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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

My First Summer in Craftsbury, and other Firsts

21.Sep.2011 by Clare Egan

I arrived at “Elinor’s,” as our farmhouse-turned-athlete-compound is known, in the first week of June. My first impression of my new home was highlighted by Hannah’s remarkably good paintings of local scenery, which line the living room walls, and ‘infused’ by the distinctive smells of stale chain saw gas and sweat mingling in the stairwell, emanating from the drying racks outside of Pat and Dylan’s Man Cave room. With this impression, I began an endless list of firsts. Not surprisingly, my transformation from college runner-skier ( I put “runner” first on purpose) to Green Racing Project skier required a major overhaul of the intensity, variety, and quantity of my daily athletic commitments. What I did not expect, however, was the extent to which my lifestyle outside of training would change upon moving to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (should’ve known!).

My first workout of the summer, with my new team and my new coach, was an 80-minute classic roller-ski the morning after I moved in. I am a novice (though not outright first-time) roller-skier, and in the beginning, I spent about as much time roller-skiing as I did filming my teammates from Pepa’s passenger-side window, as they skied for twice as long as I could. Ah, those were the good ol’ days. Within the first week, I tried rowing, ski erging, hill bounding, and Pepa’s ab-wrenching hill jumps for the first time. “And on the 7th day,” I slept for 10.5 hours and began a 20-day bout with semi-paralysis which required that I sit myself up in bed each morning using my arms. By the end of June, as NENSA’s junior development camp was underway at the Outdoor Center, Pepa thought I was ready for my first roller-ski intervals. Of course she was right; I managed to evade both physical catastrophe and mental ruin, staying ahead of most, if not all of the J2 age group participants. In early July, I survived my first “speed week,” comprised of at least seven (7) interval sessions, including my first 15km running race. Admittedly, the comments section of my training log from that particular week contains the entry, “OMG HORRIBLE,” but hey, I made it. It had been a struggle for me to finish those 80-minute roller-skis when I first came to Craftsbury, but on the last Sunday of July, I completed a 3-hour and 45-minute death march roller-ski odyssey to Lake Willoughby, closing out my first “volume week” with a grand total of 20.1 hours of training success. The comments for that day were “Felt good! Surprise.” I am capable now now of things that I never would have thought possible a year or a month ago, or even yesterday. Most days, in fact, I find I do at least one impossible thing before sitting down to lunch!

My days and hours off from ski practice have been flooded with a torrent of exciting, new activities and opportunities to learn. Writing this blog entry is undoubtedly the most time I’ve spent indoors since coming to Craftsbury. In the garden I have learned to seed, weed, water, identify, harvest, wash, and store no fewer than 15 kinds of edible plants. Thank you, Anna Schultz! I fulfilled a life-long dream by assisting in the care of 4 piglets at Hosmer Point, the summer camp down the lake which is newly affiliated with the Outdoor Center. I fed them at least once every day, and cried honestly upon their recent demise. Brian Gluck, the Outdoor Center’s carpenter and maintenance guru, taught me that every life form is worth crying over, and also how to put on a metal roof. In the evenings, after spending some quality time with my porcine friends at Hosmer Point, I often partook in whatever absurdity was underway at camp. Most notably, perhaps, was my on-call appearance at Carnival Night as a gypsy fortune teller. I knew I had succeeded when two weeks later, on the last night of the session, a camper confided to me: “My fortune came true!…About the treasure!!” I can only hope that my achievements in gardening, farming, and fortune telling might be equaled on the trails come wintertime.

My first impression of Elinor’s hasn’t changed; it has been supplemented by gems like that time we stayed home and cooked local beef and artichokes and sweet corn in the middle of the summer and sat around the campfire in the yard eating it all, and how on days when we were up early enough we could see the cloud of morning mist floating in the valley between our house and the Creek Road, and the way the house smelled when our ingenious Vermonter girl teammates made and preserved 10 jars of pickles during hurricane Irene, and by finding scrawled messages by the communal phone like, “Pat your uncle Bob called he says congrats on the big win.” It is true that the deer flies were abominable (and immune to deet) for approximately three weeks in the middle of July, and it seems that the power goes out for a day or so at least once a month here, and the staircase scent did for a brief time become truly intolerable due to an unfortunate and critical misunderstanding of our septic system’s layout. But for the most part, the grass isn’t greener on any side that I know of. Here’s to hoping that my summer of firsts was the first of many. Happy Fall!

Posing proudly with the world's first documented Beet/Swiss Chard cross-breed, grown in our very own organic garden.

Posing proudly with the world's first documented Beet/Swiss Chard cross-breed, grown in our very own organic garden.

Susan (Left), Hannah (vintage skating costume), and I working together in the Climb to the Castle roller-ski race up Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

Susan (Left), Hannah (vintage skating costume), and I working together in the Climb to the Castle roller-ski race up Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

High Rollers: Susan and I "working" at Casino Night at Hosmer Point.

High Rollers: Susan and I "working" at Casino Night at Hosmer Point.

Feeding Spots his last supper.

Feeding Spots his last supper.

Mid-Summer Garden Tour

30.Jul.2010 by Lauren Jacobs

Harvesting vegetables and herbs from the Center’s garden has been going on for some time now but just this week I started to feel like everything was coming out at once. A daily visit to the garden reveals something new to be picked: beans, zucchinis, kale, cucumbers, swiss chard, and a huge variety of herbs. Chelsea and I picked a ton of basil a couple days ago which the kitchen staff has turned into lots of pesto for both immediate consumption and freezing. Hannah even picked a bunch of yellow transparent apples that was turned into a delicious chutney for dinner that night. At the risk of sounding horribly cliché, it is pretty exciting to see our own little “loop” in motion here in Craftsbury. The basil we planted is being made into pesto for pizza that is cooked in the wood-fired oven we constructed last year. Food scraps from the kitchen and dining hall are now being composted beautifully in the new compost shed. This fall we’ll be putting that compost back on the garden before snow flies.

A colorful bowl of nasturtiums and calendula.

A colorful bowl of nasturtiums and calendula.

When deciding what to plant in the garden we concentrated on three goals: 1. Have things that would continue to produce throughout the season. 2. Have lots of certain veggies that are almost impossible to mess up. 3. And perhaps most importantly, grow things – especially herbs – that the dining hall uses a lot of.

I really thought that zucchinis and summer squash fit into the second category. They grow like weeds, right? Well, you can imagine my dismay when seemingly all the little baby zucchinis were rotting on the vine. Russ diagnosed the disease: blossom-end rot. But what caused it and what could we do about it? A fair bit of internet research and discussion with other gardeners (thanks Rebecca!) produced theories but little consensus. One theory said it might be a pollination problem. Luckily our own resident pollination expert Chelsea was willing to go out to do some hand pollinating (thanks Chelsea!). But Chelsea found plenty of bees in the garden doing the same thing she was, so that probably wasn’t the cause of the rot. Another theory was calcium deficiency, potentially caused by the hot, dry weather we had a couple weeks ago. As far as I could tell, there’s not much you can do about a calcium deficiency once the plants are growing.

Jungle 'o squash. Perhaps we should have watered during the dry weather, but the plants were lush so they seemed to be doing well.

Jungle 'o squash. Perhaps we should have watered during the dry weather, but the plants were so lush that they seemed to be doing fine.

Beyond Chelsea’s valiant hand-pollinating efforts and cutting off the rotting squash, we didn’t do anything about the rot. Recently though they seem to be making their own come-back and we’ve had a few full-grown non-rotting specimens to pick. My hopes have been raised as the plants look a little better every day.

Not rotten!

Not rotten!

A little acorn squash hiding in the jungle.

A little acorn squash hiding in the jungle.

Chamomile blossoms I hope to turn into tea.

Chamomile blossoms that will hopefully be turned into tea.

Swiss chard adds some nice color.

Swiss chard adds some nice color.

A bee hangs out in a hollyhock blossom.

A bee hangs out in a hollyhock blossom.

Hannah recently printed out posters for the dining hall describing what is going on with the compost and the garden. Hopefully this means more folks will venture out back to check out what is growing. Definitely stop by if you haven’t done so already!

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Busy, Busy

24.May.2010 by Lauren Jacobs

Life has been plenty busy here in Craftsbury since returning at the end of April. There are gardens plots to prepare and plant, compost sheds to build, and BKL kids to coach. And, of course, plenty of training! Here are a few photos showing what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks.

Hug that post.

Hug that post.

Lauren vs. 6'8'' rower.

Lauren vs. 6'8'' rower.

Need a nail? Just ask Satchel.

Need a nail? Just ask Satchel.

Compost shed. Sponsored by Swix wax.

Compost shed. Sponsored by Swix wax.

Ani taking aim under the watchful eyes of Mike.

Ani taking aim under the watchful eyes of Mike.

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Ethan helping Patrick at the range yesterday.

The first round of planting in the new plot behind the office.

The first round of planting in the new plot behind the office.

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Pepa brought Chelsea and I down to Elmore State Park for a run/hike workout this morning. Our goal was to scope out a potential up-hill running time trial location for the NENSA REG camp that Craftsbury is hosting in June. The road heading up the mountain will be perfect for the time trial, which will end at the remains of an old cabin situated near a little overlook. After the cabin you can keep heading up a short but very steep section of trail and climb the fire tower. It was hot and humid today, but even with a bit of haze the views from the fire tower were wicked good. We had more time to go for our workout so we went down a trail to the “Balancing Rock” and explored the Catamount Trail for a bit. It’s a beautiful spot that we’ll definitely be coming back too. Plus, it’s great to jump in the lake at the end of a long hot run!

Chels at the top of the fire tower on Mt. Elmore.

Chels at the top of the fire tower on Mt. Elmore.

The boys are in Bend, Oregon skiing on snow right now but my big trip of the summer will be a lot closer to home. Starting next Tuesday (June 1) I will be hiking the Appalachian Trail from Katahdin to Caratunk in Maine. It’s 152 miles and includes the “100 Mile Wilderness,” which is generally considered the most remote section of the AT because it doesn’t cross a paved road for 100 miles. I’m doing the trip with my friend Bob, who was a couple years older than me at Gould. Hiking this section of the AT has been on my life list for a long time and I’m really happy that I have a friend crazy enough to do it with me! I’m also grateful that Pepa is okay with the trip. Bob’s hometown is Caratunk (population 40) so it will be cool to walk right over to his Dad’s house at the end of the trek. We’re hoping to average 15 miles a day, with maybe a day of rest (and fly fishing) somewhere in the middle. It will certainly be an adventure and I can’t wait to get started. Undoubtedly, I will bring plenty of stories and photos home with me…if I don’t get carried off by black flies along the way.

The AT in Maine. We're starting at the far northern end with Katahdin and ending at Caratunk on Rte. 201.

The AT in Maine. We're starting at the far northern end with Katahdin and ending at Caratunk on Rte. 201.