• Publisher's Note Fall 2012

    Publisher's Note Fall 2012

    On a hot day in July we wrote a check for our winter CSA share. In a flash, images of squash and leeks and Brussels sprouts and carrots filled our heads. As thoughts turned to cozy fires and savory, hearty dishes, the temperature outside moved ever upward. It was an odd juxtaposition, but we were happy to know that our winter CSA would take the pressure off our summer gardening endeavors.

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  • Storing Your Harvest

    Storing Your Harvest

    Until the mid 1950s, gardeners often slaved away at canning— or putting into jars—as much food from the garden as possible. Tomatoes, beans, carrots, peas…you name it, our grannies canned it. This was a time when fresh produce at the grocery store was expensive in winter and often limp and bedraggled.

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  • New Choices and Opportunities in Vermont's Dairy Scene

    New Choices and Opportunities in Vermont's Dairy Scene

    If you’ve ever raised goats, you know it’s next to impossible to keep them within their fences. Now more goats are getting into Vermont cow barns—but it’s because farmers are putting them there on purpose.

    The primacy of cow dairy in Vermont agriculture is undisputed, but goats are edging into the local dairy world. Abysmal cow milk prices paired with rising costs have farmers looking for alternatives or supplements in order to keep their farms profitable. And the ever-increasing vacant cow dairy properties provide excellent locations for new goat farms.

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  • Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 3

    Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 3

    It’s 102 degrees in the kitchen, and the chef at my Montpelier restaurant is making quick work of cutting up a chicken. He slides a razor-sharp boning knife along the breast, loosening the meat from the sternum. The birds he’s working on are smaller than we would have liked—barely more than three pounds each—but this week, they were all we could get.

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  • Hothouse Hydro

    Hothouse Hydro

    Islands have always had a local food problem. Granted, they’re often located in warm environments, have rich soil, and enjoy the kind of tourists who might want to sample an obscure local vegetable. But for many sun worshippers, lush green hills and mangroves make for a stark contrast to the dull and unappetizing non-local food on their plates.

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  • Making Peace with Plants

    Making Peace with Plants

    I spent a recent morning clearing “alien” species out of one of my garden beds. By “alien” I don’t mean “non-native”; I just mean plants that I didn’t want in there, which is often what the word alien connotes: beings that don’t belong where they are.  I wanted an artistic arrangement of red and green shiso in that bed (shiso is a Japanese culinary herb—or weed, or medicinal plant, depending on your point of view—that grows wild in many parts of Asia).

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  • Airport Flies Toward Local

    Airport Flies Toward Local

    In January 2013, The Skinny Pancake will open what is likely to be the first-ever local foods restaurant in an American airport. In fact, we’re opening three of them at the Burlington International Airport (BTV): a Skinny Pancake in each of the two post-security terminals and a Chubby Muffin kiosk across from the check-in counters on the first floor.

    For those of you who don’t know us, The Skinny Pancake and Chubby Muffin are sister-concept restaurants in Burlington and Montpelier with a mission to “change the world by building a safer, healthier, more delicious foodshed while creating everyday enjoyment that is fun and affordable.

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  • Neighbors Feeding Neighbors in St. Johnsbury

    Neighbors Feeding Neighbors in St. Johnsbury

    Standing in a local supermarket last August, scanning the shelves for a lemon to complete the ingredient list for my mother’s celebrated cucumber salad, I felt like a complete foreigner. I realized, as I surveyed the rows of coolly aligned produce, that it had been a full five months since I stepped foot inside a grocery store.

    This is because in the warmer months, the fruits of my own garden are frequently supplemented with produce and condiments from a variety of farm stands in the St. Johnsbury area and three local farmers’ markets.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Breakfast Pie

    Farmers' Kitchen—Breakfast Pie

    “You know what I could go for?” our 10-year-old son asked this morning. “A warm slice of apple pie.” He knows that apple pie is the only dessert he is allowed to have for breakfast. And those breakfast pies are always a treat, filled with apples that are a mixture of new varieties and century old heirlooms, all grown on our farm and harvested at the exact moment of perfection.

    We’re a small family operation in Walden Heights, in the Northeast Kingdom. We grow a great diversity of fruit species—apples, grapes, currants, gooseberries, cherries, blueberries, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and more—using organic methods and hand tools.

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  • Delivering Awe

    Delivering Awe

    When I arrived at Green Mountain Girls Farm in April for a yearlong apprenticeship, one of the many animals I met was Tacamba, a stocky but relatively skittish Boer goat, new to the farm. She was markedly more uncomfortable with us two-leggeds than her herd mates were, so Mari and Laura, farmers-in-chief, had spent some extra time socializing her with human interaction, hand-feeding her alfalfa cubes and petting her when she would let them.

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Delivering Awe

Kidding Eat Stay Farm

Written By

Lauren Griswold

Written on

October 25 , 2012

When I arrived at Green Mountain Girls Farm in April for a yearlong apprenticeship, one of the many animals I met was Tacamba, a stocky but relatively skittish Boer goat, new to the farm. She was markedly more uncomfortable with us two-leggeds than her herd mates were, so Mari and Laura, farmers-in-chief, had spent some extra time socializing her with human interaction, hand-feeding her alfalfa cubes and petting her when she would let them.

To continue Mari and Laura’s efforts, I gave Tacamba some special attention, too. I would stand near her, talking to her to familiarize her with my presence and sounds. She would come to me on her own time, sniff me out, and sometimes stay for a brief scratch behind her (big, floppy) ears. After a month or so of these sessions, I felt like she was finally warming up to me, if just slightly. She began to surprise me with longer stays by my side, enjoying back scratches in the sun.

Then came kidding season. Of the three Boer goats at the farm, Tacamba was the first to show signs of impending labor. Her udder grew heavy with milk, but her due date came and went, and farm chatter began to revolve around one running joke: Tacamba’s imminent but never-underway labor. We all checked on her often, sometimes as frequently as every couple of hours, looking for tell-tale signs, such as contractions, or the “glazed eye” that does in labor often exhibit. Day after day, our anticipation rose, but Tacamba provided no release.

Of course, when Mari and Laura went off-farm for a seminar, Tacamba decided it was time. While the cat’s away, the mice will play…or give birth, I suppose? That afternoon, I waited with her, assessing her status and hand-feeding her hay. Sure enough, I noticed that she soon began to pause every couple of minutes, turn away, and look off into the distance without focus—the glazed eye!  In my makeshift seat within a stack of square bales, I grew increasingly anxious and excited about the proximity of this long-awaited event. Not only was this impossibly long and suspenseful gestation about to come to a close, but like being with a loved one in the waiting room, I was on pins and needles anticipating that age-old, thrill-ridden act of labor.

I watched as Tacamba, the cautious doe I had come to know, went through a series of seemingly predetermined, primal steps. She sat and stood in odd positions; she huffed regular, laborious exhalations; she stretched her neck upward; she curled her upper lip. She was mysterious to me, and awe-stirring. As dusk set, Tacamba prepared to give birth, something she had done five times before, and I watched on, mystified.

Over the course of her labor, I ran to get Liva (a more experienced farmer) for a couple of false alarms, thinking Tacamba was actually delivering when in fact she was still in the seizes of early contractions. I felt so anxious, in a positive way, wanting to give her all the resources I could. When she finally began to deliver, Liva and I quickly noticed that the kid was presenting in the most dangerous position—a breech. Instead of diving out, forelegs and head first, the kid was backward, which meant Tacamba would have to push the widest part of the kid out first—a task that has claimed many doe and kid lives alike. I racked my brain, trying to piece together the all-too timely tips I had just learned at a kidding workshop two weeks prior—when intervening, how do you re-adjust the kid? Do you turn it upside down? Reach for its hind legs? Liva donned an elbow-high glove smeared with lubricant and readied herself to go in, while I ran to get the vet’s phone number, just in case.

By the time I got back to the barn, the first kid was lying in the bedding I had prepared days before, breathing. Breathing! Tacamba had managed to deliver a breeched kid by herself, with only a slight hand from Liva. A physical sense of relief swelled in my chest, and deep glee settled in for the night. I was so proud of her. Twenty minutes later, she delivered a second kid: a floppy-eared doeling.

Tacamba cared for her kids beautifully, licking them clean, nickering to them as they made their first vocalizations, letting them nurse. Mari and Laura returned from their seminar, pizza leftovers in hand, and we recounted the evening to them. For the next couple of hours, we all sat around the barn, eating pizza under its dim lights, watching the two kids stand for the first time.

Diablo and Tamalpias (named after mountains in California) are now two of the best-looking kids in our goat herd. With shiny coats and sturdy frames, it’s clear they’re off to an excellent start. Their company is an honest reward for the daily pasture moves we execute for them, and the heavy water we haul. What a joy to plop down alongside them, watch them caper about the browse and, in a timid manner reflective of their mother’s, slowly approach.

About the Author

Lauren Griswold

Lauren Griswold

Lauren Griswold, a 2011 graduate of the University of Vermont, is currently on the road, work-trading her way around West Coast farms. She is especially interested in well-managed grazing systems and hopes to have one of her own some day.

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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


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