To the Blue Ridge

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

COVID In the Country

By Julie Reardon COVID In the Country A year ago, as COVID cases and rules about masks, social distancing and cancellation of gatherings dragged along, we considered how lucky we were to live in a rural area where it’s easy to social distance and avoid exposure to the virus. It’s also easy to hide stuff like your own declining health, filling me with a false sense of complacency. Unbeknownst to me, I got COVID early on, which I mistakenly treated as a garden variety respiratory infection. After all, in January and February 2020, no one had heard of COVID—not until March. So I never saw a doctor about my nagging respiratory infection. Only marginally improved after 2 months, pollen season hit with a vengeance. My lungs, already scarred from chronic asthma, struggled. It was also very easy to hide how short of breath I’d gotten, and the weight I’d gained. With my compromised lungs I took no chances and neither of us went anywhere unless we absolutely had to. I only went to the grocery for curbside grocery pick up and the post office. Our post office is tiny, so it was easy to wait until no one else was in the little building to go in. Anything picked up outside our farm was disinfected and our hands washed before entering the house. The problem with hiding your worsening health from friends and family is that you start to believe yourself that your health problems are no big deal. The pandemic and related restrictions made it easy to keep my shortness of breath and worsening asthma well hidden from friends and family as well as myself. And 2021 started on a bad note. In January we lost my oldest dog, a male Chesapeake that was almost 15. In the spring,…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Merry Christmas from the Blue Ridge!

By Julie Reardon Merry Christmas from the Blue Ridge! A friend who lives in the mountains shares this story every holiday season and it’s one of my favorites. I only recently found out the author’s name since various versions have been around for many years, variously titled A Christmas Prayer and The Rifle, and that it’s not actually a true story. The author was a sheep herder and wrote it one freezing night while pondering how to explain the true meaning of Christmas to his children. I think you will enjoy it as much as I do. A Christmas Story By Rian Anderson Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving. It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted so bad that year for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So, after supper was over, I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Chestnuts, a Vital Ingredient to the American Melting Pot

By Kim Evoy Bryant Chestnuts, a Vital Ingredient to the American Melting Pot I’m sitting at my farm in Nelson County, Virginia. We grow chestnuts and this is the first time we have invited folks to come and pick their own chestnuts. I had questions. Would anyone want to pick chestnuts, would they be okay with driving down our dirt road, would they be able to find our farm nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains? It’s a perfect fall day with the sun out and just warm enough for everyone to enjoy. The cars start coming in and I’m a little nervous about what people will think about picking chestnuts. It’s not a difficult task, but can take a little while. Chestnuts, when ripe and ready for harvest, fall to the ground, so each nut has to be harvested from the floor of the orchard. As the day goes on, I realize that more than 50% of the people coming for the harvest are first- generation Americans. Their parents have come from Korea, China, Japan, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Greece, Finland, Turkey, Russia, Philippines and Macedonia, maybe more. My ancestors originated in some of these countries. Our visitors are so excited and keep telling us stories about chestnuts in their country and how they had been waiting for this day. One gentleman was overjoyed, said he had been “looking for a chestnut orchard for 16 years” and was elated that we were within driving distance. With his son by his side, he shared a lovely memory of being a boy in his country and picking chestnuts. What has happened on our farm is amazing to us! My husband and I initially set out to grow a crop that would be profitable and take us into retirement. We love…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

“Fall” in Love with Fauquier & Loudoun

By Julie Reardon “Fall” in Love with Fauquier & Loudoun Crisp clear days, brisk nights and fall colors are reasons why fall is a perfect time to visit Fauquier County. In addition to the fabulous colors of leaves changing in the Blue Ridge and surrounds, usually at its prime at the end of October, the golden light of fall makes everything look prettier for selfies and social media sharing. Whether you want to take in the abundance of harvest at the fall farmers’ markets, pick some apples and enjoy some cider, watch horses race or wine and dine, there’s something for everyone this month. On Saturday, October 2nd, take in some fine bluegrass in Marshall. The Flatbeds and Tailfins Concert Series is proud to be bringing back for a return visit The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band. The band members were initially chosen by one of the original members of the Country Gentlemen band, Bill Yates, to best pay tribute to one of the most recognized Bluegrass Bands of all time. If you were a fan of the Country Gentlemen, come hear for yourself how good they sound. These Gentlemen will be taking the stage Saturday October 2, 2021 at 6pm. Doors open at 5pm, at the Marshall Community Center Theatre located at 4133 Rectortown Rd, Marshall, Virginia. General Admission Tickets are $20.00 in advance, or $25.00 at the door. Kids 3 and under are free. Telephone Ticket Orders are Accepted 10a-2p Monday-Friday at (540) 422-2507 (No Service Charges for Telephone Orders). Sorry, No Refunds or Rainchecks Available. Group Rates are Available (10 Tickets or more), call for more information (540) 422-2507. Come on out to Orlean on Saturday, Oct. 9th for Orlean Day/Octoberfest at the Orlean Market and enjoy some of the best Blue Ridge views in the county. You…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

FROM COW PATTIES TO HORSE APPLES

To the Blue Ridge By Julie Reardon FROM COW PATTIES TO HORSE APPLES Virginia Tech studies the ins and outs of pasture grazing at research farm in Middleburg From cow nutrition to diapered horses, Virginia Tech has quietly been conducting agricultural experiments in Middleburg for almost 75 years. Surrounded by some of the highest priced real estate in the area, the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center lies one mile south of the quaint town of Middleburg. It’s one of 13 agricultural research farms maintained by the cooperative extension program throughout the state. In 1949, the late local landowner and philantropist. Paul Mellon of Upperville, VA, made a gift of 420 acres of farmland to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University along with financial support to help establish the Virginia Forage Research Station. Mr. Mellon envisioned forage systems that would promote animal productivity and, at the same time, maintain the integrity and fertility of the soils and the livestock they supported. Research activities began in July 1949. For the first 40 years, research at the Virginia Forage Research Station focused on cattle nutrition derived from grazing Virginia pastures. Part of the charter of Virginia’s land grant universities Virginia Tech and Virginia State University tasks them with educating Virginians and helping them improve their lives by providing research based educational resources through a network of campuses, research farms and educators at county offices. Virginia Cooperative Extension is a product of cooperation among local, state, and federal governments in partnership with tens of thousands of citizens. Throughout the first 40 years of the Virginia Forage Research Station, the number of cattle farms decreased while the number of horses and horse farms in Northern Virginia steadily increased.  Mellon, a horseman as well as philanthropist, began discussions with a panel of distinguished scientists…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

LIFE’S SHORT. GET THE PUPPY.

By Julie Reardon LIFE’S SHORT. GET THE PUPPY. The timing could not have been worse, but I knew I had to have her. This new puppy I got this summer would represent the third, and probably final attempt, to have a competitive field trial dog before I got too old to enjoy it. My first two attempts ended with a $65,000 cripple and a broken jaw that left a facial deformity that interfered with her vision. Some of you regular readers might recall the sad tale of my crippled dog, which I wrote about here in December 2017 http://www.oldtowncrier.com/2017/11/27/at-what-price-love/ The second attempt was a related puppy I got in the spring of 2018, who got bitten by one of my adults in a warning snap that unfortunately broke her upper jaw. It was surgically repaired and being only 8 weeks she recovered rapidly but the resulting facial deformity left one eye tipped inward and down affecting her vision and depth perception along with a severe under bite. It was a disheartening time. Because of the pandemic and quarantine, field trials and hunting tests for retrievers were cancelled and no one was doing anything with their retrievers. Without regularly seeing friends at training and events, it was easy to hide how short of breath I’d become, incapable of training or running dogs. Besides, I had no competitive dogs. All of mine were retired or crippled. When the chance to get this puppy came up just as the pandemic was ending, I had to take it. One of a dwindling number of a bloodline I’d developed and the last litter out of this particular female as she was almost nine years old. On the sire side were several of my favorite dogs. It was a once in a lifetime chance to get…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Not In My Backyard….

By Julie Reardon Not In My Backyard…. A pandemic-led renewed interest in outdoor spaces and gardening, telecommuting for work and social distancing have, not surprisingly, fed a boom in purchase of rural properties in both Fauquier and western Loudoun County.  People are moving to rural areas faster than the housing stock can keep up. Inventory is at historic lows as listings are gobbled up, some at above asking price, as soon as they hit the market. While some come from other states, people moving further out from the crowded suburbs in Northern Virginia are fueling this boom market. Once they’ve settled in, most of these former urban residents circle the wagons and become anti-development activists. Now that they have their own slice of heaven, they think no one else should be allowed to move out to the hunt country and they become among the most vociferous activists against any proposed or future development—even those permitted by the county they live in. “I’ll move!” fumed one new owner near a proposed subdivision, even though she had just moved to Fauquier herself a year ago from Fairfax. Two proposed subdivisions for new homes near the village of Middleburg had new as well as longtime residents organizing protests and activism on social media. One subdivision was the development of a 600 acre farm east of town into 38 luxury homes. This subdivision proposed to take advantage of existing Loudoun County zoning by putting up the maximum number of allowed houses but clustered together on smaller lots with the rest placed in open space easement. It caused a furor among the residents, specifically the horsey set. They’d grown accustomed to fox hunting and trail riding over the land. Even though the number of lots was a by-right division, Loudoun allows for “bonus density” (more…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

168th Upperville Colt & Horse Show

168th Upperville Colt & Horse Show This U.S. Equestrian Premier Hunter, Jumper & Heritage competition will take place in the shade of the majestic oaks near the village of Upperville, Virginia. The 168th anniversary of the oldest horse show in America will begin on Monday, June 7th and run through Sunday, June 13th. During this week, the nation’s top ranked hunters and jumpers will compete alongside the local ponies, sidesaddle ladies and racing Jack Russell Terriers. Fast Facts: Upperville Is… …The Oldest Horse Show in the United States – Since 1853 …“Horse Show of the Year” – as named by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame and the Virginia Horse Show Association …A Designated World Championship Hunter Rider show …A week-long USEF Premier Rated show …A U.S. Equestrian Heritage Competition …A mecca for horsemen – a few notable exhibitors include: General George Patton, Paul Mellon, Kathy Kusner, Rodney Jenkins, Katie Prudent, Joe Fargis, and members of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold medal team representing the United States, including McLain Ward, Laura Kraut, Adrienne Sternlicht and Devin Ryan. Event information sourced from the UCHS and MMG Management. SIDEBAR: Maybe you can make this look cool! 168th UPPERVILLE COLT & HORSE SHOW JUNE 7th-13th GRAFTON AND SALEM SHOWGROUNDS UPPERVILLE, VA GENERAL ADMISSION SPECTATORS WILL BE WELCOME AT UCHS 2021! COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA AND US EQUESTRIAN COVID-19 GUIDELINES WILL BE IN PLACE AND UPDATES ARE POSTED AT UPPERVILLE.COM AS INFOMATION IS CLARIFIED. ADMISSION AND PARKING ARE FREE! Contact Information: 8300 John S. Mosby Highway Upperville, VA 540-687-5740 info@upperville.com Upperville.com

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

An Embarrassment of Riches or…..Just an Embarrassment?

To the Blue Ridge By Julie Reardon An Embarrassment of Riches or…..Just an Embarrassment? For the baby boomer generation, all those antiques and silver are not worth what you were led to believe. All of my life, I remember being told by my mother, aunts, and grandmothers how valuable this or that antique piece of furniture was worth. We had china sets we never used because they were way too valuable to risk using for holidays and special events that included heathen children who might break things. They sat, dainty and beautiful, in valuable china cabinets and on the very top shelves of our mid-century modern kitchen cabinets. That they were not dishwasher or microwave safe was an added reason they were never used. Silver, including monogrammed tea sets might sit proudly on an antique sideboard. Polishing silver became a childhood household chore, along with learning the stories behind these valuable pieces of sterling that were way too expensive to be able to afford these days. Back in my grandparents’ day silver was freely given for christenings, birthdays, graduations, Christmas, weddings and other occasions. My parents couldn’t afford that type of generosity but oh how Mom loved that sterling silver. But now, no one else does and often it’s worth more melted down and sold by the ounce. And forget silver plate—you can’t even give it away. And all those beautiful antique pieces? The sideboards, the desks, the dressers and tables. Forget it—today’s young adults shun brown furniture as if it was tainted. The reality is that the collectible business is changing all the time. The big demographic shift is of baby boomers downsizing after 50 years of post-World War II consumption. The bad news is that the resale market is glutted with their household goods that no one wants….

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS?

By Julie Reardon HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS? While we Virginians fondly like to claim them as our own, what’s called the Blue Ridge is the extremely long mountain crest that runs from just north of the Potomac River on the Virginia-Maryland border south all the way to northern Georgia. The Blue Ridge Mountain complex can be thought of as the Blue Ridge, with two main additions: its low continuations north of the Potomac into Maryland and Pennsylvania and the whole series of high mountains centered on western North Carolina and extending west into Tennessee and south into Georgia. These high ranges include the Great Smokies and many others, and contain all of the 6,000-foot peaks except New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. The entire huge complex of the Blue Ridge Mountains has clear natural boundaries. On the east, the mountains rise up distinctly from the flatter, rolling hills of the Piedmont. On the west, the Blue Ridge drops to the extraordinary Appalachian Valley, a continuous trough running from Alabama to Montreal.           The Blue Ridge and its associated ranges are almost entirely thickly forested, gentle, rounded mountains. Way too far south to even approach having a timberline, even the summits of Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Clingmans Dome (6,636 feet) are in the middle of deep forest and would have no views whatsoever if lookout towers hadn’t been built. No other large mountain range in the country has as many good, paved roads meandering through the high country and up to important summits. But pointed, craggy summits are as rare in the Blue Ridge as low, rounded ones are in the Tetons. However, as with any huge area, generalizations are never totally true. There may not be any timberline, but the summits of many “Balds” in the…

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