A New Year on our Almost Farm

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It’s 2016. Our home was built in the summer of 2011 and first occupied, though without any water for lack of a well, New Year’s Eve of that year. We’ve come a long way. The water took a while and we were still hauling it from the pond, neighbors, workplaces, etc. til August 2012, I believe it was. For the last few years, though, it’s given us many cozy winter nights by the wood stove, crowded gatherings of happy friends, cooling pond swims on a hot day, eggs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, baskets and baskets of potatoes, loops of skating on the frozen ice as the dogs chased erratic tennis balls, a rainbow of flowers along the fields and on our table, christmas trees from the backwoods, gallons of syrup, cords and cords of wood for warmth and fuel, wheelbarrows full of vegetables, beef that still packs our freezer, brush pile bonfires of incredible size, amazing views from the meadow atop the hill, and countless memories of our little home.

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With all of this has also come the opportunity to dream. Though we’re still split between houses/towns/counties due to current work situations, our minds and hearts continue to be hard at work dreaming up what will come of our Almost Farm. There’s talk of pigs and chickens, cows and rabbits, new barns, a new spot for the strawberries and a sprucing up of the raspberries, a dedicated spot to grow some Christmassy soft woods, a reorientation of the lower garden and  additional pasture on the other side of the stone wall toward the sugarhouse. There’s even talk of horse power.

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forgotten sage

Fall into winter…

From central…

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new seat for an old (new to us) dozer

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taking care of the old farmall

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plowing in our overgrown, mostly unplanted, garden plot

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wood on all sides of the sugarhouse

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stepping stumps?

…to the north!

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last day of the season for Willoughby

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walnuts!? near Lake Memphremagog

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a look into Crystal Lake

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nice spot to keep your RV

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frosted

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Wheeler Mountain with a dusting during deer season

 

 

First snow

We had our first snow in the middle of October. Just a dusting and it didn’t last long, but it certainly gave us a friendly reminder that winter is on its way and there are plenty of things to take care of around the house. November, however, seems to be starting off warmly with temperatures near 60 on my post-work run today.

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Getting the garden ready for winter

*A repost from another blogging venture of mine
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Three things to remember when getting your garden ready for winter:

  1. Remove old/diseased/rotted material
  2. Plant a cover crop
  3. Do whatever you can…every little bit helps in the spring

Even with unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday and the mercury in the 70’s, there also happens to be snow in the forecast for this weekend. Classic Vermont. What’s that saying? I think it goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. It’ll change.” Like it or not, in many areas of the country, the gardening season is coming to an end and if you haven’t prepped your garden for winter yet, it’s time to do it.

I recently had the privilege of visiting Meg Canonica of horse (and people) powered Fern Ridge Farm to learn how to get a garden ready for the snow and cold that winter is soon to bring us. It was a gray day that had already showered us with a bit of spotty rainfall and it felt like sunset was close as I finally found my way up the dirt road to Meg and the hillside farm that she and her husband call home.

Growing up in Indiana, Meg was exposed to the large scale farming of soybeans and corn. She wasn’t thinking about agriculture as a career when she matriculated at Warren Wilson College, a small liberal arts work college in Asheville, North Carolina in pursuit of a degree in Outdoor Education. After attending a class in sustainable agriculture, however, Meg began to rethink her future plans. She began working on the college’s farm crew, raising beef and pork, and managing the marketing of the farm’s pastured beef.

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Although it’s several years later and following stints as an intern on various farms from Colorado and California to Maine and Vermont, the rosy cheeked farmer maintains an undeniable youthfulness. Perhaps it’s her many hours spent laboring over her produce in the clean air of the Green Mountains, her playfulness with Bismarck, the youngest of the farm’s great pyrenees guard dogs who hasn’t quite  Continue reading

Pulling potatoes

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We pulled up the potatoes a couple weeks ago. Three big rows. Pull out the plants. Shake off whatever potatoes we could. One person with the pitch fork turning the soil and trying not to spear the hidden potatoes. The other person on hands and knees snatching the loose potatoes as soon as they flashed through the dark earth. We saw some big worms and got some big potatoes. Laid them out on an old bedsheet to harden off a bit in the air, but frost was on the way so we tucked them in for the night with a tarp. Our garden, rather untended this year as we are living so many miles from it, was at least victorious in producing potatoes. Too many potatoes this year. Too many.

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Fall skies

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As we drove South on Vermont’s Interstate-91 last Thursday we were amazed at the sky and how its washboard clouds looked almost like water.

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Then later that night we were treated to a brilliant sunset over our hillside pasture.

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*No filters added to these photos. Just taken with an iPhone.

DIY: shorten pants while keeping the original hem

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In my many years of shortness there have been countless hem jobs. Many with duct tape, a few with emergency safety pins, none that looked very good. These days, my go to hemming technique is one I first saw on a pair of pants a friend was wearing in late junior high. A seamstress had shortened her pants but kept the original hem. I didn’t start doing this technique myself for a while after that, likely because I was lazy and without a reliable sewing machine. I started using it consistently at least 5 years ago.  It has only been in the past few years, however, that I’ve  Continue reading