Ask the Seller: Sweet Farm, Johnson, Vermont

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in one of LandVest’s properties? We invite our owners to tell us a bit about their experience, what they love about their homes and a bit of their history.

We loved hearing how this owner found the property and about all the treasures she discovered and cherished while owning Sweet Farm.

1Sweet Farm, Johnson, Vermont Exterior, Sweet Farm, Johnson, Vermont

Tell us how you found the property? Was it love at first sight?

THE SHORT ANSWER: It was Serendipitous! Fortuitous! Just plain most excellent luck!

THE LONG ANSWER: I was NOT looking for land. But, a sign placed far up on the back side of Mt Mansfield, proclaimed: Land For Sale and a phone number. I was skiing in the backcountry and knew I was on Vermont State land. Curious, I jotted down the phone number and then forgot all about it until the next winter when I pulled it out of my jacket pocket…and dialed.

A woman from a real estate firm in Burlington answered. I asked her about the sign that I had seen the year before. She thought someone probably put it up as a prank, but, she asked, what was I looking for in the way of land? What was my wish list? I let loose: total privacy, dead end road, big acreage, woods, fields, near to, or on a mountain, streams, rock walls, VIEWS, southern exposure and not too far from a village, and a ski mountain.

The woman asked me to hold a minute and transferred me to her colleague, who, said she, had apparently just been using all those exact words on the phone with a client who wanted to sell her land. This new agent described 365 acres for sale with everything I said I was looking for. But, he explained, there was a problem; it was land locked. No access. Could not be sold! A few days later, I met the agent in Johnson to accompany him on his visit to check out the 365 acres. Within 20 minutes, I was hooked.

With the agent’s help, I contacted the owner of the contiguous property, hoping to purchase a right of way from him. No. He was not interested in selling. Period.
So, for the next three years, I explored and played on that incredible land. And then one day, the call came from the owner of the contiguous land. He had decided to sell. He named the price and gave me one week to decide.

I did. I bought his land, 407 acres plus the 365 (original) acres.

What about the property made you fall in love?

The views, privacy, and serenity are beyond belief. But, it’s the wildness that hooked me.

THE FORESTS — the sugar maples, striped maples, soft maples, cherry, birch, hardhack, of course, the butternut trees, the HUGE hemlocks, white pine, pitch pine, Spruce, Norway Spruce (plantation), the old apple orchards and the runaway wild apple trees here and there.

Wild life at Sweet Farm, Johnson, VermontTHE WILDLIFE — deer, turkey, moose, fox, rabbits, coyotes, bear,  and those crazy spring evenings when the peepers erupt! The hummingbirds love the honeysuckle, and all sorts of nesting birds make their homes in the porch’s horizontal beams and wood sheds. There are those fancy owls who call so poignantly to one another. And, of course, those goofy turkeys; a phalanx zipping along on stick legs, wobbling and gobbling across the field. What silliness… makes even a grump laugh!

And there are the stealthy black fishers, the curious raccoons, porcupines, skunks. Then, there are those hard-working, busy beavers. I have seen and watched all of them and ‘interacted’ with many…

WILD FLOWERS — some special and rare like the Closed Gentian, both white and blue. Lady Slippers (yellow) as well as the rogue lilies and lilacs. And, the spring bulbs; some “old world” fragrant white narcissus which I discovered just outside the Sweet Home foundation. I would plunge my shovel into the earth and bring up 15 or so bulbs at a time! I planted them all along the driveway in random merry clumps. They are stunningly white and fragrant. Then, there are the edibles: the delicious apples, the spicy ramps, the juicy black caps, raspberries, blackberries and tiny sweet strawberries.

WATER — streams, some with small brookies, some with lovely little cascades, and one with two waterfalls. There are three ponds, one near the house for swimming; deep, (20+ feet) cold and clear fed by four springs, and another smaller and shallower where wildlife prefer to drink. The third pond up on the mountain at the Seth Hill Homestead is a small “animals only” kind of pond.

Water, Sweet Farm, Johnson, VermontCan you tell us a little history of the property?

It’s what I call the “Sweet Connection”: Emmett Sweet lived in the house where the tiny cellar hole is today. His brother Elmer, after living with him initially, bought his own farm in Johnson. I love the fact that the farmer who now grows organic hay on all the fields here, is himself the great-grandson of Emmett’s brother, Elmer Sweet. How sweet is that?

The historic features are especially appealing to me: the old cellar holes, always well-positioned for pleasant views, the boxed-in springs, always up a  hill from the cellar holes, (gravity fed kitchen sink?). The old apple orchards. And, deep in the woods, where sugar maples are plentiful, evidence of old “arches”, which are rough rock structures built to support the fires needed to boil the sap. Most still have old sap buckets lying about, partially buried.

Woods, Sweet Farm, Johnson, VermontCan you tell us why you are selling?

I do not want to leave my sweet home, but I know that now I must move closer to my children and grandchildren as the six-hour drive each way is too long for me. I will be leaving my home and Vermont with joyful memories and with great comfort in knowing this land will be forever protected.

Does the property hold any secrets?

The secret whereabouts of Wesley’s still… which I think I managed to find! Word was/is that he had a hidden still in the woods, and produced great “liquor” which he sold to his “regulars”. Deep in the woods, up the mountain, partially covered by leaves turned to earth, I found a strange contraption of metal pipes, old bricks and what looks like a small oven door somehow attached to a rock. I do not think it’s an old arch because there are no sugar maples nor old sap buckets in the vicinity. The secret still?

The Secret, Sweet Farm, Johnson, VermontAnd then, there is the pair of old leather boots, carefully placed on top of the stone wall deep in the woods. Over the years, they have been mossed in, and share the same moss blanket as the neighboring stones. I always wondered how their owner got home…

I love this land and all its stories and history.

What excellent good luck it was when I happened to see that sign way up that mountain so long ago!

-Carley Coolidge


For more information on Sweet Farm click here.  For all Northern Vermont listings click here or contact Wade Weathers or Averill Cook.