Wednesday, March 10, 2010

it’s mud season! hooray!


I’m only sorta kidding. One of the joys of warmer weather is that for once, I don’t have to wear boots – I can wear Actual Shoes. I’m at the point in the year where I don’t even lace up my boots, anyway – I just shove the laces down in there (as shown above) and clomp around.

Let’s go for a drive!


First, the pleasures of the driveway. Here’s one of the yellow birches up the hill from the house. One of my favorite trees! They glow.


Looks like the compost barrel lost out to the snow plow. Ooops! That’s OK – it was starting to crack, anyway. From here, I can hear redwinged blackbirds out on the margins of the pond. That’s about ten days earlier than I remember hearing them last year. Don’t know what they sound like? Click here. The males get here first, and they’re busy sorting out turf issues before the females show up.


While we’re over here by the compost, let’s turn around for a view of the house.  We are experiencing Deck Lust these days – we’re really looking forward to spending time out there!


OK, here we go: heading out toward the main road. I’m in the Escape, I’ve got 4-WD turned on, and I am still shimmying all over this road. My Civic coupe is in the garage, where it’s been since mid-December – it wouldn’t be able to hack this.  I’m headed out for groceries, by the way. And various other errands. We’ll skip over all that, and pick up the journey on the way home, in downtown Putney – about seven miles from here.


Here’s a cool project that started last summer. The left-most part of this entire huge structure – the part with four big windows, and one up in the gable –  is the original house. It used to be right up against the road, under a huge sycamore tree. They gutted the whole thing down to the core timbers, dug a new foundation, and moved it away from the road at least fifty feet. Then then built that enormous barn to the right, and the long, low piece that connects the two. You so seldom see new construction that’s in the style of the oldest houses around here, so this has been pretty fun to watch.


We’re probably a mile or so at most away from all that, and here’s one of a couple examples in a row of what I mean: farmhouse on the left by the road, with a long stable connecting it to a huge barn.

After this we dip into the woods for a while.


Like so. This is one of my favorite parts, heading the other direction, because it’s slight downhill, just a little windy, and you can just let it fly.


Eventually, we come out of the tunnel of woods. I know this picture doesn’t look like much, but this is a wonderful little place. There’s a tiny wetland on the right side of the road here, and when it’s time for the spring peepers, this place is just singing at night. Click here to hear what this will be like. 


Just past this, we come to the dividing line between Westminster West, and Putney. That’s what that blurry blue sign on the right is all about.


We go for a while along the edge of a hill on the left, with working fields on the right.


We come to High Meadows Farm. These guys raise herbs, and some veggies and flowers. We are entering Jersey Cow territory here – this spot is where they cross the road from the barn to the pasture in the summer. Jerseys are the sweetest looking cows of all.  Their milk is super high in butterfat, so it’s used in premium products – cheese, ice cream, etc.


Here’s a Jersey heifer, in case you haven’t seen them. This particular girl is a local – this picture was taken from the annual Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro. Hence, the flowers around her neck. Isn’t she adorable?

Moving right along, we skip past a turn off for another couple of farms – one of which has a CSA we’re planning on joining this year. We then come to the Ranney-Crawford House B&B.


Just past the B&B is another farm, Livewater – this one, devoted to organic, grass fed goodness. A couple of years ago, we were driving along at night and we saw a heifer hoofing it along the road right where this picture was taken. They get an itch to wander, I guess – a few years ago, a handful of heifers busted through a fence and disappeared for a few weeks. They were roughing it.


The view from Livewater Farm. This is an incredible view in the spring and summer – wherever you see snow, here, those fields are just a brilliant, emerald green, well into November if there isn’t snow by then. The curve of hill in the distance is part of Patch Farm – they make a wonderful sheep cheese, Vermont Shepherd. The matriarch of the family is a Westminster Justice of the Peace – she’s the one who married us. Thanks, Beverly!

Both Livewater and High Meadows offer raw milk for sale. I haven’t worked up the courage to drink it. On the one hand, I’ve had the most delicious raw milk before – in the Asturias region of Spain when I was a kid – but on the other, family lore has it that my mother’s mother nearly bit the dust from ungulate fever caused by drinking raw milk way back when. Anyway. Back to our drive.


Swooping down the hill after Livewater we come to South Valley farm – veggies and flowers – we signed up with their SCA last summer. This is the owner’s house, here. By now, we are within two or three miles of our house. This is where I turn and go on a dirt road when I’m doing my five or six mile loop runs.


Getting even closer to home – a big white barn, until recently part of a working dairy farm. The guy that owns it stores MG’s in it and I see him tooling around in them on pleasant days.


Entering the homestretch, before the booming metropolis that is the hamlet of Westminster West… We’re a mile from home…


Tread carefully here at this time of year – the side of the road is littered in dog poop…










Voila! Downtown Westminster West. Just to the right of the snow pile is one of those signs that tells you how far away NYC, Rome, Timbuktu, and the South Pole are. Very helpful – I do tend to get disoriented easily. The tiny cottage in the center of the picture is the library. We proceed – we’re a half mile from home.


There, on the hill – can you see it? It’s our house!


Here, I’ll crop it to make it easier. It freaks us out a little that you can see the house from the road. A few years ago, the original house was much darker, smaller, of course, and hidden from view by dozens and dozens of 80-year old pine trees that we’ve since had removed.


Here’s the final approach to our driveway. These puddles are deep – the splashes go as high as the top of the windows.


It won’t be worth going to the carwash for weeks. When we tell potential houseguests it’s not worth visiting until May at the earliest, this is what we’re referring to.




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