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)

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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!

Spring

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.

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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.

douglas-tristan
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”.

Tristan
“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!

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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.

visit-us at Stonehurst, a vermont made furniture store

We are in the midst of winter here in Vermont– the ground is covered in a thick layer of snow and the air is crisp and clean. Despite the chilly weather, we have still enjoyed having guests stop by Stonehurst, warm up with us, and  shop for new Vermont made wood furniture.

We believe that there is no better place to shop for Vermont wood furniture than in our showroom, nestled in the woods of Vernon, Vermont. All of our furniture comes 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.

Unlike your traditional furniture shopping experience, at Stonehurst there is no need to rush. Feel free to bring a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch, and enjoy a relaxed country atmosphere while you get to know our furniture. Each member of our sales staff is an expert in Vermont wood, so even if you aren’t ready to purchase, we’d love for you to stop by and have a conversation with one of our friendly staff members and get to know more about Vermont Woods Studios.

At Stonehurst, we don’t have aisle after aisle of furniture. The pieces we carry at Stonehurst are just a representative sampling of the hundreds of pieces we offer on our online store. The pieces that we have in the showroom are a true reflection of the quality and craftsmanship that you can expect with all of our furniture.

So stop by, warm up, and browse our beautiful selection of wood furniture and Vermont made art and decor. We can’t wait to meet you!

Find directions to Stonehurst here.

Learn more about visiting Stonehurst here.

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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.

2014 was a great year for us at Vermont Woods Studios.  Through lots of trial and error and experimentation, we ended up in a great place and look forward to another year of growth! We’ve learned so much that we couldn’t possibly list it all, but here are 10 wonderful things we learned this year:

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1. How to transform a lost ski area into a beautiful showcase for Vermont made furniture, artwork and home decor.  It was our first full year at Stonehurst, the marvelous property we call home. We couldn’t be happier with how well it was received by our guests, and we eagerly await even more visitors in 2015!

 

georges mill

2. How to build a set to take professional photos of our furniture. Nina & Dennis spent a great amount of time and energy getting crafty and making sets for photoshoots. With Nina’s photoshop wizardry, dusty old storage areas and garages transform into quaint living spaces perfect for furniture photos!

 

woodchuck

3. How to keep woodchucks out of our flower garden using aluminum pie plates. As you can see in the photo above, our showroom sees frequent visitors from the forest! Unfortunately, they are big fans of our gardens so we’ve learned creative ways of humanely keeping them at a safe distance!

 

Vermont Woods Studios Furniture Interns: busy stacking 40 cords of firewood
Vermont Woods Studios Furniture Interns: busy stacking 40 cords of firewood

4. How to harvest wood to sustainably heat our showroom. Our student interns (Douglas & Peggy’s kids) had a busy summer stacking 40 cords of firewood sourced from fallen trees around Stonehurst!

 

monarch-45. Never lose hope. We were a little disheartened about not seeing any Monarchs in our butterfly garden this year, but just as we started planning our 2015 Monarch conservation efforts, a symbol of hope arrived! We worked together to plant and share milkweed throughout our community and are excited to continue with this project through the new year.

 

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6. Handcrafted wood furniture deserves beautiful decor accessories to go with it. Our natural wood furniture is simple and beautiful on it’s own, but handcrafted Vermont made decor adds another layer of richness that we can’t help but love.

 

tiny-house-landscaping

7.  Our furniture looks great in big houses and “tiny houses” alike! Earlier in the year we provided a POLYWOOD La Casa Dining Set to Tiny House Nation, a show that celebrates the innovation and creativity of Tiny Houses and the people who inhabit them!

 

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8.  Nothing feels better than giving back to the community. We made it a priority to give back to our community this year– from donating food for a community Thanksgiving dinner, to participating in Vermont’s ‘Green up Day’ and more! Our whole team took part in our charitable activities and look forward to another great year of giving.

 

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9. Nature makes a great backdrop for photos. Our previous ‘our team‘ page featured each of us on white backgrounds, making us look like our heads were floating in space! We learned that we look much better in a natural setting, surrounded by things we cherish (trees!)

 

falltime-2014-5

10Appreciate the seasons while they last. We are lucky to live in New England, a place where each season is bold, beautiful, and transformative! The freshness of Spring, the relaxed nature of Summer, the crisp air of the Fall, and the reflective state of Winter are things we’ve grown to love. At Stonehurst, we get to see the uniqueness of each season as the year passes and we have learned to love and appreciate all of them while they are here.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the things we learned in 2014, and we look forward to another great year ahead! Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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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.