The Joy of Winter

Reijo playing in freshly fallen snow.

Reijo playing in freshly fallen snow.

In August, our family of four moved to Cobb Hill from the Hudson Valley of New York. While we had some other winter lovers in our old community, people mostly complained about the snow and the cold and eagerly awaited spring. Moving north to Vermont has been a great opportunity for us to further embrace the season along with our four and six year old kids.

Lila running down one of Cobb Hill's many hills.

Lila running down one of Cobb Hill's many hills.

One of the biggest joys of living at Cobb Hill so far has been all the winter opportunities right on site- miles of groomed cross country ski trails, extensive woodlands for snowshoeing, as the name suggests, plenty of hills for sledding, and ever growing mounds of snow to climb, slide down and burrow through. After the first snowfall in early December, I remember looking groggily out our window at our neighbor and his 9 year old daughter sledding before 8 am. Later, two ten years olds passed by on cross country skis. Over the course of the day, various community members of all ages jumped on sleds, slipped into snowshoes, and strapped on their cross country skis heading to the still ungroomed trails in celebration of the arrival of winter. Cobb Hill and the broader community clearly felt the same way about winter as we do.

A recent NY Times article about a nearby Vermont town claimed, “The town’s collective philosophy is that youth sports exist to develop a lasting love for physical activity and the outdoors, life skills and friendships that last forever.” Cobb Hill’s collective enthusiasm for the outdoors and enjoyment of winter has embodied this philosophy and and it’s been contagious.

Lilja, age six, gaining confidence during her first day alpine skiing

Lilja, age six, gaining confidence during her first day alpine skiing

For example, my six year old thought downhill skiing “looked too scary.” Several other kids kindly clarified that she would be on gentle slopes to learn and enthusiastically encouraged her. After her second day skiing she proclaimed, “Because I am such a good skier, I got to go all the way to the top of the mountain.” As a family, it brings us joy to be outside together but it also feels right from a parenting perspective. Our kids are learning life skills that build confidence and community and will bring health and fun for years to come.

Reijo, age four, looking out at Mt. Ascutney from the top of the Sheep Pasture- a short snow shoe from our doorstep.

Reijo, age four, looking out at Mt. Ascutney from the top of the Sheep Pasture- a short snow shoe from our doorstep.

Starting tomorrow, the weather is supposed to turn unseasonably warm. Trying to enjoy the last of the snow, my four year old and I headed out the door in snowshoes. After about fifteen minutes, we ended up atop the sheep pasture with gorgeous views of Mt. Ascutney and the mountains across the Connecticut River. The opportunity to hop out our door into winter has been deeply gratifying and has allowed us to explore the joy of winter with two small children.

Cobb Hill Winter Woods

By Karyn Stack

Some might think that not much goes on in the woods during the cold and quiet winter months, here in Vermont, but to the contrary.   I just got back from a walk with my trusted dog Gillie, after having seen some new, neatly piled mushroom logs that my husband Bill and the other Shiitake Stooges cut in preparation for the Spring Inoculation Party.  Ten minutes prior, I noticed small deer tracks on the Snowshoe trail I had cut weeks ago above the Sheep Pasture and use most days.  Makes me smile to think that I have made winter walking a bit easier for the young four-leggeds.

Winter woods karyn.png


Earlier in the week, I caught a glimpse of and heard, one of my old forest friends, the grand Pileated Woodpecker.  Days before that, I was treated to a Barred Owl conversation, between two who were hooting from a distance. 

More than a month ago, while cruising along in my Snowshoes, I spooked up what I believe was a Grouse.  I also regularly see remnants from a squirrel/chipmunk meal, scattered across the snow.

I like the independence of snowshoeing. Really, I can roam anywhere in our woods to create a trail, making it a bit easier the next time I venture out.

Sometimes I walk with friends or run into others while I wander, but many days it’s just Gillie and me.  She’s great company and spending more time in our woods, I have come to feel very comfortable and at home out there. 

Hartland 4H at Tunbridge Fair

The 4H kids had a great time.

 It was a long fair 5 days and they worked hard and had many wonderful moments. We had many first place winners including fall calf, spring calf, 2 year old cow, fall yearling, spring yearling, best 2 sisters, best 3 sisters, vegetables and jam. in 2nd place we had dam daughter, spring yearling Holstein, summer yearling, fall.yearling and 2yr old cow. Maeve got first place in showmanship in her age group and 3rd out of 91 kids.overall. Kate had best in show for her blueberry jam. In a few cow classes the cows took all the 5 top spots. Valerie, our stylish fall calf was reserve jr. Champion. 

2017 Cobb Hill Open House A Big Success!

We held our third Cobb Hill Open House on Sunday, June 25th from 1-4 PM

There were tours, yummy tastings of farm-made cheese and conversation.  We had a great turn-out of visitors from all over the east coast.  The 4-H club had presentations and an information table, there were farm tours, a house tour, and general site tours including the wood-fired oven and the shiitake mushroom area.  We even had a lemonade stand.  Thank you to all who visited.  If you missed it, we will have another next year, or contact us to set up a visit.

After the event, Cobb Hill members enjoyed yummy pizza from the brick pizza oven.  

On-Going Activities included:

  • Light refreshments and chatting on the Common House porch
  • Horse-powered farming demonstration
  • Farm tours
  • Self-guided hike and tours
  • Tours of the shiitake mushroom growing yard, see our new bread oven, central wood-burning heating system, and Cobb Hill Cheese operation.

Cobb Hill Cheese Wins Another Award!

Cheese lovers rejoice! Cheese Madness is coming to Wild Oats February 24-April 8. This exciting culinary event will pit eight local cheeses against each other to see who will win over customers’ palates to become the 2017 champion!

On Fridays and Saturdays during the competition, customers can sample two cheeses and vote for their favorite. The winning cheese will be announced the following Monday, will be on sale that week and will go on to compete in the semi-finals.

In addition, each week you vote, you’ll be eligible for the weekly giveaway of a fruit and cheese basket that will include the winning cheese.

Week 1: Ascutney Mountain (Cobb Hill Cheese, Hartland, Vt.) vs. Alpha Tolman (Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro Bend, Vt.)

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