Ready For Take-off: Monarch Butterfly Migration

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Two chrysalises housing monarch pupa

Vermont Woods Studios Prepares Monarchs for Take-off

On a beautiful day straddling the line between August and September, we huddled on the deck of Vermont Woods Studios at our Stonehurst property. Five adults and two children all gazing in mirrored excitement at the progress of our monarch caterpillars as they forge their ways into butterfly-hood.

“I’m going to name him Jeff!” One of the young boys informed the group as Peggy Farabaugh, the CEO of Vermont Woods Studios and head caterpillar-rearer, gently scooped up two prized caterpillars and secured them safely in a jar for the boys to bring to their grandmother’s.

It has been two weeks since the arrival of the caterpillar babies (or larva) and already they are well on their way to adulthood. However, their transformation is far more magical than that of any other aging process. They came to us as tiny creatures no bigger than a grain of rice and have rapidly transformed into vibrant, two inched beauties that scuttle about their mesh hamper confinement eating milkweed and maturing with natural grace.

It is marvelous to watch the caterpillars inch their way to the top of the hamper and methodically suspend themselves upside down in a J shape. This is a signal to the world that the caterpillars are ready to enter the pupa or chrysalis stage of life. The caterpillars work tirelessly in this J-shape to molt their skin and transform their outer appearance into the grass green, gold speckled chrysalis.

“I wonder what they’re doing in there all the time.” Peggy mused, affectionately grooming the caterpillar habitat. The allure of mystery gripped us all as we watched the beautiful chrysalises hang, cautiously enveloping the transforming caterpillar.

In about two weeks the chrysalises will have turned black and the monarch butterfly will be ready to emerge with damp, fledgling wings. In the short span of two hours, the monarch’s wings will dry and it will be lusting for flight. Thus our babies will leave us and safety of the Stonehurst deck.

However, it won’t be a sad day, for on this day we will have reached our goal. With the help of Orley R.  “Chip” Taylor, founder of the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas, we will have completed cycle one of the Monarch Restoration project. The Vermont Woods Studios company developed an objective: to help restore the monarch population. Success is heavily contingent on three pillars: milkweed restoration, healthy, migration-ready monarchs and continued research.

Last October and November, Peggy and the Vermont Woods Studios staff went out in search of milkweed. Pods gathered along route 142 were brought back to the studio where seeds were harvested and packaged for distribution.

Seeds were distributed to local gardeners and nature enthusiasts, clients and planted on the Stonehurst property. 1 in 100 milkweed seeds strewn across the earth will produce a plant. Because of these small odds, we chose to carefully plant 80 seeds on the Stonehurst property yielding 80 viable milkweed plants.

Along with learning the importance of carefully planting the milkweed seeds, the Vermont Woods Studios staff have also developed important information for rearing monarch caterpillars:

  • Whenever it is possible, raise the caterpillars in a terrarium
  • Do not allow direct sunlight to hit the terrarium
  • Monarch caterpillars grow quickly and this process can be messy, so cleaning the terrarium frequently is a must
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One of our monarch caterpillars getting ready to transition into a chrysalis

Once our monarchs are ready for flight, we have one last piece of the puzzle to put in place before we can call the project a success. Chip founded Monarch Watch in 1992 and has been studying monarch migration since 2005. The eastern monarchs born at the end of the summer months have the innate task of migrating to Mexico. This migration will take four generations of monarchs.

Our Stonehurst monarchs will fly just a portion of the way and then stop to lay eggs and die as the new babies begin the growing process and mature to fly their portion of the trip. This process will repeat until the final generation sails over sunny Mexico and makes themselves comfortable for eight to nine months when the United States is again habitable for the return of the monarchs.

How did people come to have such intimate detail about the migration pattern of these tireless creatures? The answer to this is evolving through research, which brings us to the final stage of the project: tagging the monarchs.

Before our monarchs take flight, we will place a small, adhesive tag, provided by Chip and his team on the wings of our monarchs. These tags will signal researchers to know where the monarchs came from and provide other valuable research that will continue to help rehabilitate the monarch population.

As we stand on the deck, without a chill in the air and watch the chrysalises form, we know the journey our caterpillars have before them. We discuss tagging the butterflies with nervous laughter, none of us having ever done it before; but were willing to try because we know that it is one key step in encouraging the comeback of these magical creatures.

(This is part two of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Keeping Children Safe Around Furniture That Could Tip Over

The Today show ran a story this morning about anchoring tall chests and cabinets to the wall in homes where little children are at play.  Matt Lauer and friends went on to say that “the Consumer Product Safety Commission says that the dressers and drawers pose a serious risk of injury, and even death, from toppling on children if they are not anchored.

One child is injured from furniture toppling over every 24 minutes, and a child dies every two weeks from falling furniture or TVs, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

Eighty percent of the deaths involved children younger than 10.   How tragic.  My kids have grown to be taller than our furniture now, but I must admit that when they were toddlers, I never even thought about the dangers that tall furniture can pose to, say a child who might be trying to climb to the top of a dresser by using the drawers as steps.  The show made me do some research into the possibility of offering tip-over restraints with all of our tall furniture, even though our designs are considered “inherently stable”.
Tip over restraints are nylon straps that are attached to the back of furniture.  You screw the other end of the strap into the wall.  We now offer them upon request, with any of our tall furniture pieces, such as dressers, chests, armoires, chifforobes, china cabinets, entertainment centers, file cabinets and so forth.  If you have toddlers or know someone else who does, it’s worth a stroll through each room in the house to consider the hazards that furniture may pose.  Tip-over restraints, properly installed could save your child’s life.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Connect with Vermont Woods Studios on Social!

Vermont catches a lot of slack for being a little behind the times. Well, with all of our farming and maple syruping and tree hugging, how could we possibly find the time for technology? 😉 In reality though, we’re just as social and tech-savvy as the rest of the world. At least that’s what we’d like to think. So we invite you to connect with us on our social media accounts, where we share bits and pieces of our story and our mission…plus some fun day to day stuff from around the office! We also love to share news and stories about the rainforest, Monarch butterflies, Vermont, green living, and much more. Won’t you join us?

Here’s where you can find us on social:

1) Follow us on Facebook!
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2) Connect with us on Twitter!
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3) Pin your favorite furniture on Pinterest!

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4) Find inspiration on Houzz!

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5)  Watch our videos on Youtube!

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So there you have it! Click on the images above to follow us on social and keep up with what we’re doing. Don’t be afraid to comment and say hello either! If there is one stereotype about Vermonters that is totally true, it’s that we’re very friendly. We look forward to “connecting” with you and showing you a bit more about who we are, and giving you some great content for your viewing pleasure. Want us to follow you on social media? Leave a link to your pages in the comments section of this blog.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

See you later, Vermont Woods Studios!

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Dear friends,

It has been an honor and privilege to work as the marketing assistant at Vermont Woods Studios for the last two years. I’ve learned so much, and have made many special connections with our fans from around the world.  I’ve enjoyed getting to share our story with you,  both here and on Facebook– from little glimpses of life at the office to grand explorations of our impact and dreams for the future…and I’ve made some wonderful connections with the friendly folks of Twitter along the way. Sadly though,  it is time for me to move on from this wonderful company and set sail to BuildingGreen!

If you’re a fan of Vermont Woods Studios, don’t worry, the social media party isn’t stopping here! Keep in touch with Vermont Woods Studios on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for continued daily doses of life at this Vermont made furniture company,  and if you’d like to stay in touch with me, go ahead and follow me on Twitter too.

Thanks again for all of the good times, friends! Stay safe, happy, and never stop chasing your dreams! 🙂

Best wishes,

Kelsey Eaton

ps. You will still be seeing some blogs I’ve written being posted over the next month or so.  No, that is not the ghost of a social media maven past, they are fillers until another blogette takes my place!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.