The Chicken Coop 
By David Amouretti
Grade 5, Thomas Fleming School


I open the coop’s squeaky door.
I pass the rooster sleeping in a feathery mass.
He opens one eye, then closes it,
Deciding that I’m not a threat.
At the laying area, I reach in
The tiny room with the mother hens,
White, brown, spotted,
Sleeping on the side.
Waiting for a peck,
But nothing happens.
I count 1...2…3…4…
Four eggs.
My trembling hands gently pick them up.
They feel cold, chilling my fingers
In the already freezing winter.
Careful not to drop them,
I walk inside,
Ready for omelets.

Hunger Free Vermont received David's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.


Shatter

By Callista Bushee 
Grade 8, Home School, East Wallingford

On the second Friday in January, a calf was born at Seward Farm in East Wallingford, just 10 minutes from my home. She wasn’t out of the ordinary; in fact, she was anything but different. 

The heifer, the first female calf in several months of bulls, had a thick-headed temper to her, like her mother, and boasted her rudeness from day one. But that Monday, one of the two days I spend volunteering at Seward’s each week, she caught my eye.

We usually only name registered or special calves, and she was neither. A bit smaller than most, her size was the only unusual trait about her, with regular markings and, of course, her tough disposition. However, the calf’s strong will was much like my own, and she grew on me. 

With permission from Art and Dave Seward, the two wonderful guys who own and operate the farm, I named her Shatter for her white markings, which in some places looked like shattered glass.

With time, Shatter became more even-tempered, and her affection for me grew. After I’d trained her to give me her hooves upon request and a few other useful tricks, I began working with her on a halter, walking her any chance I got. Bit by bit, Shatter worked her way into my heart, funny little nose first.

Working at Seward’s is by far the highlight of my week, not only because of Shatter but because no matter how grim things look, Art and Dave always find a way to laugh. One way or another, they cheer you up, and they have showed me that even in the toughest situations, you can always find a way to smile.

Otter Creek 4-H Group received Callista's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.


Dusty Creek Farm (excerpt)

By Kelsey Eddy
Grade 9, Mill River High School

I turned the doorknob and walked into the milk house. The milk container was cold, as expected, and the family had not started without me. 

I walked through the milk house and went into the barn. I walked down the aisle, looking for my grandpa. “Hey Sprout, you here to help out or talk to the old lady?” he asked. We both laughed. My grandpa had a great sense of humor, and always called me Sprout. 

“Go clean off the calves,” he said, all business-like...

I always loved cows, even though they were huge compared to me, and much stronger, but most of them were nice... Cows weren’t like dogs, but they had their own ways into my heart...

Milking a cow is complicated because there are many dangers. If the cow is used to another person, she will sometimes refuse to allow others to clean her. “Blonde” was the one who did that. She only wanted my grandpa to milk her, and we didn’t argue. Some of our cows we have to sing to, so they will calm down; some you just have to yell at and tell them you’re the boss. 

My grandpa was the toughest man around the farm. Unlike me, who can be scared of cows at times, my grandpa was tough and fearless, even though he had his limits. He was the best grandpa I could ask for. My grandma was right with him; she loved the farm, and her grandkids, and always pushed herself, no matter what... 

Farming was my life, all the hard times that we had to work through, from hay season where my dad and I raced to beat thunderstorms in the hay wagon, to fixing broken water tubes that water all the cows, to going in knee-deep water during Hurricane Irene to save the cows from drowning in the field, to the death of calves, that always silenced the barnyard. There were also good times that I will never forget, like watching my little sisters feed the calves, playing and brushing the calves, seeing a baby calf being born, grandpa teaching me how to drive the tractor, staying up all night talking about all the fun we have, and all the little things that I hold so dear...

But now, as I look around at our cows, hear the sound of the farm, remember all the good and bad, I can’t help but cry, because all this, that I grew up to know and love, is being sold this summer.

Read the complete story at youngwritersproject.org/node/ 79906.

The Rutland Humane Society received Kelsey's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.

Living By a Farm 
By Saskia Kiely 
Grade 7, Vergennes Union High School 

The drive down the luminous dirt road when I was moving away from my childhood home was torturous. I knew it was going to be a big change, moving to West Addison, and not necessarily a good one. Gone was my lush yard and surrounding mountains that were the backdrop of my childhood. I arrived to see a bland town, no trees, and fields flatter than a pancake. The only thing I could smell for the first week was manure. My parents told me it would be a great experience and change, but I wasn’t convinced.

My new home is surrounded by farmland all around; there is no escape. My first encounter with the farm was with the cows. One day I had some extra cake that I normally would have discarded, but I decided to give it to the cows. I went outside, walked over and cautiously dropped the cake over the electric fence. The excited cows came forward and licked it a couple times. 

The next day I went back out and came a little closer, allowing them to suck on my fingers. Day after day I would walk to the barn and interact with the animals, and Rob and Suzie, the farmers. I could see when the pigs got out from my living room window, and would rush over to chase them back in. The place had started to grow on me, and I wanted to be of help in any way I could.

Prior to moving, my stereotype of dairy farmers was strong. I thought that farmers were gruff middle-aged men who didn’t care about anything — they just had the jobs for the tractors. But I realized how incorrect this stereotype was when I met my neighbor farmers who are kind, generous, and always helpful — and their kids are also creative and engaging. 

Amazed by how much effort and time they give to producing milk, I started thinking differently about the farming lifestyle and the passion and dedication it requires. These people sacrifice so much time to wake up in the morning at 5 o’clock and take care of the calves or milk the cows. They don’t just do it because it’s their job, they do it because it’s what they love to do. 

Something I would like to make less of an issue is “judging a book by its cover.” Each time I judge a person or situation without all of the facts, I come to realize how stupid it is. You have to get to know something or someone before you discover how breathtaking it/they can be.

The farm I live next to shows an immense amount of love and care towards their animals. They name almost all of their pigs and many of their cows as well. So much of Vermont’s specialty produce is dairy-related and farms play a big part in that. Vermont is lucky to have so many farms to supply milk because it’s always available and fresh.

Within a week of moving to West Addison, I knew it was going to be so incredibly fun. I feel so lucky to live next to this amazing farm with outstanding farmers. I think what they do is very important for our state and I am so lucky to be able to have the privilege to connect with the animals whenever I want. 

I love how when I drive down my street I can see the beautiful sun setting over the Adirondacks in the distance, and I am greeted by the pleasing smell of the farm I have become very fond of.

The Willowell Foundation received Saskia's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.

Summer on the Farm (excerpt)
By Carley Malloy 
Grade 7, Thetford Academy 

I’ve decided that a family farm is a lot like a barbed wire fence; running smooth for a little while, and then running into a twist or barb that slows things down. My last year and a half has been spent working on my grandparents’ farm. Each day has been a new adventure, and I often catch myself looking back and saying, “remember the day…”

I like summer on the farm the most; the weather has warmed so the barn can be left open and I can hear the jingling of chains as the cows turn their heads to look when I come in. Summer on the farm means haying, fencing, cleaning up the winter’s mess, and letting the cows outside to stretch their long legs. Kittens and calves are born and you have the fun of tracking them down every morning to see where their mothers have decided to move them.

We spent much of our time fixing fence, but I was on crutches for a few weeks, which meant there wasn’t much I could do to help. One hot summer day, my grandfather, mom, and two of my cousins were all working down the hill from the barn, next to the road. My grandfather, unlike most farmers, fixes fence with an excavator. It works great; one person holds the fence post up and he pushes it in with the excavator bucket, and two or three others go behind and start stringing wire. 

I usually occupied myself with my own chores, like washing down the milk house or reading my book in the hay in front of the heifers. Today, though, I had a new calf to train. She was born on Cinco de Mayo, and we named her Lola, which suited her right away. I walked to the end of the barn where she was hitched with her mother. She jumped up when she saw that I was coming to see her and came over to start sucking on my fingers.

I smiled and took the halter off the nail and we fought each other as I tried to tighten it over her ears and around her muzzle for the first time. She was so young that she didn’t pull like some calves do. She would run to the end of her rope and come to a quick stop until I had caught up to her. We headed down the hill, Lola on the halter and me on my crutches, to where the fencers had stopped to take a break. My grandmother and brother had brought lunch and we ate on the ground in the shade of the excavator. After the kids had fought over sandwiches and drinks, it was peacefully quiet, and I looked over at Lola, to see that she had curled up and fallen asleep in my mom’s lap. She looked so content. I nudged my cousin and he smiled, as Lola’s eyelashes shivered and she sighed heavily, sinking deeper into sleep and the lap she was taking up....

Read the complete story at http://youngwritersproject.org/node/80476

The Thetford Food Shelf received Carley's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.


Sheep Poem 

By Eva Rocheleau 
Grade 8, Williston Central School

The lambs born in February and March leap together
In May when the fields are green
The visitors come
And they ask us questions like “when” and “why” and “where”
June, July rotate the pastures
Shifting the fence, one, two, three, lift!
Then comes August
When we load up the trailers
And off to the fair
Full of top-notch churros and freshly ironed pants
The days of blocking and fitting
Showing and ribbons
Are long, tense, and sweaty
And the sheep are loud and “fitted” their best
Once Addison County and Champlain Expo are simply joyful memories
We pack up our lambs, all tuckered out, and head back to the farm
Where the shepherds are eagerly waiting
September, lambs are nearly forgotten
Only photographs

The Williston Food Shelf received Eva's $50 donation from the Community Foundation.