When Jackie Kempton first started dating her husband Will during high school, she asked him what his family did for their mom on Mother’s Day. Jackie had recently moved to the beautiful rural corner of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom where Will grew up the eldest of three boys on Kempton Farms in Peacham.#MothersDay presents usually include manual labor on the #farm. #FarmLife #FarmLove @cabotcheese Click To Tweet
His mother, Dawn, has always been very involved in running the family farm with her in-laws, husband, and now alongside their two sons who have joined the business full-time. The farm, which milks about 300 cows, provides milk for the award-winning Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, aged nearby in the Cellars at Jasper Hill.
“I was raised in a city setting,” Jackie explains. “For Mother’s Day, we’d always go out and buy something fancy for our mom.” In contrast, she recalls, Will admitted they didn’t really do much special to celebrate. “He said that their mom would be happy if her boys did some gardening, yard work, or a clean-up project she’d been nagging them about for a while,” Jackie says with a chuckle. And sometimes, Will told her, “We’d go out in the garden and pick her a flower of two that she’d planted.”
Now a mom herself of 3 ½-year-old Chloe and 9-month-old Piper, Jackie understands her mother-in-law’s perspective; late May is a busy time of year on the northern Vermont farm as spring is really just hitting full stride, the barn is full of new calves and everything is being prepared for the outdoor farming season. “This year I’m pretty much expecting a handmade card colored by Chloe and that Will takes her outside to pick a few flowers,” Jackie says. “I’ll drop a hint though: I’m hoping that maybe a gardening project might get done, like rototilling the garden.”
In the Northeast Kingdom with the sun finally emerging to warm up the winter-chilled ground, no Vermonter dares to transplant tender seedlings or direct seed others into garden beds until right around Memorial Day. When fear of frost is over, Jackie will plant corn, watermelon, tomatoes and broccoli among others. She also spends a lot of time pruning back the rose bushes that climb the barn walls and takes great pride in maintaining beautiful hanging baskets on the fence posts and keeping the window boxes around the barn looking fresh and colorful. Jackie likes to use a variety of plant shapes and colors to complement the bright yellow paint of the house and the barn; she selects vibrant-hued flowers like fuchsia and petunias specifically to attract hummingbirds. “Chloe will get to help pick out the flowers we put in those this year,” Jackie says. “She’s very excited.”
Chloe also loves to help in the kitchen and on Mother’s Day, Jackie says, the immediate family will probably have a special brunch together before they go about the work of the day. The meal will likely include homemade waffles, like this recipe from our friends at King Arthur Flour with Cabot low-fat plain Greek yogurt substituted for the buttermilk (try 1 ¼ cups yogurt whisked with ¼ cup milk to thin). The stacks of crisp, hot waffles will definitely be topped with Vermont maple syrup and rosettes of Cabot whipped cream. With those and a card handmade with love by little hands, what more does Mom need?
You can also sign-up for our Newsletters.
Melissa Pasanen is an award-winning Vermont-based journalist and cookbook author with a focus on food, farming and sustainability. She was the writer for The Cabot Creamery Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2015).