DIY

Sweetness of the Season!

Fresh cider from the apple trees at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

Fresh cider from the apple trees at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

What a difference a few months makes! When we last checked in our flowers were in full bloom, we were swimming in the pond, and enjoying everything summer has to offer. But, this is New England and just as soon as you get fully comfortable in one season, another comes knocking at the door! I know everyone likes summer to be just a little bit longer, but I personally love the changing of the seasons. Sure, the "to do" list might not have been fully complete; but each season brings its own fun activities and events, and makes you appreciate each season in its own special way. 


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Fresh Cider!

Our guests enjoy local treats from close to home, like cider from our apple trees!

Shortly after our last blog post we acquired an apple press in order to make our own apple cider. We spent a few days exploring the apple trees scattered across our property and collected a few large barrels of apples. After that we got to work grinding them up and pressing them into delicious apple cider! The first batch came out a little tart, but we are still perfecting our recipe! As an added bonus, we gave all the leftover ground up apples to a local farm down the road to feed to their goats! 

We have a wide variety of heirloom apple trees on the property at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

We have a wide variety of heirloom apple trees on the property at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

Also this fall we made a quick afternoon trip over to the East Charlotte Tractor Parade. A truly Vermont event, the parade and festival is timed around the end of harvest season and features a pie eating contest, local vendors and music, and the main event: a stream of about 200 tractors of all sizes and ages rolling down the street. On the way home we stopped in at a family run apple orchard and I had one of the best apple donuts of my life! It had just come out of the fryer so was nice and crispy, then they put it in a dish and topped it with a maple creemee. A tractor parade, cider donuts and maple creemee? I'm not sure how more Vermont you can get. I think I was even wearing a flannel shirt! 


Quite the festive scene at the East Charlotte Tractor Parade!

Quite the festive scene at the East Charlotte Tractor Parade!

Just as soon as you get content with the seasons though... 

Fresh snow at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

Fresh snow at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

Sure enough, Mother Nature decided we had enough of fall and decided it was time to throw some winter at us. It was an unusually snowy November here in the Green Mountains, but in my book a fresh blanket of snow is just as pretty as the flowers we grow all summer (and i don't have to work for it!) Vermont is a skier’s paradise right now with relatively moderate temperatures and a thick blanket of fresh natural snow.

Snowed in at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

Snowed in at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast!

If snowshoeing is your preference (as it is mine) we have begun to carve out a network of trails across our property so guests can get out and enjoy themselves! We'll have some hot cocoa ready for you when you get back! 

With the holidays approaching and the end of the year upon us, we have been spending some time reflecting upon what an incredible time we have had this year at the Bed and Breakfast. Through the seasons, we continue to be grateful for the incredible guests who we have met since we opened our doors in 2015. Thank you!

We are full of good cheer and the magic of Christmas!

We are full of good cheer and the magic of Christmas!

Wishing you the best this holiday season, from our family to yours!

- Luke & Carin McCarthy






Winter Adventures Off the Beaten Trail

View of Mt Ellen and Mt Abraham, from Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

View of Mt Ellen and Mt Abraham, from Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

For those winter travelers looking for an outdoor activity this winter that is easy on your budget and will get your heart pumping, we have a secret in our backyard. Since the Appalachian mountain “gaps” or highway passes over the Green Mountains close over the winter, they make a great avenue for winter hiking and advanced sledding.

A great place to try out winter hiking and sledding is Mount Philo. Looking out over the Lake Champlain basin, the little knoll in southern Chittenden County offers epic views and a fun winding trail up and down the hill. After sliding down, we recommend that you have a pint (or growler) at Fiddlehead, a pie at Folino’s Flatbread, or go for a wine tasting at Shelburne Vineyard.

For those adventurers brave enough to give it a try, the section of road that traverses Lincoln and Warren, known to locals as the Lincoln Gap, is worth every heartbeat of the hike up and the adrenaline rush down. Some come to sled, others to back country ski, and some even to hike up on snowshoes to Mt. Abraham (accessible by the Long Trail which runs across the top of the pass).

Get cozy by the fire at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

Get cozy by the fire at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

I recommend using a hard plastic sled or a “jump jack” reconfigured ski sled, rather than an inflatable tube, as you can better control the speed and direction. The 20% grade is ridiculously steep, and at the top, it pitches to a punishing 24% grade. The pitch of the mountain road will really get your speed up, so it’s important that you wear a helmet.   Clearwater Sports in Waitsfield rents Mad River Rocket sleds for $15/day. They also offer a guided “Rocket-Shoeing Adventure”  snow-shoe-and-sledding day trip up Lincoln Gap with the rocket sleds for $55/person.

When you’re ready to warm up, we recommend getting a pint at the Bobcat Café or setting up at the delightful bar at Mary’s Restaurant, in Bristol. For guests who want to relax by the fire at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast, the new owners at the nearby Jerusalem Corners Country Store have revamped their menu and now offer delicious pizza, soups and sandwiches to order.

Winter is a great time to visit because the tourism scene is quieter and the local-food scene is always in season. There are great beer and wine tours nearby, and guests can enjoy tasting the artisan flavors of handcrafted spirits.

Mountain view from the guest rooms at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

Mountain view from the guest rooms at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

Many of our guests inquire about visiting local cheese makers and we are excited that the International Cheese Festival has just announced their 2018 festival dates, August 11th & 12th. You can also explore our interactive google map to view listings of local cheese making farms and tasting rooms.

We are also looking forward to the upcoming Maple festivals that make visiting at this time of year extra sweet.

Need an excuse to visit? We’ll be happy to help you craft one.

-Carin McCarthy

Vermont Bed and Breakfast: History, Present and Future

The view of Camel's Hump mountain, to the north, from Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm. (Notice the deer at the center of the field, by the stand of trees and shrubs.)

The view of Camel's Hump mountain, to the north, from Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm. (Notice the deer at the center of the field, by the stand of trees and shrubs.)

When Carin and I moved into this house in early 2015 we moved into our dream home. The first day we looked at it there was a fresh blanket of snow and the sky was so clear that the peak of Camel's Hump mountain was so defined it was practically calling for us to go hike it. On the spine of the Green Mountains to the right, you could almost see the top ski lift of Mad River Glen spinning around. We walked in the house and were met with the large field-stone fireplace in the living room and we had the same reaction I'm sure many of our guests do; that of relaxation, tranquility, and (for us anyway) a desire to spend the rest of our lives here.

A snowy day at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

A snowy day at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

The hearth in the Great Room, at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

The hearth in the Great Room, at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

Interestingly, this house didn't always have that fireplace we love so much, or even the front porch. When this house was first built in the 1870's it resembled more of a small Cape Cod style house sitting on a fraction of what is now a rather large footprint.

The Young family, Luthera and Russell, first moved to the property sometime shortly thereafter and worked the 500 acre property adjoining the house. They maintained a heard of milking cows, and a large barn across the street where the town road turn-around is located today. Each morning they would milk the herd by hand and put the milk in the shed across from the house, where it was kept cool until it could be picked up. There was a second carriage barn behind the house where a small shed now stands. One of their children, Ralph Young, was born in 1925.

When the Young family moved on, and the farm was no longer being worked, the house underwent a few major renovations. It's unclear exactly when, but somewhere along the way the house was expanded to accommodate a larger living room, and a full second floor was added. At some point in this time frame the field stone fireplace was added. The entire front of the house was re-worked to have an almost Greek-revival feel with pillars stretching from the ground all the way to the roof.  For some time, the house itself was being used as a ski dorm with several small rooms upstairs. We have enjoyed having some of the former residents' family come and stay with us. Hearing their stories and memories of the place has been a gift.

The start of spring at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

The start of spring at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

Over time, the majority of the land was divided and the house went back to use as a single family residence, until the early 2000's when another major renovation took place. The porch was reconfigured to take advantage of the beautiful mountain view. The pillars were boxed in to create two large guest rooms upstairs and the entire back half of the house was added on, where the kitchen and garage are today.

We are fully aware that this house has significant history. Not just for the individuals who poured their hearts and souls into it over the years, but for the town as a whole. As the current caretakers we want any changes that we make to not only accommodate our guests and our own future at the house, but also keeping the extensive history of the house in mind.

Energy efficiency renovation at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

Energy efficiency renovation at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

This spring, when the bed and breakfast is closed, we are embarking on a small modernization and energy efficiency project. All the windows and siding on the front of the house will come off so we can add some insulation, replace older windows for a more energy efficient style, and install sturdier siding. These improvements will keep our guests a little cozier in the winter, improve energy efficiency and go a long way toward extending the longevity of the house.

Welcoming entryway at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

Welcoming entryway at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm.

Ralph Young, who was born here in 1925, passed away in 2014 and we hope he, and all the other former occupants of this house, appreciate the love and care currently being put into this wonderful home. We love sharing the experience that this property provides to our guests and we are happy to take good care of it and call it home.

-Luke McCarthy

Verdant Vermont: The Growing Season Begins!

It's been a little over a month since our last blog post and things have been happening fast around here! As we mentioned, we have started our own little fruit orchard in one of our fields. So far we have 5 Peach trees and 4 Pear trees planted, and we have 2 Plum trees sitting in the driveway waiting for the yard to dry out a little so we can drive over it without making a mess of the lawn. Eventually we will get a 3rd Plum tree to make the orchard a little more symmetrical, but that may wait until next year. Hopefully if all goes well in the next few years we will be whipping up some peach cobbler or plum preserves... or perhaps some Perry? (Pear Cider.) We are excited to add new fruits to the breakfast menu at our B&B and serve local fruits that we have grown on the property! Food is better when it's so fresh you can still taste the sunshine!

Our new plum trees, making their way to the orchard!

Our new plum trees, making their way to the orchard!

Seedlings, safe and warm inside!

Seedlings, safe and warm inside!

The little seedlings we started a few months ago are itching to get into the garden. Admittedly, I started them too early. Last year, by this time, things were dry and pretty warm. This year things are still a little too soggy, and the nighttime temperatures are still dipping a little too low to get them out. (Chilly nights make for great sleeping weather!) But that's OK, they are perfectly cozy in the little greenhouse with all of their friends. Eventually the peppers and tomatoes will be placed in the garden under the gardening hoops you can see in the picture below. Then a white fabric gets stretched over the hoops and secured. This will keep the plants warm, and protected from the elements while they get settled in and grow roots. 

The greenhouse plays a key role in keeping our plants safe and warm in the early season!

The greenhouse plays a key role in keeping our plants safe and warm in the early season!



While we grow 100% of our vegetables from seed, space in the house, as well as time commitments on the part of yours truly, prevents us from growing everything from seed. While we still grow a fair amount of flowers from seed, including zinnias, sunflowers, and petunias; and divide and overwinter our dahlias every year, there are some things we rely on local greenhouses to provide. This last weekend we were visiting family down in the Lebanon, NH area and stopped by one of our favorite nurseries, Edgewater Farm. We picked up some basil and mint for the wonderful breakfasts we will be serving up, and we also picked up some impatients for the flower pots on the front porch. I also snuck some creeping phlox and delphinium into the shopping cart for around the pond.  I can't resist flowers!

We prepare the soil with compost, then overlay it with ground cover to keep the weeds down without using chemicals. The hoops are covered with fabric to provide shelter to young plants in the early season.

We prepare the soil with compost, then overlay it with ground cover to keep the weeds down without using chemicals. The hoops are covered with fabric to provide shelter to young plants in the early season.

Over the next few weeks all of this will be going into the ground and the property will start showing it's true colors. I can't wait!

-Luke McCarthy

Spring in Vermont: Starting Seeds and Boiling Maple Sap

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Spring is my second favorite season in Vermont. And it's a very close second. There is so much going on here at the farm in late March and early April! The landscape is coming to life, and we are getting busy with preparation for yet another successful season at our Bed and Breakfast. 

Example of early preparation of the garden, at the start of the growing season 2016

Example of early preparation of the garden, at the start of the growing season 2016

We try to be fairly self-sufficient at the B&B. We have our own flock of chickens and ducks for eggs, we make our own maple syrup, and we try to grow most of our own fruits and veggies we use around the bed and breakfast. Back in mid-February we had a good run of weather to collect maple sap, which we boiled down into a few gallons of syrup. Right around the same time I started a whole bunch of pepper and tomato seeds. This is pretty early to be starting any kind of seed in Vermont, but as you'll read later on we start early because we take some precautions in order to set plants out a little earlier than normal. (Normal for our mountainous area is right around Memorial Day.) Anyway, after we boiled some sap and started some seeds, mother nature had a good laugh at us and it turned cold and snowy again. The sap stopped flowing and I questioned my sanity starting so many seeds early. 

Collecting maple sap from the trees

Collecting maple sap from the trees


Then, at the end March, we saw Robins so heavy with eggs they could barely fly, and those that had already laid their eggs were busy searching for food to feed their hatchlings. Spring had officially arrived at the B&B!

By now the temperature swings are perfect for maple sap collection and those seeds I planted in mid-February are about 6 inches tall. We keep them under a combination of LED and fluorescent lights near one of the baseboard radiators to keep some heat in and they love it. They will soon outgrow their 4 inch pots, as well as require more light than we can give them indoors.

Indoor seed starter station

Indoor seed starter station

Just today I went out and shook the cobwebs out of our little 6 foot by 6 foot greenhouse. In another week or so all of the large seedlings will move out to the greenhouse where they will enjoy 80 degree days and a small electric heater will keep them at around 50 degrees at night. With almost two months until our official "plant out" date, how can we keep them in pots for that long you ask? Well, as soon as the ground thaws out a bit in the garden we will go out and cover it with black fabric, and then cover a few areas with row cover, or a mini hoop-house. This will heat up the soil where plants like melons, peppers and tomatoes are planted; and it will also provide up to 7 degrees of frost protection at night for the seedlings. With this system, we can plant up to two weeks earlier than normal Vermont gardens. 

Greenhouse grow space

Greenhouse grow space

I will collect some sap today, and then tomorrow I'll take down all of our taps and buckets until next year. Taking the buckets off the trees is always bittersweet for me; while i love the process of collecting and boiling, by the time they are ready to come off I'm usually ready to move on to other things. Tending to the garden, planting the annual flower beds, regular maintenance, and this year we are planting an orchard with peaches, pears, and plums which should all be arriving in early May! Stay tuned for more on that later.

-Luke

B&B Winter Projects: Preparing for Summer Flowers

We love to grow flowers to put on the breakfast table or in our B&B's guest rooms. Even in the dead of Vermont winter, we are starting seeds or planning the flowers to plant in the seasonal garden beds. It takes some love and care to keep the gardens in line.

During our last post we mentioned that our Dahlia tubers that we placed into storage this winter began to mold a little and were generally not doing well. We are going to devote an entire post to Dahlias because not only do they add a huge burst of color to the Bed and Breakfast property every summer, but this flower in particular holds a special place in our hearts. 

Dahlias run the gambit from small, 1 inch diameter flowers on short stems; to flowers the size of dinner plates on massive stalks that need stakes driven into the ground in order to support their weighty heads. Whichever type of Dahlia you choose, they run the rainbow spectrum in color and eye popping appeal. This is why they line the banks of our pond and adorn the nightstands of our guestrooms when they are in season. Dahlias do, however, have one major drawback for Vermont growers. 

Native to Mexico, Dahlias are closely related to the Zinnia and Sunflower. Needless to say, they are a very tender annual and do not handle cold very well. While Zinnias and Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed each year, the Dahlia's root system is a group of meaty tubers that take time to become established. Therefore it isn't as easy as throwing a bunch of seeds in the ground each spring. Dahlia tubers can be purchased from any mail order seed catalogue, or even purchased at your local hardware store; but if you live in a climate such as ours, and you want to save your favorite Dahlia plants from one year to the next, certain precautions need to be taken so they can thrive in a Vermont garden.

At the first signs of frost their hearty stalks turn black with winter chill and they begin to die off. Before that frost reaches the ground, we snip off the blackened stalk and use a pitchfork to loosen up the soil around the mass of tubers. Once we can extract the tubers from the ground we rinse the mass off with water and set them out to dry for several days. The reason we had some mold popping up on our crop this year was twofold: I was impatient and didn't let them dry enough before putting the tubers into storage; and the storage container I placed them in did not have enough ventilation holes. 

Dahlia tubers, being prepared for winter storage

Dahlia tubers, being prepared for winter storage

Dahlias adorn the Blue Spruce Room bedside table.

Dahlias adorn the Blue Spruce Room bedside table.

Since there is a good 6-7 month stretch from killing frost to spring planting, these Dahlia tubers actually spend most of their life in storage, which means we need to be very careful about how and where they are stored. In years past I've placed them all in a cardboard box, separated by thin layers of newspaper, and placed them in the basement. This works well for many but here at the B&B our basement stays a little too warm. Ideally, they should be in storage conditions similar to a root cellar. Chilly, but never frosty. To meet these special conditions, our Dahlia tubers get stored in our garage for winter. I wanted to upgrade from the cardboard box to something more substantial this year, so we went out and got two large plastic totes to store everything in. Since Dahlias need to breathe, I drilled a few holes around the sides and top of the totes, and stored them just like I always had: with just a few pieces of newspaper in between them. 

Dahlia storage

Dahlia storage

After two weeks I went to check on them and lo and behold: MOLD! I knew right away what had happened. In the short time that they had been in storage, the extra moisture in the tubers came out and the few holes and sparse packing material were not enough to wick away the moisture. We were able to save them just in time! They all came out, got sprayed with 1:10 bleach solution, sat under a fan for a week, and we re-packed them for a long winter’s nap. This time I drilled many more holes in the containers and used a bag of pine shavings to pack in between the tubers. You want your packing material to pull extra moisture away from the tubers, but not pull TOO much moisture away from them. So now they sit in our garage. I make a point of checking them every other week to make sure they are still doing well; and waiting for their chance to be planted and enjoyed by our guests for another season.

-Luke McCarthy

A Sweeter Apple: Farm Fresh Food at the B&B

A Sweeter Apple: Farm Fresh Food at the B&B

Once Stout starts visiting the apple trees we know ripe fruit isn't far behind. So this morning I am looking up new Apple breakfast recipes we can try, and find some really good ones for our guests. So not only will our fall guests get some great apple products served up but they can enjoy a walk around the property and pick their own fresh apples while enjoying the fall foliage and views of the mountains. If our guests are really lucky, Stout might even show you her secret tree.

Green Thumbs Up & Super Local Food!

Green Thumbs Up & Super Local Food!

We've been enjoying fresh from the garden lettuce, peas, carrots and broccoli. In the next few weeks we will have tomatoes ripening, and all of the squashes will be the right size for picking. We will also pull up the garlic and begin drying it out.  Now, it's time to craft some new breakfast menu ideas with all of our fresh fruits and veggies!

Summer time and the living is easy!

Summer is in full swing!

We’ve had such an amazing start to the summer season! Vermont is greener than green and our garden is flourishing!  We are enjoying fresh fruits and veggies from the garden and planning B&B menus to share with our guests. In the next few weeks, we expect to have melons and some veggies ready to work into the menu.

The view from our front porch at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

The view from our front porch at Vermont Bed and Breakfast at Russell Young Farm

Updates from the farm:

Our strawberry towers have blossomed and born their first fruit! I’ve never tasted a juicier, more flavorful strawberry. We’re excited to share these delicious treats as part of our menu of breakfast offerings.

We planted blueberry and currant bushes, as well as a peach tree. While these won’t fruit for a few years, we’re excited to envision our guests walking the B&B property and enjoying a delicious tour of Vermont’s truly local foods.

Our brood is doing well. The chicks have grown into chickens! They are still figuring out their gangly bodies and exploring the lawn with great interest.  We are anticipating that they will be laying fresh eggs for the B&B by foliage season.  In the meantime, they are really funny. They spend most of the day stealing food from the ducks and keeping cool by rolling in the dirt. In the evening, they snuggle into the coop and – while they have spacious sleeping quarters – they all try to squeeze into one little nesting box together. It’s really funny to see. They have made us understand the term “all cooped up” in a new way.  They all appear to be female, so thankfully there hasn’t been any crowing or early morning wake up calls.

We had a funny story with the ducks. A few weeks ago, our neighbors approached us because they had found a little duckling that had been abandoned. Naturally, we took it in and tried to raise it with our ducks. It looked a little bit like a Wood duck, but we weren’t sure. It was a few weeks younger than the others, and they weren’t getting along so we had to keep them separate from the Pekins. After a few weeks of continued struggle, we started comparing images of the birds we suspected it might be. As it turns out, the little Wood duck was actually a Canadian goose! Our little "ugly duckling" seemed a little lonely with the ducks and chickens, which makes sense now. It had started presenting a little differently than the others, so we got curious and realized its true identity. Canadian Geese are federally protected, so we have re-homed it at a local rehabilitation center, where it was quickly adopted and warmly taken in by a true Mama goose.

The real ducks love to swim! They have their adult feathers now, and they spend much of the day jumping in and out of the water and then shaking their tail feathers, literally. While we have provided them with a little swimming pool, they sometimes take a refreshing dip in their drinking water.  One of the ducks is smarter than the others, and has figured out how to access the ramp to their coop with ease, so it always enjoys the freshest food and water. The others will figure it out soon enough, we hope!  It should be just a few months before they are also laying fresh eggs that we can use to make fresh baked goods for the B&B. Duck eggs are bigger and richer, so they are great for baking.

Our peonies are still popping in the garden and filling our guest rooms with aromatic scents of summer!  We have also planted a number of dahlias and other flowers for cutting along the edge of the pond. I’m excited to see them sprouting up and adding color to the landscape.

Dahlias, adorning the bedside table of the Blue Spruce Room

Dahlias, adorning the bedside table of the Blue Spruce Room

So! Sorry for the long-overdue update. We are busy enjoying the best of summer in Vermont and invite you join us.

-Carin McCarthy

Serving up Fresh VT Maple Syrup from the B&B: Small Batch DIY Production

A quick trip into town yesterday made one thing blatantly obvious: Spring is coming and sugaring season is upon us! On the way to Bristol, it seemed like every other pickup truck had a 300 gallon tank in the back with Vermont Maple sap sloshing around as they shuttled the sweet stuff from the tree stands to their boiling location. The mountains around us have a faint fog of wood smoke mixed with the sweet aroma of sap steam as it reduces to Maple syrup.

Making sap while the sun shines!

The more intense producers around here have 2,000+ gallon sap tanks sitting at the bottom of their hillside tree stands and will come around daily with their transport vehicles and ferry the sap off to be produced. Then again, when you run 13,000 taps as one producer near us does, you need fairly large storage tanks! As humble beginners, we run a few less than that. 

Vermont has an interesting history of cultivation of its forests and farmland that we see hints of even today. When white settlers first arrived, the land was mostly heavily forested. Land clearing proceeded and sheep herding and wool production became the mainstay of Vermont settlers. By the 1840’s, Addison County (where we have our Bed and Breakfast) was the leading wool producing area in the United States (Agriculture in Vermont). Many of the towns nearby still show their history, with mill buildings set along the river ways that once powered their fabric production. During the second half of the 19th century, sheep farming began to decline and was gradually eclipsed by the dairy industry. (What Ceres Might Say) For the places that aren't farm land, the northern climate and abundance of Maple trees makes Vermont a perfect location for syrup production.

 

As recently as 20 years ago, our property and all the acreage around us was used primarily for farm land. The land was clear cut and used to graze dairy cows and support other farm operations, which opened up beautiful views to the mountains along all sides of our Bed and Breakfast. Since the farmers sold their cows, the trees and forests have started to fill in but we still have an amazing view of the Green Mountains.

As a Vermont Bed and Breakfast, we serve up a lot of Maple syrup to our guests. A weekend getaway in Vermont isn't complete without a breakfast menu item with that maple sweetness cultivated across the hills of Vermont. We’re now in the process of planning and cultivating our land to support our goals for the future and for our BandB. We would like to make all of our own sap but given the fact that it takes 30 years for a Sugar Maple tree to be old enough to tap, the pickins are slim for working the trees. We have planted some new saplings and hope to be producing more and more over the years.

Our Mobile Sap Collector

This year we have about 15 taps going which, as of yesterday, have given us about 15 gallons of sap. We have the capacity for about 30 more taps but because of the historical land clearing, our maple trees are so spread out we really haven’t discovered a good way of collecting the sap yet. (Don't worry, I've been looking at ATV's and Tractors... that problem will be fixed soon!) So for now, we are perfectly content sticking with tapping just the couple of trees close to the house and using our little 50 gallon mobile collection tank set up. 

Reducing the sap to syrup!


Given the fact that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, the 7 gallons of sap I boiled last night yielded just a few cups. We’ll need to make some time over the next few days to boil all 15 gallons. Boiling 7 gallons from last night took the better part of 6 hours to reduce in our little turkey fryer. We’re still learning and perfecting our set up. If everyone around us is working with thousands of gallons, and we are only working with tens of gallons, does that make our Syrup artisan? I like to think so... It just tastes better local!

DIY Small Batch Maple Syrup

-Luke McCarthy

Planning for Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs

Spring is coming, which means it's almost time for the baby birds to arrive at our local hardware store!  We are excited to be raising a roost, so we put our order in early. We picked out some of the best layers they had to offer. They will arrive just after hatching and we'll raise them by hand and heat lamp until they are ready to go outside and move into their new coop! 

Here's a desciption of the hens (and ducks) who will be living on the farm and contributing to the fresh breakfast menu items we offer at the B&B!

Rhode Island Reds - This is one of the most famous and all time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, they have maintained their reputation as a dual purpose fowl through the years. Outstanding for production qualities, they have led the contests for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Reds. Our "production" strain is keeping up the fine reputation of this old favorite. Baby chicks are a rusty red color and the mature birds are a variety of mahogany red. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Golden Laced Wyandottes - The “ancestors” of Golden Laced Wyandottes originated in Wisconsin and were called Winnebagoes. By 1880 they received their present-day name. This variety is a beautiful combination of rich golden bay laced with lustrous greenish black. The general feather pattern is very similar to the Silver Laced Wyandottes. A beautiful bird for exhibition. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Silver Laced Wyandottes - The Silver Laced is the original Wyandotte and the other varieties were developed from it later with crosses on other breeds. It is an outstanding example of American poultry breeding ingenuity and is one of the most beautiful breeds we offer. It is colorful, hardy, and productive. The broad feathered, smooth fitting plumage is sharply marked. The general appearance is silvery white and lustrous greenish black as each feather is edged in a contrasting color. The close-fitting rose comb and good body size are valuable assets for winter laying. Cold weather doesn't seem to bother them at all as their hardiness and vigor keep them laying straight through the winter. They lay a nicely shaped, good sized egg, varying from light to rich brown and will set some. This is another excellent variety for exhibition. Baby chicks vary from almost black to light silvery gray and many have contrasting light and dark stripes on the back. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Araucanas - This unusual breed gets in name from the Indian tribe of Chile where they were first discovered.  Our chicks have some Araucana and some Ameraucana blood mixed and consequently are not for show but are beautiful chickens known for their ability to lay colored eggs of shades varying from turquoise to deep olive to shades of brown.  Each bird will typically lay a different shade of colored egg that will amaze your friends and make a wonderful "show and tell" type project for school.  Adults are of medium size with pea combs and our breeding stock are selected for their ability to produce colored eggs.  They exhibit a wonderful combination of colors and color patterns and 10 or 20 of these birds will make an absolutely beautiful laying flock that is extremely hardy and will be the talk of the town.  Baby chicks come in all colors, plain and fancy, just like the adults.  This is a unique breed and great fun to have when the colored eggs start coming.  (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

Golden Cornets - The Comet has been widely acclaimed in all areas of the world where brown eggs are preferred. The reason is simple. The Comet pullet is easily one of the finest brown egg layers available today. They mature early and lay eggs of excellent size and quality. She is an extremely quiet bird, that seems to be able to withstand the colder, non-insulated, laying houses of the small flock owner, better than most breeds. The Comet is a buff sex-link strain. The chicks may be sexed by color, pullets red-roosters white. When mature, the  Comet pullet is golden red in color, but has some white showing through in her neck and back. (Mt. Healthy Hatcheries)

Pekin Ducks - Originating in China in ancient times, White Pekins were brought to the Western World in the middle 1800’s. Their fine meat quality and egg laying ability quickly made them the first choice of American duck growers. Both the male and female are creamy white in color, yellow skinned, and very large breasted. The males carry a fall weight of 10 to 11 pounds and the females weigh 8 to 9 pounds. They are the easiest domestic ducks to pick and prepare for eating. (Murray McMurray Hatchery, The World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters)

We look forward to sharing updates about our little brood's progress. We expect them to arrive in early May. It will take a little while for them to adjust and be ready to lay fresh eggs but we'll be happy to prepare some new breakfast recipes with eggs to keep the farm flavors fresh and local. 

- Luke & Carin McCarthy

Vermont: Always a Good Bet...

Timing our sap collection and starting seeds in a bit of a gamble. We think we're lucky, win or lose!

There’s a lot to see and do in Vermont during the late winter months. From cheese tours, to breweries, visiting covered bridges and museums, or touring (and sampling) maple syrup production, there is something for all adventurers to taste and enjoy. So, don’t despair if you’ve planned your trip and the snow isn’t cooperating. We have lots of ideas about how to explore and enjoy the best of Vermont in this season. It’s a beautiful place in any season, and we feel lucky to live here and share it with guests who want to have a real getaway.