FFA Open House sows seeds for rural development

Hayden Ball of Cornwall stands beside the 1955 Hough Payloader he restored for his Housatonic Valley FFA final project.

Patrick L, Sullivan

FFA Open House sows seeds for rural development

FALLS VILLAGE — Miniature horses, goat living arrangements, drone operations and more were on display at the FFA Open House at Housatonic Valley Regional High School Wednesday evening, May 15.

The annual agriculture education symposium showcased the final projects of Housatonic Valley FFA students. As shown throughout the HVRHS campus during the Open House, ag-ed encompasses a wide range of studies.

Sneakers, a miniature horse belonging to the school, was the first thing a visitor saw if coming from the grassy oval in front of HVRHS. Kelly Eiserman of Lakeville was minding Sneakers on the way in. Ayla Hill of Salisbury had Sneakers duty on the way out.

Hill told Tracy Atwood, one of the judges, all about different horse types.

Inside, Hayden Ball of Cornwall was standing in front of the enormous 1955 Hough Payloader that had been sitting around in a state of neglect for 10 years or so before Ball decided to make it his project.

“It was dead when I started,” he said. “Three flat tires.”

It only took three days to get the thing running.

Luckily his father had all the manuals.

“I could take it apart, put it in a box and rebuild it.”

Taylor Green of Kent explained to a judge that building a goat pen is one thing. Building a goat pen that keeps the goats penned is quite another.

She said goats are highly intelligent and can quickly learn how to unlatch gates, among other escape tactics.

Goats are also very agile. They leap into the air, attaining the stratosphere with seemingly little effort.

Which is why the five-foot high fence should probably be nine or 10 feet high.

Levi Elliott of Millerton fixed up a McCormick Farmall tractor “for pulling only.” He regaled Lakeville Journal Managing Editor Riley Klein, who was a judge, with the details.

Carson Riva of North Canaan explained to visitors how trout stocking works. Behind him in a tank, were brown, brook and rainbow trout that will be released into the Blackberry River in Norfolk.

And Daniel Moran of Norfolk kept everyone entertained by flying a drone around the campus and surrounding areas, keeping tabs via a large TV screen set up outside.

Alana Tatro showed Maximilian Tripler a baby goat at the FFA Open House Wednesday, May 15. Inside the barn Taylor Green provided pointers on keeping goats inside their pens.Patrick L. Sullivan

Latest News

All kinds of minds at Autism Nature Trail

Natalia Zukerman playing for a group of school children at the Autism Nature Trail.

Loren Penmann

At Letchworth State Park in Castile, N.Y. the trees have a secret: they whisper to those who listen closely, especially to those who might hear the world differently. This is where you can find the Autism Nature Trail, or ANT, the first of its kind in this country, perhaps in the world. Designed for visitors on the autism spectrum, the ANT is a one-mile looped trail with eight stations at various intervals, little moments strung together, allowing visitors to experience everything from stillness to wild adventure.

The idea for the ANT was born from a conversation in 2014 between Loren Penman, a retired teacher and administrator, and her neighbor. The two women were discussing the new nature center at the park and Penman’s neighbor said that her grandson, who loved the park, probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy a nature center. He had autism and at age seven was still without language and in a state of almost constant agitation. Her neighbor went on to say, however, that she had observed her grandson finding great calm at Letchworth, a state of being he couldn’t achieve almost anywhere else. Speaking to another friend with an autistic grandchild, Penman heard the same sentiment about Letchworth; it completely calmed her grandchild. What was it about this special place that soothed the spirit?

Keep ReadingShow less
Snakes in the Catskills: A primer

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in collaboration with the Catskill Science Collaborative, presented “Snakes in the Catskills: A Primer,” the latest in its lecture series, on June 5. Presenter John Vanek, is a zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program in Syracuse, NY. The snake above is a harmless Northern Brown Snake. They are known as a “gardener’s friend” because they eat snails, slugs, and worms.

John Vanek

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in collaboration with the Catskill Science Collaborative, presented “Snakes in the Catskills: A Primer,” the latest in its lecture series, on June 5. Presenter John Vanek, is a zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program in Syracuse.

There are thirteen kinds of snakes in the Catskills. Only two are venomous. Vanek defined the Catskills area as including the counties of Greene, Delaware, Ulster, Sullivan, and Dutchess.

Keep ReadingShow less
Brunch at Troutbeck: Black Emmer Pancakes

Black Emmer Pancakes by Chef Vincent Gilberti at Troutbeck.

Jim Henkens

At Troutbeck, every meal is an experience, but Sundays have taken on a special charm with the highly anticipated return of brunch. Impeccably sourced, plentiful, elegant yet approachable, and immensely satisfying, the brunch menu reflects the essence of Troutbeck’s culinary philosophy. Available every Sunday, brunch complements the existing offerings of three meals a day, seven days a week, all open to the public.

The culinary program at Troutbeck is led by Executive Chef Vincent Gilberti, who honors the natural landscape through thoughtful and seasonal cuisine. “We launched brunch in February,” said Chef Vinny, as he’s affectionately known. “It’s been a goal of mine to add brunch since returning to Troutbeck as executive chef last year. Before my time here and before the pandemic, we had a bustling and fun brunch program, and while we’ve all returned to ‘normalcy,’ brunch was something we wanted to get back in the mix.” Chef Vinny hails from the Hudson Valley and brings with him a wealth of experience from some of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants, including Pulino’s, Battersby, and Dover. After a stint in San Francisco’s SPQR, where he honed his pasta-making skills, Chef Vinny has returned to Troutbeck with a renewed passion for the farm-to-table philosophy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature-inspired exhibit opens in Sharon

"Pearl" from the "Elements" series.


The Sharon Town Hall is currently displaying an art exhibit by Pamela Peeters entitled “No Fear of Flying” until September 3, 2024. The exhibit opened on June 3 to celebrate World Environment Day.

The show displays work by Peeters, Allan Blagden, Zelena Blagden and Jean Saliter. Pamela Peeters has had a decades-long career as an environmental economist, sustainability strategist and ECO consultant, appearing on television and radio, sponsoring and leading environmental education programs globally and is recognized for her various artistic endeavors.

Keep ReadingShow less