It Was My Bald Spot

A bald spot on a man can look very dignified and stylish, but for a woman, it is a cosmetic nightmare! As I kept tabs on the thinning spot on the back of my head, I decided it was time to take action and try something, anything!

My friend google guided me to numerous web sites and after reading the information, I decided on Keranique.com. It proclaims itself as the hair regrowth system for women with thicker, longer, stronger and healthier hair. And, it is clinical proven! After looking at pictures, reading testimonials and seeing the claim that 1,000,000 women have been helped, I decided to give it a try. After all, what did I have to lose except more hair.

The products are rather pricey, but if I had gone to a doctor and gotten a prescription, that would have also been expensive also. With anticipation, I ordered the kit; Scalp Stimulating Shampoo,  Volumizing Keratin Conditioner, Hair Regrowth Treatment, Lift and Repair Treatment Spray along with their super duper vitamins for hair regrowth.

I have been using it since January 2017 (1-1/2 years) and the results are very noticeable, I am very pleased. I don’t have the luscious, silky, flowing hair of the women on the ad, I never have. I admit I have always been a tad bit jealous of women with thick hair but for me the results are a huge improvement. My hair is still thin, but there is no longer a bald spot.

Now, I just look at another bald spot that I don’t have to have a mirror to see it. Shhhh, I took this picture while he was sleeping. I think he ought to start using my magic potion, it might even make him feel younger! What do you think?

Sunflowers

I’m not sure there is anything as striking and colorful as a field of sunflowers. The tall stately plants seem to smile in delight.   Whenever I see a field I just have to stop and take a picture.

In the early stages, the heads turn to face the sun. As the heads mature and they get heavy with seed, the heads droop downward.  Deer can be hard on a field, especially in the early stages, as they love the tender shoots when they first come up. Bees are very attracted to the flowering stage and birds flock in as the seeds mature.  In almost every field of sunflowers unless you spray them, you will find a tangled web of Morning Glories winding around the stalks. The heads are left on the stalk until the are fully ripen and brown.

There are three kinds of sunflowers; decorative, black oil and striped. The decorative are smaller stalks with very small heads and are for looks rather than seed. The striped seeds have huge heads and the seeds are used mostly for human consumption as they have a larger nut, however, they are used in some bird seed mixes as well. But the favorite of our songbird friends is the black oil seed. The seed is smaller and rich in oil.

Sunflowers are known for their beauty and food source, not as a fragrant flower.

The following website, https://www.almanac.com/plant/sunflowers, states the following interesting facts about sunflowers……..

“Sunflowers are one of the most important oil crops in the world, and are a valuable food source in many countries. Just one ounce of sunflower seeds contains about 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of oils. The fats are almost entirely unsaturated with 9 grams of polyunsaturated and 3 grams of monounsaturated fats per ounce (NSA). The oil is high in linoleic acid and is a good source of vitamin E.”

In western Powhatan County at the corner of Route 13 and Ballsville Rd there is a field of sunflowers that a lady has been planting for quite a few years just for her and our enjoyment!  People stop to take pictures and enjoy the beauty. The word on the street is that she wants us to take a bouquet along home.

Thank-you Georgianne Matthews.

An Evening with Rory Feek

It was probably about four years ago that I became aware of Joey and Rory Feek; delightful country and gospel music singers who were starting to cause sensations on the national scene with their music.  After the birth of their daughter, Indiana, Joey received the devastating diagnosis of cancer. She fought valiantly for about two years  but one spring evening in March 2016, Joey slipped away to her heavenly home. Rory was not only a song writer and composer but also an amazing blogger who shared with the world their powerful love story; a story of faith, hope, promise, broken and fulfilled dreams and life. Millions of us fell in love with this hometown Tennessee couple by watching their TV show and reading his blog, “This Life I Live”.

After Joey’s death, Rory said he would never sing or write songs again. But God is healing his broken heart and once again he has started having concerts on his farm in the “barn” converted into a concert hall. He shared with us Saturday night that he is very close to writing songs again.

When we heard Rory was having concerts on the farm in Hardison Mill, Tennessee, we decided we wanted to go.  Vacations are always good, but some go down as “extra special”.  Let me tell you, this one was extra, extra special. Tops!

Hardison Mill is south of Nashville and about five miles from Columbia. It is such a small little berg that it didn’t even make it on our map, although GPS knew how to navigate us there!  It was a ten hour drive plus stops.  We drove half-way Friday night and the rest on Saturday, allowing us to arrive at noon for the 7 PM concert. We decided to look up Marcy Jo’s restaurant for lunch.  Marcy is Rory’s sister.  The Jo in the name is for Joey. She and Joey worked together for nine years. It turned out that the restaurant was about 2 miles from the farm.

Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse Restaurant:

We were in for a total surprise. This quaint, rustic, little restaurant was a step-back into time.  Built in 1891 (I believe they said), it is still the old, weathered store it used to be with a history to tell.  It sits a few feet off the road at a very busy intersection, the corner of 431 and 99, the road to Columbia.  The place was overflowing with people waiting to have the experience of eating at the now famous Marcy Jo’s!  We had to wait one hour to get our genuine home-cooked meal.

The bustling place is very small with friendly waitresses and seats about forty. Upstairs is a shopping area filled with jewelry and antiques.  The walls are covered with antiques and pictures and the shelving behind the counter is filled with Marcy Jo’s cookbooks, Rory and Joey’s CD’s and books, T-shirts, local honey and glassware for sale. An old potbelly stove sits in the middle at the back.  I saw a picture of Joey and Rory hanging on the wall that was taken in the store. It appeared that I may have been sitting in the very spot she sat. The place was full of Joey essence and you almost expected her to come through the door.  Joey and Rory were ordinary country folks, living and working in rural hometown USA with big dreams.  Using their God-given talents of music and blogging, they won their way into our hearts and have become loved and esteemed all over the world.

A very magical thing happened at the restaurant. Suddenly time slowed to a grinding halt.  We were truly on vacation and no longer in a hurry to get someplace.  As we sat on a bench on the porch with the group hanging around waiting for our turn to go inside, I realized we were all strangers chatting together as if neighbors gathered at the local store. “Where are you from? Are you here for the concert?” For an hour we chatted with people from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Memphis, St. Louis and Mechanicsville, VA, which is in the area of our hometown. We talked mostly about Rory and Joey and the specialness of this spot.  It was special because though we were strangers, we had a common bond, we had been invited into the intimate lives of Joey and Rory’s through their writing and music.  All of us at the restaurant were probably tourists, there for the concert or passing through. The locals drove by, honked their horns and gaily waved, welcoming us. You only honk at people you know, right? They knew why we were there and also knew better than to eat there on concert day!

Inside we were seated at the “family” table in the center with about eight other people.  Seated beside us were two girls from St. Louis. The one’s name was Jill, making it very easy for us to remember! We enjoyed our time chatting with them.

Gene ordered “Rory’s Overall Breakfast,” advertised as Rory’s favorite entree of Angel Flake biscuits, sausage gravy and easy-over eggs, topped with shredded cheese.

I ordered the “Boss Hog”, a tender, grilled tenderloin with bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheese on a homemade bun with onion rings. It was a delicious meal.

The Concert:

 

Waiting for the doors to open.

Filling the seats and waiting for the show to begin. The barn holds 300 people and it was a sold-out crowd. We had the neat privilege of sitting beside one of Joey’s childhood friends from Indiana who was there for the show. She told us stories and pointed out family and friends of the Feeks.

The big screen said, “Enjoy the Show!” For the next 3 hours we did.  Usually the show last 1-1/2 hours but somehow this evening, time slipped by and apparently Rory also lost track of time and we were treated to double time!

The evening was a mixture of story telling, music and entertainment.

Rory’s oldest daughter, Heidi, also sang, and her boyfriend, Dillion, played guitar.

Indy was brought on stage for a short visit and a little girl from the audience gave her a card she made.

Rory called his two sisters to the stage and introduced them. Marcy is on the left and Candy is on the right. He asked a pastor in the audience to pray for the evening and especially Candy, as she is fighting cancer.

A professional fiddle playing friend of Rory’s whose first name was Daniel was in the audience. After the intermission, they got him on stage for an amazing instrumental hoe-down with Dillion.

Friendly cowboys friends showing us where to park.

 

Story Telling:

This was a picture Rory showed of the house when he bought the farm in 1999. It was a fascinating story.

Now it looks like this!

Indiana is a special needs child with Downs Syndrome. He just finished builting the schoolhouse for her with money that came as love gifts after Joey’s death. The school, opening this fall, will be for Indy, along with a selected number of other special needs children.

Pictures of the Farm:

We were not allowed to roam the farm but oh how I wanted to!!! I took some pictures from the concert hall area. It was a beautiful, picture perfect, manicured farm.

 

 

 

I saw the grove of trees across the field with the fence around it and I knew. I knew this was “the spot”, the resting place of Joey, her mother, and the previous owners of the farm.  Rory’s bench beckoned me but this was his personal, private spot and it is not open to the public, so we stood at a distance and gazed, to pay our respects.

The concert hall is also used on Sunday mornings for “Cowboy Church”. They have two services, 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. (if I remember correctly). We would loved to have attended but with our 10-hour plus drive home we just couldn’t make it work.

A few other pictures:

This picture I had to take. It was in the concert hall and really made us smile as we have sold Purina feed in our store for 35 years and fed it for years and years before that! For loyal Purina dealers this antique sign was a added bonus.

A picture of Julie, who was Joey’s best friend, is still involved with the family and all their doings. We happened to be sitting next to a couple at the concert who are long-time family friends and they pointed out numerous special people to us.

Marcy brings and sells slices of her signature cakes at the concerts; a luscious chocolate called Cola Cola Cake, Elvis Cake, and Heath Bar Cake, to name a few.

And finally….

I wanted a signed copy of Rory’s two books; ” This Life I Live” and  “Once Upon a Farm”.  When I purchased the books, I asked if they were signed and the guy at the counter said no, but after the show Rory would sign the books.  When the show was over we were on the wrong side of the room and it was late and I think half the crowd was in the line. I decided to forgo the wait. When I got home and opened my books, to my surprise and delight they were already signed. I just didn’t get to shake his hand and thank him.

You can go to Rory’s website for more information about his blog, books, cd’s, the movie about their life and schedule for the concerts. It was a wonderful evening and one I will remember for a long time. Tops!

 

 

 

Have Wheels, Will Travel

Once upon a time a mama and papa Carolina Wren searched for a place to build a nest. There were many places to choose from on the farm but finally, they found the perfect spot….

The spare tire on the cattle trailer is fastened firmly to the side of the trailer forming a well protected spot inside the rim of the tire.

Quietly and unnoticed, they built their nest and hatched a clutch of four baby wrens.  All was going well until Monday morning at 7 a.m. when Mr. Farmer loaded  calves to take to the stockyard in Lynchburg.  By 9, Mr. Farmer was on the road and did not arrive home until 4 p.m. The trailer was parked back in its normal spot.

Today, Gene and his buddy, Wray, hauled two finished bulls to Fauquier Butcher Shop in Bealeton which is a two hour drive one way. Gene loaded the trailer at 7 this morning and parked the truck and trailer out front of the house until 11 when they hit the road. When they stopped for lunch in Orange at Burger King, Wray noticed that he was hearing birds chirping and they sounded close by but he didn’t think much about it or say anything. When they got to the butcher shop, he realized he was still hearing a lot of chirping. Suddenly, he saw the very upset nest of baby birds looking out of the wheel well wanting food and mama!

It was 4:30 until they arrived back home. Gene pulled the trailer back to its normal parking spot and immediately mama and papa wren set up a big fuss and ruckus. They chirped and chattered loudly and flew in and out of the nest in a frantic search for food for their squawking younguns.

Their nest is tucked in the corner on the left, but these younguns were at the door mad as a hornet and crying for food.

I checked on them two hours later and the babies were sound asleep in the nest but Mr. and Mrs. Wren were close by watching closely. My presence did not go unnoticed!

 

I wonder, what did Mr. and Mrs. Wren do when the babies disappeared? Did they see them go? Did they attempt to follow? Did they figure out they were parked out front several hours? Did they spend the day mourning their loss? Obviously, they immediately knew when they were back.

I am amazed the babies survived almost two days (Monday and Wednesday) without food for such a long period of time. After traveling almost 400 miles, they now have a story to tell: “We have wheels and we will travel!”

Post note:

I did an internet search and discovered that it takes only 12-14 days for Carolina Wren’s to fledge (leave the nest) from the time they hatch. By Sunday (three days), they were gone. Looking at the pictures that is incredible to me that in three days they were ready to be on their own.

Evening Primrose

One of my favorite flowers is the Evening Primrose. If you have never seen one open, you are missing a very special treat. They open in the evening just before dusk. Right now it is around 8:45 p.m. You can literally watch them pop open.

The head of each stalk contains lots of little blossom pods.  Before opening the pod swells up.  In the picture above you can see the already open flower and the one ready to pop open in about half a minute. The two larger pods behind with the reddish tint will open tomorrow evening and the next larger ones in two evenings.

The stages of opening:

 

 

 

 

Just about as fast as you looked at these pictures, it happened.

The flowers only last one day. By tomorrow evening it will be drooped and wilted and start to fall off. (Picture below)

Years and years ago, a friend gave me a start and I have had them ever since.  They are bi-annuals meaning they bloom the second year. After they finish blooming the little pods you see sticking on the side of the stalk in the picture below will fill with very tiny black seeds.

This fall they will shatter to the ground. The plants that come up this fall or very early next spring will bloom next summer. The ones that sprout later-maybe April or May will stay little all summer and bloom next year. (See picture below).  These are tucked in the flower bed under the blooming plants.

The flowers are very fragrant and at the peak of blooming the plants are loaded with bright yellow blossoms. But this is one plant you have to sit outside in the evening to enjoy. By the time the sun is up in the morning they are on the decline.

One thing you have to remember is, you don’t just watch one blossom open. Everyone of those flowers opened tonight plus  more that aren’t on the picture.

The hummingbird moths love this plant. They look like a cross between a hummingbird and moth with the body of a moth and beak and hovering of a hummingbird.  Under cover of dark, shortly after blooming, they buzz in and fill their beaks with the luscious, sweet nectar. I have two kinds of hummingbird moths; one with a short beak that buries his head into the blossom and the other with long, dangling beak that hovers above the flower and drops his beak into the blossom.  The picture below is the long beaked moth. I don’t have a picture of the short-beaked one.

The Evening Primrose also comes in pink (which I don’t have) and it is a low spreading plant where the yellow one grows 3 feet tall. They are also considered a wildflower and if you are looking for them, you can find them in the ditch banks along roadways in unmowed areas. Most people never notice them because they are night-time blooming.

This 1-minute video shows a flower opening in real time. There was no editing, no shortening of time.

If you want to see this spectacular God-show, I would love to have you stop by (call first to be sure I’m home). Right now they are at their peak and by mid-July it will be almost over. It will be an evening you will always remember.

“Quick-n-Big”

On Memorial Day, Gene planted Quick-n-Big Crabgrass from Dalrymple Farm in Thomas, Oklahoma on two of his fields to help provide fast growing summer grazing for his beef cattle. Their website says, “Quick-n-Big Crabgrass is a very productive, erect growing profuse tillering, relatively “quick” germinating, “quick” seedling growth, “quick” growth to first grazing or haying, and “Big” (up to over 48 inches tall), improved crabgrass….if well managed.”  You only plant 10 lbs. per acre. Last evening we turned the cattle into the field to graze.  Gene set his shoe on end to show the height of the growth; 12-14 inches in three weeks from seeding.

I rode with Gene to turn the cows into the pasture.

The cows were grazing in the front pasture and as we drove past them, Gene started honking the pickup horn and calling out his window, “Whoo-up, whoo-up”. That’s his call. They know his call and they know his truck.  It usually means food! The cows looked up from their grazing and almost instantly started running and mooing after the pickup.  We led them to the new pasture, getting there seconds ahead of them. By the time I could get out of the pickup and up on the back with my camera, they were already running into the field; mooing, bellowing and burying their noses into the lush green grass.

 

 

This little one had to have a quick drink of milk after such an exciting run.

 

Don’t bother me, I am eating!

 

 

Homegrown Blackberries

Last spring I planted a row of thornless Prime-Ark Freedom Blackberries from Burpee in my garden. It has been a learning curve but I am so happy and excited about my berries. This evening I picked the first bowl full of the season to eat.

Let me start at the beginning. Last spring I ordered six plants and they all lived and are doing well. I asked advice from local farmer friends, Bill and India Cox, who raise blackberries to sell at farmer’s markets. They do not raise primocanes but their experience was well worth listening to and very helpful.

When I planted the berries, I put a short 2-ring tomato cage over each one . You can’t see them but they are there.  This helps the canes to stay upright from the start. We also built a support fence for them to help support the canes and also to give me a “controlled” row for the stalks.

My support post at each end of the 50 foot row.

We used two strands of hi-tensile wire on each side of the row with the bottom wire 28″ off the ground and 24″ apart and the top wires are 48 ” off the ground and 36″ apart.  Each wire has a hi-tensile wire tightener/ratchet so that we can tighten the wire as it stretches. We did not put any support posts in between which was a mistake and the weight of the canes soon popped the wires loose.

They produced all summer until frost and cold weather killed the canes. This picture was taken November 10th!

The patch ended up being a mess as my support wires had broken and I had canes 8 foot long stretched out over the ground. I talked to my friends and did some reading online. I ended up trimming the canes back to about 12 inches tall for the winter. The fruit is produced on new growth. We rebuilt the fence and added four t-post on each side to strengthen the wires. This summer as the canes reach over the top wire, I am nipping them off which is causing them to get develop stronger bushes. So far it is working well and I am very happy.

This picture shows the new support posts. We put them in on a slant.

This year the row has filled in to almost a solid row. The plants are strong and bushy. Any stray shoots popping up outside the row I am pulling up and potting some for family.

A spoonful of fresh homegrown garden goodness! I have even had some bigger than this one.

Another helpful website: Growing Erect Blackberries

Drivers Ed on the Farm

Grandkids, Karla and Ryan, are here with us for several days while their folks are celebrating their anniversary in Cancun. My instructions from her mom was to teach Karla to drive. She can get her learners in March but has zero driving experience nor a good place to learn. The biggest and fastest vehicle she has driven has been my golf cart.

 

Lesson 1: I drove the pickup across the cattle guard to the driveway into the cattle pasture. I turned off the truck, hopped out and said, “Let’s change sides.”

K: Grandma, I’m terrified.  I don’t think I can do this.

G: Yes, you can. It’s not hard.

I told her how to start the truck, what the letters (P, R, N, D, L) meant and what the brake and accelerator were. Immediately the right foot went on the “go” pedal (according to her) and the left on the brake.  I smiled to myself but didn’t say anything. Sitting on the front of her seat, she grasped the steering wheel for dear life and started the truck.  It immediately started moving forward very slowly.

K; Grandma. It’s moving. How do I stop? I’m terrified!

I think she used the terrified word at least two dozen times!

G:  You are doing just fine. But you can push the brake to stop.

Her left foot instantly pushed the brake to the floor.  We were probably going one mph but we also immediately lurked to a stop! By now we are both laughing so hard she can hardly drive.  The next lesson is on using only the right foot for both petals and pushing the pedal evenly.

K: “But grandma, what if my foot is on the “go” pedal when I need to stop?”

G:  “Your foot can move from one pedal to another”.

The concept of only using one foot seemed totally unrealistic to her. After all, you have two feet and two pedals! I explained the safety issue involved with using two feet. You don’t want to push both petals at the same time!

Karla did a great job. She made it to the end of the field and back several times at the neck-breaking speed of 4 mph. I assured her she was not going fast and that on interstate you go 70 mph and that eventually she would have confidence and experience.  Suddenly going 70 mph and entering traffic on interstate seemed like an paralysising feat and she just did not know how her dad did it.

When we were done, I had her drive over the sixteen foot wide cattle guard back to the yard and park beside our car.  She was sure she was going to hit the side post of the gateway but she did it perfectly.

This was a hilariously funny event. I laughed and laughed at her crazy thoughts and expressions.

Lesson 2:  We had a lesson on reverse, signaling, the horn and windshield wipers. This time I let her drive to the field which meant she had to back out of the parking space beside our car.

K: “But, grandma, I can’t see behind and I might hit something!”

We talked about how to see behind using the mirrors or turning your head and looking. She just knew there was going to be something in the wide open space behind her that she couldn’t see and was going to hit! We made it to the pasture and this time went further; through a second gate opening into the back pasture.  We saw two wild turkeys and a coyote which was an extra little bonus.  She loved the turn signal. When we came to the end of the road and she had to turn around in the pasture, she stopped and put on her signal. We did squares in the pasture and at each turn, she signaled. But she had to stop in order to signal. I explained that when she is driving on the road, she will use the signal to let other drivers know she is planning to make a turn. This also means you have to turn it on while you are driving and before you get to where you are going to turn.

The cows were out grazing in the field and several crossed the driveway we were on. She pretended it was a pedestrian crossing. Again, she was sure she was going to hit one of them but I showed her how to keep easing forward very slow and they would move. On the last lap back to the house she reached the unfathomable speed of 10 mph. She beamed with pride!

Lesson 3: This time there was a big improvement in her confidence. She adjusted the seat and leaned back. She maneuvered the truck out of the parking spot and into the field. This time we went exploring across the pastures. She had to ford a small creek with a somewhat narrow opening and was astounded that I thought she could do it. The cattle were also out moving around and at the same time they were wanting to cross the same creek. We had to sit and wait until the last cow had crossed so that she could go. One cow was being stubborn and was standing in the way, facing the truck and still eating the grass hanging out her mouth. Karla beeped the horn and the cow, with a defiant posture and stern look, immediately responded with several loud moos. We laughed and laughed. I just wish I had my camera! Grandpa had driven in the field that morning checking the cows and left tire tracks across the field. She had great fun following them as they wandered across several different pastures.

Lesson 4: This time I handed her the keys to the car. Her eyes got as big as saucers. This was very different from the pickup. It sits lower, is smoother driving, the wipers are on a different lever and the lever to put the car in gear is on the console. She was sure she might hit something but took to the change with ease. She eased up to 20 mph for a few brief moments. This time after driving the pasture driveway, we went out and back the driveway. I noticed she actually turned on the signal while driving.

Karla is going to do just fine. We will have several more lessons tomorrow before she goes home. Each time we drove, I could see her gaining confidence and that she was very happy and pleased with herself.  It was a priceless privilege to be the one to share this first time experience with her. I will always treasure the memory.  I just wish I could have taped all her comments.

Ryan, who is two years younger was just yearning for the privilege of driving.  I told him yesterday that if he helped to complete the mulching job we were working on, I would let him drive. I had a very hard-working, willing worker! Where Karla was cautious and unsure of herself, Ryan was bubbling with eagerness and anticipation.

When we had completed our lesson, he hopped out of the truck and with a huge smile said, “that was awesome!”

Farm kids have a huge advantage over others in learning to drive. They are privileged to the open land and learn at a young age to drive a lawn mover, four-wheeler, motorcycle, trucks and other farm equipment. By the time they reach driving age, they have accumulated a vast variety of  experiences, including; backing trailers, maneuvering narrow spaces and different weather and terrain conditions.

I remember learning to drive. Daddy had an old stick-shift dodge truck that shifted hard that he let me roam the pastures in. It was almost impossible to put into gear without grinding at least a little.  The truck was parked in a narrow lean-to on the side of the bank barn that was on a downhill slope. I had to learn to back the truck into the shed which had about 12 inches (or less!) to spare on each side of the rear view mirrors and pull out of the shed without coasting backwards. Only those who have driven a stick shift can appreciate how truly difficult that was. I am still amazed I learned to do it without ever hitting the barn or coasting backwards.

50 Years Ago-The Move to Powhatan

Fifty years ago on Monday, May 20, 1968, was the official big move of the Hertzlers to Powhatan from Denbigh (Newport News), Virginia. The city was encroaching on the farmers there forcing them to search elsewhere for affordable farm land.  Gene remembers packing his 1957 blue Ford pickup with his personal belongings and heading west on Route 60, winding through Shockhoe Bottom in Richmond, and on to the farm to arrive ahead of the trucks hauling the thirty dairy cows.

When the cattle trucks arrived, they unloaded the cows behind the barn into a lot with a watering trough and a bunk full of haylage that had been cut that morning from the farm in Newport News so that the cows had no adjustment in their feed ration.  His brother drove a flatbed truck loaded with a wagon full of silage.

Months, weeks and days before, the farm here in Powhatan was prepared for the move. Spring crops were ready to green chop and corn was already growing in the fields. The Surge dealer had installed a pipeline and milking equipment in the cinderblock stanchion barn and milking house. Each work trip to the farm brought equipment, tools, and other needed supplies from Denbigh. And at the last came the three Border Collie dogs; Checkers, Pudgy, and Snickers.

Gene was eighteen when he and his older brother, Oliver, moved to Powhatan to run the farm.  Gene doesn’t remember much about the move. Gene and Oliver lived in the upstairs apartment of the house as the main part of the house was rented to another couple. There was no air conditioning in the house and Gene remembers leaving the windows open for air circulation and hearing the whippoorwills calling from the trees.

There are still several things that dad Hertzler planted in the yard that I greatly treasure; a pecan tree (two have succumbed), a row of beautiful peonies, a lilac bush and hollyhocks. Dad Hertzler loved the land and had a knack for growing boxwood shrubs, pecan trees, peonies, irises, hollyhocks and other flowers which he enjoyed sharing with people.

Gene remembers his folks riding the roads of Powhatan, Amelia and Madison counties looking for a farm. He has no idea where all they looked or traveled. He does remember his sister, sitting in the back seat of the car one day as they wandered the back roads of Amelia County, singing, “Did he ever return, no he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned,  He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston,  He’s the man who never returned” from “Charley on the M.T.A”. (written by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lamax Hawes and sung by The Kingston Trio). They ended up finding this farm, it was for sale, but for some reason they did not come the day of the farm auction.  Hugh Ownby bought the farm and was going to turn it into one of Ownby’s cattle sale farms. Several weeks or months later, the Hertzlers contacted the Ownbys and they agreed to sell the farm to them. The rest is history.

Powhatan was so different in those days. There numerous grade A dairies in the county with names such as; Bowlin, Burkholder, Cosby, Harris, Hatcher, Hertzler, Layman, McGee, Moyer, Osborne, Ranck, Schaefer, Stratton, Timberlake, Tucker, Walker, and Willis. Powhatan was truly agriculturally rural. Route 60 was still single lane into Midlothian and Interstate 64 only had sections completed.

The intersection of 653 (our road) and Route 60 the summer of 1969 as they were working on putting in dual lanes.

Another picture of Route 60 before it was dual laned.

Law and order and traffic control was maintained under the watchful eye of one sheriff (Floyd Simpson), one part-time deputy (Nelson Batterson), and two state troopers (Shirley Reynolds and M.C. Arrington).  These guys were fair but they were tough!

Grocery stores: Maxey’s (in the village where Four Seasons Restaurant is now), Nichols Store at Macon, a very small store at the corner of Route 60 and Academy Rd. and the largest was Mays Grocery at Flatrock.

Medical: Dr. Bradley was a one-man office with nurse Betty and two examining rooms. He knew us all by name and made house calls.  I remember office visits costing $12. The office was heated (or at least partially heated) by a pot-belly wood stove. When Dr. Bradley was ready to see you, you were first invited to visit with him in his office. He sat behind a large wooden desk and you sat in a wood chair at the side. If you had a sinus infection, he would open his desk drawer, take out a flashlight and invited you to step into a dark closet in the room with him so that he could shine the light on your sinuses.  Bloxton’s Pharmacy was in the white-pillared building next to Four Seasons Restaurant. I worked at Bloxton’s for awhile after we were married. Dr. Bradley had evening hours once or twice a week and Bloxtons would stay open those evenings just in case his patients needed a prescription. Dr. Bradley would call and let them know when he had seen his last patient for the day so they could close.

Car Dealers: Yates Ford was in the village, and Brown’s Chevrolet and Brauer Pontiac were on Route 60.

Farm Equipment: Davis Merchant was an International tractor dealer and there was a Ford dealership on Route 13 in the village where Mabel’s Cafe is now located.

Other:  Goodwyn’s Lumber, United Auto Parts, Yates Oil, and Powhatan Farm Supply, a Southern States franchise near the village, were all thriving family owned businesses. The Bank of Powhatan and the post office were also located in the village.

There was nothing and I mean almost nothing but open land between Powhatan and the Boulevard (160) which is several miles east of Chippenham Parkway; just a few buildings in the village of Midlothian, Watkins Nursery, and a few scattered homes and a few businesses at Buford Road.  If we wanted to go shopping, we either went to Southside Plaza on the Boulevard or Broad Street in downtown Richmond.  The year we were married, 1972, the excavating for the massive, state of the art, Cloverleaf Mall began on a dairy farm at the intersection of 150 and Route 60. This too has now given way to new and better development.

According to records posted online, there were less than 8,000 people in Powhatan in 1970.  Stores were closed on Sunday, you knew and visited with your neighbors, the elementary and high school were in the village, your address was routes and box numbers instead of street names, the closest hospital was St. Mary’s, and there was a one-lane, steel-trussed bridge across the James River on 522 at Maidens.  If you approached the bridge and someone was already coming across, you had to wait or meet them in the center where there was a place wide enough to pass. The new state of the art concrete bridge was completed in early 1972.

 

 

This picture came from Elwood Yates Jr. and is the old bridge at Maidens.

The new bridge had only been open a few months when Hurricane Agnes dropped record amounts of water on central Virginia in June 1972 causing massive flooding at levels not seen before. The James River at Maidens came within inches of the bottom side of the roadway on the bridge, washing out the approaches.  To come to our wedding June 24, Gene had to travel west on Route 60 to Buena Vista to find an open bridge to cross the river.

The new concrete bridge.

By the time we were married, the farm was established and Oliver Jr. was married. Route 60 was dual-laned and Powhatan was beginning to change. Gene gladly handed the reins of homemaking over to me.  He had bachelored for four years and was ready for a wife!

Oh the changes that have happened on the farm over the years: two 20’X60′ concrete stave silos were built, a double-four herringbone parlor replaced the stanchion barn, and a free-stall barn was built. These are now all relics from the past and integrated into warehouse space supporting our farm supply store which we started in 1983. Additional land was cleared for more cropland, the house was remodeled and a full upstairs was added, trees were planted, new fences built, the dairy gave way to beef cattle and lots and lots of love and energy went into making the farm a beloved homestead.

Now…..the homestead changes, and yes it is the same house.

Fifty years have flown by and our roots have grown deep in the soil of Powhatan County. This is truly home and we love our homestead.  In many ways we have shared our farm with the community through our farm supply store (started in October 1983) and other numerous events we have hosted through the years; Live Nativity, Evening on the Lawn, Fun Day on the Farm and the many bus loads of school children that visited through the years.

Today there is only one dairy left in the county, the old has given way to new, and family businesses are being replaced with chain stores. Change happens and time never stands still but oh the memories of days gone by.

For more of our story, read the blog post “Once Upon A Time“. My blog post “Hometown USA” is a commentary about change in Powhatan.

If there are any corrections or additions, please let me know. I would love to have a picture of Nichols Store, Hatcher’s Restaurant, May’s Grocery, Maxey’s Store.   Did I miss any dairy farmers? You can email me at pathertzler@gmail.com or use the comment section on the blog.

Peonies

I have numerous favorite flowers but I have to say the exquisite, perennial peony has to be top, even though roses and daisies follow close behind.  I can remember my mother having a long row of the fragrant bushes on the farm where I grew up.  When I got married and moved to Powhatan, I discovered that Gene’s dad had planted a stunning row of them beside the house several years prior.

I can always count on them starting to bloom the week before Mother’s Day. They don’t last more than 2-3 weeks but the fragrance is like no other flower. It just begs for you to bury your nose in the soft, velvety petals and breathe deeply. They do really well as cut flowers and make a stunning, fragrant bouquet that catches your attention when you step into the room.

 

It is best (they last longer) to pick the flowers while they are still buds. This will also decrease the amount of ants you carry into the house! Ants are attracted to the sticky sweetness and also help to open the buds. The first, “on my own,” gardening year, I sprayed them with pesticide to kill the pesky rascals. That was a mistake! I learned the importance and value of ants.  To determine when the bud is ready to pick, take hold of the bud between your thumb and first finger and gently pinch. If it is squishy, not hard, it is ready. Within a day of being cut, they will open to a full flower.  (I just recently learned this trick from a gardening friend, Lisa Ziegler).

My row of peonies is at least 48 years old, maybe older.  I have never divided them, although it probably would be a good idea. I am afraid I might mess up a good thing. They say peonies need very little care and can produce for 100 years.

In October after the stalks have died, I cut the dead foliage off as close to the ground as possible. That is all I do to prepare them for winter and the following spring.  If you are want to transplant or divide the plants, October is the month. The first year after replanting they probably will not bloom.  You need to be very careful in replanting that you only cover the roots with 2-3 inches of dirt or they will not bloom.  Peonies love sun but also like some shade protection during the hottest part of the day. Mine are planted on the north side of the house but because they are about 6 feet away from the house they have the benefit of a lot of sun and a little shade. It has been a perfect spot.

Peonies come in different colors and varieties, the most popular and hardy, being the old-fashion white. I also have a lovely, soft, light pink and a medium pink. The red I have replanted several times, I just can’t seem to keep it.

 

Rain is not kind to peonies once they start to bloom. Because of the very large flowers and multiple blossoms per stalk, the rain weights them down and the blossoms quickly turn brown. This year was especially hard on them. We have had 5 inches of rain in the last week just as they are at their peak. Even the buds hang their heads.

I like using peony rings with my plants. You can’t see them and it helps to hold the heavy stalks and keep them from falling over. I prefer the open two-ring style that looks like a tomato cage, only shorter, rather that the one with the grid top.

Resource:

 

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