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:

Friday, December 20, 1996

It's hard to believe that we are into our third year here on the farm! We survived the Winter from Hell, although it did set back the house construction schedule and just about convinced us we were back in New England! Hurricane Fran passed through just before we were scheduled to move in, and although some of our lowland neighbors got flooded, we, luckily, had no ill effects from the hurricane: one advantage to a mountain top farm! So, as of the first week in October, we're in our house! We've still a few things to finish, like getting the decking down and building the kitchen cabinets, but the building inspector had mercy on us and let us move in. We have until the first of March to wrap up the loose ends.

Last spring, in early April, Ron took time off from house building to attend a woodworking seminar conducted by noted craftsman Sam Maloof at the Center for Crafts in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ron has long admired Sam's work and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. He managed a short visit with Ernie and Vera Schlichter and enjoyed the overnight hospitality of Carl and Elaine Wickstrom. Ernie and Carl were both Raytheon colleagues of Ron's. A major side benefit of that trip was that Ron was able to bring Adam, our grandson, down to the farm for a week long visit!

Mark and Jill Lyons, along with their two sons Ian and Jarrod, were our first out-of-state visitors, stopping by one April afternoon on their way to visit Mark's family near Lynchburg. Mark worked with Ron at Raytheon and now operates a design business in Charlotte, Vermont. Jody Harris, who worked with Elizabeth at GTE, and her two boys, Josh and Jason, also came for a visit in April and had the distinction of being our first overnight visitors! They roughed it by tenting and "lofting" in one of our barns! For those visits, we had a barn full of new lambs - fourteen in all. Big Ed came through in fine style giving us a two hundred percent lamb crop which included one set of triplets and six sets of twins! Nice job, Ed! Our son, Alex, came over from Richmond and helped with the cooking chores and entertained the youngsters. Shortly thereafter, he headed out for New Mexico to work at Philmont Scout Ranch for another summer. Eva and her husband Vlad came down the same weekend to, fetch Adam home, so we had a great visit with family and friends, including dinner for nine in the bunkhouse!

In May, we received a grant to build a livestock watering pond as part of a Virginia state water conservation program. The only catch was it had to be completed before July l5th, so Ron took a two week house building break to work with our friend Larry Smith in getting that project completed. We're almost ready for those Black Angus cattle!

Elizabeth's father passed away in July following a fall which caused an aneurysm: he had not fully recovered from last years stroke. Her mother and brother and his family came for a brief visit in October along with a myriad of other visitors, helping us celebrate our move into the house.

As mentioned, the Winter from Hell slowed construction quite a bit, so to get back on plan, we went into a “proposal mode” with a detailed schedule, complete with due dates! We about wiped ourselves out, but managed to hit the schedule within a few days, which got us into the house in early October; just in time for a fall visit from another former GTE colleague of Elizabeth's, Evelyn Brown and her friend, Evelyn O'Donnell. They were our first house guests. At about the same time, Carl and Elaine came down for a visit, spending a week of their vacation helping us wrap up some of our aforementioned construction loose ends. They roughed it in the bunkhouse, which, by week's end, Elaine had dubbed “General Jackson's Slave Quarters!” They really helped us get a jump on finishing our hit list! Gailen, our Border Collie, enjoyed the fact that they also brought along their dog Nellie! What a great time those two had racing about the place!

The following week, we had our first International visitors! Derek Stewart and his wife Maureen spent several days with us. Derek, who works for Cossor, a Raytheon subsidiary in England, had attended an Air Traffic Control conference in Nashville, following a whirlwind tour of the southeast coast! A relaxing few days enjoying our mountain top helped them wind down before the long flight home to England., All in all, it was a great fall for us, visiting with old friends and settling into our new house. Elizabeth once again has her piano and looms and Ron's grandfather clock came through, keeping perfect time!

Eva and Vlad brought Adam down in early November and he spent ten days with us, helping Ron ‘work’ around the farm. We took him back just before Thanksgiving, spending the holiday with Eva and Vlad in their new home in Leominster. We also dropped in on Carl and Elaine for a short visit before heading back to the farm. Elaine had earlier given us this poem to commemorate our lifestyle down here:


Ode To The Farmer

Let the wealthy and the great

Roll in splendor and state

I envy them not I declare it.

I eat my own lamb, my own chicken and ham

I shear my own fleece and / wear it.

I have fruits, I have flowers

I have lawns, I have bowers,

And the lark is my morning alarmer.

So jolly boys now, ‘Here's God bless the Plough
Long life and success to the farmer.’

Joseph Palmer



Amen to that! The enclosed photographs again highlight some of our great adventure. Come see a couple of sheep farmers sometime, and take a look for yourselves!

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Last modified: December 23, 2006