Saturday, November 29, 2014

A 143-Acre Vermont Farm Adventure

I was recently asked about that moment when I finished my first book and decided to seriously pursue publication. Since it was more than a year ago since I posted this story, I thought I'd share it again for those who weren't following the blog at the time of the original posting. 

Like most authors, I'm often asked why I began writing. The answer is always the same--I just did it--but recently that question had me thinking about what pushed me to finally publish. 

The old farmhouse and one of two ponds.
For many years I had wanderlust, and remaining in one place didn't interest me--at least not until recently. Though in my heart I knew Montana was my home, and I would end up here for the long-term, I wanted to see what else was out there.

The old barn, also built 200+ years ago, is still standing.
I had been to both New Hampshire (for school) and Vermont (for a six-month excursion), but neither of those times left any kind of impact on me. Then in 2011 I found it! A 200+ year old, 143-acre farm outside of Woodstock, Vermont to rent for six months while the owner was trying to sell. It was very old and completely private--a perfect place for an adventure. Now, believe me when I say it wasn't glamorous, which suited me just fine. I wasn't looking for glamorous, and I ended up with exactly what I wanted.

The Sugar House. The trees there produced the best maple syrup I've ever had--ever!
It wasn't until I arrived, one month prior to winter's start, that I realized there wasn't heat in the upstairs. When I asked the owner why it wasn't mentioned, he said he assumed we would know considering the house was so old. Mind you, I blindly rented the house--part of the adventure. No problem, I like the cold. Besides, they didn't have heat 200 years ago, so I could handle it (okay, so they were a bit tougher than me).

The water was the most amazing water I had ever tasted in my life. When I asked the owner about it, he said it was piped directly into the house from streams on the property. Now when I say piped, I mean he literally had a pipe or tube thing in the stream and ran it into the house where the water dropped into the water tank. No filters, no nothing--delicious! I of course tried not to think about all of the animals roaming the property, but apparently he'd thought of that--never mind--it was perfect.

I added the year-round streams to the Gallagher books after I had experienced the fresh water streams on this property.
By this time I was having a lot of fun. The place was so old, and because it had only the basic modern conveniences, I was able to pretend I was living 200 years ago.

I could have done without the ticks, the bugs, the humidity, and all that sunshine during the winter, but it was easy to forget some of those things while I spent my lunch hour snowshoeing with the dogs on the land, or watching the owner guide his horses and sleigh over the snow-covered pastures to collect sap from the maple trees (alas, I can't locate those pictures). 
Surprisingly, this fireplace, and another in the main bedroom, were the only two true heat sources in the house. We went through six cords of wood that winter.
I knew then that the Gallaghers would need to be shared, and while I sat in front of the large stone fireplace, wrapped in a blanket because the heating system in the house was antiquated, I picked up Gallagher's Pride with a firm resolve to finish the story. 

Montana, also known as Home
It wasn't until I returned to Montana, where the story had always lived, that I was able to finish it and begin the second book. Yet, I still look back on those six months as an inspiring time for my writing, and a wonderful adventure, because I believe life should be filled with adventure--on the page, and in reality. Now I just need to find a 200-year old cabin on 143 acres in Montana and I'll be in my earthly version of Heaven. 

What adventures have you had, or do you want to have? 

All images are ©MK McClintock 


  1. Replies
    1. Glad you like them Verna! I go back every now and then to look at all of the pictures from my time there. I'll likely share more of them. :)

  2. I lived most of my life in upstate New York and visited Vermont frequently. The water and the maple syrup are delicious. I used to make maple syrup - many years ago now! Wonderful pictures.

    1. Jealous! I really wanted to try my hand at making maple syrup, but it didn't happen. It looks like fun, or at least riding around on the horse and sleigh looked fun. :)

  3. Almost ten years ago I went on an exchange program and ended up in a little town in Newfoundland Canada. I had some of the best and the worst times there, but the nature there is beautiful, such a beautiful piece of Canada.. Love your adventure and the pictures are beautiful!

    1. I've wanted to visit Newfoundland! That would be an adventure worth taking. You must have some lovely memories from your time there.

    2. Yes, I have, I went back to NL about 2 years ago to visit, and to travel the island, it is one of the most beautiful places I have been..