life in the Kearsarge area

what's happening in the Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee area of NH

Archive for Andover

Get thrifty

IMG_6298 IMG_6289

Thrifting is not for the faint of heart, but it is great fun. I checked out a few stores for the summer issue of Kearsarge Magazine; one of my trips is below. If you have some time this summer, grab a friend and see what you can find!



Go Lightly Consignment Boutique

255 Newport Road

CODE: consignment, clothing, jewelry


The Renaissance Shoppe at the VNA

107 Newport Road

CODE: thrift, art, collectibles, jewelry, antiques, nonprofit cause


Switchback Consignment

256 Main Street

CODE: consignment, clothing, toys, sports equipment


St. Andrews Thrift Shop

52 Gould Road

(603) 526-6590

CODE: thrift, clothing, housewares, nonprofit cause

Over the river and through the woods

A two-dog welcoming committee greets visitors to Ragged View Farm in Andover, N.H. Gwen and Scout wag their tails, run in wide loops and come close for a friendly pat to the head before they sprint off into the snow again. They know what’s coming up: a sleigh ride around the 18-acre farm.

As soon as there’s enough snow on the ground, Mark Cowdrey and Lea Ayers LaFave offer hay-filled sleigh rides on weekends to friends, families and visitors to the area. Two chestnut Suffolk horses are hooked up to a red, wooden sleigh filled with hay and woolen blankets. Eight people can pile into the sleigh for a 40-minute tour of the farm.

Cowdrey handles the sleigh — the original snow machine — and the horses, Misty and Woodrow, well. “Gee. Good girl. Behave. Good team,” he says to the horses. The snow is deep and crusty, and a few of the turns on the trail are tight, but Misty and Woodrow are doing everything Cowdrey asks of them. Without turning in his seat, he explains over his shoulder to the passengers that there are several interconnecting trails on the property, forming various loops around the farm. “I’m taking the horses on a different route. They think they know the trail better than I do.” Once out of the trees, there’s a broad expanse with sparkling, snowy views to the right and left.

Cowdrey and LaFave bought Ragged View Farm in 1999 and have fixed up the house, built a barn and added a garden. The farm has expanded from a small garden and one pig to a larger garden with garlic for sale, four horses, a sow with two litters of pigs a year, and sugaring taps for maple syrup. On a typical sleigh ride, folks can see every part of the farm, including a view of Ragged Mountain to the north.

“It’s a good way to get people out to a farm and see horses, pigs and chickens — animals they may not see in their everyday life,” says Cowdrey. “People are interested in agriculture. If I drive the horses down the road, everyone slows down, stops and waves. I like to promote the idea of local agriculture when I can.”

Cowdrey worked at a farm a couple summers when he was a teenager, and although he didn’t work directly with the horses he “got bit by the bug.” In the mid-1990s Cowdrey took a workshop at horse-powered, family-operated Fair Winds Farm in Brattleboro, Vt., and later, when he had the space at the farm, he bought his first horse. “It was a realization of something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he says.

Cowdrey’s day job is an architectural draftsman in New London, but since 2005 he’s been giving sleigh rides to friends on the weekends. In 2006, it didn’t snow until March (not a good sleigh ride season), but in 2007 there was so much snow by March that it was too deep for Misty and Woodrow to pull a sleigh. “It is ironic when I have to say, ‘No, I have too much snow,’” Cowdrey says. “But if there’s a good amount of snow on the ground, I’ll probably be giving rides.”

Learn more at

Fun with history

Winter Kearsarge Magazine is going to press. It will be off my desk today, and printed next week. We haven’t run a funny history article since 2008…do you remember? It was based on the old Spy magazine “year in review.” The authors would take a funny item from the news, and make it even funnier with a title. So KM tried it with history items, true or tall tales. Here are a few oldies from 2008, and look for some new goodies in 2014.

Too cold to cry

Early log cabins near what is now the Newbury/Sutton line were very cold in winter. An open fireplace against one outside wall sucked all the heat from the far side of the room right up the chimney. Cold air was drawn in from outside through log walls. In 1780, William Gunnison and his reluctant wife moved into their cabin from the milder climate in Kittery, Maine. It was so cold the first night that Mrs. Gunnison’s hair froze to her pillow. We can understand why she might have shed a tear or two, but chances are she didn’t try again till spring.

Sorry to go on — I just really liked the hat

The Merrimack Journal in December 1874 records the following notice. “One of the most base and disgraceful acts ever committed in this orderly and decorous village was transacted at the [recent] Concert. Some vile person, unworthy of the name man or boy, had the impertinence, audacity and unqualified meanness to trample, spit tobacco juice upon and entirely annihilate Rev. Mr. Moody’s hat. Such conduct is not tolerated in this community, and the miscreant is sure to have the condemnation and reproach of the good people heaped upon him as soon as his name is found out, which if he has any shame could surely be done by the tingling of the cheek and his calling loudly for the rocks and mountains to fall upon him and hide him from the face of an indignant people.”

Better than a fat pig over a low pole

Hobos of the old days were not just men seeking a free ride. They were expected to perform for their supper and a spot in your barn — either with labor or with any skill they might possess. A free spirit named Jaquish is a good example. He came to Andover once a year, most often with a pig and a heifer in tow. His menu of services and their cost was as follows:

  1. Jumping heifer over a pole: 5¢
  2. Jumping pig over a lower pole: 2¢
  3. Praying for you or a loved one: 5¢
  4. Preaching: 15¢

Jaquish, apparently, was a worthwhile preacher. That is to say, his preaching had worth relative to that of a pig jumping over a low pole. The townspeople got used to — and even looked forward to — Jaquish’s arrival. He ambled through town in springtime for 20 years until 1845, when he didn’t.