Excitement Builds For Point-to-Point Races

Annual event sponsored by Blue Ridge Hunt nears one hundredth anniversary.

By Betsy Arnet

Although billed as the 69th annual running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races at Woodley, the event actually dates back almost 100 years. The first “race meet” sponsored by the Blue Ridge Hunt was held in 1921 at Annfield, the home of William Bell Watkins. Watkins was Master of Foxhounds (MFH) of the Blue Ridge Hunt at the time. The races were moved to Woodley in 1949, when then-MFH Alexander Mackay-Smith owned the property.
The Blue Ridge Hunt Races are part of the Virginia Point-to-Point Circuit, held each spring from early March to early May. In the past, the Blue Ridge Hunt Races have been one of the earliest meets in the season. However, according to current Joint MFH Anne McIntosh, frequent postponements and cancellations over the years due to inclement weather led the Hunt to move the races to later in the season.
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons that the races have been held at Woodley for the past 68 years is the beauty of the racecourse. Ranging over a series of ridges and swales, Woodley is considered the best point-to-point course for spectators in the Virginia circuit. A ridge above the racecourse allows spectators to see every jump on the course.
Several years ago, professional jockey and trainer Jeff Murphy assisted the Blue Ridge Hunt in making modifications to the course and the placement of the jumps to improve safety for horses and riders.
“The main difference between a course like the one at Woodley and a sanctioned steeplechase course, like the Gold Cup, is that a sanctioned course is only a racecourse,’ explains Murphy. “The sanctioned courses are groomed all year for racing. Courses like the one at Woodley are often cultivated during the off-season.”
In fact, Joseph Henderson, owner of Chapel Hill Farm across Route 340 from Woodley, grows timothy and alfalfa hay on the Woodley property for his herd of Randall Lineback beef cattle.
This year, the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point will feature nine to eleven races, a combination of flat, hurdle and timber. Flat races involve no jumps, hurdle races have jumps over fences that mimic hedgerows, and timber races have jumps over higher wooden rail fences. The races vary in length, depending on the age and experience level of both horses and riders. The course is about one mile. The longer timber races, run by the most experienced horses and riders, make three circuits of the course.
“The younger horses run the flat races,” says Murphy. “They need to get fit first, before they can go the distance in hurdle and timber races.”
Only one race has a monetary prize, a modest $2,000 purse, so the Blue Ridge Hunt Races are mostly for fun.  Murphy describes the races primarily as a venue for trainers to evaluate young horses and for novice riders to gain experience.
“We don’t go too fast,” he says with a laugh. The races are still a thrilling sight
for spectators.
The 69th annual running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races begins at noon on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Admission is $25 per car. Prior to the races, at 11:00 a.m., children ages 3 to 8 can compete in the Stick Horse Races. For more information, visit www.blueridgeraces.org.

Blue Ridge Hunt 

The Blue Ridge Hunt was founded in 1888, organized by Archibald Bevan, an Englishman who had settled in Clarke County. 130 years later, today’s members of the Blue Ridge Hunt carry on the fox hunting tradition.  Some things, of course, have changed. Foxes are run to ground, not captured or killed.
Anne McIntosh, one of three current masters of the hunt, has been foxhunting with the Blue Ridge Hunt since 1989 and has been a Master since 2006. She and her fellow Masters coordinate with the landowners within the Hunt’s territory, which includes most of Clarke County, parts of Warren County to the south, and parts of Jefferson County, West Virginia, to the north.
The Blue Ridge Hunt meets are held from September 1st to March 1st each year. The hunting season ends in early spring to avoid causing harm to livestock during calving and foaling seasons.
“We couldn’t do what we do if the landowners didn’t allow us to cross their lands, and so we are very respectful of their property,” Anne says. “We are fortunate here in Clarke County, that due to land conservation efforts, hunting hasn’t changed much over the years.”
 One opportunity that the public has to see the Hunt in action is the annual Thanksgiving meet at Long Branch. On Thanksgiving morning, Hunt members and foxhounds gather on the lawn at Long Branch and enjoy refreshments before the hounds move off. Visitors are welcome.
The Blue Ridge Hunt currently owns about 70 foxhounds, trained and cared for by huntsman Graham Buston. Nearly every morning, Buston walks the hounds near the Blue Ridge Hunt kennel. It’s an amazing sight to see, seventy hounds walking along the road as politely as can be, following behind their huntsman.
Following the end of the American Revolution, sons of many Tidewater gentry families moved into the area that is now Clarke County. Woodley was originally part of the Llewellyn estate and was owned by Warner Washington, a cousin of George Washington. Warner Washington died in 1829, and the Llewellyn estate was divided among his heirs. In 1833, his son Fairfax Washington sold more than 300 acres to Daniel Sowers, another transplant from the Tidewater region.
In 1835, Sowers built a house on his new property. Woodley is a fine example of Federal style architecture, virtually unchanged in appearance since it was constructed. The two-story, five-bay house is built of brick laid in Flemish bond, has a side-gable roof with three gabled dormers, and interior-end parapet chimneys on both ends of the house. A one-story portico with paired Ionic columns accents the front door with its elliptical fanlight, a hallmark of the Federal style. A two-story addition on the back of the house was originally a single story, as evidenced by the change in brick color midway up the walls.
While the front of the house faces Route 340 and overlooks the racecourse, the back of the house enjoys stunning views of the Blue Ridge.
In 1990, Woodley’s 383 acres were placed into conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, ensuring the property’s protection from subdivision and development. It is located with the Chapel Rural Historic District, one of nine National Register of Historic Places districts in Clarke County. The Chapel Rural Historic District is characterized by large estates like Woodley and its neighbors, Chapel Hill and Llewellyn.
When it was owned by Alexander Mackay-Smith, the Blue Ridge Hunt often held meets at Woodley. The undated photo shows the hunt on the front lawn of Woodley, probably in the 1950s.

Happenings at the Mill

By Claire Stuart
Since 1990, Art at the Mill has been a highly-anticipated spring event for art lovers throughout the region. This year’s show runs Saturday, April 28 through Sunday, May 13. Situated in a lovely meadow in the sleepy hamlet of Millwood, the Burwell-Morgan Mill is one of Clarke County’s historic architectural treasures. In spring and again in fall, it is transformed into a gallery with works from about 300 artists, featuring paintings, mixed-media, sculpture, fine woodworking, and pottery. There is always something for every taste and budget.
On other weekends, May through November, the mill resumes its life as a working grist mill, with grinding on Saturdays. You can take a tour, watch the mill running, and purchase freshly-ground flour and cornmeal. Art at the Mill is a fund-raiser for the Clarke County Historical Association (CCHA) for operation of the mill and CCHA Museum and Archives.
Mill Manager Roger Steyaert is the mill’s only employee, and volunteers take care of all operations, maintenance and repairs. “This mill is one of the few restored mills in the U.S. still operating in 80% of its original building,” he reported.
The mill was built in 1782-1795, around the end of the Revolutionary War, through the cooperative efforts of Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Burwell and General Daniel Morgan. “Burwell had money and Morgan had know-how and a workforce,” said Steyaert.” The beautiful stonework was the work of Hessian master stonemasons.
Joe Guenther, mill volunteer for over 25 years, explained that at the end of the war, Hessian mercenary soldiers who had fought for the British surrendered. General Morgan was in charge of Hessian POWS. Some were shipped back to Europe, but some stayed. Many were skilled craftsmen, and Morgan found jobs for them with German-speaking immigrant farmers in the Shenandoah Valley.
At that time, Steyaert related, this area was an important supplier of wheat for Europe and the West Indies. Burwell grew wheat and had to transport it to the east coast. Grinding the wheat would reduce the volume of wheat for shipping. Hessian stonemasons built the mill, as well as Burwell’s home, Carter Hall (now home of Project Hope), which was built in 1786-1792.
The mill was in full industrial production by 1795, and it ran seven days a week, day and night. “In the old days,” said Guenther, “they ground 300 to 400 pounds of wheat per hour. Last year, we ground about 150 pounds a day every
grinding day.”
Millwood became a real town around the mill, with wagon makers, coopers, a blacksmith shop, schools, churches, stores, distilleries and a grog shop. The mill survived the Civil War because the area changed hands several times and both armies needed a mill.
The mill continued to operate into the 20th Century. In the 1940s, a corner of the building caved in and crushed the waterwheel, and the owner ran the mill for several years using a motor. Competition from Midwestern states caused a shift in local agriculture to apples and livestock and a steady decline in business. The mill was abandoned in 1953.
The CCHA acquired the mill in 1964 and began a seven-year project to restore it, financed by fund-raisers, private donations, and volunteers.  Additional major work was done in 1997 to replace and restore the huge internal wooden waterwheel, gears and flume. There are two sets of millstones, but one needs repair. They are made of French quartzite, shipped from France, said to be the best type of stone. They were in the mill when renovations began so their exact age is unknown.
In addition to grinding, other activities are planned for the Mill later in the year. Colonial Kids Day at the Mill is coming up in July, with living history demonstrators, Revolutionary War re-enactors, hands-on activities, Colonial crafts and games.
Clarke County Heritage Day will be celebrated at the Mill in the fall. There will be demonstrations of everyday colonial life, including blacksmithing, cooking, spinning and, of course, grinding, as well as an encampment of Revolutionary War re-enactors from the Second Virginia Regiment.
Finally, there will be Fall Art at the Mill. Watch for further announcements for these activities.
Steyaert reports that although the mill can be operated by two people, three is actually the optimum number. Volunteers are needed to help operate the mill. He especially hopes to recruit members of younger generations who would like to learn and participate in hands-on history. Apprentice millers are placed with an experienced miller for about five or six grinding days. Teenagers and up are welcome.

Los Wingeez Adds Flavor to Main Street in Berryville

By Rebecca Maynard
Main Street in Berryville recently welcomed a new restaurant that promises to add all kinds of flavor to the town. Los Wingeez, already a successful food truck since 2015, opened in March at 24 W. Main St.
Owner Jose Alvarado worked for years for Navy Federal Credit Union before opening a restaurant with partners in Lansdowne. After parting ways with his partners there, he has operated his food truck since 2015, specializing in authentic Peruvian chicken wings marinated in a secret recipe. However, non-wing fans will have plenty of other options. Los Wingeez will also serve street tacos and quesadillas with a variety of fillings including a vegetarian option, sandwiches, salads, burrito bowls and lomo saltado, a traditional
Peruvian dish.
Everything is organic, gluten and peanut free and non GMO, Alvarado said, and he is also enjoying the sourcing of local ingredients, including honey. Because he deals with food allergies himself, he enjoys making food that everyone can eat.
While the restaurant isn’t fast food, Alvarado said that it is designed to be a quick bite and that most orders are filled within minutes. And unlike fast food, everything is made fresh, including teriyaki and barbecue sauce. Alvarado likes to do things right, said his friend and startup assistant Beth Aldhizer.
“He doesn’t take shortcuts and everything is always consistent,” said Aldhizer, who runs a pet business in Round Hill. “My family and I love
his food!”
Alvarado plans to continue making the rounds in his food truck, where he has regular stops in Herndon, Sterling and Ashburn. However, he is so taken with Berryville that he has found an apartment very close to the new restaurant and looks forward to settling in and meeting people.
“A friend of mine lives here and told me I should come and have a look,” he said. “The people here are wonderful and
so nice.”
Los Wingeez is delightfully decorated with international postcards, cozy pillows, a unique piece of chicken artwork (pictured) and a custom built bar made with local pallet wood with a countertop made from pennies laid like tiles and covered with a
protective finish.
In addition to running the food truck and the restaurant with the help of employees, Alvarado will continue catering for special events. He is interested in the Apple Blossom Festival and hopes that being involved there might bring potential customers from Winchester and beyond
to Berryville.
“I’m going to try to make this a destination,” he said.
The restaurant has room to seat 38 people inside and 16 for outdoor patio dining. Lunch specials will be offered and Alvarado would like to introduce a delivery option. The hours are 11am to 8pmMonday through Saturday, and 12 to 7pm Sunday.
A website is in the works and information can also be found by following Los Wingeez on Facebook, emailing loswingeez@gmail.com or
calling 540-247-9444.
“I’m excited and happy to be in Berryville,” Alvarado said, and Aldhizer can’t praise his cooking enough.
“It’s a really healthy venue and you can taste the difference between store bought and freshly made,” she said. “There’s a lot of love in
his food.”

Needles & Pins Fiber Art Shop Opens on Main Street in Berryville

By Rebecca Maynard
Readers of bestselling author Debbie Macomber are no doubt familiar with the fictitious shop, A Good Yarn, where friends gather to socialize and work on knitting, crocheting, needlework and more.
Life is now imitating art, as Round Hill resident Pam Hummel has fulfilled her dream of several years and opened Needles & Pins Fiber Art Shop in Berryville in March. The shop is located above the Fire House Gallery at 23 East Main Street.
Hummel said the idea to open the shop was in the back of her mind for a few years, after having read Macomber’s book, and she joined the Blue Ridge Fiber Arts Guild to start learning. She is now working with five farms, which provide wool that is made in the United States.
“They are all sheep to skein and hand dyed,” said Hummel, who added that one farm is selling lap blankets. “All the farmers have been the kindest people to work with. I would come to them with 100 questions and they would patiently answer each one – I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Hummel said she has always loved coming to Berryville to walk the town and browse the shops, and when it came to choosing a location for her store, it kept coming to the forefront of her mind. Then she found out about the incubator space available through Berryville Main Street, which gives startup businesses a
temporary space.
After launching a business in the incubator space and finding success, Berryville Main Street hopes the owner finds a permanent space in downtown Berryville. The incubator space above Fire House Gallery has previously been occupied by Turi Nevin-Turkel, owner of Turiya Yoga, now at the Sanctuary Wellness Center on North Buckmarsh Street; and Christina Kraybill, owner of My Neighbor and Me, now located on East Main Street.
In addition to the colorful yarn, embroidery thread and other items for sale, Hummel plans to make Needles & Pins a destination for anyone who wants to come work on a project or just chat.
“I had someone come in and just sit down to have a cup of coffee the other day, and that was great,” she said.
She is also finalizing plans for classes for all skill levels in crocheting, knitting, do it yourself projects, needle felting, cross-stitch and more. For more information, call the store at 703-499-1502, email needles_pins@yahoo.com, visitneedlesandpinsfiberart.com or visit the store’s Facebook page.
Hours are Sunday: closed; Monday: closed; Tuesday: 1–7pm; Wednesday: 11am–5pm; Thursday: 1–7pmFriday: 11am–5pm; Saturday: 11am–5pm (last Saturday of
every month).

Boyd’s Nest Restaurant Gives Back to the Community

By Rebecca Maynard
Last fall, Boyd’s Nest restaurant owner Kim Ragland organized a fundraiser that sent 20 flood buckets to Houston. Over Christmas, she collected diapers, wipes, toys, infant clothes, bottles, pacifiers, shampoo and more, along with $300 cash for formula for the Red Wagon ministry. Recently, as she was wondering what cause to tackle next, she woke up with the phrase Hungry Backpack going through her mind.
Knowing that spring break and other school vacation days can be difficult for students without plentiful food at home, Ragland decided to raise money for Clarke County’s Backpack Buddies program, a group of volunteers that packs food into backpacks for students to take home with them during school breaks.
As a nutritionist, she is keenly aware of the fact that students are less likely to succeed in school when they come from a home with food anxiety – not always being sure where the next meal will come from.
Ragland borrowed her granddaughter’s backpack to display with a sign suggesting a $35 donation which she figured could feed one student over spring break. Right away, generous Boyd’s Nest customers began opening their wallets.
“By the end of lunch, we had collected $155,” Ragland said. “Our customers are that way.”
Donations continued pouring in, and it really snowballed when Ragland organized a Facebook fundraiser. People from Clarke County and beyond shared the page and sent donations, and as of this writing, $2600 has been raised and more is being collected to fill the snack closets at both Clarke elementary schools.
The Backpack Buddy program is not a government program and therefore there are no criteria for qualifying. Students are given shelf stable food to eat at home, but Ragland would love to be able to expand the program to include fresh fruits and vegetables. She is in the process of talking with school counselors about the logistics of expanding the program to the middle and high school, and also helping to spread awareness of the program to those who might benefit and have not heard of it.
While the Facebook fundraiser has ended, this is just the beginning.
Ragland has had offers from a few corporations and individuals to be sustaining contributors, which she says is very exciting. Anyone interested in donating can stop by Boyd’s Nest in person or call 540-535-5252.
“We want these students to know we care about and love them,” Ragland said. “It’s important for them to know they are valued.”

Hippity, Hoppity, Rabbits on Their way

By Claire Stuart
Winchester Medical Center’s popular animal assisted therapy program has been around for over 20 years. Most people are familiar with therapy dogs, but bunny rabbit therapy isn’t as well known.
Rabbits come courtesy of Tom and Lynn Miller of Berryville, who became involved with rabbits in the 1990s when their now-grown children were in the 4-H rabbit program.
Lynn Miller has raised rabbits for 15 years and shown them since 2004. Her rabbits are fancy breeds like French Lops, Angoras and Lionheads, in all colors, shapes and sizes. Some are not even immediately recognizable as rabbits!
Rabbits have been with the hospital’s animal-assisted therapy from almost the beginning. Lynn Miller explained, “In the second year of the program, they had a lady who volunteered with a rabbit. It was successful, so they wanted more.”
That same volunteer approached the Miller children at the county fair and asked them to become junior volunteers. However, an adult had to accompany them, thus bringing their parents into the program. When their children reached high school and became interested in other activities, their parents continued with the hospital visits.
Cindy Newcomb of Berryville is one of the volunteers with the rabbit therapy program. Anyone who grew up in Clarke County probably knows Newcomb, who retired several years ago after teaching at Clarke Elementary for 40 years. She taught three of the Miller children and reconnected with Tom Miller in a Bible study class, and he asked her if she’d like to volunteer. Other volunteers are Gary Paulson and Lois Hitchcock.
The volunteers visit different parts of the hospital. Once a week, Newcomb comes to the hospital and visits the 4th floor.
“We put the rabbits on carts and take them around,” she said. “They have their own volunteer identification badges with their names and pictures. The rabbits are the most docile animals I’ve ever been around, and they love the attention of the patients.”
Newcomb reported that the rabbits wore Santa hats for Christmas, and that they have some costumes that they wear for various holidays. The rabbits are rotated so that the same ones do not visit every week. A group of new rabbits will be certified in June.
“Tom hopes to get more volunteers, since he has plenty of rabbits,” she said. “Right now, we visit one day a week.”
With additional volunteers, they could add more days and/or expand the amount of territory they cover in the hospital, including Rehabilitation Services on Cork Street.
Patients, both adults and children, love the rabbits. “And the nurses do, too. They know them by name. The nurses fight over them,” laughed Newcomb. “They need therapy, too!”
Newcomb is not bound by any time limit for a visit with a patient, and patients can have rabbits on their beds. “Some patients just want to pet the rabbit for a few minutes, others want more time,” she said. “I spent about 15 minutes in two rooms last night. I don’t pace myself or just see so many. “
Tom Miller explained that the rabbits have to be tested for temperament and get checked by a veterinarian. Most of the rabbits they use are French Lops, a very large breed.
“Our contacts in the rabbit show world allow us access to about half a dozen different rabbit breeds, where we can pick the rabbits with the best personalities,” he said. “I’ve never had a problem with a rabbit.”
He went on to say that nurses alert the volunteers when a patient has some special needs. “The patient might be blind or might not speak English, or might be depressed and need some cheer. Some people get few visitors and they enjoy the company. The volunteers talk with them. We’ve even been invited into a room when a patient has passed away and the family is there. The rabbits seem to be able to offer comfort and distraction.”
And, as Lynn Miller noted, “Some people, especially children, are afraid of dogs, but everybody loves bunny rabbits.”
Newcomb related a funny experience she had while taking a rabbit into a room. “A little boy was watching from a doorway across the hall where he was visiting his grandmother. I heard him tell her that he was going to go across the hall and pet the rabbit. The grandmother told him, ‘You stay right here. You know that there are no rabbits in a hospital!’  Boy, did we surprise her!”
Added Newcomb, “What touches me the most is when people say, ‘This is the best thing that happened to me today. It made me smile.’ People are so appreciative of the rabbits. This is as rewarding to me as it is for the patients. I come home every Monday evening glad that I went!”

Around Clarke March and April


17 Crazy Cash Party

John H. Enders Fire Company. 9 S. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Doors open at 5:30pm, barbecue chicken and beef dinner at 6:30pm, first number drawn at 8pm. $1500 grand prize and only 275 tickets sold at $25 each. To purchase tickets call 540-955-1110 or email travis.sumption@gmail.com.

18 Long Branch Speaker Series

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Sarah Cohen, creator of Route 11 Potato Chips, presents “So, You Want to Start a Business.” $25 for one event, $80 for four part series. Reserve tickets ahead. 6pm.540-837-1856.

18 Film Series: “Frantz”

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. French and German film depicts the aftermath of World War I. 4pm. Members $5, nonmembers $8. Visit www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004(12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

18 Autoimmune Disorders Class

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Susan Fidler, MCPP, ND, RH (AHG) leads “Methylation Mutants: Rising Above Autoimmune Disorders, Autism, Mysterious Health Issues and Beyond.” 3–4:30pm. Registration required. 540-227-0564. www.sanctuaryberryville.com.

20 Plants That Eat Animals Educational Event

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Steve Carroll teaches which plants “eat” animals, how they manage, and the costs and benefits. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15; member family $20, nonmember family $25. 540-837-1758.

23 Mink’s Miracle Medicine Concert

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Raw, earthy sonic minimalism country music. $15. 8pm. Visit
barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday
to Saturday).

24 Relationships and Conflicts Class

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Renowned speakers and award-winning authors Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND and David Mercier, MS, Lac offer “The Way of Wholeheartedness: A Course in Relationships.” 9am–4:30pm. Register with Eventbrite or at davidmercier.com. 540-227-0564.

24 Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny

Clarke County Recreation Center. 255 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. Ages 1–2 11 am, 3–4 11:20am, 5–7 11:40am. $3. 540-955-5140.

25 Martha Washington Talk

Burwell-Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Historian Steven Campbell gives a lively talk on the first First Lady. CCHA members $10, nonmembers $15. 2–3:30pm. 540-837-1799.

25 Classical Concert

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. 27 Good Shepherd Road. Bluemont. “Moonlit in the Sun,” a string trio of violin, cello and viola, will present beautiful music by Mozart, Beethoven and Dohnanyi. Free will offering will benefit FISH of Clarke County. 3pm. 540-955-2600.

25 “At the Fork” Film

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Filmmaker and omnivore John Papola, together with his vegetarian wife Lisa, offer up a timely and refreshingly unbiased look at how farm animals are raised for our consumption. 4pm. $5. Visit barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

25 Ayurveda Self-Care Workshop

The Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Join Ayurvedic Health Counselor Kimber Hyatt for self care strategies. 2–4pm. Register by emailing kimber.barefoothealth@gmail.com or visit www.sanctuaryberryville.com. 540-227-0564.

29 Invasive Plant Identification and Management

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Learn to identify and manage invasive species during the spring season. 1–5pm. FOSA members $20, nonmembers $25. Reservations required. 540-837-1758.

29 Maundy Thursday Service

Crums United Methodist Church. 2832 Crums Church Road. Berryville. 7pm. 540-955-1852.

30 Ken and Brad Kolodner Concert

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Dynamic father and son duo perform on hammered dulcimer, banjo and fiddles. 8pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. Visit www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

31 Easter in the Park

Rose Hill Park. Main Street. Berryville. Egg hunt, storytelling, bouncy house, drama, games, crafts, music and more. Free. 11am–1pm. Provided by Emmaus Church. www.emmausofclarke.com.

31 Full Moon Walk

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Explore the arboretum under the full moon. Wear comfortable shoes and bring flashlight. 7:30–8:30pm. FOSA members/UVa alumni $10, nonmembers $15; member/alumni family $20, nonmember family $25. Reservations required. 540-837-1758.

31  Community Easter Egg Hunt

Historic Long Branch. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Hayrides, bouncy castles, flowering spring garden, carriage rides and professional photographer. Jordan Springs barbecue for purchase. Adults $5, children free. 12–3pm.540-837-1856.


1 Pancake Breakfast

John H. Enders Fire Company, Berryville. 7am–12pm. Pancakes, sausage, eggs, sausage gravy, baked apples, coffee, milk, hot tea, apple and orange juice.
Adults $8, children $4, children under 6 eat free. 540-955-1110.

1 Easter Services

Crums United Methodist Church. 2832 Crums Church Road.. Berryville. Sunrise service 6:30am, contemporary service 8:45am, traditional service 11:15am.540-955-1852.

6 Bluegrass and Barbecue

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Bud’s Collective performs bluegrass. 8pm. $15 in advance, $20 at door, 12 and younger free. Visit www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

7 Barbecue Chicken  Dinner and Auction

Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds. 890 W. Main St. Berryville. Prepared by Clarke County Ruritans. Silent auction 4:30–6:30pm, live auction 7pm. Proceeds benefit Clarke County Relay for Life. Adults $15, children 8 and younger $10. 540-323-0097. patsyburner1948@gmail.com.

7 Make ‘n Take Air Plant Terrarium

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Let your creativity grow and discover the fascinating life of air plants. Price includes all materials. 10–11:30am. FOSA members $25, nonmembers $30. Reservations required. 540-837-1758.

7 Piano Concert

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Award-winning pianist Petronel Malan performs. 8pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. Visit
www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

12 Walking Tour of  Arboretum

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Come see glorious displays of flowering trees, shrubs and wildflowers. 1–2:30pm. Free. Reservations required. 540-837-1758.

12 Irish Music Concert

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. The Alt, three masters of Irish music, perform. 8pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. Visit
www.barnsofrosehill.org or call 540-955-2004 (12–3 pm Tuesday to Saturday).

13–15 “The Little  Mermaid” Musical

Clarke County High School auditorium. 627 Mosby Blvd. Berryville. Students will bring to life the Disney musical based on the beloved animated movie. 7:30pm Friday and Saturday, 2:30pmSunday. Adults $12, children $8.

14 Tastefully Simple Open House

Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. 210 E. Main St. Berryville. All welcome to stop by and sample products. Proceeds benefit Clarke County Relay Team Razmataz. 1–4pm.540-323-0097. patsyburner1948@gmail.com.

14 Family Dance Party and Silent Auction

D.G. Cooley Elementary School Lower Campus. 240 Westwood Road. Berryville. DJ, concessions, silent auction, glow store, dessert bar and more for elementary students and families. $1 admission. 6–9pm. www.pantherspto.org.

14 An Evening with Elvis and Conway

John Enders Fire Hall. Berryville. Join the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association at a special benefit concert featuring tribute artist Kevin Booth. First half features Conway Twitty and second half Elvis Presley. All proceeds benefit the ongoing restoration of the historic Stone’s Chapel. 7pm. Tickets sold at door only. Adults $10, students $5. 540-955-1110.

15 Desegregation Retrospective Roundtable

Boyce United Methodist Church. 8 Old Chapel Ave. Boyce. CCHA and the Josephine School Community Museum will partner together for a discussion with former teachers and students with firsthand experiences from Johnson-Williams High School and Clarke County High School 2pm. 540-955-2600.

18 Live Trivia 

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. CCHA and the Clarke County Library team up to bring live team trivia with categories including history, movies, literature, science and more. Prizes donated by local businesses. 7pm. Free. 540-955-2600.

21 Spaghetti Dinner

Boyce Fire Hall, Boyce. All you can eat dinner with food, fun and fellowship to benefit Boyce United Methodist Ministries. Takeout trays available. Free will offering. 4–7pm.540-336-3585.

21 Earth Day Celebration

Sam Michael’s Park. 235 Sam Michaels Lane. Shenandoah Junction, W.Va. Local artists, musicians, food vendors, environmental organizations, kids’ activities. Free. 11am–7pm.240-520-7058.

22 Blue Ridge Hunt Point to Point Races

Woodley Farm. 590 Woodley Lane. Berryville. First race at 12pm. Stick horse races for children and other activities. $25 per car, $150 for VIP tailgate parking. 540-631-1919. diana.perry@viasatinc.com.



Tuesdays, 8:15–9:15pm. Grace Episcopal Church. N. Church St. Berryville. For friends and families of alcoholics.  If someone else’s drinking bothers you, please join us. 540-955-1610.

FISH Clothing Bank

Saturdays, 9am–12pm. Old Chapel Road and Route 340 south of Berryville. Also new location at 36 E. Main Street. Berryville. 540-955-1823.

As the Crow Flies

After 20 Years, A Purple Martin Colony!

On becoming a landlord to the largest North American swallow
Article and photos by Doug Pifer
For over 20 years my wife and I have wanted purple martins to nest where we lived.  We bought books about attracting martins. I set up a wooden three-story purple martin house with the proper measurements and studied the best places to attract the birds. I made white painted gourd houses, hung them from a telescoping pole the proper height above the ground, and installed a baffle to deter climbing raccoons and other predators. I measured the site’s distance from large trees and from our house. I even carved and painted realistic martin decoys which I put up each year.
I bought a CD recording of the dawn song of purple martins and played it from April till July from 5:00 until 8:00 in the morning. We watched and waited as house wrens, tree swallows, and bluebirds successfully nested in our martin house. A colony of 8 bluebirds even roosted in our wooden martin house all winter. But no martins.
Sometimes three or four martins would show up. They would call out loudly, circle lazily around the house or gourd rack, or hover in front of it. They sat in the upper branches in a dead tree nearby, checking things out. But they neither stayed nor even landed on the house! Each year we held our breath as the martins would come, circle around and then leave. Something didn’t
suit them.
In 2016 we bought a historic red brick farmhouse a mile or so from the Potomac River, with a barn, woods, a spring-fed stream, and five acres of pasture. After we moved in, I bought a new aluminum four-tiered martin house and put it up the following March. I set up a couple of decoys.
Finally, one May morning three purple martins appeared. They came every day but seemed to shy away from the decoys.  After I swallowed my pride and took my decoys down, four purple martins came back, hung around for an hour or so and then left. They repeated this daily routine until the end of July, but never nested or stayed overnight. Bruce Johnson, then owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc. in Winchester, assured me they would return to nest next year.
Bruce was right! I put up the martin house in the same spot, and around the first of May four purple  martins came. With much excitement and loud chirping, they circled around and entered all the nest chambers. In early June, three out of eight chambers contained active nests.  By summer’s end all three nests had produced baby martins —not bad for a first-year colony. The first brood fledged at the end of June and the last one left near the end of August.
Maintaining a martin colony requires a firm, long-time commitment from the landlord. Many folks are much more actively involved than I was last summer. They check the nests regularly during the breeding season, examining nestlings for parasite infestations, and, when necessary, replacing their nests and dusting the babies with insecticide. I only lowered the house on the telescoping pole and opened the chamber to check the nests once.  I hated disturbing the birds, especially because they all seemed to be just fine without
my interference.
Here are things I learned last summer about purple martins:
Purple martins aren’t in a hurry to do anything.
Martins require lots of clear, open space around housing.
Activity around the nest is generally in early to mid-morning.
Martins spend much of the day away from their nests, even when feeding young.
If you have house sparrows around, martins won’t nest. Buy and use a sparrow trap.
Get the half-moon shaped entrances for your houses to discourage starlings.
Not all martins choose the same material for their nests.
You don’t have to monitor martins as closely as some people do.
Martins capture and feed their young many large flying insects like dragonflies and cicadas.
Young martins may not return to the house to roost after they fledge.
First-year males look much like the gray breasted females, but can breed as successfully as older “purple” males.
Martin housing should have a nesting chamber larger than 6 inches by 6 inches.
Gourds used for martin housing should be at least 12 inches in diameter
Trust martins, and don’t get excited if they don’t do what you think they should do. If you do everything right but don’t get martins right away,
be patient!
When I took down the martin house to clean and put it away for the winter, I examined the three well-used nests the martins made. Each nest was a shallow cup of plant material lined with fresh green leaves plucked from trees. Yet each was uniquely constructed according to the preference of the builders. One nest was composed exclusively of small dried rootlet rosettes of short grasses plucked from the ground. Another was made of 4 1/2-inch long hay stems. The third nest consisted of short, dead twigs, and contained some dried mud and about a dozen fingernail-sized freshwater clam shells, evidently gathered from the banks of nearby Rocky Marsh Run.
The Purple Martin Conservation Association, www.purplemartin.org, offers helpful information for martin landlords, a blog where you can connect with fellow enthusiasts to share your concerns, and sales and discounts on martin housing and supplies.
I can’t wait for them to come back this spring!

Big Birds and Big Green Eggs

Story by Claire Stuart, photos by Bre Bogert
If you take a drive down Springsbury Road in Berryville, you might catch a glimpse of two huge ostrich-like birds in a field beside the road.
No, you aren’t seeing things. It’s just Big Bird and Puff, Dave and Lauren “LuLu” Conrad’s emus. The Conrads have been keeping the gigantic birds since 2006. Emus are flightless birds that are native to Australia. They grow to be five to six feet tall, weigh well over 100 pounds and live about 20 years in the wild and about 35 in captivity.
Dave Conrad explains how they came to own them. “One day my daughter called and said, ‘Dad, I’m bringing you some emus.’  She knows that Dad will take anything that’s free! At the time, we didn’t even know what an emu was.”
Their daughter was into horses, and the family of one of her friends had a riding stable. For whatever reason, they’d bought some emus and soon discovered that juvenile emus are like packrats —they love bright shiny objects. The birds were stealing items of horse tack and anything else interesting they could find. They had become a nuisance, so the owners decided to get rid of them.
“They’ll pick at people’s rings and watches,” said Dave Conrad,  “and they’ll try to take glasses off your face.”
The Conrads describe Big Bird, the male, as friendly, but he gets aggressive when he has young. Puff, the female, is more standoffish. Once a clutch of eggs is laid, the male emu sits on the eggs and turns them for about eight weeks, without eating or drinking. When they hatch, he cares for the young. In the wild, the female leaves and finds another mate.
Emus can run at speeds of 30 to 40 miles an hour, zipping off in a flash from a standing start. They readily demonstrated this as they took off after a family pup who was annoying them. They defend themselves by kicking, and they have long, sharp claws. However they are generally gentle birds.
Dave Conrad explained that you can’t tell the sex of an emu by looking at it. Emu reproductive organs are internal, and trying to do an intrusive examination of a six-foot, 150-pound bird with claws like a velociraptor, while possible, is not anything most people would attempt. It is easier to do when the birds have just hatched. You can send for an expensive DNA test, or you can just wait and see, as the Conrads did. When emus reach maturity, which takes a few years, the females begin to make a drumming sound. The males just grunt like pigs.
Lauren Conrad brought out one of the emu eggs. It was huge and green and looked a bit like an avocado. “Last year we got 29 eggs,” she said. “One emu egg is equal to about a dozen chicken eggs. We don’t eat the eggs but you can. You can scramble them. We hard-boiled one, but there was too much white before you could find the yolk.”
“It took three sandwiches worth of white sliced off to even get to the yolk,” Dave Conrad recalled. The eggs are not green inside and look just like giant chicken eggs.
In this part of the country, emus only lay eggs in winter, from about November into March. In normal winters, they usually lay an egg every three or four days. In very cold winters, they lay less often. The birds are very cold hardy but they take shelter in their shed in extreme cold.
Big Bird and Puff are very curious. They like certain noises, especially the sound of a loud car exhaust, and they will run to the fence to check it out. The Conrads guess that a local young man with a noisy exhaust purposely guns his engine to get the attention of the emus when he drives by.
The Conrads were raising and selling emus for a while, but it became too much work and expense, considering the price they could get for the emu chicks. Now they only sell the eggs, which people buy to decorate. A customer arrived to pick up some eggs that she planned to use in a decorative nest.
Egg carving is also popular and has a long history as an Australian aboriginal art form. Emu eggs are particularly good for carving with a Dremel or similar tool because the thick shell has three layers of different colors. The outer layer is green, the next layer is turquoise and the inner layer is white, allowing for beautiful three-dimensional effects.
Lauren Conrad sells emu eggs at the Clarke County Yard Sales and other community happenings, or you can e-mail her at:  lulupot47@gmail.com