Monday, November 11, 2013

Snow Awesome

We've had snow two days in a row now!  I get to stay home with the boys today (Veteran's Day holiday), and Thurgood and Miles are taking full advantage of my time off.

We went on our morning walk at 6:30, then the boys had breakfast.  Immediately after Ben left for work, the boys demanded some playtime.  After about an hour of playing with the squeaky Kong football-tennis ball hybrid toy, I realized that they weren't going to give me any peace until we had a proper romp outside in the snow.  So, I put my snow boots on, and off we went.  Miles mostly wanted to play with his toy and chase me with it.  Thurgood opted for a walk through the woods for his second outing of the day.

This is the best toy ever.  It has an incredibly loud and long-lasting squeak, and it bounces like crazy.  It's also St. Bernard-tough.

Last "winter" in Virginia, we didn't even get enough snow to put in a globe.  Miles found a patch of ice one day on a shadowy patch of grass, and he rolled around on that little icy island like he was experiencing true ecstasy for the first time in his life.  I felt like a bad mom.  Raising Thurgood and Miles in the South was like keeping an alligator in Alaska -- generally a bad idea.

An abundance of trails to explore.

I think that all of us are excited about winter this year.  I look forward to making snow angels with Thurgood, ambushing Ben with snowballs, and watching Miles feast on fresh snow.  When my fingers freeze, I'll add some wood to the furnace and hang out with Miles while I work on a quilt.

The blueberry field this morning.

Yes, I know that the coming season will be intensely cold and challenging.  I know that I'll have to experience a full winter in Vermont before I can truly understand what the hell I've gotten myself into. But I'm not gonna be a Negative Nancy.  I'm gonna slap on some snowshoes and have me some fun. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Freedom and Unity

We made it!  I've been trying to write this post for a few weeks now, but whenever I sit down to do anything, the boys make me get up to play with them or go for a walk.  Yes, I'm blaming my procrastination on the dogs.  

The boys love the weather, the landscape, and the house.  They have a lot more energy, and Miles' skin problems and ear infection have completely cleared up.  Must be the air.  

Miles has his own little apartment here, so he no longer has the opportunity to antagonize his brother.  But don't worry, Miles won't be lonely in there.  He said he'd lease one of the rooms to me for a sewing studio.  Thurgood is enjoying the rest of the house, and he spends his down time stretched out on the bed, occasionally lifting an eyelid to look out the window.

Thurgood Morsel

Ben and I start our new jobs on Monday.  Though we'll be working outside of the home full-time, we'll still be able to let our freak flag fly on weekends and holidays.  Luckily, both of us are thrilled about our new careers.

Now let's get to the fun part.  Our new home place has about two dozen giant old apple trees scattered about.  We arrived just in time to harvest some of the later varieties.  Two of our loveliest new neighbors helped me pick (Thank you so much!).  We ended up with four bushels total.  If we had picked all the apples, we would have enough to feed two Asian elephants for an entire year.  

Most of the apples are tart, and some are sweet - a great combination for hard cider!    There are a lot of great resources out there for the home cider maker, so I won't give you a how-to (as I rarely do anyway).  I looked to the Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible, The Homebrew Helper, and Home Brew Hard Cider from Scratch on Instructables.com.  We don't have a cider press yet, so we used our juicer.

This is our first go at hard cider, so everything is an experiment at this point.  The process is not much different than brewing beer or making fruit wine, and all of the equipment overlaps.  

Oh yeah, I never gave a final review of our fruit wines.  Both the dry and sweet strawberry wines were decent and drinkable, but not really good enough to share with the world.  The blackberry wine was a little too good to share, and our blueberry peach wine is still aging in bottles.  

If you ever get a wild hair up your ass, I strongly recommend fermenting your own beverages.  It's not rocket science, but it can make you feel like a genius.  If you can read, you can brew!

Just so you know, we haven't just been sitting around on top of our thumbs watching airlocks bubble.  We managed to plant everything we brought with us!  That's seven varieties of garlic, 105 blueberry bushes (some are in nursery rows), six pawpaw trees, and five Asian pears.  Thanks to Ben's hard work and planning, we've begun a new micro-mini farm here in Vermont.

Baby blueberry bushes

We have a lot of work to do on the house.  Luckily, the majority of it is cosmetic.  Carpet is not a good idea when you have two St. Bernards, and the kitchen counters and some of the walls are pink!  The list goes on.  I'm looking forward to chipping away at these projects.  For now, our living room is our bedroom until we paint and change the flooring upstairs.

I'm looking forward to lots of new adventures, and meeting new people.  So far, I love everything here.

We miss our friends and family, but we don't miss the stinkbugs - they came with us!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From The Blue Ridge To The Green Mountains: Fat Bear Farm Begins A New Chapter

Fat Bear Farm is moving to Vermont!  We are embarking on this grand adventure with our two copilots, Thurgood Morsel and Miles Giles.  We're taking 100 little blueberry bushes, a few fruit trees, and beginning a new life on 27 acres in Orange, Vermont.

Unfortunately, our beloved chickens will not be making the trip with us.  However, they'll get to have an adventure of their very own.  Our best friends have been kind enough to give our hens a home.  They'll get to live out the rest of their lives in the company of several other chickens, peacefully coexisting with a  herd of rabbits.

Our new neighborhood

The three years we have spent on our Virginia farm have been educational and colorful, to say the least.  We moved into our Stuart home in June of 2010 and if you take a few moments to scan the pages of this blog, you'll see what we've been up to since the beginning of 2011.  From planting 1,000 asparagus crowns to raising baby chicks, our time here has been full of new experiences.

  Though we are sad to be leaving our dear friends behind, the relationships we have built will last a lifetime.  We're hoping that all of them will visit and maybe even make the move from VA to VT themselves!

This will be a fine place for blueberry bushes!

We are so excited to begin a new chapter of our lives in a place where:

 The unofficial state motto is, "We Do What We Want."
Thurgood and Miles can enjoy snow several months out of the year like all St. Bernards should.

Affordable healthcare is available for each and every resident.

Marriage equality is the law of the land, and gays and lesbians aren't treated as second class citizens.

There are more craft breweries per capita than in any other state.  Vermont has about 26 breweries (one for every 24,067 people).

There are MOOSE!

We can get the freshest Ben & Jerry's ice cream and enjoy the best maple syrup in the world.

Cheese is an art.

We can enjoy 52 state parks with our furry friends.

Confederate flags are not commonplace. 

I could go on for days about all the reasons we're making this move, but I think I'll just blog about all the awesomeness when we get there.  I'm still not sure if I'll start a completely new blog once we're settled, or if I'll simply continue this one.  Either way, everyone is invited to join us at Fat Bear Farm Vermont on the Interwebs!  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Have YOU Ever Seen the Rain?

Boy, have seen the rain!  It has rained eight days this month, and it's only the ninth day of the month!  It rained fifteen out of thirty days last month.  

Though the rain destroyed almost all of our strawberries (we only had two weeks of harvest), it has been quite a lovely thing for the blueberries.

 We grow about half a dozen blueberry varieties.  The first to ripen are a true treat.  They have delicate vanilla undertones that give them rockstar status around here.  We'll do our first harvest this Friday!

So, how do we know when they're sweet?  The berries are ready to pick when the base of the stem turns blue.  As you can see, the berries above are preparing themselves for market on Saturday.

Much to the birds' delight, we don't use wildlife netting on the blueberries.  We have so many bushes that it just wouldn't be practical.  Luckily, the birds have been kind enough to share the bounty with us.  Unfortunately for the deer, we do have an electric fence to keep them at bay. 

While watching the berries ripen, we've been keeping ourselves busy harvesting, drying, and cleaning garlic.  I've had a lot of fun making braids this week.  The garlic braids will be tagging along with the blueberries this weekend at market!

Monday, June 3, 2013


Aren't these little ones adorable?   I wonder if their mother is the same bird that nested atop our porch light last year.  Anyhow, she's definitely of the same species, whatever that may be.  It made me so happy to see them doing well this evening.  

What a face!

Can you see the Saint Bernard hairs in the nest?  Thurgood's and Miles' fur is always highly sought-after building material.

Safe and sound.

Sadly, tragedy struck the Mourning Dove nest last night.  A black snake got one of the two newly hatched Mourning Doves.  Ben was able to rescue the second chick, but the nest was completely empty this morning.  Mama Dove sat on her eggs for weeks without moving much at all.  She grew on me, and I admired her dedication.  I was very disappointed about the way things turned out for her family.
Damn, it's a rough life out there.