|The Grand View|
We ended our first day with Kim's scrumptious tomato pie (see the recipe here), and enjoyed getting to know her and Luke, her son. As we settled into our tent-nest that night, the two barn kittens curiously pounced on us through the tent fabric, startling Randy with a well executed swat to the head. After our feline friends turned in for the night, we learned that camping in Vermont in September can be a chilly affair, and woke up to a crisp frost validating our chattering teeth.
|Tara and her charge|
With some hot cereal and tea in our bellies, we set out to feed and water all the animals for our first chores of the morning. First came the chickens, about 12 hens and a new rooster who had who had successfully completed his first crow that morning. They were all housed in a very impressive mobile chicken coop that was constructed by Chuck, Kim's husband and co-farmer, and the two previous WWOOFers. Next up were the dozen or so sheep and their two llama guardians. Llamas possess a wonderful natural instinct to herd and protect flocks of sheep. Kim had told us the story of when all the lambs were a few weeks old and Tara the llama would entertain herself by gathering them all up and moving the miniature flock around the pasture, dispersing and re-collecting them for hours. Then we checked on the two male sheep, Bob the wether and the ram. We found an unpleasant surprise waiting for us in the males' water bucket. Chuck and Kim had been trying various methods to catch a troublesome rodent; and apparently have-a-heart and poison are not as effective a as a good ol' fashioned bucket of water, as we found the culprit suspended in the males' water. It was obvious why the two barn kittens had not dispatched the rat, seeing as it was half their size. After the undulants were taken care of, we fed the angora rabbit. The German angora is the only type of angora rabbit that does not shed, so they have to clip her once a year, a process the rabbit does not mind. Last on our list was the four pigs, Luke's annual moneymaking endeavor.
After finishing chores the following day we began the task of clearing some brush and trees to enlarge a roadside pasture. Randy enjoys taming new spaces for farming, while Holly finds value in the wildness. Using a chainsaw we felled quite a few trees, some up to 25 feet tall that will be good firewood. When the chainsaw finally ran out of gas, we switched gears and worked on scraping paint in preparation for repainting their south-facing wall. Chuck said that in Vermont it works best to repaint one wall a year and take the fifth year off. The scraping was uninterrupted except for Tess' frequent solicitation for a game of fetch. As a border collie her definition of "fetch" is bringing you a stick, and running and hiding until you throw it. She would sometimes deposit sticks as small as a piece of bark mulch at our feet, expecting a quick game. After work, Holly lounged in the sun reading while Randy went for one of his meandering jogs. While going around "the block" (a 5 mile loop), he came across a rafter of turkeys, and was surprised by a wild pheasant. He was back just in time to enjoy a delicious dinner of homemade pizza.
|Relocated sheep shed, all 1000 lbs of it|
|Josie inspects the workings of a cow|
|Blacksmithin' a ferrule|
And so after our third time returning to Barre in 2 months, we set out to continue our Vermont leg, hoping to regain the flow of our journey.