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

P.O. Box 1127

Lexington, VA 24450-1127

(540) 463-5471

E-mail address: ron@savillehillfarm.com

 

Monday, December 18, 1995

With the winter solstice just a week or so away, we are well into our second year here on Saville Hill Farm. The past year has been a difficult one for us. Both of Ron’s parents passed away this year: his dad to a heart attack in May and his mother this past September after a long struggle against cancer. Elizabeth’s father suffered a stroke in May as well, and his recovery has been slow. In that same month, we lost our Border Collie Molly to an accident here on the farm and last month, Mrs. Robinson, our eighteen-year old Maine Coon cat passed away. We’ve got our fingers crossed for the rest of December!

We are still in residence in the bunkhouse. Progress on the main house has been slower than planned since we didn’t really get things going until mid-summer. As some of you know, Elizabeth and I are building the house ourselves, with an occasional helping hand from our son Alex who visits often from Richmond. When a task is something that the two of us just can’t handle alone, our neighbors are always willing to lend us a helping hand. The biggest challenge to date was getting the large fifty-foot long roof trusses up our winding road to the house site. Our dairy farming neighbor Charlie really bailed us out on that task, coming to our rescue with his monster John Deer tractor when both the flat bed trailer and the erecting crane got stuck trying to get to the top of the hill. Charlie dropped whatever he was doing both times and rushed right over to pull them free, and with a helping hand from another neighbor, Nelson, we got the trusses up and in place. We are now under roof, weather tight and hope to move in by next June. Wish us luck! As slow as the going is at times, it is amazing to see what we have been able to accomplish with just the two of us working together.

We raised our first crop of lambs this year. Our eight ewes arrived last February 13th (in time for Elizabeth’s Valentine present) and by the end of April we had eleven healthy lambs including three sets of twins running around the barn. The toughest part is behind us, since with seven ram lambs, several were destined for slaughter last month. That was not an easy trip. Our freezer is now filled, not with lamb as you might imagine (we sold them all!), but with venison. We had a good harvest this year, allowing several of our friends to hunt the farm, and everyone always comes by with some of the fruits of their success! It's also been a good year for wild turkeys. It is not uncommon to encounter two or three dozen as we move about the farm. The catfish and blue gills in our pond are maturing nicely and we’re looking forward to a visit from our grandson, Adam, in the spring when with his help, Cajun catfish will end up on the breakfast menu! After years of trying unsuccessfully to lure Bluebirds in New England, we had several families of Bluebirds in residence this summer and even have them wintering over here on the farm.

Eva, Vlad and Adam spent a week with us this past spring and Vlad polished his carpentry skills helping Ron finish the front bay of the sheep barn. Adam helped too, of course. Ron is still finding nails stuck in strange places! Eva returned to the life of a working girl at Fidelity Investments in Massachusetts and Adam is enjoying the adventures of daycare. Andrea transferred to Colorado with Circuit City this past June. The company is opening a number of new stores in the Denver area, so she has been kept pretty busy. Alex is working on an MBA in between summers working at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and his winter job with an oil distributor in Richmond. On his way home from Philmont, Alex spent a week here in August, helping us erect walls.

Here on the farm, we are both anxious to get the construction phase behind us and get to husbanding the land. In addition to completing the stock barn, we managed to add a second fenced pasture for the flock this past year. We also have a number of conservation projects we want to get going, including developing a new pond on our lower tract to enable us to start a small herd of Black Angus cattle. We also have a long-term forestry management plan that we want to get into effect. Elizabeth is aching to get back to her spinning and weaving work (her looms are still in storage) and Ron wants to start turning some of our harvested walnut timber into furniture. Believe it or not, in spite of the difficulties this year and an acute case of bunkhouse fever, we really are enjoying life down here on the farm. We still believe that Robert Frost said it best…

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost (1874–1963), The Road Not Taken.

But then again, complements of one of our neighbors, there’s that great philosopher, Snoopy!

 

PEANUTS

The great philosopher

BY CHARLES SCHULZ

 

The enclosed photographs highlight some of our great adventure. Come see us sometime, and take a look for yourselves!

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