History of a Vermont Sheep Farm
Getting Started: You Can Farm Too!
A Flock of Your Own Icelandic Sheep
A Flock of Your Own Chickens
Growing Your Farm: How the Numbers Work
Dreaming Vermont: Relocating and Living in Vermont

Once more the holiday season is upon us, and I could make my life easier by penning (or in my case, tapping out on my keyboard) a nice little piece of drivel detailing the things I am thankful for. I could wax eloquent about my fine neighbors, who, in fact, I am grateful for... from the active and entertaining woman above me, to the two who bought the little green camp in the woods (featured in The Royal Flush)and visit all too infrequently. It would be timely, appropriate, and hopelessly boring.

Nevertheless, it is my annual moment to be grateful for at least one thing. This year, once again, I am not making Christmas wreaths for a living. I take this one year at a time. When I am a little old lady living on my lottery winnings, I will still be going into the holiday season grateful that this year, I do not have to make Christmas wreaths.

We all have, at one time or another, held The Job. The one we swear we will never, ever, perform again, unless we have passed desperation, and have fallen into hopeless. Christmas wreaths. Not if I can help it.

Lest you think there is something romantic about the production of Christmas wreaths, let me be the first to dispel your illusions. To begin, balsam is delivered to your home on the back of a very large truck. The pile, plunked in your side yard, resembles a large green Chevy van. Then you cut the twine binding the pile together, and it explodes into something the size of a city bus. It promptly kills the grass.

To make the wreaths you clip the tips of the firs, created a little fan, and wire it onto a round frame. A pile of fir the size of a city bus creates a pile of wreaths the size of a small U-haul trailer (which goes off to New York City) and a pile of ends and bits the size of... a city bus. How you dispose of this waste material is up to you.

You, since you have been working 20 hours a day, wiring little fans of fir onto ice cold rings in an unheated barn, are in no hurry to dispose of the leftovers. You leave them to rot where you've thrown them... in the middle of the garden.

They do not rot. And in spring there you are, with peas to plant, and a mountain of brush in the middle of your garden. The town dump's tipping fee for the mountain is roughly twice what you made while creating the mountain, and you opt for burning.

Now, at the time I was living in a town where burning brush in the middle of one's garden was frowned upon, but weenie roasts were encouraged. We bought a package of Oscar Meyer's best, threw a match into the mess on a nice drizzly day, and stood there with our weenies nicely mounted on long sticks.

In the time it took to inhale, our pile erupted into a tower of screaming flames shooting 5' above the roofline of our farmhouse. People still talk about it. It shot skyward, engulfed 5' of lawn beyond the garden, turned our weenies to charcol, removed eyebrows... and died back as quickly as it exploded, leaving me with a lifelong respect for burn piles, a swatch of charred lawn that never did recover, and the inspiration to find other gainful employment.

And I am grateful to report, another holiday season is going by, and I am not making wreaths. It doesn't get any better than this.

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Stories From a Vermont Life:

Camilla Blue
Frozen Gifts
Making Wreaths
The Fourth of July

The Farm at Morrison Corner raises Icelandic Sheep on the last hill farm in Mansfield, VT.  Learn about Raising Icelandic Sheep, Raising Chickens, Moving to Vermont and Living in Vermont on this and our other sites.

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