Making a Quinzee at Smokey House

Piling up snow to make the quinzee

Piling up snow to make the quinzee

What do you do when the first substantial snowfall turns your world white?  You go outside!  Never mind that it’s 12 degrees outside with a wind chill factor around zero.

Prep for outdoor activities

Prep for outdoor activities

 

 

Monday, as part of our study of winter ecology and wilderness survival, we built a “quinzee”, a snow shelter carved out of piled up snow. This kind of shelter can provide well-insulated protection from arctic temperatures.  By mounding the snow and waiting for several hours, the snow has a change to sinter, or firm up, as the snow crystals bond.

Digging out the inside of the quinzee

Digging out the inside of the quinzee

We started digging out the interior Monday afternoon and finished it Wednesday, when the weather was a sultry 25 degrees.

Moving snow is hard work!  Sometimes a break is needed (and a chance to work on your tan?)

Moving snow is hard work! Sometimes a break is needed (and a chance to work on your tan?)

YouthWork and Learn – The Tutorial Center at Smokey House Center, Danby

Honeysuckle Coat Hooks

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Invasive honeysuckle is cut from the hedgerow between fields.

Invasive honeysuckle is cut from the hedgerow between fields.

I can’t help it;  since last Friday, I have required every person who walks through the door to stop and admire our new honeysuckle coat hooks.  I love them!  Made from invasive bush honeysuckle, they are the epitome of a win-win project:

we cut down the invasive plants, and we made something both useful and beautiful from them.

Branches are cut close to the trunk, making natural hooks.

Branches are cut close to the trunk, making natural hooks.

 

 

 

 

Each piece of honeysuckle is peeled, ends are rounded, and rough places are sanded.

Each piece of honeysuckle is peeled, ends are rounded, and rough places are sanded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurrah for Robin Chesnut-Tangerman who shared the idea, showed examples that he had made at home, and guided students through to the completion of the project.

 

Congratulations to the students who persevered through cutting, carving, sanding, oiling, drilling, and mounting.

The board and hooks are oiled before the coat hanger is assembled.

The board and hooks are oiled before the coat hanger is assembled.

 

 

 

!

Each hook has screw holes drilled before attaching.

Each hook has screw holes drilled before attaching.

 

 

 

 

Logging and Honeysuckle

IMG_7466What do a lost logging village in the Green Mountains, a French-Canadian “cirque”, Christmas trees and invasive honeysuckle have in common?  Answer:  they were all part of the curriculum at YouthWork & Learn last week.

IMG_7405Monday, our guest instructor was Brad Bender, president of the Danby-Mt. Tabor Historical Society. After hearing the history of Silas Griffith, local business and logging millionaire of the 19th century, we headed out to the remains of two of his logging villages.  Various adventures later (through snow and high water), we explored the remnants of barns, railways, and one of the first fish hatcheries in the U.S.  We’ll go back in the spring for more hands-on history, including a closer look at hill made of saw dust.

Tuesday, we drove north to Burlington.  As part of our interest in the history and economics of logging, we enjoyed an inspiring performance of the Cirque Alfonse “Timber” at the Flynn Center, a rustic-themed performance that included log tossing, hatchet juggling, and saw jumping.IMG_7458

Wednesday and Friday we continued with our project of turning invasive bush honeysuckle branches into coat hooks.  We also cut Christmas trees, including the Smokey House Center tree donated to the annual gift-giving to the children of Danby, courtesy of a legacy of Silas Griffith (see above).  Friday we also met with SHC director Jesse Pyles, who talked to us about the history and mission of Smokey House and as well as the management of its natural and economic resources.  A full week indeed!IMG_7449

November Highlights at YouthWork and Learn

November flew by at our high school YouthWork and Learn program at the Smokey House Center.  Highlights include:

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* Cooking and eating from the garden throughout the month, starting with pumpkin pie and ending with carrot-corn burritos.

* Co-hosting a workshop on soil for new farmers, sponsored by RAFFL.

* Creating prints from nature with guest educator Barbara Robertson.IMG_7330

 

 

 

*Preparing for a larger garden in the spring, moving more rocks out of the field we scythed and putting in a cover crop.  (Unfortunately, we put it in too late.  The weather suddenly turned cold. Next year we’ll do better.)

* Building our outdoor skills, hiking in the snow, and some practice with campfire.  (We got it going with a single match!)  It takes practice to roast hot dogs and marshmallows…

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Second Day of School at Smokey House

YouthWork and Learn has started the school year in good form.  Here are reports from our second day at Smokey House:

ImageFrom Brittany:  First year ever being at the Smoky House – makes me feel good. This is my second day being here, and it’s amazing to have this opportunity to be here for school, to help everyone out by working in their garden. The past two days of working in the garden feels good. I love working outside and being able to work in a garden for other people. It’s such a wonderful job. I never knew half of the stuff I have learned in the last two days.

The Smoky House is such a good place to be. There are many new things to do and learn about if you didn’t already know about them. I honestly think that if I did not come to school at the Smoky House I would not know most of the stuff I keep learning about. As days go on more and more things keep happening, it is for the best! The teachers here are friendly and really nice. They are very welcoming and over all just make school a lot better for us. I would not know what to do without my teachers and the stuff they teach us about.

Working/going to school here is a lot of help in your everyday outside life. It helps you also use all the information you have learned at jobs or even just for you to teach other people in your family. We have not only worked in the garden, we also learned about all the objects growing in it. We also got to know each other and some of the things we enjoy in our lives. Everyone respects one another, and we all work as a team. I have never seen a school where anyone gets along like we do here. I would not trade being here for the world. I love this place and everything we do here!!!

IMG_6848From Dillon:  Today at the Smokey House, we talked about about making a salsa and pasta sauce using mostly things grown in the garden. We looked at the cilantro, tomatoes, and beans, among other things. We then harvested the pumpkins. I also picked some beet leaves to organize them so they might grow better. We also went to the bridge by the Herrick House and it looks great. We ate lunch there and tried to put rocks on top of each other. Today was my 2nd day here for this year. I hope this year that I learn a lot of new things. I also learned today that I might be creating a shelter outside in the woods during winter. I also might be learning about Vermont history. Something we all talked about today was selling rocks online. Today was overall good.  – Dillon

IMG_6833From Robin:  Ahh, late summer on the mountain. It is good to be back – working in the garden, pitching pumpkins, planning projects and activities, walking the trails, and preparing to make salsa and pasta sauce on Wednesday.

For lunch we walked out to the trailhead and sat on the bridge that we moved last term, talking about life, families, and futures. Then I mentioned a video I had seen of an amazing rock stacker, an artist really, creating improbable gravity defying events. So we climbed down into the stream bed and started stacking, and it works! Real people can do it too!

Then in a 180˚ shift we returned to the center and began revisiting the blogging and technology we use to share this with the world. From peppers to pumpkins to pixels – a pretty good day, I would say!