A pen and ink drawing of the O'Neil Family Farm's Percheron draft horses, Maude and Tony by Iowa artist William A Webber.
Stonehurst‘s newest piece of art:  a pen & ink drawing of 2 draft horses by Iowa artist, William A Weber.   My Dad loved this picture and Mom was kind enough to pass it down to me last weekend when I visited her in Plattsburgh.

A Boy & His Dream

This is the story of a boyhood dream.  It begins in 1937, during the “recession within the Great Depression”.  The first child of a hard-working young Irish couple from Johnson City, NY is sent to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm in Dushore, PA.

The lad is tasked with feeding the chickens, weeding the garden and sweeping the dirt floors. But his favorite chore is helping plow the fields with a team of black Percheron draft horses name Maude and Tony.  For many summers, little Bob was delivered to the O’Neil Family Farm the day after school let out in June and returned to his parents in Johnson City on Labor Day weekend, just in time to start the new school year.  Driving and caring for the team of blackies quickly become his passion and thus the dream was born.

Dad and Aunt Joanie riding Tony at the O'Neil Family Farm in Dushore, Pennsylvania
Dad and his sister (Aunt Joanie) riding Tony at the O’Neil Family Farm in Dushore, Pennsylvania.  I have to say this gentle giant looks like he lived a much more strenuous life than the pampered pets who would follow in his footsteps some 60 years later.

“One Day I’ll Have My Horses”

The boy was my dad.  But farming wasn’t in the cards for him and like his parents he wound up raising a family and making a living in a small city.  “You mark my words”, he’d say “one day I’ll have my horses”.  We all laughed.

But, despite the years that passed and the naysayers and the remote odds, his dream never died.  In 1985, Dad flew out to Millersburg Ohio to meet with his dear friend Monroe Miller, a Percheron horse breeder.  He returned home driving a trailer with 2 young geldings, he named Prince and Tony.  The horses were Dad’s pride and joy. Although their plowing chores were few, Prince and Tony were often pressed into service giving hay rides and sleigh rides to local children.  They lived an honorable life.

Dad's Percherons pulling a sleigh at Christmastime in 1993. Plattsburgh, NY.
Dad and his Percherons, Prince & Tony, pulling a sleigh at Christmastime in 1993. It was a holiday tradition that our family cherished for many years. Plattsburgh, NY.

Driving the Team Back to a Farm: Stonehurst!

Last weekend when I went to Plattsburgh to visit my mother I saw this familiar drawing of the 2 Percherons that Dad had purchased from Iowa artist William A Weber.  I asked if I could relocate the boys to Stonehurst, which had been a working farm on and off for over 200 years.  It would be a fitting place for the horses to retire as Stonehurst in the 1930s would have been quite similar to the O’Neil Farm that Maude & Tony served at that time.  Mother agreed & now the 2 two horses hang on the wall looking out the windows of our showroom to the farmland that houses our sustainable furniture store today.

Come Visit Stonehurst and Meet Prince & Tony

Love horses?  Farms?  History?  Come visit us at Stonehurst!  You can enjoy the 109 acre plot of beautifully managed farm and forest land that’s now home to Prince and Tony.  And if you’re in the market for sustainable, American made furniture or Vermont made home decor, all the better.  See you in the showroom!


This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Furniture Store | Green Mountain Forest
Our Vermont furniture store is located in the lush foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest, about 3 1/2 hours north of Manhattan.  Maybe we’re not the closest or easiest showroom to get to, but once you’re here we think you’ll be glad you made the trip. 

I guess word is getting around about our unique Vermont furniture store because we’re starting to get many visitors from New York, Boston and other metropolitan areas.  Customers tell us they’re looking for something beautiful, sustainable and uniquely theirs.  That’s why we’re here, of course but “here” isn’t necessarily easy to find.

Directions to Stonehurst, Our Fine Furniture Showroom

So Rebecca and I teamed up with next-door neighbor, Drew Amidon to make a video showing the route to Stonehurst, our Vermont Woods Studios furniture showroom.  Drew made the scenic journey and filmed it from Interstate 91 (exit 28A, Northfield, Route 10), past the Inn at Crumpin Fox, left onto Bald Mountain Road, right onto Huckle Hill Road and 5 miles to Stonehurst.  He used his GoPro and drone helicopter to show visitors just where we are and what to expect when they get here.

Rebecca was kind enough to narrate the video and even made a few cameo appearances.  Check it out, Stonehurst: How to Get Here.

Dining Furniture | Vermont Furniture Store
An Autumn view from Stonehurst, our showroom in the woods.

Most Furniture Stores Don’t Have to Make a Video on How to Get to Their Showroom

Who had the crazy idea of putting a fine furniture store in the middle of nowhere, anyway?  OK that was me.  Well… sustainability is important to me and it’s part of the mission of our company.  Customers come to us because they want to feel good about their furniture.  They want to know where their furniture comes from.  They want to be sure it originates in a sustainable forest that provides recreation & habitat for wildlife, a forest that’s going to be around for future generations.

Stonehurst fine furniture showroom
Stonehurst in the summer. Our showroom is located on a 109 acre woodland in southern Vermont so customers can experience the kind of sustainable environment in which their furniture originates.

So when the Stonehurst property on 109 acres of pristine woodlands became available in 2012 I knew it was the perfect location for a Vermont Woods Studios showroom.  We’re 3 1/2 hours from Manhattan and 2 hours from Boston.  It’s a beautiful drive to get here and once you arrive, you’ll feel a relaxed Vermont vibe before you even get our of your car.  Be sure to pack a picnic basket and a bottle of wine because fine furniture shopping should never be rushed.

See you in the woods!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

monarch butterfly chrysalises
Two chrysalises housing monarch pupa

Vermont Woods Studios Prepares Monarchs for Take-off

On a beautiful day straddling the line between August and September, we huddled on the deck of Vermont Woods Studios at our Stonehurst property. Five adults and two children all gazing in mirrored excitement at the progress of our monarch caterpillars as they forge their ways into butterfly-hood.

“I’m going to name him Jeff!” One of the young boys informed the group as Peggy Farabaugh, the CEO of Vermont Woods Studios and head caterpillar-rearer, gently scooped up two prized caterpillars and secured them safely in a jar for the boys to bring to their grandmother’s.

It has been two weeks since the arrival of the caterpillar babies (or larva) and already they are well on their way to adulthood. However, their transformation is far more magical than that of any other aging process. They came to us as tiny creatures no bigger than a grain of rice and have rapidly transformed into vibrant, two inched beauties that scuttle about their mesh hamper confinement eating milkweed and maturing with natural grace.

It is marvelous to watch the caterpillars inch their way to the top of the hamper and methodically suspend themselves upside down in a J shape. This is a signal to the world that the caterpillars are ready to enter the pupa or chrysalis stage of life. The caterpillars work tirelessly in this J-shape to molt their skin and transform their outer appearance into the grass green, gold speckled chrysalis.

“I wonder what they’re doing in there all the time.” Peggy mused, affectionately grooming the caterpillar habitat. The allure of mystery gripped us all as we watched the beautiful chrysalises hang, cautiously enveloping the transforming caterpillar.

In about two weeks the chrysalises will have turned black and the monarch butterfly will be ready to emerge with damp, fledgling wings. In the short span of two hours, the monarch’s wings will dry and it will be lusting for flight. Thus our babies will leave us and safety of the Stonehurst deck.

However, it won’t be a sad day, for on this day we will have reached our goal. With the help of Orley R.  “Chip” Taylor, founder of the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas, we will have completed cycle one of the Monarch Restoration project. The Vermont Woods Studios company developed an objective: to help restore the monarch population. Success is heavily contingent on three pillars: milkweed restoration, healthy, migration-ready monarchs and continued research.

Last October and November, Peggy and the Vermont Woods Studios staff went out in search of milkweed. Pods gathered along route 142 were brought back to the studio where seeds were harvested and packaged for distribution.

Seeds were distributed to local gardeners and nature enthusiasts, clients and planted on the Stonehurst property. 1 in 100 milkweed seeds strewn across the earth will produce a plant. Because of these small odds, we chose to carefully plant 80 seeds on the Stonehurst property yielding 80 viable milkweed plants.

Along with learning the importance of carefully planting the milkweed seeds, the Vermont Woods Studios staff have also developed important information for rearing monarch caterpillars:

  • Whenever it is possible, raise the caterpillars in a terrarium
  • Do not allow direct sunlight to hit the terrarium
  • Monarch caterpillars grow quickly and this process can be messy, so cleaning the terrarium frequently is a must
monarch caterpillar on milkweed
One of our monarch caterpillars getting ready to transition into a chrysalis

Once our monarchs are ready for flight, we have one last piece of the puzzle to put in place before we can call the project a success. Chip founded Monarch Watch in 1992 and has been studying monarch migration since 2005. The eastern monarchs born at the end of the summer months have the innate task of migrating to Mexico. This migration will take four generations of monarchs.

Our Stonehurst monarchs will fly just a portion of the way and then stop to lay eggs and die as the new babies begin the growing process and mature to fly their portion of the trip. This process will repeat until the final generation sails over sunny Mexico and makes themselves comfortable for eight to nine months when the United States is again habitable for the return of the monarchs.

How did people come to have such intimate detail about the migration pattern of these tireless creatures? The answer to this is evolving through research, which brings us to the final stage of the project: tagging the monarchs.

Before our monarchs take flight, we will place a small, adhesive tag, provided by Chip and his team on the wings of our monarchs. These tags will signal researchers to know where the monarchs came from and provide other valuable research that will continue to help rehabilitate the monarch population.

As we stand on the deck, without a chill in the air and watch the chrysalises form, we know the journey our caterpillars have before them. We discuss tagging the butterflies with nervous laughter, none of us having ever done it before; but were willing to try because we know that it is one key step in encouraging the comeback of these magical creatures.

(This is part two of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

SpringWhile it might be hard to believe, winter is finally winding down here at Stonehurst. The snow is slowly melting, and some of our forest friends are starting to show their furry faces. Just yesterday, we saw this beautiful red fox frolic through the field in our backyard.

SpringA pair of eastern bluebirds perched outside outside of my office window, enjoying the first real day of sunshine of the season.

SpringAnd a chubby squirrel (a frequent visitor to the marketing office window) gorged himself on tasty bird seed.

We’ve seen plenty more forest critters getting ready for spring, and we’re getting ready too!


As you can see here, a wild Sales team member (Sean) anxiously awaits the warm weather! What about you? How are you preparing for spring? If you are planning on adding some natural Vermont charm to your home, a visit to Stonehurst might be a great first step. You’ll have plenty of inspiration from the birds and cute critters, and a friendly sales team to make your visit easy and enjoyable. Our beautiful, Vermont crafted wood furniture is made from premium solid hardwoods, sourced from sustainably harvested forests, much like the one right in our backyard!

Shopping at Stonehurst brings you closer to where your furniture really comes from. Visit us, and experience the beauty of Vermont wood, inside and out.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Tristan’s been learning the Vermont Woods Studios ropes from his dad since he was barely a teenager. I took this snapshot a couple years ago when we were renting a tiny office space from Teddy George at George’s Mill in Vernon.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Tristan Fletcher into our family of hardworking fine furniture specialists at Vermont Woods Studios.  Tristan’s been helping us since back in the day when we were working out of the guest bedroom in my house.  He was barely a teenager when we started recruiting him to help with data entry and photo-shopping.  Over the years he’s added additional skills like computer networking and troubleshooting to his repertoire.  Not to mention lawn-mowing, wood cutting/stacking and showroom cleaning.

Come to think of it, Tristan’s probably a serious competitor to Ken and Loryn when it comes to winning the VWS “jack of all trades” award.

Here's Tristan and fellow "groundskeepers" at Stonehurst last summer.  The foursome (from left, Teagen Fletcher, Riley Farabaugh, Trenton Fletcher and Tristan)
Here’s Tristan and fellow “grounds keepers” at Stonehurst last summer. The foursome (from left, Taegen Fletcher, Riley Farabaugh, Trenton Fletcher and Tristan) managed to keep smiling (mostly) throughout  the process of cutting and stacking 40 cords of wood.

When I asked Tristan how he acquired his expertise with computers he said he got interested by playing online video games. “While at my friend’s house I saw his custom computer and at that moment it started my interest. As a computer gamer the technology is never enough so I tinker and get as much performance as I can. New leading edge things come out which make the computer work better/faster and instantly I need to have them.

I’ve been customizing computers for about 3 years.  There’s nothing like having all the separate parts and spending a day building and putting a computer together to experience the final product and being able to say “I made that”.

“There is nothing like spending a day building and putting all the pieces of a computer together and being able to say “I made that”.
When he's not going to school, working at Vermont Woods Studios, building computers or hanging out with friends, Tristan likes to draw.
When he’s not going to school, working at Vermont Woods Studios, building computers or hanging out with friends, Tristan likes to draw.
Big sister, Taegen adds a little levity to the task of maintining our furniture showroom at Stonehurst.
Big sister, Taegen Fletcher also helps us out at Vermont Woods Studios.  No job is too big or too small

Everyone’s excited about having Tristan on board full time now at Stonehurst. We’ve stationed him in the Brainiac Room with Neville and Martin where he’ll be helping them turn our dreams into reality.  It’s great to have you on board full time, Tristan!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.