Tag Archives: Vermont

The Great Craftsbury

So, I thought I would finally show you a wee bit of Craftsbury Common. It’s where I’ve been living for the past three months which makes it about time that I did this, eh?            DSCN1242

Do you remember that crazy shop update a I did last week? Well, this is where I took all of the snowy pictures. This is the Sugarbush where students take the draft horses to practice moving logs and where they get the sap to make syrup in the appropriate season. It’s a pretty magical place where leaves carpet the ground and then snow drapes itself over everything later. I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like in spring…

DSCN1243The Sugarbush is just right down the road from Sterling itself and this is the sign along the road halfway between.

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And this is what the (paved) roads look like in winter: all ice and cracks and frozen grasses.DSCN1245

If you keep going until you’re right across from the dorms there’s a little cemetery, peopled with very, very old graves.

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Old graves… and this one. DSCN1252DSCN1253

He’s gone to the great highway in the sky.DSCN1254

Back across the street there’s Merlin dorm where our apartment is, next to the logging shop.

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Here’s the front side of Merlin. There’s a volleyball court in front and a nice grassy lawn where all of the picture of Linus were taken. Our apartment is the fifth window from the left on the second floor. It goes all the way back to the other side of the building and it’s a perfect size for two people and a little furry bunnyman.DSCN1258And here’s is the other dorm on upper campus, Madison. It’s not quite as nice as our building… there’s no radiant floor heating, carpet or new beds. There are two more dorms about a 15 minute walk away and that pretty much accounts for all of the Sterling students.

So that’s a mini snapshot of the Sugarbush, the road and the dorms. I’ll probably get around to doing more of Craftsbury, but not tonight. Ta ta!

One Day

It’s been one week since I started at Bonnieview and I’ve gotten to milk sheep, make cheese, harvest sunflowers and potatoes, collect eggs, feed chickens and pigs and live in a yurt. It doesn’t sound like much… but it adds up to a long, happy week. I found my camera yesterday so I took some pictures throughout the day yesterday so you can get a glimpse of farm work in rural Vermitt.   DSCN0288

Liza and I milked the sheep yesterday morning at 8. I start milking them on my own next week. These sheep are a mix of several breeds, one of which is a Tunis (I only remembered that because one of the Tunis rams is named Tuna and has one of the coolest faces I’ve ever seen).DSCN0290

Here are twelve sheep standing on the milking stand. You can milk six at once with the setup we have. The sheep put their head in the headlocks where the grain is and the whole thing slowly (oh so slowly) pushes them back to the railing so that we can reach them. We wipe their udders and then stick the cups on and then spray them with a disinfectant after wards to keep their udders happy.

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Here’s an udder before it’s been milked. Liza and were joking that we should make a memory game where you have to match the pictures of their udders to the sheep’s faces because we know them all by their udders but there’s no way we could recognize who is who when they’re staring us in the face. DSCN0293

And here it is post-milk squeezing. Saggy baggy udders…DSCN0294

After milking I herd them back to their field about 1/4 of a mile away on a dirt track. You can see the guard llama in the background there guarding his sheeps. DSCN0298

Everything you see here is Bonnieview farm land, it’s so pretty and rolly out here. After I herd them down I head back up to the farmhouse for breakfast (which usually turns into an extended lunch) and then out to do the piggies!DSCN0334

Penny and Roger eat everything that we don’t plus the whey from the cheese making process and a wee bit of grain. I try to avoid them at all costs because they’re very tall (up to my waist) and I’m more than a little afraid of being eaten.

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Penny was trying to suss out whether my camera was food or not… turns out it wasn’t.DSCN0308DSCN0312

One of my other chores in the afternoon has been harvesting sunflowers. That looks like me attacking them one at a time with a pair of hand clippers then gathering in bunches of about ten and tying them together with bailing twine then hanging them in the greenhouse to mature and dry. They’ll use them to supplement the chicken feed in the winter.DSCN0314

These are all the sunflowers I’ve done so far. It’s about three afternoon’s worth of work and about 1,000 sunflowers. There’s still 1/2 a field left to do and it’s so overgrown with weeds that it can be a little tough to negotiate.DSCN0320

I found this spider when I was tying up a bunch of flowers yesterday. I have no idea what kind it is but it looks very much like a mushroom and a spider were amalgamated together to form a wicked cool little critter.DSCN0333

And here are the babies! These little guys just reached their official birthdate the other day and they’ve been so cute and squirmy that it’s been hard not to sit there and stare at them all of the time.DSCN0340

And here’s their older sister, Tressa helping us harvest three bushel baskets of potatoes from the garden. She’s been so helpful and sweet, you’d never know that she just gained two little sisters and one brother just a few weeks ago. DSCN0345And my favorite chore of the day is collecting the eggs from the henhouse. I usually get about 20 every evening which then get washed and sold at the farmers markets in the area. There are about 50 chickens but some have gotten out and successfully made several batches of baby chickens. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be one of my jobs to round up the chickens for winter so they can roost in the greenhouse where it’ll be warm.

That’s it for now. I think we’re making cheese on Monday so I’ll try to get some pictures of that. Until then you should close your eyes and imagine all of the smells and adventures with poo that you’re missing because you’re not here with me.

Moving to Music

What have I been up to in the short short days since camp ended and I re-entered good old shiny civilization? I’ve taken a few showers, unpacked, eaten real people food and then started to contemplate repacking. Why am I repacking, you may ask yourself? Well… before I tell you I want you to sit down, put your head between your knees and take some good, deep breaths. Hah, I just wanted to imagine a small group of people doing that in awkward places like coffee shops or on their couches. Anywho I’m moving to Vermitt (that’s how I’ve been pronouncing Vermont lately) in about a week and a day (oh deary that sounds so soon!).

WHAT?! I know. I’ll be working at a place called Bonnieview Sheep Dairy in Craftsbury Common, VT. I spotted this farm in the WWOOFing book I ordered a few weeks ago and I immediately started to do my happy dance (you’ve probably seen this dance… it breaks itself out fairly often). I e-mailed them and it turns out they have an opening through the month of October. I’ll be living in a yurt, working with sheep and doing other farm-like things. Want to read a description? Yeah you do…

“470 acres of rolling pastures and fields surrounded by woods. Fresh water pond on the farm for fishing and swimming. description of organic activities: organic pastures, cropland, garden, 2 cows and 50 laying hens; 300 sheep and 7 pigs fed small amount of commercial grain. April- Oct we milk the sheep and make cheese on the farm. We feed the whey from the cheese plant to the pigs. Large farm garden feeds us and supplies vegetables to on farm dinners. Out door clay bread oven for pizzas and bread for farmers markets. Sheep are all rotationally grazed on our 100 acres of pastures. We heat only with firewood gathered from our land. All of the hay we used is harvested from our fields. Suggested length of stay is 2 week, months of year April-Nov. Two farm stay rooms when available, coming in June 09 24? Yurt or accommodations in hay loft expectations 5-8 hrs/day 6 days/wk Transportation available: on a limited basis. languages spoken are English and a little French, can host children no pets, special diets on a limited basis, we grow a majority of our food.”

Oh I’m so excited! Yes, I know it’s going to be cold and no, I think I probably won’t die from being to cold. I’ll just stop those comments right there. If you want to chat about how cold it’s going to be you can talk to my mummy and have a long, fascinating discussion about it. Boooorrrriiinnnggg… where’s your sense of adventure!? Anywho, I have some other motivations but I think that working on this farm is a pretty good one. Plus I’ve never lived outside of the Pacific Northwest (and really never been in a real winter) so this should be a pretty neat little adventure, no? I’ve wanted to live in a yurt and work with sheeps for a while and this kills both wants with one stone. I’ve been following a few blogs about suburban farming, living in yurts, gardening etc. that have made the whole idea sound glorious… curious about which ones I’m talking about? Well here’s a very short list then:

Mayaland – I love how this lady writes. She lives in a yurt with her family, they have goats and they have been adding a series of recycled buildings to their little compound. If I could fastforward ten years this is where I want to be and what I want life to look like.

Little House in the Suburbs – WHOA! She lives in Portland, has two goats, some chickens and a garden in her backyard AND she made her own bee hive? Yes, it is possible to be that wonderful.

That list is shorter than I remember it being… I think I’ve lumped in there the random assortment of books I’ve read about things like gardening, sheep, knitting, spinning, cooking and general do-it-yourselfness. Anyway, I’ve started packing and while I’ve been doing that silly nonsense (who needs to pack if you’re going to drive across the country? You could just shove is all in a car because, really, a car is like a giant box and boxes are what you pack things in and if I were to just pile things into the car they would naturally protect each other. Clothes would be like eco-friendly packing peanuts and everything would probably fit) I’ve been listening to the 61 again. What music has been on repeat, you might be asking? I was just getting to that, so you should really just be patient for a second, ok? Ok, good.