Grape Catch Is Feat for the Ages

Story by Maggie Cassidy. Video shot and edited by Maggie Cassidy.

Post Mills — Setting the world record for using your mouth to catch a grape dropped from the greatest height: It was a dream years in the making, and all it took was a hot air balloon, walnut-sized fruits shipped specially from Georgia and a crew of Ph.D.-level engineers who gathered at a tiny Vermont airport before the sun rose on Monday morning.

The man with the plan was Brent Fraser, 35, who said he “just had a natural knack” for catching things in his mouth ever since his high school days in Barre, Vt., where buddies would chuck food toward him in the school parking lot. Continue reading “Grape Catch Is Feat for the Ages”

Farm Crews Take a Few Hours Off for ‘Olympics’

Story by Maggie Cassidy. Video shot and edited by Maggie Cassidy.

Vershire — Spread out across a hayfield at Broad Acres Farm late Tuesday afternoon, dozens of farmers in teams of five, give or take, waited for the countdown over a megaphone — three, two, one, go! — before frantically installing sections of single-strand fence in square areas marked by small orange flags.

While the 31st Summer Olympics were ongoing in Rio de Janeiro (population 6.32 million), the second annual Farmer Olympics, put on by the Northeast Organic Farming Association, were just getting started in Vershire (population 679).

And right out of the gate, some teams were having a harder time than others.

“We do not have cows!” cried out a farmer from Springtail Farm, in Washington, Vt., as that crew struggled with the lines.

“We’re a seed farm!” hollered another teammate. 

Continue reading “Farm Crews Take a Few Hours Off for ‘Olympics’”

Different Points of View on Thetford ‘Wall’

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Thetford — Ruth Dwyer refers to it as a temporary “curtain.”

Some townspeople have taken to calling it the Green Monster, or in Selectman Donn Downey’s words, “The Great Wall of Dwyer.”

Thetford zoning officials, meanwhile, have determined the structure — forest-green shade cloth strung across five large wooden utility poles along Sawnee Bean Road — is a “wall” and therefore out of compliance until it goes through a permitting process, which is now underway.

Dwyer had the 60-foot-by-24-foot partition constructed to block the view of a newly built house that she said offends her sensibilities.

“You know the saying, ‘Good fences make good neighbors,’ ” Selectman Mike Pomeroy said this week. “In this case, good fences are making bad neighbors.”  Continue reading “Different Points of View on Thetford ‘Wall’”

Waiting for His Cows to Be Sprung: Dispute Over Trespassing Cattle Leads to Neighbor Impounding Herd

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Royalton — Trouble has been brewing on Happy Hollow Road, and a quartet of innocent cows is stuck in the middle.

Making use of a state law from a bygone era, an exasperated resident fenced in a neighboring farmer’s escaped bovines over the summer. The farmer wants the animals released, and after months of dispute, today could be the day this mad cow escapade comes to an end.

“I was hoping it would get resolved a lot sooner,” Royalton Police Chief Bob Hull said Wednesday. “It’s sort of something that I don’t think has happened probably in the state for a long, long time.” Continue reading “Waiting for His Cows to Be Sprung: Dispute Over Trespassing Cattle Leads to Neighbor Impounding Herd”

Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Windsor — At the municipal offices downtown, Police Chief Stephen Soares compared the stench wafting through Windsor Wednesday to the smell of “burning rubbish.”

Town Manager Tom Marsh said it evoked “a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire.” And at least one person thought it smelled like bacon.

Alas, a town official says the cause was something less redolent: A giant pile of goat manure spontaneously combusted at a Route 5 goat farm early Wednesday morning, they said, erupting into small flames and emitting a scent that both perplexed and amused people.

“(I)t was a little disconcerting because it was a very strong smell,” said Marsh, who said the aura was easily detectable at his home high on a hill, about five miles from the farm. “It wasn’t like a whiff of something.” Continue reading “Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm”

Pampering Poultry: Chicken Poop a Problem? Claremont Woman Has It Covered

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Claremont — Open the door to Julie Baker’s rural Claremont home and find little Mama Hen, hanging out on the stairway to the second floor.

No need to check the bottoms of your shoes, though. The 3-year-old broody is sporting an unusual garment featuring a small receptacle in the back, covering — as Baker puts it — her “vent.” With snaps on the back, a bow in the front and understated ruffles throughout, the bright pink get-up would make Barbie jealous.

It’s a fitting scene for Baker’s home, where goats are named after flowers and at least one goose has been known to wear a bonnet, and which doubles as headquarters for her business selling, of course, chicken diapers. Continue reading “Pampering Poultry: Chicken Poop a Problem? Claremont Woman Has It Covered”