Tag Archives: Sterling

Saturday

Schirin invited us down to Jefferson for some Saturday morning sourdough pancakes! Oh, and also to do some dyeing with onion skins! She’s designed an independent project where she makes a sweater from scratch… you can read a wee bit more about her adventures here Schirin’s also put up a lovely post about our day on her project blog including the recipe for those tasty pancakes!

Onion skins with a copper sulfate mordant! Much darker than the onion skin dye I made with alum mordant a while ago…

The Garden As It Is

So, I started an obsession with pickling things over this past winter. Something about trudging through three foot snow drifts made my brain start to crave books about canning. Luckily the library is well stocked and it was pretty easy to start researching whatever it was that caught my fancy (pickled grapes, anyone?). And, fortunately or otherwise (I’ll let you judge for yourself) seed catalogs started appearing in our mailbox. I always love poking through them and usually have no overarching planting schemes in mind… until this time. I flipped straight to the cucumber section and picked out a nice packet of pickling cucumbers and I even found a nice paste tomato that started a spaghetti sauce researching binge.

Now, several months later my cucumbers all died within three days of settling into real dirt outside. So, I trotted down the road to the Saturday Market and bought a flat of six for $1.50 (it was a flat of six containers but it turns out that each container actually held two plants… that’s TWELVE cucumber plants!). I didn’t want to plop them all back in the same place the last cucumbers met their untimely ends in, so I put half of them in an Ikea tupperware bin (the lids don’t lock onto the bins making them practically useless for cramming things into so I didn’t feel much of a twinge when I drilled drainage holes in the bottom) and crossed my fingers.

Here’s the mildly rag-tag “container garden” that’s camped out in the parkinglot. Basil on the far right, depressingly stunted cilantro next, tomatoes in the next container and the wee ones in front, and lastly, cucumbers climbing their way up a trellis in their cozy, useless-for-storage box!

The basil is doing just fine… so far.

Still achingly small tomatoes. I hope they do their tomatoey business before those snow drifts descend again!

And here’s the second half of the garden. Joe and I carved an area out of an old, overgrown vegetable garden on the other side of the parkinglot and planted the cherry tomato plant I bought from the Craftsbury Academy’s plant sale, two acorn squash ($1 for two at the Saturday Market!), three bell peppers (free from the Ag. Program at Sterling) and the other six cucumbers. Linus has been unwittingly indispensable, that blue bucket is full of bunny fertilizer just chillin until we need it! How exciting…

An acorn squash-to-be!

So that’s the garden. In other interesting news down at the lower dorms, Steve is keeping seven of the meat rabbits from the barn out on pasture to compare their weight to the ones still cooped up in the barn.

He refitted a chicken tractor with wheels and scoots them around next to the potato patch.

A California bunny with muddy-red paws… which are perfect foreshadowing. I was buttering my toast this morning and, glancing at the parking lot out the window, saw a delightful little white rabbit calmly meandering around. All seven bunnies had gotten out AGAIN. Between three people we caught six after about and hour of chasing and scrambling… the seventh is nowhere to be found but there’s a mysteriously large pile of white fur in the driveway. The rabbit above squeals like a wounded pig when you grab him. It’s an utterly terrifying sound.

Sterling Farm

It’s SPRING! And lovely outside. That means that the babies are getting bigger, the goats are getting friskier and the pigs are lolling around in steaming piles of muck.

Odin, guard llama extraordinaire does NOT like to be touched. However, he doesn’t mind it in the least if you want to gaze at him in an admiring fashion…

One of the new lamby-lambs feeling rather brave and sturdy. The mother ewes are now back at Bonnieview and the lambs are doing just dandily out on pasture.

And last of the hoofed creatures is Thyme, the friendliest nubian milk goat you’ll probably ever meet. She spends a good chunk of her day with her elbow hooked over the door of her pen waiting for some sort of action to walk by.

I realize that I haven’t put up any pictures of my favorite animals at the farm: the meat rabbits. There are roughly 100 rabbits ranging from babies still in the nest box to the momma rabbits.

This is the second of three batches of babies. Still small enough to chill in a nest box. Since then there are three more nest boxes with babies still sleeping in puddles of their mothers fur, too small to do anything but squirm around and squeak.

These are the first batch of babies from a few months ago… too big to stay with their mothers and too small to eat.

And here’s the big buck, all on his own. Apparently he hasn’t been too prolific so there’s been some debate about what to do with him. Joe and I keep joking that Linus should make a trip down to the farm… before we realized that he’s actually sterile. Ah well, it’s better that way…

Apartment Style

I finally took some time a few weeks ago and reorganized our living room in the apartment. We salvaged some boards and I made some book cases for all of the books we have in boxes and made some hidey-holes for Linus underneath.

The whole place is so much bigger and less jumbled together. AND Linus has fewer cords he can put in his mouth, fiddle with and accidentally nip right through.

Sheep and Kombucha

The fiber arts class took a trip down to the farm to sheer the sheep Sterling has on loan from Bonnieview. I got to step out of the office for a little bit, step into my work pants and check out some of the action.

It had been a while since I’d been down to look at the lambs. All of the sheep have had their babies now (all adorable) and there were quite a few little black lambs (pretty obviously from that handsome fella McCain/Fabio). This particular black lamb was having a great time climbing up his mother and leaping off into the air over his siblings…

Amanda wrestled one of the sheep into the first shearing position almost all by herself. It was great to see people working with sheep and trying to figure out how to wrangle them.

Amanda wanted to make sure her sheep was ok with this whole “reclining” thing. She was rubbing her tum tum and crooning to her while she waited to shear.

In other news, Joe and I have been experimenting with Kombucha. We got a mother from someone at Sterling and made a batch. Which tasted like fizzy apple juice! I think it’s amazing that we can take black tea and sugar and turn it into something that tastes like cider without the alcohol or the apples! All natural and pretty cool to watch.


Sheep Day

Joe, Emma, John, Bennet, Kate and I went over to Bonnieview to shear some sheep this morning. None of us had ever sheared sheep, and some hadn’t even wrangled them so it was a bit of an adventure. Neil had already gotten a few done and was in the middle of another when we got there. At the end of the day we’d probably sheared around twenty sheep and while we sorted through the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of wool, we got to pick out what we wanted to take with us. Joe and I wound up with two big black garbage bags: one full of white fleece and the other full of black.

A fairly biblical shot of one of the newly naked…

Bennet, shearing his first very pregnant ewe.

Kate holding so much garbage fleece that it looked like an intact sheep!

Emma and Joe, getting two done at once. Emma got really quite good at shearing them by the end of our time at Bonnieview. The whole process was fun to watch and made the whole afternoon fly by. Next? Lambing… oh man, lambing!

The Sterling Farm

Joe and I walked down to the farm to off-load our compost bin into a large, more impressive compost barn and since it was such a pretty day I decided to take a picture of the animals that are still down there. First up: horses. 

These are the two new Belgian mares: Brandy and Lady (in some order, I can’t remember which is which).

And here are Rex (white) and Lincoln (brown). I caught them this morning on my way to the post office.

And then again later when we went to the farm.Silly faces…

And here is Bronze, one of the oxen brothers. Chrome is chilaxing just out of sight behind Bronze’s rather large rumpus.

The three lady pigs, resting in hay divots. They actually have perfect pig-shaped impressions about 1-2 feet deep in the straw that they’re crammed into. When they got up to snuffle about and see if I had any food, you could see perfect outlines of where their legs and snouts rest a good foot into the straw.

And here’s Peanut, the pregnant milk cow. She was a calf last spring and now she’s ready to start the whole cycle all over again.

And of course, none of my farm visits is complete without a peek into the hen room to see if there are any warm eggs to cup in my hands. Lay hennies lay!

Seasons

Yesterday was so pretty that I spent a bit of time wandering around Craftsbury. I went over to the library and fell asleep in a patch of sun in one of the rocking chairs on the porch and then I walked down to the Sterling Farm and picked up some hay and played with some baby goats. Then I made some tea and took it out to the hammock and read a little bit of Dune with Micah and then Byron, Micah and I went to capture one of the bald-faced hornet nests I’d been eyeing over on The Common. I climbed up a big tree and took it down…

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How COOL is that!? It’s pretty amazing. I brought it into the apartment and hung it up until two wasps woke up and crawled out of it this morning. If I was by myself I’d probably have just left it in the apartment but Joe and Micah made me put it on the porch until the rest of the wasps died. They should have died by now because we’ve had a couple of frosts, but apparently there are at least a couple still clinging on in there. Meh.

Micah and I went over to the apple tree by the kitchen and horked some apples for a pie. The apples were at least 1/2 pound each and the size of large softballs. They were really hard to knock down though, even though Micah was beating at them with a broom. We made a pie last night and then I used the rest to make a big batch of applesauce this afternoon for lunch.

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Linus and I went for a walk around the yard in the sun. It was so nice and he stayed near me for the most part. I told you there would be a lot of Linus for a while, now didn’t I? Yep, I did…DSCN0654