I’ve put up seven bluebird houses at various sites on our property. For the past couple of years, bluebirds have nested in them and successfully raised a brood or two of young. Tree swallows have also used them. When I clean out the nest boxes in late winter, I’m happy to have enhanced some of the wildlife habitat of this small plot of land.But successful nesting is far from certain. Over the three years since we’ve installed new fences, the barn cats have learned to walk on the top boards as if on balance beams. Now they can routinely investigate every bird house that’s mounted on a fence post. Red foxes, raccoons, snakes and other ground predators have learned to keep an eye on nesting boxes, waiting to grab eggs, nestlings, or even adult birds. Hawks and owls patrol the skies day and night.
Alternative nest sites It’s easy to install bird houses on fence posts, and such sites are attractive to birds such as tree swallows and bluebirds. But studies of nesting bluebirds have shown that over time, fence post nests may be less successful. They offer predators a safety lane across an open field where they can hide, hunt and ambush nesting birds. And if all the bird houses are in the fence line, the nests are set up for failure. A safer alternative is to place some bluebird and tree swallow houses on free standing, non-climbable posts. Mount bird housing on metal fencing T-posts, PVC, or metal conduit pipe cut to appropriate lengths. Positioning them ten or twelve feet from a woods or fence line makes the nests less accessible to predators.
Installng baffles Bird houses mounted on posts in open areas are even safer from predators if a baffle is provided. A baffle can be anything that allows the nesting bird easy access but excludes a predator. You can buy one or make it yourself. I put a pre-made baffle on the post supporting the wood duck nesting box I placed next to the creek. It resembles an upside-down funnel about two feet in diameter. A raccoon or blacksnake trying to climb up to reach the wood duck eggs will be truly baffled! Professional wildlife managers recommend using such baffles on every wood duck nesting box.After reading literature by the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA), I learned that the telescoping metal pole that holds my martin house is climbable by snakes and raccoons. Last season I bought and installed a custom-made metal baffle to protect my martin colony. Great horned owls also can reach their talons into martin houses and grab nestlings. The PMCA sells owl guards that fit in front of martin house openings to prevent such predation, but I have yet to try them.
Predator guards To further protect bluebird houses, attach to the entrance a 2.5- to 3-inch-thick square of wood, drilled with a hole the same size as the opening. A cat, owl or raccoon won’t be able to reach the birds in the nest with its paw or talons. To also discourage snakes, attach a simple tube of bent wire mesh extending from the entrance five or six inches. The outermost edge of the mesh is cut and bent outwards so the sharp wires deter a hungry snake. Bluebird predator guards are available online or at stores that sell backyard bird feeding and housing supplies.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/martin-house-with-baffle-2.jpg288216Jenniferhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgJennifer2019-04-12 15:37:172019-04-12 15:37:18As the Crow Flies
My, what a busy month March was for us Town Council members!We began our budget work in earnest during our daylong March 12 budget work session. We have advertised a tax rate of 20 cents per $100 of assessed value for the upcoming fiscal year 2020, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2020. This tax rate is an increase from our current fiscal year’s rate of 19 cents. However, we agreed to advertise the higher rate in order to give us flexibility to see what we can afford in the upcoming year’s spending plan. It is worth noting that, legally, we cannot adopt a tax rate over what is advertised, but we can adopt a rate under what is advertised, so keeping the tax rate level is indeed a possibility.
With any adopted rate and budget as a whole, we need to consider our needs for future planning and rising costs, particularly in construction, without a considerable growth in the tax base.
There are several noteworthy items that we are considering for funding in fiscal year 2020: renovation of the playground in Rose Hill Park; creation of a deputy town manager position to assist our town manager and be the point of contact for the Public Works and Utilities departments; replacement of a police department cruiser.Also, as of this writing, we have set aside funding for the three budget goals adopted by the council in the last quarter of 2018: funding for police department accreditation; matching funding, along with the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, for a study on the extension of Jack Enders Boulevard; and funding for a branding and marketing study of the town, which would enable us to know our target markets to grow our tax base and foster economic growth.We will adopt the budget and tax rate at our June meeting.
We welcome all public input at our upcoming budget public hearing, set for May 14.
Another matter before us in March was the findings of a study regarding our utility system. This study recommends increases in both our water and sewer rates to pay for the costs of the system over the next five years. Many of these increases stem from high anticipated capital costs, with a very good possibility that we will be eyeing a significant renovation, if not altogether replacement, of our water treatment plant. That cost, alone, hovers north of $11 million. The consultant who prepared the report is also recommending an increase to our fee for new water connections, but a decrease to sewer connection fees.As much as all of us would like to avoid utility rate increases, the high capital costs, quality mandates we must adhere to, as well as our low user base, means that we must find a way to fund our system to make sure it provides adequate service for years to come.A point of emphasis — our water and sewer funds are enterprise funds, meaning that they must be self-supporting. These funds have zero impact on our general fund, which is funded by our real estate and personal property taxes. So, an increase to water and sewer rates has no bearing on tax bills, and vice versa.The report, which is available on our website (www.berryvilleva.gov) provides useful information including growth rates of neighboring jurisdictions compared to ours, monthly usage analyses, and historic data on our utility rates.We always welcome and encourage public input. If you are not able to make it to a public hearing or the Citizens’ Forum at one of our meetings, please feel free to email us your thoughts.This monthly column is authored by the members of the Berryville Town Council. For information on town government, including meetings, agendas, and contact information for the Town Council and town staff, visit www.berryvilleva.gov.
Farmers Market Opens With Live Music and Petting Zoo The Clarke County Farmers Market is starting strong this season with The Sweet Nola’s Po’ Boys providing live New Orleans style jazz music on opening day, Saturday, May 4. The Bar C Ranch petting zoo will also be at the market.The market offers fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, crafts and baked goods every Saturday morning, May through October, from 8am to 12pm in the town parking lot on South Church Street in Berryville. Enjoy something new every week as produce comes into season. “This is only my second season with the Clarke County Farmers Market but I have been overwhelmed by the excellent vendor participation and community support that this market receives,” said market manager Karie Griffin. “We have a great group of vendors who form our market executive committee and they put in a lot of effort every year to make each week a great experience for everyone, lining up great local music and family friendly events. I’m honored to be a part of it.”Visit the market’s Facebook page, Web: clarkecountyfarmersmarket.com; Email: email@example.com.
12–14 Quilt Show Clarke County Parks and Recreation Center. 225 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt show will be held. For details, visit www.nsvquiltshow.com.
13 Fundraiser Dinner Boyce Volunteer Fire Company. 1 S. Greenway Ave. Bake sale during dinner. Free will offering. 4–7pm. 540-837-2317.
13 Downtown Berryville Yard Sale Various locations in downtown Berryville. Begins at 8am. Contact Berryville Main Street for details at 540-955-4001.
13 Easter Egg Hunt Clarke County Parks and Recreation’s Lloyd Field. 225 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. Bring a basket and don’t forget the camera for when the Easter Bunny hops in. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held inside the Senior Center side of the Recreation Center. $3 per child, tickets can be purchased in advance at the Recreation Center (cash, check & credit) and day of at Lloyd field (cash & checks only). Ages 1–2, 11am, 3–4, 11:20am, 5–7, 11:40am. 540-955-5140.
13 Rose Hill Chamber Orchestra Debut Performance Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. The finest musicians in the area perform. 8–10pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
14 Community Conversations: Common Ground Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. A trained moderator will oversee a discussion open to all residents and designed to help people from different backgrounds and viewpoints connect and better understand each other. 4–6pm. Free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
14 Talk and Book Signing With Jesse Russell Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Clarke County native and local history expert Jesse Russell will discuss his new book, “Juliet: From Slavery to Inspiration.” Refreshments prior to talk. $10 ahead, $15 at door. 6pm. 540-837-1856.
14 Sunday Wellness Series: Brain Matters!Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Registered medical herbalist Geo Giordano presents issues of the brain relating to toxins, diet and lifestyle, and solutions will be discussed and the video interview “The End of Alzheimer’s” will be shown. $20 with pre-registration, $25 at door. 2–4pm. 410-707-4486. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.sanctuaryberryville.com
18 Physical Therapy for Vertigo WorkshopBerryville Physical Therapy and Wellness. 322-A N. Buckmarsh St. Learn about this troublesome condition and various forms of treatment. Free interactive session with questions and answers at end. 540-955-1837. 6:30pm. www.berryvillept.com/vertigo-workshop.
20 Spring Craft Show Chet Hobert Park. 225 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. More than 75 crafters and artisans will offer unique, handcrafted products. Show moves into recreation center in case of rain. Free admission. 9am–5pm. 540-955-5147.
20 Bumper Jacksons Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Early jazz and country with a unique, DIY style. Dance party after concert. Dinner at 6pm with Jordan Springs barbecue for sale, concert at 7pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, $30 at door for seated and dance party tickets. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
21 Community Pancake Breakfast John Enders Fire Hall. 9 S. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Come support your fire and rescue squad and enjoy the finest pancake breakfast in the area. Adults $8, children $4, children 5 and younger free. 7am–12pm. 540-955-1110.
21 Blue Ridge Hunt Point to Point Races Woodley Farm. 590 Woodley Lane. Berryville. First race at 1pm. Easter egg hunt, antique car show, Nantucket Beagles on parade and more. $25 per car, $150 for VIP tailgate parking. 540-631-1919. email@example.com.
23 Community Meal Boyce Volunteer Fire Company. 7 S. Greenway Ave. Free meal prepared by county churches on the fourth Tuesday of every month. 5:30pm. Contact Eleanor Lloyd at 540-247-6311.
25 Soul-Full Community Meal Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. 210 E. Main St. Berryville. 13 local churches get together to provide a meal open to all in the community the fourth Thursday of each month. Free. 5:15–6:30pm. 540-955-1264.
26 Patron’s Night Art at the Mill Burwell Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres as you preview and purchase art. 6–9pm. Tickets are $65 a person and available at www.clarkehistory.org or 540-955-2600.
27 Spring Spaghetti Dinner Boyce Fire Hall. 7 Greenway Ave. Fun, food and fellowship with takeout plates available. Free will offering benefits Boyce United Methodist Church Ministries. 4–7pm. 540-336-3585. 540-409-7197.
27 Art at the Mill Opening Day Burwell Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Runs through Sunday, May 12. 250 artists display for sale over 1000 works of art in a historic 18th century, operating mill. Saturdays 10am–6pm, Sunday–Friday 12–5pm. Adults $5, seniors $3, children 12 and younger free. 540-837-1799.
27 Bud’s Collective Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Powerful group of pickers from the hills of West Virginia in the bluegrass tradition. 8–10pm. $15 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
27 World Tai Chi Day Chet Hobert Park. 225 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. Led by Adrian VanKeuren. Participate in demonstrations, experience grounding and chi flow and learn how Tai Chi can bring stability to your life. 9–11am. www.worldtaichiday.org. www.sanctuaryberryville.com.
27 Lyme Alive Support Group Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Adrian VanKeuren leads with the topic of preventing Lyme and tick-borne illnesses. 2–4pm. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.sanctuaryberryvillecom.
28 At Eternity’s Gate Film Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Film explores the world and mind of Vincent Van Gogh. 4–6pm. Members $5, nonmembers $8. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
28 Guided Historic Tours Historic Long Branch House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Led by Colette Poisson, who worked with the previous owner. Adults $8, children younger than 12 free. 12–4pm. 540-837-1856.
28 Cooking Demonstration Four Forces Wellness. 424 Madden St. Berryville. Nutritionist Christine Kestner will show how to make a whole food, plant-based lifestyle work. Samples and recipes to take home included. $20. Register ahead. 2pm. 571-277-0877. email@example.com. www.sanctuaryberryville.com.
30 Jarlath Henderson Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Youngest ever recipient of BBC Young Folk Award, who featured on the soundtrack of the movie Brave, performs. 8–10pm, Jordan Springs barbecue sold before show. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
3 Folk Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Lloyd Martin and Vox perform folk music with ukulele, mouth trumpet, hand percussion, bass, finger-picked guitar and harmony. 8–10pm, Jordan Springs Barbecue available ahead for purchase. $15 in advance, $20 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
4 Farmers Market Season Opening Day Town parking lot next to Dollar General. 20 S. Church St. Berryville. Food trucks, Bar C Ranch petting zoo, live music and many vendors selling meat, produce, cheese, vegetables and much more. 8am–12pm. clarkecountyfarmersmarket.com.
4 VHSA Horse and Pony Hunter Show Sandstone Farm. 3805 Millwood Rd. Millwood. Call for details. 540-837-1261, or day of show 540-532-2292.
5 Blue Ridge Singers Concert Christ Church. 809 Bishop Meade Rd. Millwood. The Blue Ridge Singers will perform under the direction of Dr. Jeff Albin. Light refreshments served afterward with meet and greet with performers. Free, suggested donation $10. 4pm. 540-837-1112.
5 Fiesta in the Garden Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. On Cinco de Mayo, join Sustainability Matters and Lord Fairfax Soil & Water Conservation District for a Fiesta of sustainable gardening. 1–4pm. $30 in advance, $25 for Barns or Sustainability Matters members, $10 for children. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
7 Trivia Night Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. The Clarke County Historical Association and the Clarke County Library team up once again to bring live team trivia. Categories include History, Movies, Literature, Science and more. Prizes donated by local area businesses. Barn doors open at 6:30 p.m., trivia begins at 7pm. Free. 540-955-2004. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
10 Hiroya Tsukamoto Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Internationally acclaimed guitarist and composer takes us on an innovative, impressionistic journey filled with earthy, organic soundscapes that impart a mood of peace and tranquility. 8–10pm. $15 in advance, $20 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
11 Angela Marchese Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Soprano Angela Marchese is a passionate and versatile artist whose “rich, burnished voice” has thrilled audiences both locally and abroad. 8–10pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
11 Horse Fair Historic Long Branch. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. 4H all-breed horse parade, demonstrations by local experts, expo, food and drinks and more. Admission to Saddle Up! Museum exhibition and art show included in ticket price. $5 per person, children younger than 12 free. 12–4pm. 540-837-1856.
16 Karan Casey Band Concert Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Karan Casey has long been one of the most innovative, provocative and imitated voices in Irish traditional and folk music. 8–10pm. $25 in advance, $30 at door, 12 and younger free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.
Art at the Mill Burwell Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Runs through Sunday, May 12. 250 artists display for sale over 1000 works of art in a historic 18th century, operating mill. Saturdays 10am–6pm, Sunday–Friday 12–5pm. Adults $5, seniors $3, children 12 and younger free. 540-837-1799.Farmers MarketSaturdays, May–October, 8am–12pm. Town parking lot next to Dollar General. 20 S. Church St. Berryville. Many vendors selling meat, produce, cheese, vegetables and much more. clarkecountyfarmersmarket.com.
Bradley Stevens Art Show and Sale Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. An exciting opportunity to purchase work by renowned Virginia contemporary realist painter and portrait artist Bradley Stevens. Through April 22. 540-837-1856. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yoga at Long Branch Thursdays, 5:45pm. Historic Long Branch. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Vinyasa Flow class has you move at a sweet and mindful pace. $20 to drop in or ask about class passes. 540-837-1856. www.visitlongbranch.org.
Alcoholics AnonymousTuesdays, 8:15–9:15pm. Grace Episcopal Church. N. Church St. Berryville. AAVirginia.org. 540-955-1610.
FISH Clothing Bank and Food Pantry 36 E. Main Street. Berryville. Open Wednesdays 9am–12pm and Sunday 2–5. 540-955-1823.
Bingo Boyce Fire Hall. 7 S. Greenway Ave. Thursdays at 7pm, Sundays at 1:30pm. Proceeds benefit the volunteer fire department. 540-837-2317.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Apple-tree-flowers-spring_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg400600Jenniferhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgJennifer2019-04-12 15:01:332019-04-12 15:39:07Around Clarke County
When I was a child growing up in Clarke County during the 1950s and 1960s, apple orchards were practically every child’s backyard. We played there, ate apples straight from the tree, worked summer jobs there, and when in high school, we developed the art of kissing between the rows of hundreds of thousands of apple trees, if we were lucky! But, as they say, “Nothing lasts forever.”
By the mid 1990s, orchards began to noticeably decline as a result of cut-throat competition from within our country and beyond, along with weather events that hampered maximum production. Today, half of the apples we consume in one fashion or the other are grown in China. But my purpose is not to provide a history and statistics, just a memory of a time that has since passed us by.
Apple orchards were so plentiful in Clarke County that they were a virtual extension of our play. The two largest orchard owners were the H.F. Byrd Orchard and the Moore and Dorsey Orchard. For those of us who lived in the Berryville area, there wasn’t a single child that didn’t find hours of play time in these orchards. So, you might ask, “What in the world could an orchard have that could ever possibly be such an attraction to children?” I cannot speak for all, but I can say what it was that attracted my two neighbors, Bill and Larry Tavenner, and myself. We lived one mile south of Berryville along Route 340, and across the road from us was the Harry F. Byrd orchard. Come spring, workers would begin stacking long wooden poles. These poles were anything from cut sapling trees to long narrow branches from larger trees, and were then stacked in a tepee style arrangement. The orchards would later use them to prop up the limbs of apple trees that were laden with fruit and threatening to break the tree branch from the sheer weight of these quickly growing apples. But, we saw the “tepee” as, well, a tepee. But they had no door in which we could enter, and so to work we would go, removing the poles in one area and then placing them on either side of our future entrance. Eventually, we would make it to the center where there was enough space for us to gather. Our tepee club house was then complete, but being active boys, standing around in our wooden tepee quickly became boring. It was time now to explore the miles of orchard land and any structures that might be found in the middle of it all.
Small water towers and abandoned homes would rise up out of the orchard’s heart like phantoms of man’s past creations. Most structures we found were old wooden water towers with a long spout that swung out from these stilted wooden planked tanks where the spray trucks would refill their own tanks with water and the additive chemical DDT. So far, Larry, Bill and I are still alive, but I would not recommend playing in DDT to anyone! Back then, no one knew the dangers of DDT like we do today.
Once the trees began to bear apples, the spray trucks would slowly crawl within aisles left between each row of trees, sending up a white cloud of pesticide to protect their crops. Both trucks and drivers were covered with a thin white coating, making them seem like ghosts riding upon their great mechanical beasts spewing their poisonous load. Little did we know, the DDT killed not only the mice, but killed chipmunks (I never saw a chipmunk here in Clarke County until maybe 20 years ago), played havoc with the deer population who ate the apples on the trees, produced side effects to the eggs of hawks and eagles who ate the smaller DDT infected creatures, which in time eliminated nearly all in this area.
Although we had great fun playing in these orchards, I would be remiss not to mention a few of the downsides of apple production, but I will not dwell on this issue. I would also be remiss not to mention that the apple industry provided hundreds of permanent jobs both within the orchard and in Byrd’s apple production facility, along with close to a thousand part-time apple thinning and picking jobs. The orchards were, in fact, Clarke County’s largest industry and economic engine.By late April, the trees would seemingly bloom overnight into one of the most beautiful sights in all the country.Miles and miles of land were covered with apple blossoms that turned the countryside white like a freshly fallen snow. Everywhere you went, including the town of Berryville, was scented with this rare, sweet, one-of-a-kind, fragrance. If you have never walked among apple trees in bloom, do so before you die! Nothing, in my opinion, can compare.
By June, the trees were showing their small round fruit, and once they became the size of a walnut, the apple battles would begin! We would first break off a small branch about the width of a pencil (the branch had to be flexible) and having a length of approximately three feet. Once we had chosen the perfect branch, we would take out our penknives and sharpen one end of it. Next, we would take our positions some 40–50 feet away from one another and stick a small apple on the end of our handmade weapons. Like some miniature hand held catapult, we would then fling the apples at one another. Rest assured, even though the apple flew off the sticks at a great speed, it also was one of the most inaccurate weapons ever devised by 10-year-old boys. Of the thousands of apples we hurled at one another, I can not remember anyone ever hitting their target. Eventually realizing that our battle would end in a draw, we moved on to testing our sadly inaccurate “weapons” in a competition to see who could fling their apple the greatest distance. I would like to say that I always won this contest, but since Bill and Larry are still alive, I am forced to be honest and defer to their apple flinging superiority . . . for now! Last man standing wins.
Ha! By July, the apples became too big to fling with our altered sticks of war, but bicycles, ponies and mopeds became regular sights in the orchards. Ponies, especially the Shetland pony, seemed to delight in trying to dismount us by running under the limbs of the apple trees where learning to quickly duck was a much needed skill. If there was no deviously evil pony available, a bicycle (a far more gentle mode of transportation) certainly was — and, for the lucky few, a moped. Mounds of dirt were built to create jumps that at the time appeared daunting to us as we approached our jump for the first time, but looking back, one was actually lucky if you could obtain separation between both of your tires and the ground. Oh, sure. There were those few who did defy gravity and later bought a motorcycle with their hard earned after-school money. I am happy to say that those early Evel Knievils such as Robert Tomblin, Sleepy Smallwood, and Flea Ladd, to name a few, have lived a full and primarily injury-free life.
By August, the apple crates were being stacked neatly and strategically throughout the orchards. They became our forts with minor alterations. Climbing to the top of these apple-crated structures we would then begin removing the center crates and stacking them up along the sides where eventually we could stand in the middle of our “forts” with little more than our heads visible. And why would we build these forts? For an apple battle, of course!These strategically placed apple crate depots were perfectly distanced from one another, where one could easily lob an apple from one makeshift fortification to the other. Dodging each others’ apples was fairly easy from this distance and, once again, casualties were a rarity. They only occurred when someone was hunkered down in their apple crate fort and unexpectedly got bobbed on top of their head by a slowly lobbed apple. Our orchard adventures were not measured in minutes or in hours. They were measured in the seasons of the year, with winter as our only interruption. There were no video games, no internet, and only three channels of black and white TV. Only the Saturday morning cartoons were of any interest to us at all. We had to make our own fun, but we never really consciously thought about having to do so. It was as natural as breathing. Although our fun might seem slightly dangerous by today’s standards, I can assure you, we never lost a single kid, and the worst injuries were typically nothing more than scratches and a few bruises. And we wore those bumps and bruises proudly.
By September apples were beginning to ripen for eating. We all knew the different types of apples, and when each variety began to ripen. We also knew where the best eating apple groves were, and we took great advantage of this knowledge. Back then, the most popular apples to eat were the Red Delicious and the Golden Delicious. When we would get our fill of eating apples in the orchard, we would fill our tee shirts with these succulent treats, and graciously share them with our families like the little thieving Robin Hoods we were.
Although my old orchard haunts have long been gone, I can to this day show you where those Red and Golden Delicious apple rows were once planted. So, I would like to take this time to thank the Byrd family for these wonderful memories. These memories are as sweet as the scent of thousands of apple blossoms. As for the apples we helped ourselves to . . . the check is in the mail.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Apple-tree-flowers-spring_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg400600Jenniferhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgJennifer2019-02-20 16:52:002019-02-20 16:52:57When Apples Were King In Clarke County
If you have ornamental evergreens, you might be familiar with evergreen bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). Their little bags dangle from the tips of small branches, resembling bits of dried vegetation or even tiny cones. Bagworms are larvae of moths and are among the commonest pests of evergreens, including pines, spruces, and especially juniper, cedar, and arbor vitae. They occasionally feed on broad-leafed trees.
Bagworms shouldn’t be confused with webworms or tent caterpillars, two entirely different types of caterpillars, both of which live in large groups in communal silk webs that cover branches. Bagworms are also caterpillars, but they live as individuals in well-camouflaged bags made of bits of plant material stuck together with silk.
If you have been curious enough to try to pick one of the little bags apart, you no doubt discovered how tough they are. And if it was during the growing season, chances are that you found nothing inside. Any hanging bags would have been last year’s. That is because bagworms don’t attach their bags to the plant until the end of their life cycle. The rest of the time, they are walking around feeding in the foliage, and their bags are covered with fresh green material.
The bagworm wears its bag like a shell and can withdraw into it. It keeps its head and legs outside the bag to eat and walk around, and pulls them in when disturbed. Unlike a snail or turtle shell, the bagworm’s bag is not attached to its body. The bagworm enlarges its bag as it grows, adding new vegetation.
From spring through summer, the caterpillars wander around the trees to eat and grow. When they are mature and ready to pupate in fall, they move out to the tips of branches. They fasten their bags firmly with strong silk, where they hang like tiny Christmas ornaments. Mature caterpillars usually stay on their home tree to pupate, but some wander off, and you might find their bags stuck to the sides of buildings and fences. They seal themselves inside the bags and transform to the pupal stage, becoming adults in fall.
The life of the evergreen bagworm is quite unusual because the male and female moths look like completely different insects. Males have clear wings and look like small flies. Full-grown female moths are wingless and legless and look like slugs.
The female moths never eat or leave their bags, and their sole function is to mate and lay eggs. They send out pheromone odors to attract flying males, who mate with them in their bags. Males only live a few days. A mated female could live several weeks and will lay about 1,000 eggs inside her bag, then drop to the ground and die.
The eggs overwinter and hatch the next spring. The tiny caterpillars leave the bag immediately, and spin out long strings of silk. They sometimes just drop down to a lower branch, or they might be picked up by the wind and blown away. If they are lucky, they might land on another food plant.
Once settled, the young caterpillars start making their own bags. They can’t move to another tree unless the plants are touching or close enough together for the caterpillars to crawl there. Since females can’t fly off to lay eggs elsewhere, large populations of bagworms can build up on a single tree or shrub over several years and can defoliate it.
The bagworm’s case is extremely tough and is excellent protection against both predators and pesticide sprays. However the strange life cycle of bagworms actually makes it easy to get rid of them if you catch them before a big infestation can build up.
During the growing season, bagworms can be found anywhere on the plant as they feed. They are small and well hidden by the foliage. By the time they are ready to pupate, they are about an inch long, and they hang their bags from twigs at the outside of the tree. This will allow the caterpillars that hatch in spring to spin out their silk and catch a breeze in spring.From winter through early spring, any dangling bags you see will either be empty or will contain overwintering eggs. Pupation will have been completed and adults have emerged. The males have left their bags, mated and died. Females have died and left their eggs in the bags. This is an excellent time to simply remove the hanging bags to get rid of eggs and the potential for infestation next year. The silk that attaches the bags is very strong, so if you can’t simply pick them off by hand, you should be prepared to use clippers.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Bagworm-case-photo-by-C.Stuart.jpg800600vaobserverhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgvaobserver2019-01-19 19:49:412019-01-19 19:49:42Now Is The Time To Eliminate Bagworms
February 1 event featuring films, beer tasting, and inspiration returns to Weinberg Center for the Arts
The American Conservation Film Festival’s Best of Fest returns February 1 to the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md., the seventh year for an event featuring three award-winning films from the 2018 Festival based in Shepherdstown, W.Va. This year’s event will screen the 2018 Foreign Film Award winner Enough White Teacups; the 2018 Short Film Award winner Wildlife and the Wall, and the 2018 Green Fire Award winner The Serengeti Rules. All of these films have received multiple awards at festivals around the world.
Lineup for February
6:00pm: Reception with live music and beer tasting with Flying Dog Brewery.
6:30–7:30: Enough White Teacups. This inspiring film follows six stories of innovation and invention that embrace the goals of social, economic, and ecological sustainability outlined by the United Nations. See how design can be used to improve living conditions around the world, including initiatives to build affordable housing, prevent blindness, destroy landmines, deliver vaccines and blood in remote areas, clean up oceans, and help prevent infant and mother mortality. (59 minutes).
7:45–7:50: Wildlife and the Wall. Filmmaker Ben Masters (of Unbranded fame) takes us on a brief but beautiful journey along the US-Mexico border, and shows us the landscapes, wildlife, and water sources that would be greatly disrupted by the construction of a border wall. (5 minutes)
7:50–9:15: The Serengeti Rules. Beginning in the 1960s, a small band of young scientists headed into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity of how nature works. Immersed in some of the most remote places on earth — the Serengeti in Africa, the Amazon jungle, the Arctic Ocean and Pacific tide pools — they discovered a single set of “rules” that govern all life. As well as winning ACFF’s top film award in 2018, it was also the Audience Choice winner. (84 minutes)This Best of Fest is sponsored by Flying Dog Brewery. Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for seniors/students; and available on the Weinberg’s website, WeinbergCenter.org/performances, or at the door.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serengeti-Rules-tree-small.jpg397600vaobserverhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgvaobserver2019-01-19 19:47:342019-01-19 19:47:367th Annual ACFF Best of Fest in Frederick
Just in time for the holiday season, shoppers in downtown Berryville were treated to one more beautiful storefront, an elegant pink sign and a sparkling winter scene with trees and reindeer.
The storefront of 11 S. Church St. belongs to Kelsey Cakes Boutique, which had its grand opening in December and already has many customers returning for more of their favorite sweet treats.
Owner Kelsey Mussett attended culinary school and has worked for Wegmans and privately owned bakeries, but she always knew what she wanted to do one day. “I had my own creative style, and always knew I wanted to work for myself,” she said.
Mussett attended master classes in Alexandria with Maggie Austin, an internationally known pastry chef whose clients have included royalty. She has created custom cakes out of her home kitchen for several years and will continue to offer them for all occasions, including Valentine’s Day, birthdays and holidays. Customers should order cakes a week ahead for regular occasions, but wedding cakes should be booked six months out.
Popular custom cakes she has made include Sesame Street characters and a unicorn cake, and she is currently making for Valentine’s Day a strawberry white chocolate cake baked with white chocolate chips and layered with vanilla bean butter cream, freshly sliced strawberries, white chocolate ganache drizzle — topped off with a strawberry butter cream finish, white chocolate ganache drip, and hand-dipped white chocolate covered strawberries.
Everything is made fresh daily and from scratch, Mussett said. Her frosting is butter cream, never made with Crisco. In addition to custom cakes, she offers a variety of flavors of cupcakes, cookies, cookie sandwiches, brownies, mousse cups, tartlets and more.
For those who crave a drink along with their baked goods, options include hot chocolate, coffee, cake lattes, crème frappes and frozen cocoa.
As time goes on, Mussett looks forward to offering gluten free, low carb and vegan options, as well as pet treats, the proceeds of which she would like to donate to local shelters. She also plans to offer outdoor seating in the warmer weather and has invited a community panel of tasters to test out new flavors and ideas.
Mussett’s day begins in the early morning in order to provide fresh baked goods for the day, and she often works late into the night. Her mother, stepfather, and boyfriend have all been temporarily assisting in the store, and she has recently hired two employees.
Currently, the bakery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from late morning to 6pm, and she hopes to be able to increase her hours soon and open on Sunday. Mussett is also working on a website, where she plans to include photos, tips on cake cutting and daily menu options.
While selling cakes from home, Mussett spent time examining possible locations for her store before finally settling on Berryville.
“I love Berryville,” she said, adding that she now lives in town and can walk to work. “I knew I wanted someplace with old architecture, not a strip mall, and it’s such a charming town; it reminds me of a Hallmark town when it’s decorated for Christmas.”
She has also enjoyed interacting with customers and fellow business owners. “Everyone is just so nice,” she said.For information, visit the Kelsey Cakes Boutique Facebook page, email email@example.com, visit www.kelseycakes.com, or call 540-955-8125.
https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Kelsey-Mussetts-special-Valentines-Day-cake.jpeg749590vaobserverhttps://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpgvaobserver2019-01-19 19:45:212019-01-19 19:45:22Kelsey Cakes Boutique Adds Sweetness to Berryville
“It takes a big head to fill these shoes.” I think I just quoted myself. Dang. Did it again. It’s hard to be me. But it’s supposed to be hard. And it’s supposed to hurt. Because when you’re in the most pain is when you’re the most alive. And when you’re the most alive is when you might wish to be dead. And this basic disconnect is one reason that we must dull our senses to enhance our perceptions. Or so says I.
I like to make a wildly bold declaration and then spend some time creating a backstory that somehow justifies it. I put these thoughts down on paper. “M will say it right to your face. M realizes that saying it directly to your face is probably not his most endearing quality, so he puts a lot of miles on his motorcycle to cut down on his opportunities.”
The story of M
M downshifted his big Harley cruiser, checked his mirrors, and throttled up to switch lanes, jumping out from the shade between two eighteen-wheelers into the left-hand passing lane. There was sand dust on M’s shaded goggles from an open-bed dump truck he’d passed a few miles back. Interstate 81 was packed with big diesel rigs moving America, which made it less than ideal for a long trip on a motorcycle, but it’s the fastest way home up the valley. As M accelerated to pass the 18-wheeler to his right, the brilliant light rays of a newly naked sun reflected chaotically off the silicate dust coating his glasses, and a mirror ball of blinding lasers sent him into a slipstream of flash-back hallucinations . . . .
M was hiding in muck up to his neck in the monsoon rains of the Mekong Delta. He’d been out in the bush for nearly a month. His body weight at enlistment had been 195 pounds. He was down to probably 125. M had eaten very little for several days, and was completely out of rations. He was barely conscious, existing in shadow, invisible, quietly grinding his teeth to keep from drowning. His boots were mired in deep mud somewhere down below him. He heard the report of a rifle … CRACK!
Then, M was in a schoolyard fight, ducking, weaving, trying to keep his feet underneath him and throw a decent punch. There was one kid in front of him, but he was surrounded by fifteen others. The bull ring. No way out. Nobody coming to help. Worried about getting sucker punched, he let a straight jab sneak by while he was leaning-in. SMACK!
And, M is standing on the front porch of the beautiful log frame home that he and his wonderful wife had built together. Dinner was on the table. Clean bill of health. Feeling like he wanted to die. The storm door he’d thrown open slams shut. BAM!
M had a mission. Take the enemy’s radio and call in an air-strike. People had already died. More people were going to die. M could die. M was more sure of death than not. M was in the shadows behind the fronds of tropical plants with his Randall knife clenched in his left hand. Fifty meters away was his objective, a bamboo hut on stilts surrounded by a deck. M heard boots on the deck. STOMP!
One kid was in front of M, jabbing at him with his fists. Another kid crouched down behind M, and M tripped over him and fell to the ground on his back without being hit. The hit came after the fall in the form of a kick to the head. THUD!
M was in a small office talking to a staff psychologist at the Veterans Administration. It was a long drive from M’s home to the VA office. He had been waiting patiently for hours to see this psychologist. M was explaining about the debilitating nature of his flashbacks and hallucinations, and how, even then, some fifty years after the fact, the PTSD was getting only worse and was worthy of the disability claim that lay on the desk between them. The staff psychologist calmly explained that if M could ride his Harley all the way out to the VA facility and express himself so eloquently, then that alone effectively preemptively disproved his claim. “I don’t even need to look at your claim again.” M slammed his closed fist on the desk. BAM!
“Dinner is ready!” called out M’s wife from her summer kitchen. M was on the porch with the mangy cat. Tears were rolling off of M’s face and splattering down on the matted fur of the mangy cat as images flashed through his head of brothers-in-arms and civilians lost, crises created, deflected, diverted and perverted. The blood lust of allies and enemies and the senseless deaths and destruction that is war. The mangy cat had been dying when M and his wife had rescued it. It should have been dead weeks ago and hadn’t eaten in thirteen days and nights. It was a mean cat, and took exception to M‘s tears splashing down on its matted head. The mean, mangy cat that had no name because it was assumed that it would be dead already then attacked M’s leg and found flesh. YOW!
M was back on his feet. The two boys that’d flanked and felled him had receded. Next up was Lumpy Taylor. Lumpy had an extra lump on the back of his head. He was also known as Double Lump. M landed a punch and received two and then each kid landed haymakers simultaneously and chattered each other’s teeth. CHANG!
M peered into the enemy radio hut as best as he could from twenty meters out. He would have to break cover to get any closer. He prayed to a God that he did not recognize to give him the strength to mount a frontal assault on the guarded outpost armed only with his Randall knife and a cyanide pill. M’s soul was bound in darkness. There was no hope in life or death. The rain continued to fall. M used the darkness to summon his Chi. He was a wraith. Then M heard marching boots and shuffling feet. The enemy had a prisoner. The butt of a rifle crunched against bony flesh. UNGH!
“Security! Room 202 Please!”
“Thanks for nothing!” M stood and grabbed his disability claim papers off of the desk. The VA staff psychologist tried to grab them, as well. “Oh, so now you’re interested in my claim?” M left quickly and slammed the door behind him. BAM!
It was Christmas Eve. M’s aunt and uncle and cousins were coming over for dinner and a party. M had received an early present from the family cat, a box full of kittens! M could hardly wait to show the kittens to his cousins. They were so adorable. “M, you better not bring those kittens outside. It’s too cold. Leave the box in the basement near the furnace.” M didn’t listen. His cousins would want to see these kittens right away.
It was 5 0’clock. The guests were due. M ran outside into a brisk twilight of falling snow with the box of kittens in his arms. M heard his mother call out, “Don’t leave the door open!” M set the box of kittens down at the edge of the driveway and ran back to shut the front door. M’s relatives pulled into the driveway and unwittingly parked the big left front tire of their Chrysler sedan squarely upon the box of kittens. CRUNCH!
Fran was M’s second wife. She had brought him back out into the light and he knew to his core that she loved what was best in him. They worked well together, believed in the same things and fought for the same causes. Fran was M’s partner. He knew that he’d sailed the seas of many creations to finally find this respite from the ravages of eternity. This was his Eden. His forgiving and loving Eve was by his side and calling him to dinner. M thought of grabbing the mean, mangy cat by the scruff and going on a one-handed hundred-mile-an-hour bike-ride to put them both out of their misery. The mangy cat looked M directly in the eye. “That cat knows what I’m thinking.” “Yeoh.”
The bull ring drew in close. Two boys dragged M back to his feet. Next up, Fox Wheeler. Fox was every bit M’s equal and had the advantage of not already being knocked half senseless. M tasted his own blood on his lips, wiped his lips with his hand, and beheld his own red life’s milk. A terrible rage ran up his spine and he made a furious rush at Fox Wheeler, who calmly looked for an opening and delivered an uppercut to M’s sternum. WUMP!
Alive or dead. It didn’t matter. Everything dies. Kittens, children, heroes, villains, the Son of God. The fathers, sons, mothers, brothers, sisters and children of the lovely and dignified people that live and work in the Mekong Delta. M was authorized to call in airstrikes on anything that moved in the entire province of Vinh Long. Half a million civilians. 6,000 Viet Cong. Kill ‘em all. M’s closest associate, a fellow colonel, had succumbed to the barbarism and was wantonly laying waste to all that piqued his fancy.
He had done some damage to the enemy, but had inflicted a hell’s broth of horror on the civilians. M would’ve just as soon killed the Colonel as the radio operator in the bamboo hut. But M’s mission was to secure the enemy’s radio and call in an air strike that might very well kill them all. What had been M was already dead. All that was left was a killer on a mission. The sentries were changing. The second detail was late. The radio and operator were alone. Adrenaline shot through M’s depleted veins. He could hear the savage beating of his own heart. Thump! Thump! Thump!
Everybody was screaming and crying
Uncle jumped back into the big sedan and backed up. The box of kittens was stuck to the tire and rolled up into the Chrysler’s undercarriage. The kittens were all dead. M’s aunt was beating on her husband and cursing his name. Their marriage would never recover. Uncle turned off the Chrysler’s motor and it back-fired. BLAM!
M recovered his breath and stood tall in the middle of the bull ring. He was battered but not beaten, and rage still burned in his eyes. Next up was Big Timmy. Timmy was the biggest kid in school. M waded in, crazed and looking for a knock-out.
M’s heart was pounding in his chest as he prepared to rush the enemy’s radio-shack and attack and kill the radio operator. M heard American jets coming-in on a bombing run.
Big Timmy dropped M with one ham-fisted punch to the head.
M dove down into the muck as his own bombers laid waste to the radio shack and operator that he was stalking. SCRAK! White light.M upshifted and accelerated out of the slipstream beside the 18-wheeler on his right. The sun was behind some clouds and the road was clear, and M made it home for dinner, and I, for one, am grateful that he did. Because, even though it might not be his most popular attribute, when M has something to say he says it directly to my face. Then I wrote this down on paper.
Over the last ten years, I’ve worked with a colorful variety of people in the realm of wellness — many ages and backgrounds. If I had to choose just one concern that most, if not all, confront, it’s stress. My purely observational, unscientific opinion on stress and health is that if we can become better at managing stress, and in some cases avoiding it altogether, our collective health status would improve greatly. But stress can be such an amorphous, multi-pronged tangle of junk, both internal and external, that it can take a lot of real effort and commitment to pick it apart. Like the airlines’ inflight safety instructions state, however, take care of your oxygen first, then help those around you. Similarly, applying some effort to combat stress can help you while it ripples outward to others. If we could all dedicate a little time, compassion, and yes, effort, to the task of recognizing and managing stress, we will all benefit.
Below are ten ideas that I’ve culled from many workshops, surveys, personal conversations, and other work I’ve done with clients and corporate employees in the service of reducing stress and/or improving resilience to counter stress when it arises.
My suggestion is to select just one of the ten that might spark your interest, and try it out for a week or so. See how things go. Add on as you like, or concoct your own stress buffer techniques. Eventually, with some persistence, you will be able to make positive changes for yourself.
1) Write down your worries and concerns once a day; get them “out of your head.” If your problems are on paper, then at least you can let them go for the moment, knowing you won’t forget them (goodness forbid it!). Writing things down can neutralize their power. It can also give you something to look back on, and, perhaps in some cases, to view your progress.
2) Schedule “gaps” in your day, particularly at the beginning and end, as a way to power down your body and mind. Instead of booking yourself, your kids, your tasks in a back-to-back march against time, create some gaps when you can just sit or walk, and think about nothing in particular. Or perhaps use the gap as a little planning time to more wisely use your day.
3) Get into the habit of taking a breath before you speak or act. Deep breathing has a real and measurable physical impact on you. It can calm your nervous system, relax your muscles, and bring better balance to your emotions. It’s never a bad time to take a deep breath.
4) Find someone you admire for his or her ability to remain calm and balanced, and ask that person to be an advisor to you when you have a question or concern arise. I have several such folks in my life, even for different areas of life, including career stress, parenting stress, and many other categories in between. Seek these people out and talk to them.
5) Take a two-minute breathing break before you log on to your computer, before you eat a meal, before you go to bed. Just 10 minutes of deep breathing a day can help. A tangent on the “taking a breath” and scheduling “gaps” suggestions, this one is an intentional moment of deep breathing. Put your phone on airplane mode; set a two-minute timer; and just sit and breathe. Benefits abound.
6) Eat a satisfying breakfast that contains protein as a way to jumpstart your mental and physical energy and keep your metabolism “fired up.” You’ve heard the stats that kids who don’t eat breakfast are less able to concentrate at school and don’t perform as well as those who do eat breakfast. Well, many adults skip breakfast, too, and then hit the ground running with their overly-ambitious schedules. Put some thought into your first meal of the day. Give your body and mind what it needs to be you for the day.
7) Consider limiting or giving up “C.A.T.S.” (C = caffeine, A = alcohol, T = tobacco, S = sugar). These are known to cause fluctuations in energy and mood. This suggestion always elicited a bit of scoffing in the corporate world, but because each of these edible items can either stimulate or depress the nervous system, using them can interrupt healthy sleep patterns, amplify cravings and dependency, and complicate other health conditions. If giving it up does not seem an option, think of cutting back more gradually, and see how you feel.
8) Recall and re-visit a favorite activity or hobby. Doing an activity that brings you joy or allows you to be fully engaged in something uplifting, can have a very positive effect on your mental and emotional state. Making jewelry, fishing, photography, bird watching, whatever it is you used to love to do — do it again.
9) Make of goal of getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Many people will argue that they don’t need as much sleep as the average person, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, that’s just not true. Humans need sufficient sleep for a host of good reasons, including cardio-pulmonary health, proper hormone function, healthy immune function, and many, many more. Of course, it might not be so easy to simply lie down and zonk out for eight hours. It might demand a good look at what it is that’s keeping you awake. Is it mind chatter; is it your desire to binge watch your favorite TV shows until midnight? What is the root of your restlessness, and how can you begin to right your course to better sleep?
10) Make a cut-off time for electronic communications, and stick to it. You’ve probably heard about the “blue light” of electronics, which interrupts your brain’s ability to create melatonin, the hormone your body produces to help you feel sleepy and fall asleep at appropriate times (e.g., nighttime). Well, most functions of the electronics in our lives are stimulating, and stimulation is not what you need when your body needs sleep to reset and recover. Text messages, social media posts, emails, news … each of these things can stimulate mental activity, and, certainly, emotions ‑ not what you need at 9 p.m.
One need not be a social scientist to predict that stressors will continue to abound in our human lives. We need to develop more resilience and compassion to ride the tides in constructive ways. These ten suggestions might lead you to discover something you can do for your own good in 2019. As with all things in well-being, it’s up to you. No one can do it for you. Cheers to your efforts toward a good cause!
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