Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Going away, even for a short trip, can be an awakening. My time in Vermont was not quite long enough but well worth the effort. Vermont is a foodies paradise and localism reigns supreme. My first trip to Burlington, 7 years ago, was to the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese. I feel in love with the people and the countryside. Oh yes...............and the cheese!

Since returning home, my family and I have been enjoying a two year old Shelburne Farms Cheddar, and a Lazy Lady creation, a lovely bloomy rind called La Roche. I have a Vermont Shepherd aged sheep milk and an aged Doe's Leap goat milk tomme. Forgive me for bragging! These are of course, being rationed out, one bite at a time. Although tomorrow night the students of my cheesemakers class are in for a treat. I bought enough of the Vermont Cheddar to share.

I went to the Farmers' Market in Burlington. What a treat! The vendors there display their vegetables, breads, cheese and other provisions with skill and style. Beautiful lettuce, turnips, beets, carrots, rustic breads and more. We had some of the handcrafted bread for dinner tonight. It traveled well. The best thing about the market was the obvious pride of the farmers. Hats off on a job well done.

I came back home with a new enthusiasm for small scale agriculture. Sometimes I wonder if we are on the right track here at our place, Indigo Meadows. It is easy to get bogged down in the day to day and forget to enjoy the process of getting from where we are to where we want to be.
When I got back home and pulled into the driveway, I saw the remains of this year's garden, the newly planted apple trees and the woodpile I came to a new appreciation of our progress here on what was a bare piece of land a mere two years ago. Thanks Vermonter's on providing insights and inspiration.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Autumn in Vermont

I am living a dream, Autumn in Vermont. I am writing a book for Voyageur Press entitled, "Homemade Cheese" so Vermont is the perfect place to connect with artisan style cheesemakers. Today's visits included Does Leap and Lazy Lady, both small farmstead creameries; excellent examples of innovation, hard work and strokes of pure genius.

Goats have to be the most photogenic, interesting and challenging creatures on the face of the earth. I read a book quite some time ago that had a profound effect upon me and my desires for a small farm. The book, "How to Live on Almost Nothing and Have Plenty" by Janet Chadwick helped me to set a course. Janet wrote about her family, her farm, her mistakes and victories. She used the word "winning" to describe the personalities of her goats. I have never forgotten that use of that particular word and I would have to strongly agree, winning indeed.

The cheesemakers here are making something that goes far beyond food. Their creations have moved on to an art form. The people who do this work are generous with their time, their products and their ideas. I have always found farmers to be an interesting lot. Some are drawn to it simply as a vocation. For a happy few the farm becomes a lifestyle, a passion and a center. Those are the kind of folks I met today.

The scenery here is breathtaking. Today I got lost but I really didn't care. I found myself climbing to Stowe, surrounded by color, mountain streams and waterfalls. Being lost was perfectly fine. Rarely, does nature draw one to the point of such emotion that tears are close, but I have to say today I was at that point. All the words used to describe beauty fall short of capturing the intense color, the scents in the air and the essence of Vermont. Days like this are a gift to be sure.