All posts by SpruceKnob

My First Two Weeks at Smokey House

Posted by Scott:

My first two weeks at Smokey House were exciting.

IMG_0052Monday, we completed work on the workbench. I did sanding, polyurethane, and built the shelf.  On Wednesday, Robin taught us how to do chip carving.   We did the map of New England on the pond.  We measured the lines on ice, drew them with sticks, and covered them with fire ash.  Friday, we made boxes out of pine and we cut down little trees to make wood mallets.

IMG_0197On Monday, we went rock climbing at the Green Mountain Climbing Center in Rutland. It was pretty good.  I want to go back.  The only thing I hated about it was the shoes, because they’re so tight, they’re uncomfortable.   We went to Subway for lunch.  Today,  Lucas made chicken cordon bleu, and it was amazing!  We did more decorations on the boxes, and some people made wood mallets.

My old school was pretty boring.  This school is hands-on projects and learning. I like it better here.IMG_0054



The First Quarter

IMG_7012Can you believe that we’ve completed the first quarter of the school year already?  Here’s a partial list of the learning activities at YouthWork and Learn:

  • Writing – daily reflections and review of learning; free-writing; blog posts.
  • Reading – field guides; cookbooks and recipes; informational magazines.IMG_0591
  • Exploration of agriculture – the practice and economics of farming, including visits to four farms.  Hands-on experiences in apple picking, field preparation, scything/mowing, composting, mulching, pest identification.  Planning and selling produce at farmers market.
  • Botany and ecology – work on leaf, plant, and tree identification; invasive species;  human interaction with the environment.
  • Nutrition – including food pyramid, nutrients, calories; food log.
  • Culinary skills – Cooking and baking: fresh tomato sauce, “caprese” salad, salsa, cider, applesauce, pumpkin puree, pumpkin bread, dried herbs, stuffed mini-pumpkins/squash.  Use and preservation of fresh vegetables.  Kitchen safety, maintenance and organization.
  • Garden management – active planning, managing, and problem-solving in the garden.IMG_7105
  • Geography – familiarity with local area including farms and forest, map reading.
  • Physical activity – daily outdoor activities, including hiking and garden work.
  • Creative arts – photography, honeysuckle woodcraft, balanced rocks installation.
  • Current issues – daily discussion of personal and social issues, politics, government, etc.
  • Development of personal and career-related skills – leadership, team-work, problem-solving, independence, persistence, resilience, attentiveness, et al.



Pumpkins and Basil

The basil tops were nipped by frost.
The basil tops were nipped by frost.

It’s Wednesday, and finally we have a warm sunny day. The first frosts have blackened the tops of the basil, finished off the cucumbers and attacked the pole beans. However, the parsley and cilantro weren’t worried by the cold, and the bees are still buzzing around the oregano and the thyme.

We've grown 160 mini-pumpkins and 33 pie pumpkins
We’ve grown 160 mini-pumpkins and 33 pie pumpkins

We harvested the last of the pumpkins and moved them to the terrace to continue curing in the sun. We also harvested herbs to hang up and dry inside, and as always, we bring in whatever is ready, like the last cukes and the latest tomatoes to ripen.

Before lunch we pulled out the old cider press and checked that all the parts were there.  We plan to test it out on Friday.IMG_6977

For lunch we made insalata caprese, an Italian tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, drizzled with blueberry balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was luscious and worthy of a fancy restaurant. This afternoon after blog writing, we moved to botany, studying the structure of leaves and how to use them to identify trees and other plants.  We spent some time with a variety of leaves, categorizing them by structure and using the field guides to identify a mystery tree.  (We figured out it was a basswood.)IMG_6979