Holiday Greetings to ewe all from the Shenandoah Valley...
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Saville Hill Farm

P.O. Box 1127

Lexington, VA 24450

(703) 463-5471

Thursday morning, December 22, 1994

Well folks, yesterday was the winter solstice and marked a milepost of sorts for Elizabeth and I.   We’ve completed our first fall season in residence here on Saville Hill Farm.   For those of you who haven’t caught up with us in a while, we officially retired from Raytheon in August, pulled up stakes and moved kit, caboodle, three cats and our Border Collie, Molly, to our farm here in the valley!  To say that its been interesting is probably an understatement.  Its been busy for sure.  We did the move ourselves, renting a twenty six foot van and a fourteen foot trailer, loading it with a lot of help from a few abused friends, our son-in-law Vlad, daughter Eva and two and a half year old grandson, Adam. We caravaned south with Ron and Molly in the van pulling the trailer, Eva driving the pickup with Adam aboard and Elizabeth and the three felines following in the Pathfinder. Quite a spectacle to say the least.

Since we’ll be bunking in the barn for a while, we stored most of our things in Lexington, again pressing some friends and our daughter Andrea into service, we unloaded most of the goods (including Elizabeth’s baby grand piano) into storage.  Some selected items and boxes came out to the farm with us.  Not too well selected we might add, since we’ve been searching for various needed items for months! We still haven’t found Elizabeth’s "Cadillac" can opener!

For those with a statistical fetish... we installed a water system which included burying over 1,000 feet of water pipe about the place, including a 1,250 gallon cistern for the livestock (Ron was still vibrating two days after we returned the rented ditch witch machine); stretched three and a half miles of high tensile electric wire fencing in preparation for the arrival of our eight Corriedale brood ewes next month; put up in the loft three tons of hay (which we were fortunate enough to get from a nearby neighbor); added a bunkhouse extension to the stock barn (where we are in residence while we build the house); subcontracted the pouring of the concrete foundation for the house; completed the septic system installation; graded the house site (we will now have a front yard to mow!); regraded the driveway (0.8 miles) and put down another 90 tons of gravel in preparation for winter.  Doesn’t retirement sound just grand?

After months without access to news, we recently broke down and Ron installed a direct digital satellite system into the bunkhouse. In case you haven’t guessed, we’re having a great time, and believe it or not, it hasn’t been all work!  In October, we took some time out to attend the fall Fiber Festival and Sheep Dog trial at Montpelier, Virginia.  In November, we attended a sheep production seminar (and even got our picture in the local paper as the seminar veterinarian was teaching Elizabeth how to properly administer injections to a wary ewe).

We received a note yesterday from Bob Armentrout, a colleague of Ron’s who retired from Raytheon earlier this year.  He and his wife Peggy retired to a farm in Charlotte Court House, Virginia, not too far from us, and have been restoring an old farm house.  Bob’s contention is that the term "retirement" is merely a word dreamed up by someone’s overworked fertile imagination.  We can certainly appreciate Bob’s point of view.

Here’s our perspective...

Redirection... Robert Frost said it "...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Early to bed... yesterday was the shortest day of the year, but even when the longest day gets here, there still won’t be enough time to get everything finished. I don’t think we’ve ever worked so hard and enjoyed it so much. Actually its been a lot of fun and gives us both a great sense of accomplishment: bringing this farm to life from pretty much nothing.

Thankful... that we’ve had the opportunity to undertake the fulfillment of our dream. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving. Eva, her husband Vlad and our grandson Adam spent the week here with us. Alex came over from Richmond. We were pretty cozy in our little bunkhouse (384 square feet compared to the 3,200 we left behind in Massachusetts), but the six of us sat down to a fresh venison roast dinner with all the trimmings.

Interests... to be explored more fully... spinning, weaving, reading, woodworking, walks in the woods and hikes to the mountain tops. Factoid (with apologies to CNN): Elizabeth and I first got to know one another while hiking in the Shenandoah National Forest.


"He who complies with the ways of the world may be impoverished thereby; he who does not, appears deranged. Wherever one may live, whatever work one may do, is it possible even for a moment to find a haven for the body or peace for the mind?"

Elizabeth and I sure believe so!

Early to rise... lots to do, but not so much that we can’t enjoy the first glow of the morning sun as it paints the tops of the mountains across the valley. Elizabeth asks, "Will we ever just take all of this for granted?"

Memories... new ones that we’re building and those of the good friends we left behind, who gave us such a warm send-off. We think and talk about you often and hope you will drop in to visit if you are ever passing by on your way south... our door is always open.

Enthusiasm... for undertaking new challenges, together tackling things we never imagined we would be doing, building a barn, capping a spring, birthing lambs, building our own house.

Neighbors... and new friendships we’re building...folks have been so helpful to us in getting settled in down here, as many of you were in sending us on our way.

Today... Carpe diem (Seize the day)!

Our best wishes to each of you for a prosperous New Year and keep in touch... for those of you with computer connections we can be reached at


Ron, Elizabeth and the Menagerie