This beautiful new logo was created by Win Colwell. We hope you will find it as entrancing as we do! You can see more of Win’s work here.
14 Bat habitat management walks: held each Saturday morning at 10:00 from August to November. Typically lasting 90 minutes
Evening walk and open session for the Vermont Coverts Cooperators
4 lab sessions for the Middlebury College Environmental studies program (in April)
Lambing season with the assistance of Middlebury Students and alums: 3 weeks following an initial orientation at Weybridge House
2 Workshops for first year students: one focusing on the management of the farm and the other on the role of migrant workers in the agricultural community. Students from the second group camped out on the farm.
Jim Andrews Tree Identification Class (in conjunction with Hogback Community College)
Treleven as the retreat site for J-Term Class, Spirit of Change
Culminating Seminar for Child Care Workers met under our auspices
Accepted as a partner for Food Works
Ethan and Susannah hosted extended stays for Global Diversity Foundation participants (a photographer and film maker from Cyprus and a political ecologist from Turkey).
Invisible Odysseys exhibit on display at the Middlebury Inn in conjunction with the Farm Health Task Force Training
Herpetology class from UVM visiting the farm with Jim Andrews (April 6)
Master Class with Maggie Carey June 12 and 13: organized by Peggy Sax, bonfires by Don and Ethan.
Summer Internship June 1- August 8. Megan Cousino will be our intern
Weekly Four Winds workshops for parents and young children (most likely Wednesday mornings from 10:00 – 11:30 with families welcome to stay longer if they wish. Organized by Erin Ruble with help from Cheryl and Megan
Monthly Experiment with light sessions: most likely 4:30 – 5:30, first Wednesday of each month
Visit from Donna Eder and David Duffee from the Mt. Gilead Friends Retreat June 21 – 29. There will most likely be an open sharing forum on the role of retreat centers in our lives
2014 Lambing Season, in conjunction with Weybridge House and the College Garden and Farm Coalition
Workshop on building Leopold Benches (not yet scheduled)
Workshop on basket making with Maura Clancy (not yet scheduled)
5 session writing workshop with Don and John. Likely 2 sessions at the end of Aug and 3 in October (in conjunction with Hog Back Community College)
2 orientation sessions for first year students (mid Sept)
Narrative Therapy Master Class for 2015 will be on Narrative Psychiatry, led by SuEllen Hampkins
Mother/Daughter narrative group workshop with SuEllen Hampkins
Workshop with Steve Blackmer: founder of Church of the Woods
Workshop with Emily Ryan based on the work of Joanna Macy: “The Work that Reconnects”: http://workthatreconnects.org/.
Healing through poetry with Jane Jackson
Grant Writing with Susannah and Cheryl
It is hard to remember a winter that has lasted this long. Here is a view of the pond on the first day of spring. We are still burning wood and the snow cover does at least reflect lots of light during the solar days. We are hoping that the snow and ice will be gone before lambing season begins. The sheep have been coming into the barn in single file often sliding over the ice pack at the entrance. They still wait until we invite them in, but there must be some kind of hormones in the air as the ram has started butting me if I turn my back on him. We are excited to be planning for summer and invite you to send ideas our way. The next Board Meeting is April 5, from 4:00- 6:00 if you have suggestions. Although Peggy’s workshop on the farm is over subscribed, there are still a few places open in the one that will be held at All Souls. Please see Re-authoring Teaching for more information. We expect the family farm and forest exploration group will start meeting weekly in June.
We are very excited to be partnering with Hogback Community College as well as Middlebury College and the Union Institute and University for several of our offerings. Most recently Jim Andrews led his class on tree identification through the winter woods. It is amazing how much you can learn just by looking at twigs and bark. Here are some of the students with Jim:
We hosted a session of Experiment with Light this month and hope to make it a regular offering in the coming months. The Experiment is a guided meditation that takes about 45 minutes. It is derived from what are thought to be George Fox’s instructions for turning inward and opening to the searching of the Light—the original way Quaker Meetings were held at home. (Public meetings had speakers and were very different.
February was filled with dazzling sunlight and beautiful snow. The Treleven Igloo, engineered by Ethan Mitchell, was constructed with the help of Susannah and the Putnam/Ruble family. It was large enough to shelter all six, although Cole and Eliza decided they did not want to spend the night inside. The igloo went up under the wondering gaze of Ethan’s 94 year old Grandfather, who later devoted many hours to watching it change shape as the weather grew warmer.
Don has been busy learning birds and trees. Cheryl and Erin have begun planning the summer farm and forest experience for families. Peggy’s narrative therapy master class is already over-subscribed. We are delighted to be participating with the Food Works Program at Middlebury College this year. Megan Cousino, our summer intern will be helping with Treleven activities both on the farm and in partnership with the Addison County Parent/Child Center. We are looking forward to hosting a visit from Donna Eder and her family. They run the Mt. Gilead Retreat in Indiana; we expect to learn so much from them. We invite you to come explore the trails any time: mud season is just around the corner, so muck boots are advisable.
The new year started with ice covered fields, unlike anything we have ever seen. Our nephew from Dallas strapped on his hockey skates and turned the whole farm into a skating rink. For us just putting out hay for the sheep in the morning became an amazing challenge. We started feeding grain and for reasons unknown, the sheep have become very polite, waiting outside the gate while we get things ready and coming in only when invited. We think it might be the effect of having only one ram this year, instead of our usual two. Lambing will begin in April, let us know if you would like to come help.
This was the second year that the Middlebury College J-Term class: Spirit of Change, met on the farm for two retreat days. We scrambled up the back cliff for lunch one day, but stayed in the warmth of the annex for the second day. The students all did placements at local non-profits and created short YouTube videos about them. We explored ways to create communities that offer pathways to prosperity for all members and created a short book based on the course work.
Don made his first-ever “Black Friday” shopping foray on the day after Thanksgiving this year, in order to buy a wildlife camera that happened to be on sale. There were no crowds in the box store at 6 a.m. fighting to get their hands on one of these devices, so Don was able to make off with it easily. It’s an innocuous-looking plastic box painted in camouflage green, and when you strap it to a tree in the woods it begins to quietly take photographs of anything that triggers its ultra-sensitive motion detector. Day or night, rain or shine. An infrared flash illuminates the surrounding visual field for a distance of up to forty feet, without unduly alarming the photographic subject. The idea is that any animal who innocently wanders into the camera’s range will have its picture taken and be digitally recorded.
Once we get adequate snow cover to show the tracks of animals moving through the woods, we’ll set up the wildlife camera at places where there seems to be persistent activity…and then we’ll post at least some of the results on this website. Anecdotally, we’re already sure we have a wide and diverse array of wildlife making their living on Treleven Farm—particularly on account of the sprawling beaver swamp and the talus formations at the base of both the east cliff (“the back cliff’) and the south cliff. These talus formations don’t amount to true caves, but they do offer myriad denning sites that are easily defensible and well-protected from the weather.
It will be fascinating to pin down exactly what creatures we’re sheltering here. Some of the impressions that we find in the snow are reasonably obvious: white-tailed deer, snowshoe rabbits, foxes and coyotes. But is there a fisher out there? What about a bobcat, or long-tailed weasel? Vermont’s Department of Fish and Wildlife lists fifty-eight different species of wild mammals as being native to Vermont, of which seven are currently assigned an “endangered” status by the state. (Four of those seven endangered species happen to be bats, which accounts for the state’s overriding concern with enhancing bat habitat). Once we get the wildlife camera up and running, the goal will be to make a photo album showing how many of those fifty-eight wild mammals are present on Treleven Farm.
A couple days after Don’s “Black Friday” shopping adventure, Ethan came across a YouTube clip of a wildlife life camera set up to record video images in Australia. The camera was evidently picked up by an eagle, who flew off with it and managed to take pictures far and wide. Here’s the link to where you can fly with an eagle:
Eagles have made something of a comeback recently in the Champlain Valley, and we’ve spotted at least one of them flying over the farm on several occasions…looking for a camera to fly off with, in all likelihood. I hope he’s not smart enough to bite through the bungee cords used to attach our camera to a likely tree. But if he does, we’ll try to get it back and then post the images!
The program offerings of Treleven, Inc. have been growing slowly in quantity and quality. Some of the highlights were:
Master Class with David Epston. This wonderful class, arranged by Peggy Sax, was designed for advanced practitioners of narrative therapy. It is the model for the way we hope Treleven will function in the future. The group spent three days attending classes in the Annex, hiking and biking during the breaks, eating, laughing, and learning. Peggy is planning a similar event for spring of 2014. Some of the international group of participants had connected through Peggy’s on-line teaching site, others were meeting for the first time. The weather was glorious and we learned a lot about the way Treleven could support a group such as this.
Habitat Management Project: AKA Bat Walks In conjunction with the publication of Don Mitchell’s new book, Flying Blind, we led 90 minute tours of the habitat management areas of the farm. These took place every Saturday morning at 10:00, rain or shine (for the most part the weather was wonderful). Groups ranged in size from small up to 15 and often included people from other environmental groups such as Vermont Coverts, Audubon, Bat Conservation International, and girl scouts working on bat protection. We even saw bats at one of the special evening tours.
Farm Management: The seasonal work of the farm continues to attract volunteers, many of them students from the college. Spring is lambing season, summer is haymaking, and autumn is putting the gardens and orchard to bed. This is another area we hope to expand in the future, perhaps in conjunction with the emerging environmental and food studies programs at the college.
Supporting child care and other human service workers: Treleven continues to host the Culminating Seminar for Early Childhood and Afterschool Professionals once or twice a year. This is a twelve-week, 3 credit course offered through the Union Institute and University. We have also offered reflective practice sessions and retreats for this community. The TouchPoints work, which Treleven used to sponsor, has now been successfully transitioned to the Vermont Department of Health, under the direction of Wendy Davis, MD (the former Commissioner of the Department). We have hosted small meetings for the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and the Home Visiting Alliance. The Education in Human Values Curriculum has now been distributed to all schools in Addison County, as well as to many statewide organizations.
Supporting Middlebury College: Treleven has hosted orientations for first year students (one focused on environmental issues, the other on social justice); a retreat for the Campus Compact Leaders, a winter term course called Spirit of Change, and has helped connect College programs with the Migrant Farmworker Coalition Activities. The connections with B Amore and the Invisible Odysseys project remain strong: this year the art work was part of the Rural Health Training meeting that was held in Middlebury.