Judy’s Amazing Arrangements

I just wanted to highlight  Judy’s incredible work again. As always,it was so much fun to work with her and she did a beautiful job. She is so creative!!img_4978img_4977img_4976dsc_9916img_4927img_4973img_4972img_4954img_4945img_4937img_4936dsc_9937dsc_9923dsc_9925

Holiday House Tour-The Kitchen

I have a snowman collection that I started while in Switzerland. I had them in the double window as you walked in the kitchen,over the bench seat.img_4918dsc_9921

The dog tree in the kitchen didn’t always have Judy’s golden puppy Tucket in front of it for the tour, but I just had to put this picture in.  I have all goldens and westies on the tree for our dogs.fullsizerender-66

The deer seemed a little large when the huge boxes arrived from Frontgate but I loved them on the table.img_4969

Judy and I decided to keep the windows clean and simple and just tied burlap squares around white poinsettias and finished them with red organza ribbon.dsc_9923We had a baking station, as if someone in the house were making cookies that day.dsc_9918

Another one of Judy’s amazing arrangements!dsc_9916Just simple boxwood wreaths in the windows tied up with gold ribbon. The HO HO’s I got years ago but had never used.img_4924dsc_9915

Holiday House Tour-The Dining Room

Judy did such a beautiful job with the Dining Room table. She took white roses and greens and put them in 6 of  my Waterford “Lismore” brandy glasses. She then weaved in a serpentine shape the mixed greens,gold ribbon,white pine, cedar, seeded eucalyptus and magnolia leaves in the center of the table. We used my antique Johnson Brothers plates,Waterford “Lismore” wine and water glasses and my Cristofle flatware.

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These beautiful bubble trees are from Simon Pearce.img_4974We used mixed greens,winter berries and pine cones to surround my silver tea set. The little trees I made in a pottery class in Zurich.img_4953

Holiday House Tour-Enter In!

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Holiday House Tour-The Model A

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As you walked up the driveway from the barn to the house there was an antique car that I had borrowed from a friend.It was fantastic to have it there-many people took pictures next to it,some for their Christmas cards.

I asked about the car and this is the story my friend told me:

It must be 10-12 years ago, I was driving to a Middlebury board meeting on a Wednesday night in the pouring rain in October. I drove through Bethel, Vermont, as I have done almost every Friday and Sunday nights for the last 35 years, literally! I drove by this green and black model A on the side of the road, badly needing a paint job. I drove by, and then it started to work on my head. I was not in a hurry to get to Middlebury, I would just go to bed later. I was by myself, so no conflicting points of view. After a couple of minutes I turned around to go check it out, got out an umbrella, raincoat, flashlight and returned to the car, checked it out, and wrote down the phone number, and noticed the asking price of $6000. It seemed intact, but in bad need of a paint job.   The next morning,  meetings didn’t start until noon so I got up early and drove back to Bethel, probably a 40 min drive. I called the number and the guy told me to swing by.
I stopped in the tiny First National Bank of Bethel in the middle of town and asked the teller if I could get a $6000 advance on my MasterCard? She referred me to the president of the bank sitting in the corner. I approached the president, and he said as long as I had an ID, and credit available, that would be fine.  I don’t think I had ever gotten a cash advance on my credit card.
I asked the president if he was familiar with the model A for sale around the corner. He replied, “oh John Merrill’s car? Definitely! He tried to sell it to me”. Fully convinced the entire town would now gang up on the flat lander to exploit as much cash as possible, I asked with trepidation, “What do you think of the car?” He replied, “it runs well, but obviously needs a paint job.  Have him start it up for you.”
“Is it worth $6000?” I asked nervously. “Probably” the bank president said, “but let me tell you a little bit about John.  You should decide ahead of time if you want to buy the car for $6000.  I wouldn’t negotiate. He doesn’t believe in negotiation. Either buy the car for $6000 or don’t buy the car.  Let me tell you a story about John.  I knew his now deceased father well.  I was over there one day and John had 2 Indian head pennies that he was selling. John was about 9 years old at the time. These two men came over from New York to look at the pennies to buy them and John took them in the house to show them the pennies. I was outside with his father and asked, ‘Aren’t you concerned about John negotiating with this two adults from New York?’  John’s dad replied, ‘Yes, I am a little worried for the two guys from New York!’
“Any idea where I could find someone to transport the car to Massachusetts?” “Sure, Ed at the Sunoco has a flat bed.”
So I left with the $6000 in cash and went to the local gas station where I have filled up hundreds of times. They had a tow truck and flat bed, as do most gas stations in Vermont. I talked to Ed, who gave me the same story about negotiating with John. He asked “Do you have AAA prime?” I said I didn’t know.  He said “Let me see your AAA card.”  He said “you don’t have AAA Prime but I can call and get you upgraded.  With AAA prime, I can put that car on the flat bed and take it to Massachusetts for free!” I said “deal”
I went see John.  I said, ” I have talked to the president of the bank and the fight who owns the Sunoco station. They both said I shouldn’t negotiate with you, but I have to ask, is this the best price?” John said, you can buy the car now for $6000, you can buy the car in an hour for $7000 or you can buy the car tomorrow for $8000.”
I bought the car for cash, had it delivered to Massachusetts and here it is.  The paint job is chapter 2!

Estabrook Woods

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One of the reasons we bought our property is because we literally back up to this wonderful piece of land known as Estabrook Woods. This is from their website:

Estabrook Woods is an amazing place nestled inside Concord, MA. If the variety of trails weren’t enough, the history is very special. Here you can walk on the same road that the Minutemen traveled from Carlisle to the North Bridge to face off against the British in 1775. Every year on Patriot’s Day, the reenactment soldiers still travel this 350 + year old road. The site of an old lime kiln from the 1960s can still be viewed here. Just a few miles from Walden Pond, Henry Thoreau also walked here, lived here and wrote about these woods. In fact, his Walden Pond house was moved here from the Walden Pond site. Today, the land is mostly owned by Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. It is a wild tract of more than 1,200 acres of woodland, hills, ledge, and swamp. It is the largest contiguous and undeveloped woodland within thirty miles of Boston.

Estabrook Woods is a recreational delight. You can travel the wide, but rocky carriage roads or turn down a winding stretch of single-track trail. It’s a favorite spot for dog walkers, light hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The New England Orienteering Club (NEOC) has a map of the area and holds meets here on occasion. Most of the terrain is ride able by a mountain bike. Some is fairly easy, but most trails are rocky and technical in places. Some rock gardens and slick stream crossings will almost certainly have most riders off their bikes. For the advanced rider, take the winding single-track up to the top of Punkatasset Hill and enjoy a rocket ride straight down to the bottom. Pick up the Davis Corridor to Carlisle and after a short road ride to Kimball’s ice cream, pick up the singletrack behind the farm and you can make it almost all the way into Great Brook Farm State Park on trail. Trail runners delight in the flowing trails and variety of gently rolling terrain.

“Too Perfect To Pass Up”!

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CONCORD — Harvesting asparagus is back-breaking work. “There’s a lot of up and down, moving down the row,” says Lise Holdorf of Barrett’s Mill Farm as she and business partner Melissa Maxwell and assistant grower Rachel Klepner stoop to cut the green spears about an inch or two above the ground. Their white buckets fill with asparagus still warm from their soil cradle. They’ll repeat this early morning routine every day through mid-June until the field is picked clean.

Holdorf, 35, and Maxwell, 33, have operated Barrett’s Mill Farm for a year. Holdorf was raised here, Maxwell in Connecticut. They have a five-year lease from the Town of Concord and live in the farmhouse on the land. In order to make the finances work, they’re in the fields six long days a week and do occasional odd jobs on Sundays.

Asparagus is a perennial crop that Barrett’s Mill — and the town — is well known for. “This farm, in particular, has sandy, well-drained soil that is great for asparagus and strawberries,” says Maxwell. Local restaurant 80 Thoreau makes good use of the flavorful spears on its menus. Co-owner and general manager Ian Calhoun, who lives down the road from the farm, stops by a few mornings each week to buy asparagus for the restaurant. “It’s exciting to see a couple of younger farmers take over stewardship of the land,” he says.

“The beginning of June is when [the farm] takes off,” says Maxwell. Strawberries ripen, along with radishes, salad greens, sugar snaps, beets, and herbs. The farm’s Community Supported Agriculture starts on June 9. For the 20-week season, members can fill up a tote bag with harvested vegetables and also venture into the pick-your-own fields to rustle up some strawberries and additional veggies. The farm’s Barrett’s Bucks program, says Holdorf, “is a smaller commitment and you don’t have to come every week.” (Bucks cost $275 for an equivalent farm store credit; a CSA share is $660.)

The farm became available after former owner Patrick McGrath died in 2012. The town bought the century-old farmstead and in December 2013 requested proposals from farmers who wanted to lease the property. Included are approximately 12 tillable acres, a residence, greenhouse, farm stand, and barn. The women’s business plan was chosen by the town and in March 2014, the two moved in, Holdorf with her husband, Matt Conroy, a high school teacher, and baby daughter Cyra.

Holdorf was happy to return to the town where she grew up. “It was too perfect to pass up,” she says. Maxwell had been looking for a farm for a number of years. “It’s unique in this area to find something that could support two people, she says. The women had worked together for a half-dozen years at Appleton Farms in Ipswich.

With a full year under their belts, the duo is expanding the planted fields from 4 to 6 acres. “We started small,” says Holdorf, adding that they benefited from lots of helping hands. “The neighbors and farming community in town all supported us,” says Maxwell. In addition to the 50 or so vegetables and herbs they grew last season, this year they’ll be harvesting strawberries, garlic (scapes will be available mid-June, the bulbs in the fall), cipollini onions, red onions, and a mini broccoli variety called Happy Rich.

As women farmers, Holdorf and Maxwell are in good company. According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, female farmers represent 32 percent of all principal operators in the state. That’s more than double the 14 percent of women principal operators nationwide, according to 2012 data. The disparity is due mostly to the abundance of small farms in the Bay State — there are over 7,700 farms, many of which are just a few acres in size — as compared to mega operations in other regions.

The Barrett’s Mill lease costs the women $1,400 per month, which includes the farm land, buildings, and residence. The duo invested their own money in used tractors and implements as well as tools and supplies to build tables for a greenhouse and farm stand. Before they moved in, the Concord Housing Foundation had raised funds for renovations to the farmhouse and to convert it into a two-family home to accommodate two farmers. “It’s in excellent condition and a good place for a family to live,” says Holdorf.

The farmers made a small profit in the first year. “We did a careful budget over the winter,” says Holdorf, which allowed them to hire one full-time grower and four part-time field and farm stand workers for spring and summer. “This year we’re hoping for long-term sustainable income for us,” she says.

In Concord, both Macone Farm and First Root Farm are owned by women. Susan Macone, 64, has run what was her family farm since the early 1980s. “We do everything the old-fashioned way,” she says, growing award-winning tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, green beans, and other vegetables. She sells her produce at the neighboring Brigham Farm Stand.

First Root owner Laura Sackton, 29, grew up in nearby Lexington and currently manages 4-plus acres with Cheryl Nunes. They grow about 40 different vegetables, most of which are sold to 225 CSA members. Sackton, who cofounded the farm in 2009, says, “A lot of young people who didn’t grow up on farms are being drawn to farming.” For her, the satisfaction comes with “being outside and the hands-on, always changing work.” The young farmer speaks highly of Concord as a place to set down roots. “It has a supportive agricultural community and people are excited to buy local food.”

Concord also has a vivid history. Directly across the road from Barrett’s Mill Farm sits the old, brown and weathered Colonel James Barrett House, part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. The colonel (and his home) played a key role in the first battle — and first victory — of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. After Paul Revere warned of the British Redcoats’ advance, the story goes that Barrett’s sons buried the Colonial militia’s weapons and munitions in the fields around the house to hide them from the British.

While the land is old, the Barrett’s Mill farmers are new and as dedicated as their forebears. With every planting (and plowing and weeding and harvest), they’re hoping the soil will be fruitful for at least another 100 years.

BARRETT’S MILL FARM

449 Barrett’s Mill Road, Concord, 978-254-5609, www.barrettsmillfarm.com

in Boston Globe,Wednesday June 3, 2015 by Lisa Zwern