We’ve been having spectacular fall foliage. This year the colors seem to be greatly extended rather than the quick flush and fade we get some years. The weather has also been great for leaf peeping with lots of sunny days and not too much wind or rain to strip the trees. Click on the photo above for a much larger (456KB = 2,482 x 700 pixel) version of the pan. This was stitched together using HP Panorama Stitching software from photos I took up at at the south corner of the home field with my E900 digital camera. Starting at the left we can see…
Our wood pile to be cut. It should last several years, especially with our expected reduction in wood fuel consumption due to the efficiency, thermal mass, passive solar gain and small size of the tiny cottage. In the past we’ve burned about two to three cord of wood a year in the old farm house. The farm house was never very warm as long time readers may note from the temperature log at the bottom of posts during the winters. I could burn twice that without making much difference even after all the foundation work, insulating and other tightening already done. Thus is the nature of a 200 year old house. I anticipate that the tiny cottage will naturally keep itself almost as warm as the farm house did with the wood furnace. This past winter it kept above freezing without any additional heat except for a few days during the coldest (-21°F), windiest week of last winter. Realize that was with no occupation and only single pane glass in the big windows of the tiny cottage. Thus a cord or two of wood for cooking should keep the new cottage toasty warm such that even Holly will be happy come January.
The kids’s tree house can be seen beyond the wood pile among the grove of tall white pines at the top of the north home field. Beyond that is the site of the wire trolley zip line and mystery pond which is inhabited by frogs of every size.
Below the tree house fort is the north home field which was the site of many bonfires over the years as we gradually cleared the old field back to its stone walls made by the original settlers in the 1770’s who built our farm house. Now the north home field holds our smaller second herd of pigs headed up by Longson, a boar who is the grandson of the original boar of our herd named Longfellow. Their names are indicative of their extreme length of body – an important trait in their job description.
Continuing left to right you can see the front of the tiny cottage with it’s tin foil cap. We joke that the bright double layer foil roof is there to stop the government from eves dropping and the aliens from sucking us up. Seems to be working… :) Eventually that will be covered with more insulation, light weight concrete and then an ultra dense outer shell of Engineered Cementious Composite (EEC). Above that will go a small bit more of insulation and a water barrier before the berming of dirt covers the roof of our finally earth sheltered house. But that is probably a few years away.
The brown vehicle beside the cottage is our new Pig Mobile, a Ford Econoline E-250 extended body van. Currently it just has the plywood carrier box from our old Dodge Caravan in it for transporting pigs but soon I’ll be building a larger transport box. First I want to get accustomed to the vehicle and understand are needs a bit more – besides, we need to finish the cottage before winter… Everything in it’s time.
Just barely peaking out behind the van is our green John Deere tractor. I have the wheels set to the maximum width to better deal with our hilly terrain – rolling head over heals, or sideways, down the mountain is not on my to-do list. Having a tractor wasn’t something I drooled over. I’m not into heavy iron. But I must admit it is very handy and well worth the cost. There are things we never would have done without it and it really can move mountains – given enough time.
In the background beyond the van is Knox Mountain, Mount Butterfield and Signal Mountain showing off their fall robes. Just visible through the trees to the left is Sugar Mountain where our maple sugar bush and sugar house are located. To the right is Haden Hill.
In the foreground is the upper pond which is rather low right now since we’ve had a long dry spell. Supplying the livestock with water, which drains from pipes through the dam on the south (right) side is the function of the pond which means sometimes it won’t float our boat, er, kayak. Normally the pond looks more like this or this which is much more picturesque. On the left of the pond is the beach head with stone walls that curve down around the picnic area with its massive naturally flat granite table and bonfire ring. We built all of these stone walls from rocks we collected from the mountain as we prepared the construction site for our new cottage.
Over the edge of the upper pond dam, past Holly in her red shirt, is the roof of our old farm house. Soon that will be converted completely to agricultural use, unless someone comes along and buys it for the timbers or restoration and moves it to a new location. It may seem tight to think of the tiny cottage only being 252 sq-ft but in reality we only use about 700 sq-ft in the old farm house for actual, non-agricultural, living space. The space that we do have in the farm house is not efficiently designed either. There is also a lot of “stuff” which we simply won’t bring up to the new cottage. Thus moving up will be less a matter of shoehorning than of freeing. Holly says she looks forward to this. Correspondingly, with having less stuff and less space to clean the maintenance will be lower. Structural repairs will be greatly lessened both immediately and over the decades and centuries – a major benefit of smaller living in a stone house.
Swinging over to the right of the panorama is the south field past a row of tall sugar maple trees along another original stone wall. Throughout the pasture you can see piglets, sows, boars and growers lounging in the sun, grazing. How many pigs can you count? How many of those are rocks? Do you see any dogs?
At the top edge of the south field is Coy and Tika‘s rock. They were some of the elders from our pack of Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD). Partnered with them makes farming a lot easier, both with livestock and crops. It takes both instinct, desire and training but with time they keep both pests and predators out of the fields & gardens, guard & herd the animals and are on duty 24/7. In turn they share in the harvest and get free room & board.
For more panoramas of the mountains and colors of Vermont at Sugar Mountain Farm see these posts.
Monday – Wednesday Outdoors: 62°F/39°F Mostly Sunny, 4″ Rain
Farm House: 71°F/55°F
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/61°F Bed & bath door arches, north wall outside parging, acid wash of interior washes