Chesterfield, New Hampshire
January 29th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
Sam's in Brattleboro 1940
One of the best things about Brattleboro , Vermont, which is 2 miles from the Inn, is Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters (Check out their web site at: http://www.samsoutdooroutfitters.com ). Sam’s is a Brattleboro landmark, and has occupied its half block of Main Street since the 1930′s. It was opened by the Borofsky family and is still is owned by the third generation of the Borofsky’s.
Sam’s is a great place to shop, for locals as well as people traveling through town. I have a friend from New Jersey who stops at Sam’s every time he visits us, to look for that one piece of fleece that he has to have. The prices are reasonable and the selection is great. Sam’s has everything from hiking boots to Carharrt jeans to fishing poles to ski jackets to long underwear to waders to yoga pants to guns. They have winter clothes for the entire family, as well as kayaks, canoes, cross country skis and snowshoes. In the summer, there are short and shirts of all kinds, as well as bathing suits and sandals. The store has multiple levels, connected by stairs, and rambles through the building. The popcorn machine , providing fresh popcorn to all customers on a self serve basis, is in the center of the store. The popcorn is a very helpful distraction when shopping with kids!
This weekend is Sam’s Pre-inventory sale and everything in the store is at least 20% off. I was delighted to find a pair of Merrill Gore-tex hiking boots at 20% off among the huge selection of women’s hiking boots and walking shoes in the basement of Sam’s. Then I climbed the stairs up to the men’s hunting section, past the popcorn machine, and down a couple of steps to the women’s clothing section. I tried on a Patagonia parka that was half price but the wrong color, and then found an alpaca sweater with a rolled collar that was 40% off. I managed to stop there, but keep thinking of the Smartwool sox that I should have gotten-maybe I’ll go back for another look this weekend!
September 28th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It all began 5 years ago at the Strolling of the Heifers Parade in Brattleboro, Vermont. I was standing on the sidewalk with my friend Linda, watching the beautiful Jersey and Holstein calves, heifers and cows walk past. All of a sudden , there was a different kind of animal in front of us, not a cow, not a goat, not a llama! It was then that I saw my first alpaca! They look a bit like a small llama, with long necks, big eyes, and very soft fleece. I fell in love!
I rushed home to call my younger brother who is a farmer in Hardwick , Massachusetts, to tell him how cute this alpaca was, and to suggest that he get some! His answer was : “You go first! ” He said that he had plenty of animals and , since I only had a few cats, it seemed that I should be the one to get the alpacas!
Our 10 acres of land is plenty for alpacas, who like about an acre of land for each 10 animals. They do need fencing to protect them from predators, and at least a 3 sided shelter so that they can be protected from the snow. They need to be sheared every 6 months or so, and eat only about a bale of hay each week, in addition to grazing in the field. They’d look so picturesque from the Inn, grazing serenely in the back meadow, ready for guests to wander out and talk to them! The only draw back was the price- a female alpaca can cost as much as $8,000 and up. So, the alpaca dream has languished, as we take care of more immediate concerns such as painting the Inn or college tuition for the kids.
Last Saturday, I saw a box ad on the front page of the Brattleboro Reformer that an “Open Farm” was being held at Wildwood Acres Alpacas up in Newfane. After I finished cooking breakfast, I drove up to see the alpacas. There were 11 in all, some brown, some white, some black, some younger, some older, living in a beautiful meadow with a barn built just for them. The owner showed me around, and introduced me to the alpacas. One of them let me pet him: we stood nose to nose while I petted his neck and then he put his head on my shoulder. I was in heaven!
So, the dream still lives, and I know that I can go and visit Wildwood Acres now and then, even if we don’t have our own alpacas yet!
April 27th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
One of my favorite things about Chesterfield is just up Welcome Hill from the Chesterfield Inn. As you come from Brattleboro, Vermont on Route 9, you’ll come to an intersection where, if you turn right on Cross Road, you’ll end up at the inn. If you turn left onto Welcome Hill Road, you’ll see the old cemetery, the Burying Ground, dating from 1772, with its weather beaten tombstones still standing in the rocky New Hampshire soil.
Follow the road up the steep hill, until it turns to dirt, and you’ll come to what the locals call The Daffodil Garden. It’s on the right side of the road, and on the side of the hill that slopes down to a wooded stream. The garden is part of someone’s yard, but they’ve been generous enough to notice that people come up the hill just to see the garden, so they’ve made the public welcome. There’s a place to pull over and park your car, and two park benches overlooking the garden, so you can sit and enjoy the flowers. The handwritten sign at the top of the path that leads into the garden says: “Please remember: no dogs, no running children, no picking (of course), open from 9 AM to 8PM.” There’s even a bound guest book to record your name and thoughts, protected from the rain by two metal trays and a rock to keep it all from blowing away.
The garden is a riot of spring flowers, in bright colors: yellow forsythia, yellow and white and orange daffodils, yellow narcissus, white dogwood, and pink azaleas, all connected by a meandering path that winds around the clumps of blooms. I like to come up when I have a minute to myself and just sit in the dappled light, letting the colors blur a bit as I listen to the birds sing and bask in our long awaited springtime!
March 16th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It’s maple sugaring season in New Hampshire, a sure sign that spring is on the way! The weather dictates when sugar season begins, since for the sap to run there must be temperatures above freezing in the daytime and below freezing at night. This New England tradition was begun by the Native Americans, and continues to this day. Sugar houses can be found all over rural New Hampshire, with operations both large and small. New Englanders love their maple syrup, and enjoy it on pancakes, french toast, and ice cream.
When the temperatures are high enough for the frozen sap in the trees to thaw, the sap melts, and pressure builds up in the tree until the sap begins to run. Maple syrup makers tap the trees by drilling holes in them, collect the sap, and boil it down into syrup. Trees are tapped and a bucket set on the trunk of the tree to catch the sap. The farmer then goes from tree to tree in the sugarbush emptying the buckets into a larger bucket to transport back to the sugar house to boil down. (In larger operations, the taps are set up so that the sap runs into tubing that runs between the trees and collects the sap at a central point, saving time and labor).
Once the sap is back transported to the sugar house, it is boiled down over a very hot wood fire, until the water evaporates away and syrup is formed. If you visit a sugar house when they are boiling, when the syrup is finished, they offer around little paper cups of syrup so that you can taste the freshest maple syrup you will ever have. When our children were young, we visited a sugar house each spring so that they could see the syrup being made and have a taste. Another big treat, called Sugar on Snow, is to pour the hot maple syrup on packed snow, where it hardens like taffy and you can twirl it up and eat it, followed by a bite of dill pickle to cut the sweetness. Yum! Our local sugarhouses are open and boiling, so come on up and try some!
The maple syrup that we serve at the Inn comes from a local farm in Chesterfield owned by the Mitchell family. Peter Mitchell and his dad make syrup every year, and have it down to a fine science. Bill Mitchell has been making syrup for 70 years, since he was a boy, and it is delicious!