Thursday, May 28, 2009

Addison Adventures: 2 Part Series!

The Mitch and I had the most amazing experience the last weekend in April - also a weekend which was blessed with a sunny Saturday in the 80's. I am not one to complain about the wet and colder weather, but that doesn't mean I will not rejoice in the most glorious of weather! The Mitch and I spent the loveliest weekend in Panton, at John and Julie Viskup's gorgeous Lake Champlain property -

Vibing into Panton for the weekend was met with one of my most favorite Vermont sights - a general store - and the one in Panton most certainly did not disappoint! Farm views and fishing supplies galore (The Mitch's favorite!):

At this point I am going to fast forward to the end of the weekend when we toured farms. Stay tuned next week for a fabulous photo show and the details of our stay in one of the Viskup's delightful Lake Champlain cabins!

John Viskup, let The Mitch and I tell you, is one of the most interesting and inspiring people we have ever met! Business owner, entrepreneur, dentist, vacation owner proprietor, and tree farmer? That's right! And it's the tree farmer part I want to chat about...

John bought an old dairy farm in Addison a few years back and cleaned it up, recycled everything he could of the scraps, trash, and farm equipment left piled on the landscape. Then he started planting trees - maples for sugarin' and hardwoods for lumber. Being the daughter of a lumber salesman and forestry expert, I have a huge affinity for the entire lumber and sustainable forestry industries and touring the tree farm was absolutely fascinating!

I think most fun was learning of the trials and errors John continuously experiences with rodents, the weather, cultivating baby trees, and how he finds so many trees in the first place! I think The Mitch was freaking out while he watched my interest grow thinking, "Oh, no, please don't let Rachel want to start a tree farm too! I can barely handle thinning the carrots!"

But, That Mitch sure changed his expression when John showed us the barns. What used to hold cows and hay now holds every kind of tree farm equipment you can imagine - translation = man toys. Check it out:

After we departed our Viskup Tree Farm tour, we headed over to Audet's Blue Spruce Farm, home of cow power - an exceptional creation of renewable energy by entrepreneurial spirited farmers. Blue Spruce's cow power operation provides electricity to over 1000 homes in Addison County through their biomass production in conjunction with Central Vermont Public Service. While were weren't able to make it for an actual tour, we did get to check it out:

Vermont is an amazing state and I am so glad the Charlotte Farmhouse is located so close to Addison Country - a fine working example of how amazing the Green Mountain State truly is!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Garden's Back!

Thanks to The Mitch for all of his awesome work working the soil this week and de-clumping that clay!

Thanks to Perennial Pleasures in East Hardwick, Vermont for some fantastic herbs!

Thanks to Plainfield Hardware in Plainfield, Vermont for a second year of hardy veggie packs.

Thanks to the Vermont Spring for your beauty!

Thanks to Red Wagon Plants for saving me from the woes of the clay, for giving great advice, for selling the most gorgeous plants, for operating my dream greenhouse, and for treating me like a fellow gardener!!!

Here's some photos from the past two weeks out at the Charlotte Farmhouse!

And, my beasties!!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Agro on my Agri

Oooohhh, I am mad. The Mitch is mad. I don't know if the cats are and I don't care - that's how mad I am!

So, The Mitch and I work our asses off in our garden. See? Here are two pictures from last year soon after we planted and then again in mid-summer.

We have turned that dirt, gotten out every rock, piece of clay, and root and put more love, hard work, and effort into that garden than many people that I know. NOT that it is a competition! I just want to set up the scale of the amount of work we have put into it. So much that we didn't really have a summer last year because of the never ending work. This summer we planned for more work time, more relaxing time, and well planned travel time.

And today we got to see that go to crap.

You see, we so smarty-pants sent in the ten bucks and soil sample to the UVM Extension Center for our soil report. It came back off the charts. Our PH is 7.4 and the organic matter and all levels are pushing excessive. We knew our soil was good, we also knew we needed to build up the soil levels again - the ground dips probably due to the large amounts of clay and rocks we have removed. So we took our soil report to a place in Hinesburg and patiently waited our turn to ask about what we should buy. We thought we would get compost, but wasn't sure if we should choose topsoil instead since our organic matter was already so high.

One of my biggest pet peeves is being treated like a kid who doesn't know what she's doing. And at this place that's how we were treated. Instead of having a serious conversation with us about what would be best for our garden, we were treated like little bouncy bounce bounces who, like, want to, like, have a garden because it's, like, so cool. We were even told we'd have to pay for delivery when we rolled in there with The Mitch's bad ass truck. Duh.

Regardless, we stupidly did not follow our instinct (which we would have for sure if we hadn't gotten that damn soil test) and instead of getting compost, spent a good penny on a yard of topsoil. Big mistake - BIG.

Now the just-last-week beautiful mound of dirt, excitingly awaiting the plants I purchased this weekend (on a very vibalicious vibe which I will have to talk about when I am not so agro), is a gross palette of clay. And impossible to work even with it being dry. Kiss so much of our hard work goodbye and hello more time having to work. Needless to say, I am pissed.

Sometimes I really have issues with getting older and losing my receding hotness, but other times (like right now) I look forward to being older so I can experience less situations like the one I just went through. As I have said for years - everybody judges.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vermont Maple Vibes

Spring is here!!!!!!! This is so exciting and May is by far my most favorite month. The Charlotte Farmhouse is opened up for spring. The porches are all decorated and our gardens are started and we've gotten in some fantastic landscaping. I have been taking pictures and my list of blog topics continues to wonderoursly grow, but before I get ahead of myself, I need to wrap up a few Vermont Vibes loose ends...

The glorious spring does not come easily in Vermont and between the white chill of winter and the green, yellow, pink, and red foliage of spring is our fifth season - mud season to some and maple sugarin' season to others. Every March (when my bones get a year older) I make sure I get in some maple sugarin' vibes - driving around checking out sugarhouses, buying Vermont maple products, and chatting with different folks I meet along the way. I try to follow the billows of smoke, but sometimes I get distracted by Vermont's backroads and all the beautiful, fun, and sometimes downright funny things to look at.

The Mitch and I were graced this season with the presence of our good friend who follows anything awesome and we were determined to show him Vermont Vibing is awesome!

Anyway, The Mitch, Shawn, and myself piled into the Vibe and headed East - we traversed some of our favorite Vibe routes in attempts to follow the billowing smoke. We took the backroads through Middlesex (definitely some "funny" out that way) and through the outskirts of Montpelier onto the beautiful Route 12. While we were immensely enjoying our "vibe," at one point our buddy said, "Guys, this is so awesome. I am having an awesome time. But where is the maple sugar?"

Luckily I knew the creme de la creme of maple sugarin' - Morse Farm - was somewhere in the vicinity so we really backroaded it and made it to Morse Farm in enough time to walk through the woods a bit, check out the neat displays and exhibits, chat with Burr Morse himself about the season and watch him boil some sap, do some maple shopping, and sit down for some sugar-on-snow.

I have had the doughnut and pickle before, but The Mitch and Shawn had not. We all opted to exclude the pickle and afterward realized what a bad mistake that was! You see, sugar-on-snow (pouring hot maple syrup over snow) and the doughnut on the side is like maple crack overload. When we got in the Vibe with our tummies we all groaned, "Now I know why they have the pickle!" Why a pickle? Well, looking in my own cabinet of what is the last preserved food leftover from the harvest - always a few jars of pickles. So I would imagine when Vermonters had their fill of maple sweetness, they probably grabbed the first sour thing they saw and my guess is it was the last jars of pickles sitting on the shelf. This sparked a great discussion about life in Vermont years ago and we soon forgot about our ailing stomachs.

Our friends approve: "Guys, Vermont Vibing is so awesome - I approve!"

For additional Vermont maple sugaring stories, check out the recent New York Post article I helped arrange!