With our Save the Monarchs tour coming up next week, we decided to dress this Vermont furniture showroom up for the occasion. Ken and Kyle built a beautiful maple end table and brought it over to Breeze Verdant who inlaid that amazing monarch image above. There are actually over 100 tiny pieces of wood and metal in it!
If you visited Vermont Woods Studios on this icy winter day, you would notice that the beautiful stone walkway leading to our furniture showroom is clear, dry & safe to walk on. That’s because Kyle Vinton, our new Facilities Manager was up at 3:00 this morning, snow-blowing, shoveling and meticulously sanding to keep everyone safe on their way into work.
A Man of Many Talents
Kyle comes to us with many years of experience in a wide variety of roles. He’s a graduate of Castleton University who holds a BS in Public Relations and a minor in Business. Kyle’s worked in areas such as event coordination, retail management, loss prevention, inventory control, landscaping, lean manufacturing, maintenance, and shipping & receiving.
As Facilities Manager, he puts this diverse set of skills to good use, as every day here at Stonehurst brings a new challenge. Our furniture showroom sits on 109 acres of managed woodlands and Kyle is in charge of maintaining it… winter, spring, summer and fall. We share our land with customers and neighbors so they can enjoy Vermont’s sustainable outdoor lifestyle and that involves lots of work. Not the least of which is weeding the forest garden and feeding the outdoor wood stove to keep us warm on this chilly day!
Kyle is the New Ken
Lucky for Ken… Kyle lives just down the road from Vermont Woods Studios and has graciously agreed to handle the inevitable emergencies that come up when maintaining any Vermont home (especially in the winter). This, I want to say, has made Ken a much more lovable person! For that ALL of us at Vermont Woods Studios say THANK YOU, Kyle.
A Bonafide Vermonter & Family Guy
Born and raised a Vermonter, Kyle grew up right here in Vernon. He is one of a small, elite group of Vermonters, who’ve achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He loves being outdoors and enjoys camping, backpacking and hiking (all prerequisites for this job).
Kyle and his beautiful wife, Jessica met as freshmen in college 14 years ago and have recently returned to Vernon to raise their family. Their 4 young sons are facilities managers in training at Stonehurst (word has it they will soon be welcoming a little sister into the crew so we’re excitedly anticipating that event). Help me extend a warm welcome to Kyle Vinton on Facebook or stop by Stonehurst, shake his hand and admire his work in person!
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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)