Sunday, January 27, 2008

filling in the blanks


If you had been raised in northern Illinois you could certainly fill in the blanks when you viewed this photograph.

Your mind's eye could replace the things that are missing, the vanes of the windmill and the livestock in the barnyard. The vines choking the windmill structure could easily be erased and the extended property mowed and clean of brush.

This could be true if you'd seen this particular barn or not because if you hadn't seen this one you'd seen a thousand just like it. This is a lifestyle that has passed and I'm not quite sure exactly when the final moment came. For now it's standing and decaying at a rate determined by nature.

One of the first photos I ever posted on the Farmer's Wife is still one of my favorites. It's a jacket hanging on a line in the barn that once stood on Empire Road. The farmer simply walked out of the barn one day and never returned. The barn has been demolished and the wood used to build a nature center south of here.

And so it goes......

Thursday, January 24, 2008

llama mama


Llama farms are popping up as fast as the dairy farms are disappearing. One family keeps them in a backyard suburban lot.

This is a large farm just north of here. The llama's are often in the barnyard doing whatever llama's do.

I'm going to explain a little bit about how some of these photos are shot. Most are shot on rural roads which are straight as an arrow. There is, however, no place to pull the car over to take shots. So I must stop in the roadway, constantly looking in the rear view mirror as a take a quick photo or two. There are occasional spots that have small pull offs that farmer uses to access the fields, but in the winter time those are covered with snow drifts.

It was 15 degrees below zero this morning and I'm feeling quite black & white!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008



On a recent trip to the local egg farm I spotted this milking equipment. The milk cans are old and rusted but the other items are new. I'm not quite sure if this farmer still milks his own cows bu tI sure wish that they sold cream in addition to the fresh eggs.

Someone had mentioned to me that there's still a working dairy farm out in DeKalb. I'm going to have to investigate a little further....and talk my way in.

Sunday, January 20, 2008



The other day I was returning home from doing a few errands. The light was so nice and it occurred to me that it had been quite awhile since I last visited the barn on McGough Road. I adjusted my route slightly and turned off the main highway headed towards the barn.

It's at this point that I get just a little nervous. It's entirely possible that when I return the barn (or building) will be gone, either razed for development or collapsed under it's own weight. One evening I was driving down Route 47 past a familiar old barn and my mind was jarred by the fact that the house that was across from the barn was gone. Simply gone. The land it stood on looked like it had been undisturbed for a century or more. There was no sign the house had ever existed not even a depression in the ground.

I drove on down McGough taking the first of many hairpin turns. Just before the second and third turn I came upon this and almost wrecked the car in my surprise!


As long time reader Pablo noted in a recent post, the contradictions that are created as development moves into the farmland sometimes look downright silly. This mansion is only a mile from the barn, as the crow flies.

I'm entranced by the McGough Road barn. It seems to hold magic in any light, any season, any time of day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

pepto house redux


While digging through some archives I did find a picture of the pepto house in all it's glory.

I sincerely apologize for the infrequent posts, but it's very cold here in northern Illinois and with the flood and the subsequent remodeling of the basement I've been spending alot of time indoors.....doing manual labor.

Come back a little later today when I'll have a new barn shot for you. Till then...enjoy the Pepto house.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

the pepto house

There's a television show entitled, "What's Up With That House?", and the pepto house has long been a candidate for inclusion. When we first moved here 14 years ago it was a very striking contemporary home. The exterior surfaces excluding the stone work was a dark brown which was befitting it's design. But then came the "Pepto Years". I'm not quite certain why the house was painted a pepto bismol pink with dark cherry pink trim, but painted it was.

Many of you have asked to see pictures of the house and I do have a photo or two somewhere in the 10,000 computer files on my external hard drive. But finding the photos is another thing altogether. So today on my way out to do some errands I took the route past the home. It's no longer pink, although what's happening now will still qualify it for the TV show.

What IS still pink is the footbridge that crosses over the creek.


And yes, the entire house was painted that color. But now the house exterior is being clad with.......LOGS!


Any design sensibilities I have don't compute the logs with the modern lines. By the way, the large garage building and the house railings are still cherry pink & pink. I suppose it all makes our beige home look boring.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008



Yes, it's that kind of day today. The ugly part of winter has come quickly, washing away the beautiful white snow that at least made the landscape interesting.

The beige curved smudge in the center of this photo is the very beginning of Indian Creek. For most of the year it's a damp depression in the woods. During heavy rains it fills up quickly.

If you remember quite awhile back I pondered about the possibilities of travel using Indian Creek as a starting point. This trickle of water eventually leads to all the oceans of the world, by way of connecting with progressively large streams and rivers. At some point we'd reach the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Just think of the adventures we could have on the open seas.

Friday, January 04, 2008

fade away


From a distance this barn looked like it had huge icicles hanging from the roof. But as I got closer it became apparent that it's just the remnants of a long ago layer of paint.

The paint is scoured away by the force of wind and weather. The area just under the eaves is more protected and creates the icicle effect. This barn was once red and then painted white. The strangest barn I've seen in this area is an odd color of fleshy pink. I can't imagine they chose that color purposely, but then there is the pepto bismol pink house nearby!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

moving on


This barn looks pretty sturdy from this angle but the entire right hand side is gone, leaving a gaping space and the huge barn beams exposed to the elements. The road you see is the winding entrance to the new commuter train station and on the opposite side of the road (behind me) is a subdivision.

The other day reader Pablo observed that some of these juxtapositions are downright silly and he's right. It's like seeing ancient ruins surrounded by modern skyscrapers.

If we continue down the road a bit we come to the farmhouse, which has been standing empty for some time.


It's levitating on the prairie. Well, it's suspended on heavy beams preparing for it's move to a new location. This is a welcome sight to me because many of these farmhouses are simply bulldozed or burned as practice for the fire department. It seems that someone has determined the house has possibilities to live a new life in a new location. I can imagine it nestled in a sheltered rural setting.

The writing has been on the wall for many years as developers laid down their plans behind the scenes. Farming changed long ago and the dairy farms disappeared. Properties became rentals and then are abadoned as the timetable for destruction counts down.

The drama has played out in slow motion over many years but since I started this blog almost three years ago the old farms and outbuildings have disappeared at an alarming rate. You'd think that a tornado had blown through taking down only the old way of life sparing the new.

I'm thing about putting together a lenghty post or perhaps a series of "here" and "gone". Many, many of the wonderful places I've visited and photographed now exist only in memory, photo albums or pixels.

Jerry Johnson is a visionary who recognized the importance of preserving a way of life and a moment in time embodied in Garfield Farm Museum Hopefully there's someone who will feel as passionate about preserving a working fmaily farm or dairy farm which represented a whole chunk of our local history. Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the light of winter


The best thing about winter besides the sparkling diamond snow, is the color of twilight. Clear blues and shell pink sunsets transform the white landscape. I never tire of this show of color.

I want to take this time to thank all of my loyal readers. You know who you are! I'm very happy that you take time out of your busy day to visit our little part of the world. My sincere thanks.