In 1984, when we started cleaning up what had become a pretty neglected place, we found all sorts of things that helped us associate our new garden with this old farm. We unearthed six foot-long granite fenceposts that we later used to frame entrances to garden areas. We found wheelbarrow loads of hard old bricks, two with mink paw prints in them, that Andre Bernier, our mason, discovered; he laid them into the hearth as he rebuilt the chimney and fireplace. We rebuilt tumbled down stone walls on the south and east boundaries between us and the ten acre meadow we subsequently purchased. We designed and installed a four-quadrant herb garden. It was based on the proportions of a 100-year-old weathered 12' x 18' tobacco drying shed that a local historian told us was probably moved over the ridge to the site from the flats down by the Connecticut River in Westminster where they did once grow tobacco commercially. In fact, he told us “that’s the size building 19th century kids could have moved up over that ridge with a team of oxen on a Sunday afternoon.”
   Even a gap in the wall that was once an entrance from the farmyard into the east meadow gave us an idea. Three years ago, I got on our riding lawn mower and created an eight foot wide mown path from the lawn, through the gap and on out 100 yards or so to a mown circle around three oaks I had planted in the meadow. There is nothing more beautiful than to sit out there on a bench under those oaks in the hayfield, a field mown and baled two or three times a year by Harold or his son Philip, and watch the moon rise or the sun set, or to just look down the wooded valley toward Brattleboro. It’s not hard to imagine Ranneys 150 years ago taking a break from haying and looking down that same valley from that same high spot in the meadow. Such a thought reminds us that we are temporary stewards of this land and so we need to do the right thing for those who follow us.

ABOVE: The house and garden in 1983.