Monday, October 22, 2012

CORNundrum Winner!

Congratulations to Christina Eliopoulos, winner of this week's CORNundrum Grand Prize Drawing. Moyra takes home a quart of Gaines Farm Maple Syrup, along with full honors for finding all 10 maze check posts with our corny CORNundrum pictures.

Each week a winner is chosen at random from among the completed CORNundrum challenge form.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Mark this: the day of October the 15, 2012 draws closed the first century of wicked tidings here on the Gaines Farm. 

It has been one hundred years since the disappearance of our neighbor, Lester Kallikak the imbecile son of Guilford's learned gentry, and for one hundred years we have endured his curse upon our lands.

Lester was a man-child more disposed toward the wretched farm beasts and swamp creatures than the citizens of this county. As if his imbecilic mind dwelt not upon the earth, but in the cryptic spaces of the reptilian, canine, feline and bovine psyche. A place unseen to the eyes and unworthy the mind of rightly thinking men. Lester had never been a friend to people.

And still most pitied this tortured soul and considered him a genuine orphan at the time of his parents' passing from Consumption in 1911, though Lester himself was aged 50 years. But among his neighbors could also be found those of malignant temperament, dastardly character and murderous proclivity, whom also coveted the inherited fortune of a man unable to recognize the ripened fruit of gold dangling before his vacant oculus.

And indeed the day came when the constable begged the eye of my father and his brothers to search for the millionaire imbecile who had been reported missing these three days. Now, my father had a genuine affinity for Lester and his way with the animals, and reckoned Lester had contributed, in some inscrutable way to the disposition of his flock. Lester's disappearance was a dire matter, and father left with the constable that late evening, and every evening for the next 6 months, in search of Lester, or, Lord forbid, Lester's remains. 

As we approach a century hence the disappearance of Lester Kallikak the evidence explaining his disappearance remains undiscovered. His body remains undiscovered. And his fortune remains unclaimed. 

That Lester endured a gruesome fate is to be certain, for it is this fate with which we must reckon once again. And though details we have not, we know only that, in the autumn of a year that saw the rise of Fenway Park and the fall of a Titanic ship, a pall was cast upon our lands and all whom dwell upon it, man, woman and child. The origins too of the curse are unknown, be it Lester or some fiduciary spirit.

What is known, with the certainty of sunrise and death, is that each year, on the date of his presumed demise, a most sordid posse of ghouls will return to take vengeance upon the valley that so wantonly failed Lester. 

- Weber Q. Gaines
b. Oct. 4, 1912 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wet & Wild on Weekend #3

Many thanks to Chris Benoit, Jerome Coogan and Lesley McCord Cogswell, who sent us photos from their Gaines Farm adventures this weekend. We are very much obliged.

Another Winner!!!

Congratulations to Brayden McCord, winner of this week's CORNundrum Grand Prize Drawing. Moyra takes home a quart of Gaines Farm Maple Syrup, along with full honors for finding all 10 maze check posts with our corny CORNundrum pictures.

Each week a winner is chosen at random from among the completed CORNundrum challenge form.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dexter's First Trim

Dexter's First Trim

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Moyra Killian, winner of this week's CORNundrum Grand Prize Drawing. Moyra takes home a quart of Gaines Farm Maple Syrup, along with full honors for finding all 10 maze check posts with our corny CORNundrum pictures.

Each week a winner is chosen at random from among the completed CORNundrum challenge form.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brattleboro Reformer: Guilford family takes pains to make amazing maze

By MIKE FAHER / Reformer Staff
Saturday September 15, 2012

GUILFORD -- There are equal parts art and science behind building a proper corn maze.

And the Gaines family has got it down: From computer-aided generation of complex twists and turns to removal of small rocks to ensure paths are relatively stroller-friendly, the Guilford farm is hosting a state-of-the-art maze that retains its old-fashioned charm.

"We're into it," Jackie Gaines said outside the entrance to the maze on Thursday. "We're continually trying to find ways of becoming better every year."

The Gaines Farm maze, on Route 5 south of Algiers Village near the Massachusetts border, opens today and runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekend through Oct. 27. It's part of a long list of activities at the historic farm including "pumpkin bowling," "farm croquet" and a haunted hay ride.

"We have a lot of new games this year," Gaines said.

More information, including schedules and prices, is available at

Though this weekend is the maze's formal kickoff, the family has been working for a long time to transform seven acres of corn into an entertainment complex. There's nothing random about it, and the process started when the corn was planted in late spring.

"We plant it later so that it will stay green later," Gaines said.

With assistance from a consultant and a computer, the family settles on a design for the pathways: Last year, when viewed from above, the maze commemorated Guilford's 250th anniversary.

This year's design features a farm scene including a tractor. The shapes were carefully plotted out in the corn field.

"You walk through and mark it with different-colored flags," Gaines said. "That will tell you where you have to remove the corn."

Corn is removed earlier in the season to form paths; the job is painstaking and time consuming, Gaines said.

The result, though, is a clear, relatively smooth path through 10-foot-high corn. Gaines said it takes, on average, 45 minutes to an hour to get through the maze "depending on a person's navigational skills."

There are quizzes posted throughout -- aptly titled "CORNundrums" -- that provide some clues on which way to turn. And assistance is available, Gaines said, for those who get very lost.

The maze, which is in its fourth year, is attracting growing crowds. School groups have visited, and Gaines said two companies even used the site for team-building exercises.

The family has added some twists: On Saturday evenings through Oct. 8, there are twilight strolls through the maze.

That's billed as a "non-scary" event. Not so the haunted maze, which features enough freaky features that the family has set up a separate corn field to host it.

"It is haunted," Gaines said with a suddenly serious look on her face. "It's really scary."

She added that organizers have gone to "haunt conventions" to hone their craft.

That's one example of how the mazes and associated activities are a true family affair: In addition to Gaines and her husband, sons Joel, Kyle and Brad join members of the extended family and friends to help make it all happen each fall.

"We're really fortunate that we have so many people come out and help us," Gaines said.

All events are targeted at family participation, as well. Gaines said it's not uncommon to see three generations arriving together.

"Grandparents have a wonderful time here," she said, adding that "it is so rewarding to see the looks on kids' faces. They love being on a farm."

That ties in with another big reason for the maze's existence: The 200-acre Gaines Farm has been in the same family for eight generations, and alternative sources of revenue can help keep it that way.

"We try to do as many things as we can to keep going," Gaines said. "We want to keep the land in one big parcel and pass it down to future generations."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Counting Down!!!!!!

Join us on Saturdays & Sundays this fall, starting September 15 & 16, for a day of fun, down on the the farm! Maneuver your way through our corn maze; ride the cow train; visit our baby animal barn and enjoy a host of games and activities too numerous to list. This family event is Southern Vermont's newest fall tradition and we can't wait to welcome you to our farm. It's all happening at the Gaines Farm, 6343 Coolidge Highway (US Rt. 5), in Guilford, Vermont.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1st.

There is a word that, one can imagine, describes every New Englander on September 1st. It's derived from the Latin words ambi, meaning "both" and valentia meaning "strength". In modern English this word is, "ambivalence," and it means that our feelings about a given subject are exploding equally in two directions. On September 1st, it means that we can't wait for the fall season, but are hopelessly depressed because, despite what astronomical calendars suggest, we all know that summer is over. Some of us blinked and missed it altogether. Others of us took full advantage of our brief sunny season and hastened the onset of melanoma. But now we see the small yellow leaves falling into driveways. The rooster has noticed the later arrive of Homer's rosy-fingered dawn and let us know when the sun should be rising, rather than when it does, so morning has started arriving pre-dawn. And we've started eating corn-on-the-cob for every meal. Why? Because we can.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another Mind Gone

We here at the Gaines Farm feel the experience of this year's corn maze can best be expressed by this simple equation:

Coming September 15: The Gaines Farm 2012 Corn Maze.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gearing Up

Farm fans Jack & Gavin gear up for this year's Harvest season with some Gaines Farm shirts from the online Gift Shop.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

French on the Solstice

It's been another lazy week on the Gaines Farm. The tractor only broke down twice. The corn maze field required only one planting and the temperature was only 92º for most of the week. The weather also provided the unique experience of humidity so high it was actually possible to drink the air, negating the normal hydration issues associated with high temps. 

Those hot days also reminded us that, indeed, horses do sweat, and not only from the heat. Charlie got a few long looks each time the tractor broke down, and quickly averted his own gaze, as if a lone horse, standing 30-yards away, would go unnoticed so long as eye-contact was avoided. We're not afraid of a little old-school plowing in these parts, and Charlie knows it. Best to keep one's head down when the tractor's conked. Luckily for everyone involved, Rump and his crack staff have the determination of a thousand horses and the tractor eventually succumbed to their will. The field was ploughed. The corn was planted. The Red Sox won. Is this Heaven? No, it's Guilford.

The goats reminded us that they're pretty much all about good times, and good goat times are not had in 90º heat. They stayed in the barn. 

Our newest, youngest, chickens started laying their first pullet eggs this week. The eggs were small but the chickens' obvious pride was large. We thanked the gals and ate those eggs up!

Speaking of "new": our new "Gaines Farm Store" freezer, is newly filled by the labors of our butcher with beef that… that is beyond description. It's like rays of sunshine in meat form.

We plan to eat plenty, but we'd never keep it all to ourselves, so we're working on our first advertisement tag line. It goes like this:

ON SALE NOW, Gaines Farm-raised beef. Stop by the farm and purchase your favorite cut, one-half mile north from the Vt./Mass. line, on Rt. 5. Give us a call and we'll meet you at the door. If we like the look o' ya, we'll sell you some meat. 802-257-0409
  • Hamburger - $5.00/lb
  • Rib Eye - $12.00/lb
  • Sirloin - $12.00/lb
  • Filet Mignon - $17.00/lb

…and insert your own "cash cow" joke here:

And so we bid adieu to spring and bonjour to summer, without really knowing what those words mean. The cat bid meow to the timely installation of our ancient, kitchen A/C unit. A unit that may look haggard, but still throws a powerful cold. 

Summer heat notwithstanding, we are thankful for a new season and yet another chance to work the lands we love so dearly. And as we walk the grounds, harvesting the season's first grasses, admiring the garden's budding veggies, and imagining a field of ploughed earth, destined for the bright lights of corn-maze stardom, we are reminded of Issa's famous haiku:

Oh Snail.
Climb Mt. Fuji.
But slowly. Slowly!

Friday, June 22, 2012

We found the beef!

ON SALE NOW, Gaines Farm-raised beef. Stop by the farm and purchase your favorite cut, one-half mile north from the Vt./Mass. line, on Rt. 5. Give us a call and we'll meet you at the door. 802-257-0409
  • Hamburger - $5.00/lb
  • Rib Eye - $12.00/lb
  • Sirloin - $12.00/lb
  • Filet Mignon - $17.00/lb


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beating the Heat

Summer arrives right on schedule in Vermont. 90ºF on the farm today. Bodie and Lyla took to the shade.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jackie Takes a Wrong Turn

Jackie takes a wrong turn on her way home from the Strolling of the Heifers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ezrah & Mozes

When Ezrah was 4-years-old, he really wanted a puppy. His mother, Keita, cut him a deal: "On your tenth birthday, if you still want a puppy, you, young man, shall have a puppy."

Undeterred by the notion of having to wait 2-and-a-half times his current age, Ezrah started counting the days, crossing them off his mental calender on the steady march toward his 10th birthday and the perfect fuzzball puppy. He did this 2,190 times, until January 13th, when he reached zero and was finally introduced to his new best friend, Mozes, The Mozy Bear!

Mozes was born on the Gaines Farm, but today, along with all his brothers and sisters, has gone home with his new lovely and perfect family.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Puppy Pontifications #3

Time is flying by, it seems.  We are already into our third week of life as a puppy and "wow" things are changing very quickly. No longer are we unable to hear and our eyes have completely opened. We resemble a big dog in a small form. We twitch and seem to dream as we sleep.  Sometimes we like to nap on our backs or our sides.  It's a big decision.

And not much gets past us when we  focus upon our surroundings. During our wakening minutes, brief though they may be, we certainly take in everything. We greet our Momma with happy squeals of delight as she nuzzles us so gently. She seems to sense her maturing creations. Mamma is proud. She watches as we push one another while nursing. I swear she sometimes smiles while laying ever so patiently, and carefully cleaning us with her warm tongue. Eagerly we tour our new "pen"; the new digs, as it were. Our whelping box has been put away for a future litter of whelpers.

We are sure happy to check out the new surfaces. It's been exclusively felt since birth. There is still a soft surface to lay on in the same general area as our baby bed.

Curiosity is part of our day; investigation and learning about this new world. It takes all our time, and as we bob our heavy heads, doing our best to balance as we move our legs in a walking motion, away we go!  Across, around and circling. Sometimes we crash and burn. We look like young sailors on their first ride on a rough sea upon their vessel.  Although our wooden plank deck is not moving beneath our strides, we have a bit of difficulty steering our bodies towards our new missions.

There is also newsprint called paper on the floor. It's in a nice private area and we've discovered it's in a great place to drop a deuce. Good old #2.

Ah-ha, we seem to say as we bump into another mouth or leg as we come to a stop, the barricade meeting our curious nose with much conviction.

We have begun to open our mouths to investigate the new objects we find called toys. Sometimes we encounter a litter mate and begin to play mouth jousting. We need more practice.

Our human friends are fascinated more than ever with the big changes they observe. One thing we hear mentioned is ,"puppy food."  This sounds interesting to our newly opened ears. We are very curious and open to whatever comes. Even this "puppy food," of which you speak. Big changes underway.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Puppy Pontifications #2:

It seems as though time has the ability to unravel an existence with change unimaginable if neglecting close observation. Similar to a humans first sightings of new buds on the trees in late spring, blossoming into the formation of a fully opened leaf. (If left without daily examination, if not watched closely it will happen and be missed.)

We now have much more deliberate belly crawls as we smell our way to a meal. Now able to notice the vibration of movement alerting us that meals on paws has entered. We can already comprehend this aroma. It signals our senses, 'Momma' has entered our "nest" (human reference = "whelping box").

Increasing in both strength and size is becoming vibrantly apparent daily. Fur growth and blackened noses take the places of the thinner coats which had a hue of pinkness in the first few days. Our ears are now covered in fine fur unlike the smooth baldness we were born with. We will continue to grow more fur as our faces begin to change shape (the initial rounded shape begins to show definition). Our rounded guinea pig faces are actually looking more dog which will take more time.

When bumped by our siblings or stepped on by Momma and abruptly awakened, we let out definite yelps, beginning to notice "comfort disruption." If we have wandered away from the warmth of each other, we yelp repeatedly until we have returned to our security. Alone does not feel good when awake. We are still a unit and will stay this way for a while longer. We feel good when we are together. Our ears are still sealed shut and our eyes are still closed as we move into our second week of life.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Puppy Pontifications #1:

Born only two days ago Lyla's puppies cannot see; cannot hear. This does not mean they cannot blog. In this first installment, our newborn fuzzy-guys muse on life, liberty from the womb and their first 48-hours on planet Earth.

Puppy Pontifications #1: Just a mere 62 days (after the beginning of our creation) we arrive. So full of life, we begin our journey as we move ourselves along a new surface leaving the warm, safe, compact protection of our past surroundings behind.

With deliberate, yet clumsy pulls, and only a few seconds after we successfully inflate our lungs for the first time, we are on the move.

"Momma" continues cleaning and drying us off with her warm tongue instinctively knowing what to do for us. Our eyes and ears are sealed. Closed for protection until nature deems it is "safe" for light and sound to enter our world. We somehow know what must happen to survive. "Her" guidance, with amazingly natural instinctive lessons, will be necessary.  With very deliberate confidence she carries on her first tasks in her newest role... seemingly with ease. Another moment in time, to be cherished  beyond words by the humans who watch closely in admiration and awe. As we reach our goal and  find our first (which "our humans" refer to as) meal, she watches us patiently. One of our many necessities needed to grow in to our human title of, "mans best friend."

Our journey has just begun......

Thursday, January 12, 2012

News at the Farm: First Snow

We are finally getting a white blanket to cover up the ground and change our scenery for the winter. There is a theory of how important this is for the good of us all. Vermont is now looking like it should in January.

With change progressing and our son Kyle now directing Bob and I, the sugar house is full of wood, all stacked and split for the up coming season. It sure is a beautiful sight. It appears this change is a good one. Yes, "spring will be here before we know it." There are few smells one can embrace that are any more lovely than the smell of the bubbling sap as it begins to turn to pure Vermont maple syrup. Hopefully we will have a good sap run that will yield many gallons of this pure liquid gold.

Years ago there was an older gentleman school bus driver, Clayton Cutting, who I asked how the sap was running (referring to his own sugar bush on the other side of Guilford.) His reply was one to remember. He smiled and quietly answered, "down the branches, down the tree, out the spigot, and into the bucket. How is it running here?" He slowly turned his attention to the handle on the floor to close the door of the bus and smirked, "have a nice day."

Words of wisdom from an older man could not have explained it more perfectly! They sure have an edge on the first hand knowledge and so vividly described than in most books. I knew I needed more information as a young woman new to a farm to his practical wisdom. One more time, I set myself up by asking him, "Clayton, do you think the sap is going to run?" One more time he helped with an educational lesson on sugaring. Smiling he replied, " it depends on the weather."

As he drove up the road with our three young sons on their way to school, I was in awe with words from such a brilliant gentleman, so simple yet so full of first hand knowledge. He left me thinking, "I wish someone just like Clayton could go into our school and have a question and answer session for each topic they learned through doing. So much to tell and so well put in simple terms.

Enough for now of this- going back in time. Although I sometimes miss the days when the boys were young and all here together time marches on. One day, they too, may sit as they look out their window on a snowy day and reminisce. It is with pleasure the sugar house is still producing delicious syrup. It is with pleasure, it is still cooked with wood heat. It is from wisdom learned through people like Clayton, great teachers during their school years, and knowing change can be good for business, and by just "doing," that the sugaring process here has changed for the better. Snow is falling.