Well it’s official, we found the best campsite in Vermont.
Okay, so it’s not really a campground…it’s our friend’s yard, but it sure has been a nice spot to park our house. In fact, we liked it here so much that we extended our reservation into a second week — thankfully they had an opening :) All joking aside, not only has this been a beautiful and relaxing place to call home, but it’s also been great spending so much time with our long time friends, Gretchen & Michael.
They moved into this 19th century farmhouse not long after we left Vermont, and since then have been hard at work making it their own — which for them means planting lots of flowers and a huge vegetable garden.
It’s especially pretty around here in the evening when the sun gets low in the sky and a glow creeps over the yard.
I don’t typically think of Vermont as having spectacular sunsets. I guess because for the most part there’s always trees or mountains in the way, but here in the Lamoille River Valley the sunsets are pretty incredible.
It’s easy living around here. They go to work and school in the morning and we stay in the Airstream and do our work. At some point in the afternoon we all convine for dinner, or just some hanging out time. It’s also been fun spending time with their two kids, Sydney and Tosh. We’ve know then both since they were babies and have enjoyed getting to know them as older kids. One of the first things Sydney told me when we arrived was that she recently helped her mom bake an apple pie. So I put her skills to the test and we made a pie together. Although, judging by these photos it looks like I made her do all the work. I guess I must have helped a little, but the truth is that she’s got this pie thing down.
Not to be outdone by our tasty pie, the other apple-icious activity around here was Cider Fest 2015, an annual cider pressing party put on by friend’s of Gretchen and Michael. They extended the invitation to us and we (okay, it was mostly Tim) pitched in by helping collect apples the day before the party. Apparently, it’s a good year for apples and all the trees are loaded to the max with fruit. Since the apples don’t need to be perfect for cider, Tim & Michael got to work shaking the trees and collecting the apples on a tarp.
It was a pretty successful method, and eventually the entire back of the truck was filled.
On the day of the party we arrived to find many more apples all ready to be ground up and pressed into cider. Because you can never have too many apples, we also piled into their wagon and went to collect more.
The cider press is the antique kind that you hand crank to grind the apples, and then press to make the juice. Both the kids and adults took turns cranking for many, many hours.
It didn’t take long for the cider to start flowing.
The leftover apple mash was fed to the resident cows and pigs. This is real working farm where they raise organic pigs, Icelandic sheep, organic chicken and grass-fed Angus beef cows. If you ever find yourself in northern Vermont and want some all natural, pasture raised local meat, the Old Homestead Farm is definitely the place to go.
As the night wore on the cider was transferred to an assortment of jugs that people brought along, as well as a large wooden cask that will be saved and made into hard cider for next year. No one kept an accurate count of how much cider was produced, but one estimate put it at around 60 gallons!
And the fun didn’t end there. We had a giant feast which included many side dishes and deserts, along with fresh fried chicken and grilled steaks form the farm, an apple shaped piñata for the kids, and two kinds of hard cider from last year’s party for the adults. Good times all around. Kind of makes us want to come back next year…
Aside from having fun with apples, we also got out for a small hike up to Sterling Pond this week. This was one of our favorite local hikes when we lived in the area, and it was fun to go back after so many years.
The pond is at the top of Sterling Mountain which is part of the Smuggler’s Notch Ski Area. If you hike around to the north side of the pond and make your way over to the top of the Sterling lift line you can look down into the valley where we once lived.
That’s about it for this week. I think with picking, pies, and cider making we’ve exhausted all the apple activities, but it is still just the beginning of the season, so who knows what next week will bring.