Farmhouse Suite offers two bedrooms with four poster beds, a large sitting room, bathroom, and kitchenette. The cot on the front porch offers a relaxing spot to read a book or gaze out over the mountains. In the summer months, breakfast and dinner are served on the porch. We prepare all of our meals with organically grown food and produce from our own farm or other neighboring Vermont farms. Guests enjoy helping with chores, visiting with the animals, taking walks along the quiet dirt roads, or playing down by the stream. Our farm, being centrally located within the state, provides an excellent base location for touring other attractions within the state. Guests also enjoy antiquing, canoeing and hiking, visiting museums, quaint villages and parks. Our farm has hosted guests from all over the United States and various overseas countries like Singapore, Italy, Spain, and Hungary. Wouldn't you like to experience a Vermont farm vacation this summer?
Friday, March 30, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Walk...Relax...Stay Nourished...Focus on Relaxed Breathing...Make Your Nest and Push...
For ten years, I taught Bradley Method Natural Childbirth classes. In my classes, I helped couples learn how to work as a team during labor. Each week we worked on learning a new relaxation technique, we taught dads how to encourage and "coach" the moms through contractions. Dads learned the needs of a laboring woman and how to meet those needs. We spent time practicing deep abdominal breathing and focusing on our bodies and how they work during labor so that we could work with our bodies to deliver our babies. Every week, we watched videos of natural births and talked about what we saw and our anxieties and fears. We became a support network for one another.
|Bonnie stays on her feet|
Yesterday, I would have thought I was watching one of my moms from one of my childbirth classes out in my barn as I watched our ewe Bonnie deliver her little lamb. She was the perfect picture of a "Bradley" mom. She stayed on her feet throughout labor, eating hay, and chewing her cud. Every now and then, as a contraction would begin, Bonnie would stand still, close her eyes and breath deeply. Then, she went back to walking, eating, and chewing her cud. At one point, she even let out a huge yawn as though bored with the process. She is a veteran mom and delivering a lamb is not new to her. As her contractions became more frequent, she quit eating as her attention was needed on what her body was doing. She would then squat with each contraction helping to get the lamb in the correct position. It was not until she was ready to push, that she laid down. As the contraction would come on, she would begin to paw at the ground as though making her nest. Then, she would lay down and push through the contractions. When they were over, she was back on her feet-walking and pawing some more. She even began to nicker to her lamb-even before he was born as though to encourage him. Her little lamb slipped into the world quite easily, front feet and nose first, with little stress to Bonnie.
Dr. Bradley, the creator of the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, was no stranger to farm animals. He watched them labor and give birth and began using their techniques with his patients. He began to notice an amazing difference in how these woman delivered their babies. This was at a time when dads were not allowed in the delivery room. Instead, they would nervously pace and wait to get word that the baby had been born, missing their own child's entrance into the world and missing the opportunity to nurture the moms as they labored. Dr. Bradley changed all of this, bringing the dads into the delivery room. He began teaching his couples how to work together during labor and delivery.
Of all the jobs I have ever had, teaching my natural childbirth classes was one of the most rewarding. Through these classes, I saw men do a complete change as they took ownership in the laboring process and their role as labor coach. I saw big, strong, macho men who said that "childbirth and labor was women's work" come back to class with tears streaming down their faces as they held their new babies and shared their birth stories. I saw women become empowered by their ability to take control over their birth experiences, and I saw amazing births and the miracle of life unfold before my eyes time and time again. Now, I am blessed to continue to see God's amazing gift of birth and life right here on my own farm, in my own barn every lambing season.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
These three words are commonly used when describing Vermonters. Though not a native to Vermont, I have found that over the past 26 years of living here, I too have developed these characteristics. I am not sure why we have become this way. Perhaps it is because we have limited retail stores for buying new or because the distance to travel to a store to purchase something is far too great. Maybe the long cold winters and rural living require that you be self sufficient and thrifty, or maybe it is our desire to be good stewards of our land and leave as little behind as possible. Whatever the reason, most people who have lived in Vermont long find that they too acquire these same traits.
As the youngest of five children, I am all too familiar with hand-me-downs and the concept of buying used. At a young age, I learned how to sew. I spent my high school years sewing my own clothes. At that time, you could actually make a dress for less money than to buy it new. As a young adult just leaving college, I furnished my small one room apartment with furniture from my mother's basement. I made my own curtains and bed coverings using sheets and fabric from the store. As I began teaching in the public school, I again relied upon my yard sale purchases to add the comforts of home to my classroom. So I suppose I was well on my way to becoming a Vermonter long before I ever arrived here.
|Flea Market Treasure|
|Cutting fabric pieces.|
The most stressful moment was cutting into my very expensive fabric! I measured the front, back, and seat of the chair and basically cut squares of fabric to the right size. Then, I pinned the pieces directly on the chair cutting around the edges so that it fit the contour of the chair. I pinned along what would be my sewing line. Then, I removed the fabric from the chair. I now had to mark my sewing line with an ink pen so I could re-pin it, right sides together. I then made cording to go around the back seam and pinned that in place. Now, I was ready to sew it all together on the sewing machine.
|Turning fabric inside out.|
|Pinning fabric to chair|
|My trusty Bernina sewing machine had no trouble with this project!|
I decided to put a ruffle around the bottom of the slip cover. I made the ruffle and attached that to the bottom edge of the slipcover with cording. My only mistake was that I forgot to make an opening in the back in order to slip the cover on and off the chair. All was not lost as I simply made a flap with velcro closure to allow the back to be opened wide enough to slip it over the chair. I will add fabric covered buttons to the flap as a decorative feature. After about 6 hours of working between Friday and Saturday, I finished my first slip cover and my flea market chair slipped into something much more attractive! Ok.......now what chair can I cover??
|Back with velcro flap.|
|Finished slip cover|
|Ruffle along bottom edge|
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Vermont is the only place I know of with five seasons-summer, autumn, winter, mud season, and spring. Mud season marks the transition from winter to spring, and the start of maple sugarin' It begins some time in March and lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month. It is when the warm sun overcomes the cold winter temperatures and the snow finally recedes. The deep frost begins to thaw from the top down, which prevents the melting snow from percolating into the ground. The ground becomes a sponge absorbing as much water as possible. Mud season can also alternate between
warm sunny days and snowy windy days, extending the winter thaw even longer. Water squishes out of the earth with every step. All of the streams and rivers run full as the snow melts off the mountains and makes its way down to the valleys.
Vermont towns post their roads this time of year to keep the heavy trucks off of them while the ground is so soft. I have read that as much as 65 percent of Vermont roads are gravel. During mud season, these roads can become tricky to navigate as the dirt gives way under the weight of the cars leaving huge ruts. There have been years, when the town actually closed our road to all traffic for a few weeks waiting for it to dry out. The year I was pregnant with my third child and had two toddlers on my hip, the roads were the worst I have ever seen them. I feared that I would get stuck with each outing I had to make. I couldn't imagine myself, 8 months pregnant, walking through the deep mud with a toddler on each hip.
In my 25 Mud Seasons, I have learned that if you follow just a few simple rules while driving, your life will be much easier and happier.
- Stay calm.
- Ride the ridges.
- Don't stop.
- and relax....it's just mud!
I also notice that Vermonters become a little restless during this time of year. Last weekend, while my husband and I were doing chores, one of our neighbors came barreling down the road. When he saw us, he came to a screeching halt swinging his car to the side of the road and letting out a loud whoop. "Chuck!" he called out his window to my husband, as he leaned over his dog, which sat in the passenger seat. He had that crazed look in his eye with his hair a bit rumpled, and his flannel shirt on. The two of them talked about mud, the weather, sap flows, and tapping trees for maple sugaring.
As we hung our sap buckets on our maple trees that afternoon, it marked the beginning of my 26th Mud Season in Vermont.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
How to Fit Several Sheep Into One Box
As I lay the fleece out, I can perfectly see the neck wool where hay has gathered from feeding time and the leg wool, which holds manure and mud. Meticulously, I walk around the table picking off the undesirable wool and vegetation matter. As I skirt, I test the fiber for strength by snapping several locks of wool from different areas of the fleece. I look for softness of the fiber and luster.
The quality of the wool indicates the health of the sheep. A healthy, beautiful fleece equates to a healthy sheep. After skirting, I weigh the fleece again so that I can tell how much usable wool each sheep contributes to our farm. Next, I decide which fleeces should be combined together for our different yarn runs.
Once finished going through each fleece, I enlisted the help of my daughter to package the wool in boxes so it could be shipped to the mill. We began by putting together sample bags of locks of wool from each sheep. By keeping a wool sample from each ewe, I can see the difference from year to year in their wool quality. It also allows those wanting to purchase lambs an opportunity to see a wool sample from the sire and dam of each lamb.
|OK-It is obvious-this will not work...|
We tightly tie the bag holding the fleece. Then we make a tiny hole in the bag and use our vacuum to suck the air out of the bag. The bag will shrink down to a hard brick. Then we must quickly tape over our hole, put our next bag in the box and repeat the process. After we have filled the box with as much wool as possible, we quickly close the box and secure it with packaging tape. If we have been successful, we can tape the box with no problems. If however, our holes begin to let air in and we burst out in laughter, the growing bags make taping almost impossible. I will admit that yesterday, we had trouble controlling our giggles and it took two attempts to get this box packed. We did finally successfully fit about four sheep into this little box. Sometimes, after we tape a box shut, we nervously watch as the box seems to swell as air gets inside the bags of wool. We have yet to have a box explode on us, although we have had multiple tries on one box before.
As long as our packaging holds....our fleeces will be sent on their way tomorrow morning!
|Sucking the Air Out of the Bag|
|Ready to Add the Second Bag|
Monday, March 05, 2012
|Chloe Enjoys a Good Back Scratch|
|Gwen Shears April|
It takes about 1 1/2 hours to do all of our sheep. Gwen takes her time and we chat between each one. Once she is finished, the fleeces line the barn wall. This year, I send Gwen home with a pair of our wool socks as a "thank you" for her work! As soon as weather permits, I will begin spreading each fleece out on a skirting table to sort through the wool. I pull away the dirty wool with manure or hay in it. I hope to ship the wool off to the mill by the end of this week so they can begin working their own magic of turning our wool into wonderful yarn!
|Sharing a Pair of Our Wool Socks with Gwen|