, preferring to add some miles on my feet instead.
I left the Farm and walked to the Taylor Botanical Gardens which is next door. Every time I’ve stopped there in the past, there was a private event and I couldn’t get into the garden area. Today, I had free access and enjoyed myself immensely. The botanical gardens had every type of flower imaginable and because it was sunny and warm, the butterflies were out and about, so I was able to get some photos of both butterflies and blooms which I’ll share in a follow-up blog post.
All that trekking around today yielded about 4 ½ miles – not bad since I stopped so many times to chat it up and take photos.