Category Archives: Photos

Fall Foliage Wood Crew

Fall F’16 wood crew under the bright orange leaves with Jackson, Deirdre, Alexa, Dianna, Luke, Claude, Kate, Eva & Sugarman Sam, feat. surprise visits from Outdoor Program explorers Dalton & Ngan. We love fall in New England!


Spring happenings

We’re just over a week away from solo! So much has been happening in the last few months, but a few highlights include lambing, sugaring, and a visit from the legendary Tom Wessels!



“How was watching a lamb being born?”

“It’s disgusting. And slimy.”


“I saw a lamb birth and I wasn’t expecting to be moved by it, but it was honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve seen here. I was so emotional and it was so beautiful. And then the sheep had twins and it was great!”


“One of the sheep thought I was her lamb and tried to lick me.”


“When I was helping, one of the lambs try to nurse and it took an hour. Lambs are dumb. But they’re so cute.”

A True Wessels Walk


“Tell me about your hike with Tom Wessels.”

“He just literally knew all of the answers to every single one of our questions about the forest. I don’t know how you can know so much from just looking at trees. I mean I should probably know that because I’m in esci but…”


^The man himself

“He looks like Santa Claus if Santa Claus went on Lean Cuisine. The man knows his stuff!”


“He brought many things to the woods, like a beard and amazing knowledge about how to analyze. The way he broke down everything was incredible.”


We had a legendary season – over 200 gallons of syrup! When asked what they enjoyed about sugaring, students responded…

sugaring spring 2016-7-XL

“You get cool treats, you get to hang out with Sam the Sugarman, and you get upper body strength from dumping so many buckets.”


“It was cool listening to the sound of the sap dripping into the buckets. You could hear all of it at once.”


First Week of Spring 2016

Spring 2016 has arrived and students have hit the ground running! The first week of the semester was full of learning many skills for the first time. Students learned how to fell a tree, prepare for the sugaring season, shell beans, and more intimate skills like learning how to live with each other and engage each other in conversation over meals. Here is a peek at a few of the things we did this week.

First Week Quotes

“I can walk out with just a sweater in 20 degree weather now, but that first week was just so cold. Vermonters are cut from a different cloth.” – Wassa

“I’ve never eaten this many beets in my life…” – overheard

“The food warmed me.” – Darrell

“Embrace the raisin.” – Adam


Alden teaching his wood crew how to fell trees for the first time!


Thea cutting a notch into her first tree, a balsam fir.


Kai and Ellie, triumphant.


Alden and Kemi’s Monday wood crew.


Shelling beans during work period! Clockwise from the bottom: red kidney, cranberry, calypso, black, white kidney


Busy hands in the harvest kitchen.


The first Saturday night activity: interpretations of the first week in the dorm in the form of skits and songs.


Derby singing a High School Musical cover.


First sugar crew work period – turning maple syrup into maple sugar!

Camel’s Hump Hike

On Sunday, October 18th, a group of intrepid students woke up early, piled into vans and drove to Camel’s Hump, Vermont’s third largest mountain, for an autumn hike. Here’s what some of the participants had to say afterwards:

Francesca: It was amazing. It was really beautiful hiking in the snow, and then getting  to the summit and seeing snow and in the background, the colors of all. It was a lot of fun.


Polly: It was definitely one of the highlights of the semester. I thought it would be harder than it was. There were so many people and we talked the whole time. It was cool experiencing fall and winter at the same time–like going from September to January. My favorite part was the peanut butter and jelly at lunch or watching Matt trying to eat the Vermonster at the Ben & Jerry’s factory. …It destroyed him. And it was so crazy when we got to the top: I looked at my watch and everyone else was just getting to brunch.

Hannah: I was the slowest person on the hike. I’d like to blame it on the altitude, but someone stayed back with me the whole time to make sure I was taken care of and that was really sweet.

Young Dan: It was the highlight of the semester–definitely the best day so far. It was really nice to see different scenery in Vermont because we’re so secluded here, and to get to see that with people from my semester.

Bev: It was so beautiful because when we were at the top it was snowing and looked like winter all around us, but if you looked out you could see all the colors of fall.


Sarah: My favorite parts were that as the elevation increased, you could see how the forest changed. Once we got to a certain elevation, it was mostly coniferous, and it was cool to see that change. When we were hiking up, we passed a bunch of hikers coming down, and they were really disappointed because they had gotten to the top and there was no view, so we were kind of worried. But when we got to the top, it was clear and we could see all the way to Lake Champlain and the Appalachians.

Jesse: I liked waking up early in the morning to go hiking, weirdly enough. I don’t think I’ve ever shed as many layers as I did-I would shed a layer, put on a layer, shed a layer again. It was cool because it was fall but snowing higher up–all out snow, like January. We couldn’t see–it was pouring snow, and then suddenly the clouds would disappear and it would be completely sunny. At the top, the sun was coming down through the snow in beams and you could watch the transition down the mountain. It was so icy going down: we just slid on our butts. The whole time, we sang songs that we only knew the chorus of and then we hummed the rest or made up lyrics. We all fell asleep on each other in the van on the way back. It was very fun, even though I had to do work after we got back, it was worth it. I thought it would be total Type 2 fun, but it wasn’t. It was just FUN.

Noah: Getting to the top was the best part. It was really cool how snowy it was at the top–it’s mid October but there was already a foot of snow in some places. In three adjectives, I would say it was slippery, anticipatory and tiring.


Ella: It was slippery. The walk up was interesting. It was cool to go from different forest to forest on one mountain–conifer, then maple, then conifer, then beech. It was cool to see that transition, and the transitions were strangely abrupt. The top was amazing and seeing all the white snow and then the color drop off of orange and green. I had never hiked in a snow environment before. It was funny because as we hiked up, I kept putting on more layers, and walking down, I wore all my layers and we threw snowballs at each other. It was really fun.

Zane: A huge highlight was the view from the top, and we could see Lake Champlain, which was cool. It was cold, but the process of putting on and taking off layers was entertaining. In three adjectives, I would say cold, fun, and pretty.

Miranda: It was really fun. It looked like a winter wonderland. We decided to call it Narnia. When we got to the top, there was a 360 degree view, and that was so cool. I always feel so accomplished after a long hike. At Ben & Jerry’s I had banana peanut butter, but I regretted that decision because I tried someone’s Americone Dream and it was really good…


Yesterday might have been one of the best days of my life. That hike was just out of this world. I didn’t mind waking up at 6 or the chilly air. Being able to go out in the fresh snow with a fantastic group of people was the best way to mark the half-way weekend. Walking through fresh, crispy snow sprinkled with fresh dry leaves was a magical experience and then continuing through a spotless Narnia-esque tunnel of branches. I brought candy for lunch. There was always great conversation and not a single complaint, even on the slippery ice near the top. Speaking of which, the view was stupendous, with dark clouds closing in on a baby blue sky on the other side of the peak. It was just a happy bunch of relaxed kids enjoying every part of our joined once-in-a-lifetime experience. Conquering the (mini) Vermonster at the Ben & Jerry’s factory wasn’t awful either. When I’m home, I think this is one of the days I’ll look back on to understand why this school is the unforgettable place that it is. –journal excerpt from OL


Shout out to Jesse for proposing the idea for a hike!

Lambing season begins!

“So I just want to confirm that last night, one of the sheep DID have triplets, which means we are up to four ram-lambs.”

“Wow! And they’re all rams?”

“Yeah. It’s pretty unusual.”


“Right. The RAM-ifications are unclear.”

The Mountain School is the punniest place around.


For more photos of these cuties, visit the Mountain School SmugMug page

Sugaring Season (S’15)

“It makes a big difference to drink sap from a tree while you’re looking AT the tree.”

“My favorite part was at the end when we all sat in the sugar house and drank sap tea.”

“For me the best part was finding a bucket full to the brim, almost spilling, and taking a big drink. It was so rewarding to fill the barrel to the top.”

“The best part is hearing that in two hours, you collected 600 or 800 gallons.”

“It was 60 degrees so I wore a tank top for the first time and it was very refreshing.”

“At the end, they gave us maple tea, which is basically not quite syrup, and it was the best thing.”

“I put sap in my water bottle before break and left it… then I opened it after break and there was a very strong stench. I left it for another week before I got up the nerve to clean it.”

“Last week was the first week, and it was really hard work. I was worn out by gathering. This week, I was really amazed by how much sap there was. I was proud that it was the biggest gather in the last few years–every day at Morning Meeting Kit says, ‘Yesterday was the biggest gather of the year!’ It just keeps going.”

“Gathering was really great. I was surprised by how full the buckets were – they were really full if not overflowing. It was cool to do the process with buckets as opposed to just a vacuum system because it was so hands-on bringing buckets to the shack… It was authentic! That’s the word.”

“We gathered 600 odd buckets. We had a system going. At the sugar house, I got to taste it at every stage. Sam holds it up to the light to see how it drips so he can determine the grade – A, B, dark amber etc. It was cool because we were doing it by ourselves, but it felt like a group effort.”

“When Sam is boiling, you can see this added light and life in his eyes. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.”

S’15 Dodgeball Tournament

The Mountain School is all about being communal and loving each other, right? Right. Except during dodgeball. During dodgeball, it’s all about the glory. Glory > everything. The Spring 2015 dodgeball tournament was one of the fiercest on record, with students competing in their dish crews while wearing great outfits. Special shout out to the Doors and the Lords for their dishcrew-name-inspired clothing.

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For live action footage and some inspired dancing, check out this video…

Thanks KOA for the photos and filming!

Team Photo Challenge (F’14)

What to do as a study break on the final Saturday night of the semester, in the middle of final exams? How about a team photo challenge – 10+ prompts, 5 groups of 9, 1 hour of hilarity, followed by a slide show of some of the most inventive and funny moments.

Prompt 1: Perfectly timed action shot

Wins the prize for cutest. (Not actually sure if this is an action shot or just love)
Wow. Wins the prize for commitment!
SO CLOSE, and yet… so far
??? (What is even happening here?)
Most impressive/acrobatic/balanced!

Prompt 2: Dungeon scene in “the dungeon”*

*We don’t actually have a dungeon (it’s a school on a farm, not a medieval palace), but the dark basement area where we keep extra toilet paper, soap and other supplies is affectionately (?) known as “the dungeon”

Wins the prize for most creative interpretation (not actually in the dungeon)
Most interesting poses
Most giggle-inducing

Prompt 3: Act out an iconic scene

The Last Supper. Props on the “beard”
Nativity (?)
Wedding. Wins the prize for most creative costume with limited resources

Prompt 4: Mop hair

That’s a good look for you, Andrew
Typical Ari reaction
Louis flaunts his beautiful new ‘do
Album cover?

Prompt 5: Take a photo with members of another group

All hail the queen!
Triple piggy backs
Grace just dropping by

Prompt 6: Fit the whole group into the smallest space possible

Trash cans. Ambitious
Recycling center
I don’t even know where this is
Recycling center v. 2: feat. odd facial hair?

Prompt 7: Spell out TMS with bodies

From above v. 1
From above v. 2
You win.

Prompt 8: Extreme dish crew

This might be my favorite picture of all time
If not that one, this one. Note the pot and oranges in mid air, and the placement of the boombox. Check plus plus plus

Thank you for all the memories and giggles. You will be missed, F’14! ❤




October in Vermont (F’14 Student Photography)


Things growing/dying

Eat more kale
Scarecrow? Is that you?
Rolling transportable chicken coop
Vermont’s favorite baby
For those who think there is only one kind of lettuce
RIP fresh corn
Nothing gold can stay (s/o to Frost)


Friendly farm animals

This little piggy went to market
Caught em slippin
The curious incident of the cow in the camera
8 cups of water a day
Just a girl and her pigs
Eat more chicken
Natural alarm clock (view from Conard dorm room)
“To your sheep, your fleece, your lamb be true” (s/o to the greatest movie of all time, Babe)

Friendly two-legged animals

Just hanging out
Doing HW in a pasture, NBD
Study buddies
Portrait of a serious academic 1
Portrait of a serious academic 2
We are lucky to call this place home


Shout out to BBM for his stellar photography skills.


Everyone in New England appreciates that spring brings warmer weather, flowers and longer days. Those things are all nice. But here at the Mountain School, spring brings something significantly MORE important: BABY ANIMALS. 20+ lambs, 3 calves, baby chicks and now piglets! There’s nothing like a mid-day visit to the sheep barn to calm any anxieties and fill you with joy and happiness.

69987-8149886-IMG_1352 69987-8149888-IMG_1353  69987-8149922-IMG_1365 69987-8149923-IMG_1367_JPG1  69987-8150002-IMG_1395 69987-8150003-IMG_1620 69987-8150013-IMG_1527 69987-8150014-IMG_1595 69987-8150088-IMG_1530 69987-8149938-IMG_127669987-8150111-IMG_1536  Photo cred to Charles.

And now introducing my latest project: the Mountain School Lamb Cam, a compilation of adorable ovine moments, unnecessarily set to famous pieces of classical music.

Lamb Cam #1, rated G for sneezing, aggressive nursing, and many high kicks

Lamb Cam #2, rated G for yawning, needy attention seeking lambs, and some high kicks

Lamb Cam #3, rated PG for hiccups, feisty play, more needy attention seeking lambs, too much testosterone, and excessive scampering


Solo Spring ’14

Spring ’14 students have been griping recently that they were mislead – the season we have lived through for the last three months fits no one’s definition of spring. It’s been all George R. R. Martin style winter all the time.

We have finally, in the last week, progressed into spring. It is warm enough that the lettuce we’ve been sheltering in polyhouses all winter can now grow outside. We no longer have to wear more than one layer of pants. The fields are slowly turning green. All very exciting.

But none of that mitigates the fact that when we left for our three day solo camping trip on April 23, it was very cold and many of us camped on or right next to snow. Two of our three nights in the woods had below-freezing temperatures. Some of us even got snowed on the last morning. (Thanks, Mother Nature). The good news is that the second full day had beautiful weather, so everyone was able to enjoy at least one day of sunshine and warmth.

Liam's beaver pond (just another reason to be jealous)
The beaver pond at Liam’s solo site

Every semester, students go into solo expecting to be enlightened by nature and return fuller, better humans with profound new understandings of the world. As Grant said, “Before solo, I had this expectation that I was going to have deeper thoughts than usual. That’s something I’m never going to be able to do. I’m never going to be a meditator. I just pushed down trees and talked to myself.”

Here are some other students’ reflections on their solo experiences:

“There were these moose tracks all around my site. I was clearly staying as a guest in someone else’s home.”

“I tried to look closer at what was in the woods.”

photo 2

“A lot of what I did on solo was sit in places and just look.”

“I found flagging from a previous solo. It was cool because I realized, I’m not the only one who lived here.”

“I thought a lot about the happiness you get from yourself vs. the happiness you get from other people.”

“I was scared that I would be bored, but then I walked around and realized it was OK to be alone.”

“On solo, I would think of something, and laugh out loud. I kept cracking myself up and it was so wonderful.”

“I felt at peace with myself in a way that I haven’t been before.”

“I was always trying to drive myself to be more productive – to read, sketch, draw a map. Then, the last night, I decided I didn’t want to do that.”

“I worried that once I was alone, I wouldn’t have anything inside of me to be interesting. But I sat and watched bugs for awhile and realized they have really complicated lives.”


“I usually have something I have to do. On solo, I was able to sit in a hammock and do whatever popped into my head.”

“Every train of thought I had on solo led back to the same place of feeling lucky.”

“I felt grateful to see the beauty of nature.”

“I thought solo would be refreshing, that I would not have to focus on what other people want me to think. I would finally be able to concentrate on one thing. But instead, I let my mind go and got pulled in all different directions.”

“I was really surprised by how self-sufficient I was able to be. I got really into problem solving. Usually I’m so focused on efficiency and moving on instead of focused on finding a solution.”

Congratulations, Spring ’14! We’re proud of you!

Dear Dairy: S’14 Visits Dairy Farms

“So do you, like, milk cows there?” is probably the most common and inaccurate question that Mountain School students are asked by friends at home.

No, we don’t. Please stop asking.

Yes, we are on a farm. And we do have cows, but we eat them. Well, some of us do (shout out to vegetarians!). Regardless, learning about food production, including dairy, is central to the Mountain School curriculum, so even though we don’t have our own dairy cows, every semester we take field trips to several dairy farms in the area. (This is 25% because we want to learn about dairy production and 75% because we want to buy ice cream and chocolate milk).

Here are some photos of our recent visit to Hatchland Farms. Thanks to Rena for sharing her photos!

Prompt: “Look like a cow”
Prompt: “Look excited!” (nice job, Cedar)
Calves in their “hutches”
“As he was valiant, I honor him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.” -William Shakespeare, explaining why we eat meat
“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” -William Shakespeare, upon observing this interaction


“How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!” -William Shakespeare, speaking on behalf of dairy cows everywhere
“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.” -William Shakespeare describing Hatchland Dairy Farm
Milking center
Milking center
Pasteurizing vats
Best day of Ben Y.’s life
“Yet I do fear thy nature; it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness.” -William Shakespeare, when faced with Kate’s excessive milk bottle predicament
“Chocolate milk! My kingdom for a chocolate milk!” -King Richard III (a well known fan of Hatchland Farms’ chocolate milk)
“O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that bottle of chocolate milk.” -Romeo (also a huge fan of Hatchland Farm’s chocolate milk)


Questionable clothing swap
“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -William Shakespeare, describing Rena and Elyse
“Men of few words are the best men.” -William Shakespeare
“True nobility is exempt from fear.” -William Shakespeare


“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, rounded with a little sleep.” -William Shakespeare, describing his favorite dorm, Tobold
Dancing Dewees


“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better.” -William Shakespeare
“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t.” -William Shakespeare, giving away Elyse’s secret
“This above all: to thine own self, be true.” -William Shakespeare, giving advice to Dan Lee
Wicked good
Afterwards, some hardcore mud soccer to celebrate one of the first days we could wear shorts without fear of frostbite

A Legend is Born: Meet our New Llama (S’14)

December was a difficult month for all of us past, present and future Mountain School community members. The passing our iconic guard llama, Nigel, after he bravely defended our sheep for 14 years, weighed heavily on all of our hearts. We mourned for him, all the while knowing that in a few short months, it would be necessary – for the sake of the sheep – to begin the search for his successor, even as we acknowledge that there will never exist another creature as noble and sophisticated as Nigel. He is simply inimitable.

With the legacy of Nigel fresh in her mind, our fearless livestock manager Gwynne went on a quest to find The Chosen One. She journeyed far and wide, to a farm that tried to sell her seven llamas at once (a little excessive) and another farm that tried to talk her into taking a llama with an award-winning pedigree. You know, in case the Mountain School decides to pursue competitive llama showing as its next big thing. That connects to getting to know a place and working for common good, right?

Anyway. After careful consideration, Gwynne made a decision, and now our Chosen Llama is HERE, in the sheep barn, getting to know his new brethren. He was nameless for awhile (his previous barn called him “Hunter” but obviously that name is not going to cut it in the big leagues), and students debated between Albus, Axel, Wilson, Otis and Atlas for several weeks. Then, Gwynne stood up in school meeting and said, “So, we never finished discussing what to name Desmond,” and after an official vote, that became his name. Sue loves his long curly eyelashes. Gwynne likes how expressive he is with his ears. Jack notes that he seems “more open to conversation” than Nigel. Alden waited awhile to see him because he was “not ready yet.” As for me, I’m so excited.

Without further ado, I present our new legend, Desmond the Brave:


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Which headshot is your favorite?