Rest In Peace-Buckwheat


October 16, 1998 – September 29, 2017

6:45 PM

It is a sad evening, our beloved store mascot, Buckwheat, has passed away.

Buckwheat had many friends who loved to visit with him when they came into the store. Often his special friends would go straight to his cage when they came in the door, talk to him and whistle a tune before coming to the counter.

He was an old man, 19 in human years, 124 in bird years. He was never sick a single day of his life until this afternoon.

Buckwheat came to us October 16, 1998, the fall we moved into our new addition, as a very young fella. He was hand-fed and hand-raised by breeder Lynda Deanne.  We did not have an exact date of his birth but always used the day he came to us as his birthday even though he was already about 6 weeks old.  I wanted a bird that talked… some, but not a loud, shrill, mouthy bird like a parrot. Lynda has just the bird for us.  We named him Buckwheat because of his hair do!! Buckwheat learned to whistle the “Andy Griffith Mayberry theme song and “Pop Goes the Weasel”.  At the time, we had a cat named Oscar. He would say, “here kitty, kitty. Oscar’s a whimp”.  The day Oscar died was the last he crowed that taunt.   If I went out to the store after closing time to work in the office and turned on the store lights he would squawk “Good-night” until I turned them off. It’s the only time he would say that phrase.

Buckwheat was usually a silent sentry, standing guard and observing all the doings of the day.  We never knew when he would burst into song and whistle his heart out. His favorite time of the day to whistle was first thing in the morning.


Buckwheat did not particularly care for children though they loved him and were attracted to his cage. Often he would squawk in fear if they came too close to his cage. Children didn’t quite know how to interact with him in a way that he didn’t feel threatened.  He did not like it when they poked their fingers or another object into his turf or made shrill noises instead of talking to him.

There were three noises that he did not like: the vacuum sweeper, the clanking of the dog tag machine and pulling tape off the tape gun. That last sound was like fingernails on the chalk board to him and would send him in a squawking fit.  He also did not like us intruding in his space to clean his house.

One time we were positioning a rack of coats in the area by his cage and it flipped over, knocking him, in his cage, to the floor with a loud crash.  He never did forgive us for that horrifying scare!  For years, in the fall whenever we put up the rake of coats, he would have a squawking bird fit, fearing the coats were going to attack him again.

During baby chick season, we often had a tub or two of baby chicks by his cage. He was not fond of the “chicken nuggets” and their chirping tweets and would express his displeasure until he tired of his own hissy fit.

Buckwheat liked neck/backrubs. If we said “backrub”, he would scoot across the perch to the side of the cage and put his neck down so that we could rub it. Then quick as a wink, he would turn and snip at our fingers. One of his favorite tricks was when I went to his cage and said, “give mommy a kiss”. He would edge close as I made a kissing sound by smacking my lips and he would respond by smacking his beak.

Yesterday, Summer noticed that he was all fluffed up on his perch when we came to work. We thought maybe he was a little cold as it was cooler during the night but didn’t really give much thought to it. He seemed ok during the day. This morning it was the same thing. We put his heat lamp on but he stayed huddled all day.  This afternoon we took him out of the cage and examined him. He was very thin, feather-light, and his vent was impacted. We cleaned him up but realized, Buckwheat was very ill and was declining rapidly in front of our eyes. We knew he was not going to last long.

Within a very short time he could no longer stand so we made a bed for him in a small box. His eyes kept going closed but when we talked to him and rubbed his back he would struggle to open his eyes and look at us before they would flutter shut again. Regardless of where I stood in relation to his box, when I spoke to him he would struggle to turn his head and look at me and smack his beak with a kissing sound. We kept telling him we loved him and that he had been a good store bird.

I brought him home with me this evening and checked on him every few minutes as I fixed supper.  Around 6:45 he was gone.

Rest in peace, Buckwheat. You will be sorely missed.

Buckwheat has four very special friends that he loved besides his store family and seemed to recognize whenever they came into the store: Vanessa Upson, Donna Wyatt, Terry Graber and Clyde Kirby. Vanessa was his absolute favorite and we called her his girlfriend. Clyde taught him the Mayberry theme song. Donna and Terry, thanks for being Buckwheat’s friend. You always spoke to him and knew how to speak his language. And, a special thanks to Summer Bass for being his loving and diligent daily caregiver for…how many years????!!!!  You were his friend and always kind and loving to him.


For the Love of Dirt Bike Racing….Motocross

We had a very fun and different weekend….we went to see our son and grandson race their dirt bikes on a 1500 acre farm at the Motocross just south of Charlotte Courthouse.

I love this picture and the unspoken things it represents…a dad giving words of encouragement to his son before the race. A dad and son sharing a hobby. This was Noah’s second race. When Noah joined our family (almost 5 years ago) he was very insecure and would not leave his mom’s side. He wouldn’t play by himself and was afraid of everything including stairs.  He is now a totally different child.

My mind went back to this picture from March 2014 when we went to Powhatan State Park and he would NOT go, be helped or carried down this flight of steps. He stood at the top, whined, and watched us go.

And now, here he is…..a little nervous, but confident and ready to go.

There they are, ready to go.

Most of Noah’s trail was in the woods so we had to choose a spot and catch a few glimpses of him as he crisscrossed in and out of the woods.

Coming in the finish gate. He had to notice, read and understand the signs telling him where to and not to go.

He was came in 12th out of 17. That was up from 15th place in the last race. We were really proud of him. He has to get the logistics and strategy of all this figured out.

Proud parents!

I didn’t get a picture of the start of Keith’s race as it would have just have been a blur and the roar of a “million” hyped up bikers taking off!  We walked down the fire trail and sat in the edge of the woods at a perfect spot where we could “see” him for all of 5 seconds as he roared out of the woods, traversed a short distance down the fire trail,  crossed the creek and then immediately made a right turn back into the woods. His trail was 6 miles long and he came through 3 times.

There he is making the right hand turn. There is a steep grade coming up from the creek and it was muddy, slick and rutted. It was a tricky turn with numerous ones stalling out or sliding off their bikes. Some seized the moment to edge ahead of the guy or gal in front. It was a good spot to be and watch.

We figured out it was taking him about 20 minutes to make a lap around the trail.  I kept my camera on and watched through the lens for him as there was no time to get a picture otherwise.

We enjoyed our shady spot.

1500 bikers registered for this event plus their family and friends were there. It was huge!

You can’t begin to see all the vehicles.

Two short video clips:

Noah is the last one in this group of bikers coming through. They seemed to come in bunches and they all looked alike but Keith could spot Noah in a distance.

I could not get a video of Keith as he came down the trail to fast-you can see in this video the amount of time I had to get a picture. By the time I could tell it was him, there was no time to video. But this short clip of the race shows what it was like at that spot on the trail.

Keith and Noah love racing and spend hours and hours riding together on the trails and jumps at their home or with their buddies. It has been good for their family to have a “hobby” they love doing together. But for this mom and grandma, I call it living on the edge!

2nd Annual Local Hertzler Get Together

The local Hertzlers gathered last evening for a second annual get together at the home of Joe and Norma Hertzler in Cumberland. It didn’t matter which family line you belonged to, if your pedigree was Hertzler, you were invited. We had three family lines present this year. It was such a fun evening of visiting, eating and singing.

The setting….

 A really neat old barn on the Hertzler homestead.


Joe keeps his place manicured and landscaped.

Flowers growing by a fence post.

 The Hertzler men…. 

 Joe Hertzler, Cumberland, VA

Phil Hertzler, Appomattox, VA

Bob Hertzler, Powhatan, VA

Gene Hertzler, Powhatan, VA

David L. Hertzler, Williamsburg, VA

Patrick, Tony and Bobby Hertzler, Powhatan, VA

(Bobby & Tony are the sons of Bob & Marie Hertzler.  Patrick is the son of Bobby).

Ryan Hertzler, son of Bobby, Powhatan, VA

Freeman Hertzler, son of Phil & Annette Hertzler.

Karl and Michelle Hertzler, Farmville, VA

(Karl is the son of Joe & Norma Hertzler. Michelle is the daughter of Tom & Helen Hertzler. Yes, a Hertzler married a Hertzler)


Terry Troyer, Milroy, PA

(If I have this correctly, Terry’s mom was a Hertzler. He is connected to David L. Hertzler and was visiting and came along for the evening).

The Troyers own Wagon Wheel Cabins at Cross Fork, PA. a great relaxing, hunting, and fishing destination. Check out their website at

Other pictures…..

     Marie Hertzler


Marie feeding her great-grandson. Eleanor Hertzler (Patrick’s wife).

David and Gene

Carmen Hertzler (daughter of David L) and Norma Hertzler


Levi getting a push from his auntie.

We posed as family groups…..

Bob Hertzler clan.  They were the largest family group represented.


David L. Hertzler clan.


Joe Hertzler clan.

Phil Hertzler clan.

Gene and Pat Hertzler

As the evening progressed the musical instruments came out and we had a fun time of singing and being entertained.


They sang an old family favorite hymn, “Love At Home,” which numerous ones had used at their weddings.



Joe and Michelle singing “Long Black Train”.

Someone asked what it meant to be local…where was the line?  There is none. If any Hertzler kinfolk want to come, you are more than welcome. It doesn’t matter which family line you belong to. We will probably have the fun of figuring out how we connect. They say all Hertzler/Hartzlers are related. If you would like to come, contact me and we will let you know when our next get together is next fall. Our PA guest had such a good time he wants to be invited next year!


Our Fixer-Upper

Gene and I both really enjoy watching the “Fixer-Upper” TV show featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines and their work remodeling older homes. We love their style, creativity and down-to-earth personality and lifestyle. I have gleamed some decorating ideas for my house which I recently used.

This summer we replaced sheet rock, insulated and repainted the master bedroom, living room and kitchen, put up new trim, exposed the hardwood floors, added some ship lap, a sliding barn door and opened a nine foot walkway in the wall between the kitchen and living room. New curtains, throw rugs and accessories have made me feel like I am now queen of a new house!

Pictures of the living room.

Medium tone green-gray paint, new painted trim and crown molding, exposed hardwood floors, new curtains, rug and rearranged furniture.

New view of the kitchen. Opening the wall makes it feel like we have a totally different and larger living area.

View from kitchen into the living room. I love my exposed hardwood floors. They were still in good shape and did not need to be redone.

Opening the wall between the living room and kitchen was not in our original plan.  One weekend we started talking and Gene said if we were ever going to do it, now was the time.  When the carpenter, Joe Hertzler (Gene’s first cousin), came back on Monday, we discovered it was an easy do as it was not a load-bearing wall and the heat vents could be worked around. We decided to have some fun and not tell the kids….let them have the “shock and awe” reveal!  That did not work for our son and his family as their place joins the farm and they soon caught on. Our daughter and her family live several hours away and took a trip out west for 3 weeks this summer. We were able to pull off the surprise with them and it was such a fun, fun weekend when the “unsuspecting” family came for a visit to “celebrate Obe’s birthday”!

We put a sliding barn door to the office.

Featuring a quilt made by my niece Kendra Heatwole Landis. It is truly a masterpiece of art.

We used ship lap to cover the fireplace which we had closed in years ago. This wall is now the focal point of the living room.

The before pictures of the living room have somehow disappeared from my files.

New kitchen pictures. We did not redo the floor or cabinets.


It is so much more open and not near as cluttered.


We replaced the sliding glass door and put a shelf above the microwave for my cookbooks.

I had a new china cabinet being made by Roy Miller’s Cabinet Shop in Farmville (Joe’s son-in-law).

Before pictures of the kitchen…..

The next two picture are the wall that we opened.


This antique school desk from Denbigh had become a “catch all” in the kitchen. It now is a “centerpoint” of attraction in my living room.

The master bedroom….

We painted the walls a medium tone Colonial blue-gray paint, white trim and crown molding, new rugs, curtains and an updated picture above the bed and exposed hardwood floors.


Before master bedroom……

Tan paint , blue carpet, stained trim and popcorn ceiling.



We were having a water problem underneath the front portion of the house. We dug a 4′ deep ditch across the front and on down the side of the house, sealed the foundation and put in drain tile and filled with gravel. This also meant I got a much needed upgrade to the landscaping at the front of the house also.


Other posts of related interest:

Once Upon a Time

My New Sunroom

Remodeling the Bathroom







The Ark


Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God….. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence……so make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.  This is how you are to build it….. Noah did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 6: 10-14, 22 (NIV


This past weekend we went to see a replica of Noah’s ark in Williamstown, Kentucky.  Words almost can’t describe this amazing, spectacular,  awesome, massive structure and the impact it has on a person as you walk up and enter the ark. It is the largest free-standing timber-framed structure in the world and can hold up to 10,000 people at one time, although I would not want to be there on that day. It felt ironic that we were heading to the ark and it was very rainy, Houston is dealing with a massive flood, the largest recorded in US history except for the Genesis flood, and big, bad hurricane Irma is snorting, stomping, blowing and flexing her muscles into a major Category 5 storm in the Atlantic, heading for the eastern shores of the US.

I believe the Biblical stories are truth.  I believe the story of Noah building the boat, saving his family (wife, 3 sons and their wives), and two of every animal kind coming to Noah and entering the ark at God’s command. I believe the world-wide flood literally happened, creating the Grand Canyon and many other national wonders. I believe they lived on the ark for over a year before God gave the command to open the door and leave. I believe this catastrophic event was God’s judgment on a very sinful world. Seeing and experiencing the “Ark Encounter”  made the story come alive and the incredible miracle of God saving a righteous man and his family and ensuring that a world of humans and animals would thrive and multiple afterwards. Thanks to Noah and his faith in God and his obedience to God’s instruction, everyone of us is here today.

The Bible gives many details about the size, and details for building the structure and the ensuing flood. The story can be read in Genesis 6-9. There are many details not recorded about the daily care of the animals, cages, disposal of waste, and family life aboard the ark but we do know that God told Noah everything he needed to know to build and prepare. Noah believed God, and God counted him righteous.

In building this replica ark, much thought and prayer was given to present the interior in a way that was biblical and historical accurate. This story has now taken on new meaning for me.  The pictures below are an attempt to show the unique, magnificent structure and stir a desire in you to visit the site and spend a day with Noah and his family on the ark.

Viewing the ark from a distance. All you could say was “wow”!



Noah praying with his family.

“The door”. The Bible says God closed the door before the storm began.  Our grandson, Ryan, was so disappointed that we didn’t enter the ark through the door.

Grain storage.

Water storage.

Food storage.

More storage.


More cages showing automatic feeders and waterers. They are not that much different from today! See the slanted floor under the cage? Most of the cages had slated floors and the manure sifted through to the slanted floor onto the slide so that it would fall to an area where it could be retrieved. The eight people on the ark had a maximum of 7,000 animals to care for. The Bible says he took animal “kinds” into the ark. There are 1,398 known animal “kinds”.

The task would have been enormous. It is almost impossible to totally visualize the daily logistics of care. But if God cared enough about preserving the life of the animals and Noah and his family, I know he gave him wisdom and insight and probably direct instructions on how to make life manageable.  After all, they had to have food and water for a year, plus waste management! If Noah had a water collection system on the roof of the ark, one inch a week would have supplied all his water needs for the year.  The ark shows how all that is possible and it is amazing!

Because the ark would have been dark (they had no electricity in those days) except for the use of lanterns, torches and the natural light from the windows on top, quite a few of the animals would have been in a semi-state of hibernation.

A probable automatic feeding system.

Managing the work.

A water system for two cages made from pottery.

A possible work area to do repairs and maintenance.

Storage area for scrolls and other artifacts they would have been taken on board. After all, God told Noah very specifically that EVERYTHING would be destroyed. Noah would have wanted to preserve his personal possessions, tools, etc.

The families would have had their living areas. God would have carefully  cared for Noah’s family. After all, they had to eat, sleep, and rest so that they could stay healthy and strong to do the work. This was a new thought to me.


Kitchen area.

With the living quarters on the top deck they could have taken advantage of window ventilation.

By using reflective light from the windows they could have grown fresh green vegetables.


The modern idea of raised beds could have been used thousands of years ago!  It is a thought!

Noah releasing a dove to check to see if the water had receded.

The Hostetters (our daughter and her family) bought a peg during the building of the ark process for $100. It was a neat fundraising idea. Each peg was numbered and they were told which area their peg was in but we weren’t able to tell which peg was theirs. Jill decided to claim that one as theirs!

It was a wonderful day and our time spent at the ark was probably the highlight of our trip. However, the visit to the Creation Museum (about 30 miles away) the day before was tremendous. We heard a speaker on evolution versus creation and even Karla was enthralled with the information.


We ate lunch in the restaurant on site. The all-you-could-eat buffet was delicious and the surroundings were spectacular.


The bow of the ark.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you–the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground-so that they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it. So Noah came out….

The Noah built an altar to the Lord…. and the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…never again will I destroy all living creatures….as long as the earth remains.”

Then God blessed Noah….and God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant…..”

Genesis 8: 15-22, 9:1-17

Some interesting facts:

  • Size of Ark: The building of the original ark was an engineering feat. It was built without modern equipment. The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize. The size in the Bible is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long (510′) by 50 cubits wide (85′) and 30 cubits high (51′). A cubit in the OT was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.(taken from website: The titanic was 883 ‘ long or 3 times this size.
  • Date of flood: Utilizing the genealogies in the Bible we know the flood was close to 4,400 years ago, roughly 1,650 years after the creation. Noah was 600 when the Flood came (Genesis 7:6). From Scripture we know the date of the start of the Flood (Genesis 7:11) and when they left the Ark (Genesis 8:14–15), so we know they were on the Ark for a little over a year. (taken from website:
  • Animals in the ark: a pair (male and female) of each “kind” of “unclean” animals, 7 pairs of every bird and 7 pairs of each “clean” animal.  “Clean” animals were used for eating and sacrifice. No fish were taken into the ark. (Genesis 7:2-3)
  • Noah’s family history: Methuselah, the oldest known man,  lived 969 years and was Noah’s grandfather. He died about 5 years before the flood. Lamech was his father and he also died shortly before the flood. (Genesis 5:26-32).
  • Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Genesis 5:32) and was 500 years old when they were born.
  • Noah’s age: at the time of the flood: Noah was 600 years old, 2 months and 17 days when the flood came. (Genesis 7:11).
  • Death of Noah: Noah live 350 years after the flood and died when he was 950 years old.
  • Length of rain/storm: 40 days and 40 nights.
  • Depth of flood: the highest mountain peaks in the world were covered by 15 cubits.
  • Construction of ark: had 1 door (which God closed) and a row of windows on top for light and ventilation. There was no steering mechanism as the ark just floated on the water and God directed where it would go and that it was to stop on the Mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)
  • Amount of water and food needed for twelve months: 322,400 gallons of water and 400 tons of various grains, seeds, nuts, preserved fruits, vegetables and possibly insects. The water could have been stored in storage vessels and cisterns. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Size of animals: 85% were 22 lbs or under. 7% 22.1 lbs to 220 lbs. and 8% over 220 lbs. They probably took young stock of the larger animals. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Cages needed: 22 extra large, 186 large, 293 medium, 308 bird, 174 small and 415 amphibian. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Daily work requirements: With an eight person crew it would have taken 3 to do the cleaning, 1 to water, 1 to feed, 1 to deal with human food and special animal diets, .5 to shovel waste from pit to pump and 1.5 to do laundry, human waste removal, maintenance, animal care and miscellaneous. No one was allow to be lazy! (Taken from info posted in the ark).


Eclipse of the Sun-2017

Today I joined millions of other curious gazers staring at the once in a lifetime opportunity to see a unique eclipse of the sun. Everyone was looking up-heavenward to see a marvelous wonder of God’s creation. Did you just see the eclipse or did you also acknowledge the awesomeness of the Creator?

Several facts about the eclipse: (taken from Richmond Times Dispatch, August 20, 2017)

  • Here in the Richmond area we experienced an 86% solar eclipse today. The next partial solar eclipse will be April 8, 2024.
  • The last total eclipse for the Richmond area was July 20, 1506. The next time we will be in the path for a total eclipse will be September 14, 2099.
  • The last time a total eclipse swept from coast-to-coast was in 1918.

We put on “eclipse glasses” and I also looked through a welding helmet. The welding helmet had the sun looking orange and the glasses had it looking white.

There were lots of clouds today but I still was able to get several really neat pictures of the eclipse.

The moon is the little blue sliver.

The picture below does not show the eclipse but I loved  how it turned out.

This evening the sun went down as a stunning great ball of fire.


“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth. You have set your glory above the heavens.”

Psalms 8:1

“The heavens declare the glory of God and the heavens show His handiwork.”

Psalms 19:1


Heatwole Gathering-2017

For those interested in our family, this post features pictures from our family get-together this weekend at Sparking Springs. This year Phil and Ev Borntrager were in charge. We had church together this morning, followed by good food and fellowship. Each family prepared something to share for the service.

Phil Borntager leading us in singing

Phil & Ev Borntrager reading scripture. (Ev was wearing a bear on her head to create interest for a later children’s event)

Melanie Neiss leading her family (following picture) in blessing us with special music.

Jake Niess with children; Kyra, Taya and Lucas.

Kendra Landis with her children; Blake, Austin and Macey singing Psalms 100, a song they created to help learn the Psalm.

(Girl in red just wanted to sit on Kendra’s lap)

Heidi Nolt with three of her children; Grace, Julianna and David saying some verses.

 Kerwin and Rhonda Borntrager with their children; Ana, Josiah,   Leah and Katie singing a song.

Mother (Fannie Heatwole) sharing some verses that are special to her.

Pat Hertzler had a children’s lesson on “Kindness”.


Gene, the pharmacist, giving a “kindness prescription” and two cards with the following verses to each child.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you”. Ephsians 4:32

Evelyn played some games that we as kids played when we were young: Dentist, Button button who has the button, Smelling with yardstick, Treasure hunt and New Orleans-Here I Come.


“Button, button, who has the button”

Then off they went on a treasure hunt….

Then Phil read a bear story to the children and they all went out on a bear hunt.

It wasn’t long until the excited explorers came back with the bear in tow….


Daddy (Dwight Heatwole)

Micah Heatwole

Ed Heatwole

Phil Borntrager, Gene Hertzler and Micah Heatwole

Calvin Nolt

Kerwin Borntrager

Marj Heatwole

Crystal and Eric Blosser

Eileen Heatwole

Kendra Landis

Jim Landis

Mom and daughter sharing a moment; Melanie Kniss and Marj Heatwole

 Jill Hostetter, Ryan and Karla

Heidi Nolt and Nathan

Pat Hertzler singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to Maude Heatwole…over and over and over…it was great fun and she was my friend for a long time!

Then we learned “I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee. Won’t my mama be so proud of me, I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee….”

“Ouch, he stung me….”

Ryan Hostetter and Marj Heatwole

Gene Hertzler, Obe Hostetter, Kerwin & Phil Borntrager, Dad Heatwole and Rhonda Borntrager


Nathan Nolt

Grace Nolt

And the uninvited guest who garnished some attention of the photographers in the family….

Gone Except for the Memories

Today we went to Denbigh (Newport News) to attend the 120-year homecoming celebration at Warwick River Mennonite Church in Newport News. But first, we had to drive past the farm-Quarterfield Farm, Gene’s home place fronting on Colony and Hertzler Road.  Well, it used to be a farm, now it is just a memory.


The house site

The garden plot

For 118 years, it was a fertile, productive farm (dairy, then a horse boarding facility) within sight of the Warwick River and belonged to the Hertzler family: Great-grandpa, grandpa and then dad Hertzler.

The once lush meadows and pastures are now pushed over trees, tractors have given way to bulldozers and houses are starting to grace the landscape instead of pecan, walnut, crepe myrtle and oak trees. They tell us the house, barn, machine shed, milk house and shop were demolished 2 weeks ago. What once was a familiar homestead is now a dirt construction site. The pecan trees and shrubbery are still standing marking the outline of the yard but we were told they too will soon be gone. All traces of history have been removed, never to be recovered or preserved. This history was more than just Gene’s family. It was an important part of the history of Mennonites who came to Denbigh. In 1897 D.Z. Yoder and Isaac D. Hertzler (Gene’s great-grandpa) came to Denbigh and purchased a 1200 acre plantation for $10 an acre. This quickly attracted the interest of many other Mennonites in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other parts of Virginia who moved there. The land was divided between the families forming a very unique close-knit faith and agricultural community called  “The Colony”.

A new house now built in the front pasture.

The neighbors fought hard against city hall pleading for a park, a preservation of the cherished land. They fought City Hall and City Hall won. A sign saying “Hertzler Meadow” almost feels like a taunt.

It feels sad and as a family we now only have a marker in the church cemetery a mile from the farm to document Oliver and Anna Mae Hertzlers’ existence.

But, they are not forgotten. We have memories, lots and lots of memories, precious memories and pictures that we do and will continue to cherish. Dad Hertzler knew the inevitable was coming and he had worked out the plans before his death. We are just glad he didn’t have to see the reality of it.

It reminds us of the frailty of life. We are only here for a few short years and then we are gone, never to return.

What will be our legacy?

How will we be remembered when there is nothing left but a tombstone?


All flesh is like grass, and it’s loveliness as the flower of the field.

Isaiah 40:6

As for man, his days are as grass; as the flower of the field so he flourished. For the wind passes over it and it is gone; and the place remembers it no more.

Psalms 103: 15-16

This is a unique, to scale model of “The Colony” made by Sam Brunk for the 100th Anniversary showing how it was in 1947. It is now solid development. The 60 acres owned by Dad Hertzler was the last piece of land to be sold. He held on to the land tenaciously even though the city was determined to force him out.

Quarterfield Farm, farm of Henry-Anna Hertzler, Gene’s grandpa.


Some related blog posts about the farm.

A Mulberry Tree

I have never had any interest in mulberry trees. None. I have never seen, tasted a mulberry or even thought about one until today. Well, actually the “seed” (of thought) was planted last week. Today that tree burst onto my horizon and I tasted of its sweetness.

Let me tell you a story….

Last week a well-known Powhatan local, previous business owner, (Flatrock Hardware) Jack May, stopped in the store and we started chatting. I could have listened to him for hours. You see, Jack used to live on our farm way back in the 40’s. Jack has a bank full of memories and stories about our farm.

One such story is the about a huge 5-foot diameter (according to Jack’s tale) mulberry tree that was beside a pig pen just down the hill from the house behind one of our house trailers.  A tree that big had to have heard Indian tales. He recalled climbing the tree and eating the sweet berries.

His grandpa, Henry May, owned the farm but Donald May, Jack’s dad, lived here and cleared/tilled the land. Grandpa Henry owned a prized Hereford breeding bull for which he paid a lot of money. The bull was not mean, but he had developed an intense dislike for Jack who was a young lad. For Jack to go to the barn he had to go around the mulberry tree and through the pig pen to stay out of the area the bull was kept.

One day when Jack was home alone, he decided to go to the barn. As he headed for the mulberry tree he skirted too close to where the bull was chained and found himself in a dangerous situation. To defend himself, he picked up a softball size rock and hurled it at the charging bull. The rock hit the bull in the center of the forehead, right between the eyes, dropping him instantly to the ground. Jack says he learned to pray that day!!! He thought he had killed grandpa’s bull and he was scared to death of the repercussions!

The bull finally started shaking his head and eventually got back up on his feet.

The mulberry tree eventually met its demise.  After hearing Jack’s story, I found myself thinking about that huge tree and wishing I could have enjoyed it’s beauty and sweetness.

This morning brought with an unexpected wonder.  The past several weeks we have been cleaning up the brush and weeds that have grown up behind and around the house trailer which just happens to be the area where the mulberry tree was.  There are now several big stately oak trees growing there but also a dense jungle of scrub bushes, poison ivy and other trees: Rose of Sharon, gum, maple, etc. I told the guy doing the cleanup to take out all the little sapplings except for one nicely formed tree that was getting some size to it.  I was standing under the tree when I happened to look up and to my wonder, my eyes suddenly fixed on red and black berries that looked like elongated blackberries. Mulberries? This had to be a mulberry tree! (If it hadn’t been for Jack’s story the previous week I would never have given a second thought about what it was).

A quick internet search confirmed that it was indeed mulberries.  The berries were almost gone but I was able to feast on a few deliciously sweet berries. The deep dark red, blood colored juice stains your fingers purple.

I am not aware of any other mulberry trees growing on the farm. It makes me wonder, could this sapling by chance, after all these years, be a descendant of the original mulberry tree? It is in the right area.  Coincidental-maybe.  By chance-perhaps. Does it matter? Not really, but I am going to speculate on the wonder that it just might have some Powhatan history in its DNA.


A resource: Mulberries- Sweet but Beware Their Dark Side

A memory: When we were kids we used to sing and act out the nursery rhyme “Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush”.

Blog post about the history of this farm:  “Once Upon A Time”.  I now have to change the history of this blog to reflect the Mays!

All Is Well That Ends Well

Our flatbed delivery truck sprung a water leak when out on the road this week. Gene wanted me to go with him in the rollback truck to retrieve it as he knew that it was going to be too big of a challenge to load all by himself.  The important piece of information in this story is that the emergency brake on the flatbed does not work.

We drove to where the truck was parked and Gene backed the rollback into place. My job was to put blocks behind the back tires of the flatbed as he drove it up on the rollback. I had to be very careful and not get behind the truck or get myself into a dangerous position…just in case the truck rolled backwards. The truck did not have enough power to drive up the steep slope of the rollback, it would only go about half way. Gene had me securely block the back tires while he mashed the brake.  After the tires was blocked,  he got out of the flatbed and careful hooked the wrench on the rollback to the under girth of the flatbed. As he wrenched the flatbed forward, I had to keep moving the blocks forward, keeping them tightly tucked behind the back wheels. Finally, we got the flatbed up on the rollback. I breathed a sigh of relief as he raised the bed of the rollback and moved it forward into transport mode.

That was when I suddenly noticed a very distressful situation. The front tire of the flatbed on the passenger side was off the side of the rollback with maybe a skimpy inch of rubber still on the rollback. This was NOT good. We now had a dire predicament. I was sure we needed to call a wrecker to safely pull the truck over a few inches.  I could see no way we could back that truck up and keep the  flatbed from flipping off the truck over onto the pavement.

After a little thought and evaluation, Gene very, very carefully unwrenched the flatbed letting it roll backwards inch by inch, carefully adjusting the steering wheel and me again moving the blocks, this time backwards all the while saying, “Lord, help us” over and over again.  Once it was unloaded, we had to go through the loading process again.  I DECIDED I DID NOT LIKE BEING A WRECKER ASSISTANT as it is too hard on the nerves!  After it was loaded on the rollback and the bed brought up into level position, I was given my second job. I had to sit in the cab of the flatbed-way up high in the sky in a truck on top of a truck-and steer it! This simple feat was accomplished by watching Gene’s upraised finger twitch in one direction and then another.  I could not see the sides of the rollback bed as he wrenched the truck with me sitting in it forward!!! This has a way of making ones heart beat twice as fast as normal. Once into position, I had to keep my foot mashed on the brake until he had the truck securely strapped into place. Believe me, I obeyed, and there is a dent in the floor board where the pedal meets the floor!

I rather enjoyed the ride home. When riding in the cab of the rollback, you are sitting up higher than most of the other vehicles on the road and it feels like you are king of the road with a big load and a good view.

Now my friend, this picture shows the spacing of the tire when the truck is loaded properly.

The Lord did help us and I was so grateful when the truck was safely and properly loaded and we were home.

All is well that ended well.


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