Archive for the ‘farming’ Category

SMALL COUNTY- BIG FAIR ! 3rd Annual Northampton County Agricultural Fair

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

3075There was something for almost everyone to love at the 3rd Annual Northampton County Fair in Machipongo last weekend. Although no deep fried Oreo cookies or pork chops on a stick appeared on any menu, the Cape Charles Lion’s Club booth, Gordos Taco Truck, Country Kitchen, etc. offered plenty of other goodies to keep help the munchies at bay while browsing the various exhibits and activities. Plus the luscious pies, pecan, apple, sweet potato, entries in the ever-popular Baking Contest were for sale after the judging by the slice or even the whole pie, super yum ! ( I’ll never tell who took home half a sweet potato pie topped with pecan cinnamon streusel ! )

ANEC, one of the Fair’s main sponsors, offered some impressive pole climbing presentations by Tyson Arnold and George Floyd, both 2 years into their 4 year lineman apprenticeships. Interestingly, apparently it isn’t until the 10 year mark that most linemen have had extensive enough experience to be able to handle just about any situation. (Guessing employee retention is pretty important to A & N. ) The audience gained a new appreciation for A&N linemen who have to struggle up a pole in every sort of condition, wearing heavy cleats and a 45 pound tool belt. Sort of like the post office – – neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor heavy wind shall keep these critical linemen from shinnying up 40 ft poles to keep lights on for the customers. And thank heavens for that !

A huge favorite again was the Antique Tractor Show & Parade, this year featuring a few young drivers who I assume will be the future farmers of Northampton. Ancient but shiny and well cared for tractors of numerous makes and models paraded around what used to be the huge athletic field of the old Middle School, to much audience interest and appreciation. Antique machinery demonstrations of corn shelling and grinding showed just how it was done back in the “good old days”. And for kids, so much to see and do, including face painting, hay rides, pumpkin painting, a colorful bouncy house, balloon animal creations, duck calling contests, etc. Any County Fair worth its salt includes farm animals, in this case a little petting zoo with super cute sheep and a friendly brown goat. Plus a sweet and very patient cow, totally engrossed in munching her hay.

Once again a big turnout for the annual Skillet Throw, my favorite. Those cast iron skillets are heavier than they look and many a hefty heave only sailed the skillet a short distance from the starting line. The winners of the Ladies Throw were: 1st Place Helene Doughty, 2nd Debbie Mears and 3rd Emily Norwall. Men’s Throw winners: 1st Place Sands Gayle, a 2nd place tie between Brandon Parks and Will Russell and 3rd Carl Willke. Congrats to all, lots of fun for audience and participants alike !

A big thanks owed to the Side Porch Pickers and Thelma Peterson. It was a pleasure to listen to them, their bluegrass and county music added to much to the entire event. Wouldn’t have been the same without it ! And to the many, many volunteers who staffed the booths, the Kid’s Corner, ran the contests, brought their tractors, supervised hayrides, cooked the food, answered questions, etc., etc., bravo, you really pulled off a wonderful event, already looking forward to the 2019 Northampton County Agricultural Fair !

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DISCOVER THIS HISTORIC EASTERN SHORE VIRGINIA HOME ON 36 ACRES +/- WITH HORSE BARN & FENCED PASTURE.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

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Located in a peaceful, natural setting near Cape Charles, VA, and surrounded by 36 acres +/- of open areas and woodlands, this 4 bedroom, 2 bath Victorian style home circa 1935 is beautifully landscaped with mature hardwoods, large boxwoods and a small formal garden. Priced at $489,900 and offering total 1st floor living, the interior architectural detail work is quite intricate, rooms are large with high ceilings. Beautifully preserved hardwood floors. This home has been lovingly cared for and maintained. Includes detached garage, a 3 stall barn and 5 acres of fenced pastureland. Great place to embrace your Inner Equestrian and live life in the Shore’s relaxed, coastal ambiance. Only a short drive to beaches, marinas, boat ramps and Palmer & Nicklaus Signature golf. Call for your appointment to see this wonderful property.

 

The 1st Annual Honey Fest At Quail Cove Farms

Monday, July 16th, 2018

IMG_1320Lots of rhythm-keeping, toe-tapping and goody-munching happening over at Quail Cove Farms in Machipongo last Saturday at its 1st Annual Honey Fest. As the talented Side Porch Pickers picked away, wowing the crowd with bluegrass favorites, folks circulated up and down Quail Cove’s attractive new porch, checking out all the goings-on. Plenty of goodies were on offer including lovely little tea & honey flavored Parisian-style macaroons, honey butter, honey flan cakes, honey peanut butter, tasty honey mini-donuts and more. Plus some unique bars of honey and milk soap, very soothing ! And of course, jars and jars and jars of sunshine in a jar, pure golden honey in all sizes. The “Honey Guy” we see at the Cape Charles Farmer’s Market was even there with a little sampling jar of his delectable local Eastville honey. Yum !

Pony rides, a little petting zoo with curious, friendly sheep and a goat plus a bucket of corn to hand-feed them, aDSC_1954 Bouncy House plus an Activities Tent all kept kids involved in the fun. For those who got the serious munchies, Gordo’s Taqueria Truck could definitely satisfy cravings for spicy and delicious. And of course, Quail Cove was doing a brisk business at the inside store featuring the organic and natural foods and produce its famous for, especially their Amish Country cheeses, etc. Thanks Quail Cove Farms, a great idea, a very pleasant afternoon, looking forward to a 2nd Annual Honey Fest next year.

 

 

 

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DISCOVER THIS HISTORIC EASTERN SHORE VIRGINIA HOME ON A 38 ACRE COMPOUND WITH 2 GUEST COTTAGES AND HORSE BARN

Monday, May 14th, 2018

DSC_9657Located in a peaceful, natural setting near Cape Charles, VA, and surrounded by 38 acres of open areas and woodlands, this 4 bedroom, 2 bath Victorian style home circa 1935 is beautifully landscaped with mature hardwoods, large boxwoods and a small formal garden. Priced at $599,000 and offering total 1st floor living, the interior architectural detail work is quite intricate, rooms are large with high ceilings. Beautifully preserved hardwood floors this home has been lovingly cared for and maintained. Includes 2 small guest cottages, detached garage, a 3 stall barn and 5 acres of fenced pasturelands. Great place to embrace your Inner Equestrian and live life in the Shore’s relaxed coastal ambiance. Only a short drive to beaches, marinas, boat ramps and Palmer & Nicklaus Signature golf. Call for your appointment to see this wonderful property.

 

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OPENING DAY ! SEASON 3 !

Friday, May 4th, 2018

DSC_9774It’s official ! As of Tuesday afternoon , Season 3 of the Cape Charles Farmer’s Market has kicked off – 3 to 6 pm every Tuesday, rain or shine, hot or cold, from now until October. Lots of our favorite venders from last year were there including Shore Beef and BBQ whose motto is – – Dinner’s Ready ! Mattawoman Farms had a big display of organic bedding plants for sale plus multiple varieties of beautiful lettuce, carrots, kolorabi, baby spinach. Copper Cricket Farms, Perennial Roots Farms, Hopeton Farm, all were back again with all kinds of veggies, meats, aromatic herbs, preserves and more, all from their Eastern Shore farms. From Pickett’s Harbor Farm, succulent spring asparagus was on offer. Fresh brown eggs were in abundance at many stands. W T Wilkins, aka The Honey Guy, from Old Town Neck was back with his jars of golden nectar. We stopped to talk to him about his bees- – turns out he tends between 12-15 hives with up to 30,000 bees per hive at peak population ! That’s a lot of Eastville busy, busy, buzzy bees making pots of local honey, lucky for those of us who love it. Master Gardeners of the Eastern Shore were on hand with information and advice on how to acquire a Green Thumb and GIY, grow it yourself !

Parisian Sweets was back with lovely homemade French style macaroons in several flavors including a colorful aqua shaded “Birthday” flavor. Birthday in a DSC_9794Cookie- don’t leave the Market without it ! Had hoped for a loaf of flavorful sourdough from Riverside Farms Bakery but they won’t be there till next week, can hardly wait, so wonderful warm, dunked into an olive oil-balsamic dip ! Kitchen Sync, headquartered at the Eastville Inn, returned, some savory soups, salads and a beautiful emerald green pesto for sale. They have a special weekly menu and take orders that customers can pick up every Tuesday at the Market. New this year were Edward’s Seafood, here come the crabs, clams and other tasty items from local waters! Also new, Umm Yummies offering delicious and beautifully decorated cupcakes and cookies. Ummm… Yummy !

DSC_9802So…. don’t forget to mark your calendar. Next Tuesday, when the clock strikes 3, it’s time to grab your market basket and head on over to the Cape Charles Farmers Market at the Museum on Randolph Avenue and fill it with some of the Shore’s amazing bounty. How fantastic is it to have this farm-to-table Market, the opportunity, all season long, to buy everything fresh, fresh, fresh and local ! We love it !

 

 

 

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SHINE ON, SHINE ON, SUPER MOON SO WAY UP HIGH… OVER VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE ! AND IT DID ! SUPER MOON RISE/SET JANUARY 2nd/3rd, 2018

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

DSC_8077Not only did the Super Moon shine brightly on the night of January 2nd, there is still a second 2018 Super Moon coming on January 31st. The 2018 calendar year boasted 2 Super Moons- – the January 2nd and the upcoming January 31st, a moon which will not only be a Super Moon, where the moon is closest in its orbit to Earth, but also a “Blue Moon”, a second full moon falling within a given calendar month. Chronicling the January 2nd event from the harbor’s viewing stand overlooking Parting Creek in Willis Wharf sounded like fun. Moon rise was indicated for 5:56 pm, more than an hour past sunset so full darkness which unfortunately, for me, increases the difficulty of getting good photo takes which include surrounding landscape. Even more unfortunately, it was well after 6 when we rolled up, the moon already above the horizon, disappointing, because seeing the moon as it just peeks over is always special. And it was really cold, dare we say Super Cold – – but the night was crystal clear, the stars were like brilliant twinkling diamonds flung across the sky and the moon glowed a deep, lovely gold, an incredible sight as it began its journey westward. Only a few boats were tied up in the marina, the harbor’s street lights creating a rather erie feel, water sluggish, new ice everywhere, little chunks and ice pans undulating around the empty boats, the super-bright Super Moon above, all the while my shutter finger screaming Frostbite Alert ! Frostbite Alert !

Up early on January 3rd, hoping for some good photos of Super Moon Set on my way to an appointment across the Bay. By the crack of dawn, as the moon was rapidly DSC_8067cruising West and the sun was rising slowly in the East, I was heading down Bayside Road. Although it was barely 6 am, an early gathering of Franktown farmers was already out in the field, pick-up taillights glowing red, bright spotlights illuminating a big piece of machinery, the Moon now pearly white and huge overhead, moonbeams falling softly on wide fields and clattering diesel motors below. Farming by moonlight, that’s dedication! Moon Set was indicated for 7:31 am on the 3rd but an early appointment in Virginia Beach kept exploration for a variety of moon-set photo locations to a minimum. Luckily, still bright and still Super, the moon yielded some interesting shots near The Colony, the Oyster Farm Marina and the Outlook pull-off on the Bridge. So, Super Moon 2018 # 1 over, looking forward to Super Moon # 2/Blue Moon on the 31st ! And then – – that’s it until January 21, 2019.

 

 

 

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The 2nd Annual Northampton Agricultural Fair Was A Resounding Success!

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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Put together oyster speed shucking, antique tractors, a petting zoo, the Side Porch Pickers band, Lion’s Club burgers and some guys and gals throwing cast iron skillets with all their might and what do you get ? The Annual Northampton County Agricultural Fair, of course ! Bigger and better than last year, The Fair Season 2 featured something for everyone and everyone was clearly enjoying the Fair. So many organizations and sponsors contributed to making this a wonderful event including ANEC, whose big bright yellow rig flew the flag at the entrance, the U.S. Coast Guard, The Nature Conservancy, Farm Bureau, VIMS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Shore Beekeepers Guild, Virginia Cooperative Extension, ES Community College and the Eastern Shore Library , to mention just a few. And a number of local artists and artisans came and set up shop for the day, with numerous unique creations for sale. ( We came away with an interesting Robert Bridges yard decoration, a very colorfully painted wooden rooster – – that doesn’t sound very exciting but I’m pretty sure the friend who is going to get it for her birthday is going to absolutely love it ! )

A lot of effort was expended to create numerous kid-friendly activities including face painting, a big bouncy house, pumpkin painting, sand box, hay rides, etc.DSC_5745 The little petting zoo was also very popular, and featured some very relaxed sheep who just kept on grazing midst the rough and tumble of being hugged, poked and petted by small and noisy strangers. Nearby, two sweet, patient cows just kept looking at folks with “what the heck is up with all this commotion ” expressions, letting out a soft moo or two every once in a while just to join the conversation.

DSC_5755Special events included an impressive antique tractor parade, a baking contest with some luscious looking pies and sweet potato biscuits to be judged, an oyster shucking contest and my personal favorite, the cast iron skillet throwing contest. Congrats to the oyster shucking champion, Buck Doughty, and lady’s skillet toss blue ribbon winner, Helene Doughty and Patrick Long, men’s skillet toss winner. Long shall they reign- – or until the 3rd Annual Northampton Ag Fair next October anyway !

 

 

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Second Season Underway For The Cape Charles, VA Farmer’s Market

Friday, July 7th, 2017

DSC_1671The long awaited second season for the brand-new-last-year Cape Charles Farmer’s Market finally rolled around in May and now the vendors are getting into high gear with loads of summer goodies. ( Hours this year will be from 3-6 pm, rain or shine, from now till October.)  So if it’s Tuesday afternoon, whether you’re a local or a visitor, it’s time for foodies and farm-to-table enthusiasts to break out the walking shoes, a wicker market basket and head out to the spacious, grassy Museum grounds on Stone Road in the little Eastern Shore of Virginia coastal town of Cape Charles to shop for the fine local farm produce… and much more.

 

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I found last year that the best way to tackle the cornucopia of goodies on offer was to take a stroll, making a circuit around the whole Market, to preview all the little vendor tents and the tempting items on offer, then circle back around again to make selections. This proved to be the right strategy again this year. Starting on the north end across from the handsome brick Museum building was Shore Beef and BBQ, where owner Ron was fielding multiple customers drawn by deep smoky aromas and intent on securing some of his delicious beef brisket and vinegar- dressing cole slaw.

 

Mattawoman Creek FarmMoving counter-clockwise, Mattawoman Farms CSA’s counter was heaped high with loads of fresh organic veggies including the most beautiful red and green lettuces, soft yet crisp, just gorgeous. And kohlrabi, which after some indecision I decided I would finally try this year, as well as some tatsoi, a deep green plant similar to bok choi. Mattawoman had tall racks of healthy looking plants, perfect to pop immediately into a home garden. Across the way, the honey guy’s wares were shining golden, the sun glinting off the jars, you could almost savor lush sticky sweetness on the tongue merely by looking at it. At our house, local honey is the go-to sweetener for tea, especially green teas, it just smooths out every cuppa.

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Moving down the line, waving to the Bread Lady from The Bakery at Riverside Farm who had sold out in the first hour. And no wonder, she has fab sour dough breads and at my house we are addicted to her cinnamon raisin bread (which we often buy on Thursdays year-round at the Gull Hummock gourmet shop on Mason Avenue.) Toasted, spread lightly with peanut butter, so divine with morning coffee ! Next door to Bread Lady, a new vendor this year, the cleverly named Kitchen Sync Catering, whose chef, Louise Oliver, is offering a scrumptious menu of prepared foods that can be ordered on-line and picked up at their kitchen at the Eastville Inn on Friday or purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday. Their samples looked delish, especially the colorful layered salad with a side of cilantro avocado dressing and the chopped broccoli salad with cranberries and almonds with a honey yogurt dressing. Just around the corner, Copper Cricket Farm’s table was piled high with totally gorgeous veggies including crispy fresh spring onions, arugula and Swiss chard.

DSC_1715Further down the line, another new vendor, Lauren Gardner of Parisian Sweets, was offering French style macaroons. Or rather, not offering, since, unfortunately for me, but nice for them, she was also sold out.  But lucky early birds to the Market were able to indulge in her lemon, raspberry cheesecake or mocha flavors. Going to go earlier next week ! Did manage to snag some of Pickett’s Harbor Farm’s just-picked-this-morning peaches though, a favorite of my husband’s, but do peaches compare to lemon or mocha French macaroons ?  A tough decision but one I didn’t have to make since there were no macaroons !  Too many other great vendors to mention here, offering everything from The Flying Pig’s traditionally fermented organic sauerkrauts to organic veggies, local seafood as well as organic eggs and meats from several different local farms. The Cape Charles Farmer’s Market will not disappoint, check it out, 3-6 pm, rain or shine, every Tuesday, May through October

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Gorgeous 90 Acre Farm Near The Water For Sale On The Eastern Shore of Virginia– Perfect For Hobby Or Commercial Farming

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Aerial view of 90 acres farm near Nassawadox  VA

Aerial view of 90 acre farm near Nassawadox VA

For anyone thinking of  buying a farm or little farmette  here on  the Eastern Shore of Virginia and getting  “back to the land”  so to speak,  you’ll be in good company.  For literally hundreds of years,   the  traditional economic engines of the Eastern Shore  have been seafood harvesting, commercial farming and small family truck farming.  In fact,  Northampton County, Virginia  still has some of the most productive farms in the entire state.  But like everything else, things change and some of the smaller farms are being purchased by folks who aren’t planning to make a full-time living in farming but who are interested in getting involved in doing something on the land, even if it doesn’t provide their  full-time living.  Blue Heron Realty Co. has just listed a beautiful 90 +/- acre farm near the water  with exceptional soils and a great  location, a property which would be absolutely perfect for starting a small farm operation.  From raising horses to  planting a boutique vineyard to setting out a few acres of  organic tomates to a raising a small herd of alpacas to becoming a serious beekeeper,  there is a lot of fun and satisfaction that comes with getting back to a simpler life with hobby type farming and this particular farm could help in getting started on that path. ( For more information on this property, go to www.blueheronva.com/farm_for_sale/ )  Obviously a  back to the land life is not for everyone but, as a Realtor, over the years I’ve had a lot of fun and satisfaction helping some very interesting folks, from all sorts of professions, find just the right little farm or farmette here on the Eastern Shore from which to  create a new lifestyle and move in new directions with their life.

Alpaca resting on ground

Raising alpacas can be lots of fun

For example, we recently represented a client who bought a 20  acre parcel from a seller who whose company was promoting and  transfering him to the West Coast.  The seller,  an executive with the  Virginia Beach branch of a large firm  who commuted for 5 years from the Shore to Virginia Beach daily,  had acquired, a couple at a time,  a little herd of  cute, cute, cute  alpacas.  He said that when he first moved to the Eastern Shore he had absolutely no idea that he would get interested in farming and now,  just a few years into it,  the hardest thing for him about the entire move was having to leave his alpacas.  He and his wife had totally fallen in love with being out and about on their farmette,  raising these  gentle,  fleecy beauties had become a life-changing experience !

Horse grazing near Nassawadox VA

Get in touch with your inner cowboy

That really isn’t really unusual  on the Eastern Shore– I know so many folks who have some acreage who are doing  all kinds of  ” back to the land ”  things with their property.   The important thing is to have a  parcel of land with rich, well-drained soils  because whether its growing a crop or doing animal husbandry, soil structure and drainage is critical for both crops and pasture lands.  A lot of folks here have horses, some for show, others for breeding. I even know one couple who has built an amazing dressage show ring on their waterfront acreage, complete with bringing a special trainer in from the West Coast to work with their very talented horses.  Lots of other folks here have just a couple  horses and love to participate in the formal Trail Rides sponsored bythe Eastern Shore Trail Ride Association.

Another client who recently purchased about 10 acres of beautiful waterfront is looking forward to managing  a small herd of milk goats when they build on their property.   Their hobby is making goat cheese and cheese making  is a real passion for them.  Not only do they make the soft, creamy goat cheese that has the  lush  tang and is so nice when mixed with herbs but they also make a rich form of  feta cheese, one of my husband’s favorites– give him a little feta, crispy crackers, some salty Greek olives and a glass of  Cabernet , he’s set.  Dealing with goats and making goat cheese would not be my thing but these folks  absolutely are looking forward to it  as their  retirement activity, something with a challenge to keep them active and something to bring them in closer touch with the land.  And  I am looking forward to easy access to a steady supply  of  their flavorful homemade goat cheese !

Open land for cultivating near Nassawadox VA

Rich sandy loam soils perfect for cultivation, pasture, horticulture and much more

Which brings me back to  the excellent 90 acre farm for sale near Nassawadox.  Tremendous possibilities abound for uses for this property.  The soils are BOJAC, the best soil type on the Eastern Shore, rich, sandy, well-drained, perfect for any use whether cultivation, vineyard, orchard, horses, alpacas, honey bees, etc.   You name it,  this is a great piece of property for all sorts of land -based activities. About half of the property is in woodlands, the balance is in open fields.  Location is great,  within 15 minutes of  shopping , boat ramps, beaches, premier golf, medical, restaurants, etc. yet far enough away that you feel that you are out in the country, possibly a twenty first century pioneer, a rare opportunity indeed.    ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed  Virginia  agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

 

 

“Living a Modern Life with History” Symposium At Ker Place Museum In Onancock, VA October 19-21, 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

My grandson Charlie Morgan attended a week of history camp at Ker Place, the headquarters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society.

Presented by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, http://www.kerplace.org the seventy attendees at the historic Ker Place Museum in Onancock, Virginia had the opportunity to tour spectacular Eastern Shore historic  homes, enjoy a gourmet dinner in an early 18th century home  and gather the wisdom of eight nationally acclaimed experts on diverse subjects related to the historical theme of this symposium.  Friday, the first day  of the symposium, was dedicated to touring five of  Virginia Eastern Shore’s very special Chesapeake Bay area homes, both historic  and new, to see the many different ways that folks live a modern life with history. Emphasis was placed on architectural features and their preservation and restoration, the interior design components that showcase their owners’  lifestyles  and the landscaping that enhances the exterior features of the homes and environment. After a full day of lectures from the experts on Saturday, the attendees were treated to dinner at Vaux Hall (cir. 1710) located on Warehouse Creek, a colorful saltwater  inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  only a few miles outside the historic town of Onancock. This early Georgian colonial home is believed to be the oldest two-story residence on the Eastern Shore and features beautifully preserved wood paneling, moldings, doors and heart-pine floors. On Sunday, the program finished with three more lectures of very special interest.  To see a full program of this wonderfully educational event go to http://www.kerplace.org/symposium.pdf .  The Eastern Shore of Virginia has many properties with 17th and 18th century homes,  some with accessory buildings that date as  far back as the 1670’s, and many more homes dating from the 19th and early 20th century. With such a rich collection of historic homes in our relatively small geographical area, a peninsula which  is literally surrounded by water,  it is indeed fortunate that we have a historical society so dedicated towards education and appreciation of our heritage.  Anyone who loves the Eastern Shore,  residents and visitors alike,  should not pass up the opportunity to tour the amazing Ker Place Museum in Onancock,  headquarters of the Eastern Shore Historical Society.

Although I was unable to attend the symposium’s  house tour and dinner, I made an effort to attend several  of the lectures on both Saturday and Sunday. As a REALTOR who has had the privilege of handling the sale and restoration of dozens of historic homes,  I wanted to expand my knowledge base to better help me serve my clients and customers, and ultimately the unique historic properties I represent. In particular, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the history and architecture of a historic  home  that Blue Heron Realty Co. has listed  for sale  located  on sixty acres of land near Machipongo, Virginia.  This property,  known as “Prospect Hill”,  is only a few miles from my own home on the Eastern Shore.   In its heyday, it was once a thriving farm and the grand old  house, believed to be circa 1790-1820,  offers great promise for restoration and renovation to bring it up to 21st century standards. If this old house could talk, what would she say?  I have many questions for her and would love to share the answers with a prospective buyer who has to consider restoring and then living in this old house. ( To see details and photos of this property visit  www.blueheronva.com/historic_real_estate/ and look for “Prospect Hill.”

"Prospect Hill" cir. 1790 awaits a new owner who will love and cherish her wonderful, charming heritage.

The first lecture I attended was a talk by Matthew Webster, the Director of Historic Architectural Resources of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He emphasized methods for indentifying the signs that reveal the architectural history of old buildings, a subject that interested me hugely. He spoke about examining the wood framing for saw marks, checking the joinery of posts and beams, looking for different layers of paint, identifying the fastenings of the structure such as nails, dating the types of windows, and determining the type and bonds of brick masonry. Also, he gave a study of different types of houses according to the time period of their construction which would be exemplified by certain styles of architecture such as Georgian 1720-1780, Federal 1780-1820 and Greek Revival 1820-1850. Accompanying his lecture with projected photographs, he distinctly pointed out the different characteristics of which he spoke.

The second lecture was given by Chris Ohrstrom, a founder and co-owner of Adelphi Paper Hangings, LLC. They specialize in reproducing antique wall papers and he gave a wonderful illustrated talk about their special process that revives the old tools and craftsmanship of the industry from the 18th and 19th centuries. I was mesmerized by the old techniques, his descriptions of their factories and tooling, and the examples of wallpapers his firm manufactures. I learned that wallpapers were meant to be only a shortlived wallcovering that imitated much more expensive wall decorations.

On Sunday, I was glad to hear the talk given by Ken Farmer, well-known antiques appraiser from the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow”,  who has been collecting and selling the finest antiques from his shops in Radford and Charlottesville, Virginia. The gist of his remarks centered around the theme of “antiques are the epitomy of green – recycling”,   informing his audience about how to find, evaluate, and purchase antiques. I learned that oftentimes one can purchase better quality used furniture while avoiding the higher cost of good quality reproductions that have a lower value.

The second lecture that Sunday was given by Jeffrey Price, the director of Sales and Marketing for Virginia Lime Works. His company specializes in reproducing mortars for the restoration of aged masonry construction, especially from the 18th and 19th centuries. His slide show presentation demonstrated the old techniques for making lime as well as how old handmade bricks can be damaged by the use of modern mortars, a risk that never occurred to me when I have examined restored colonial brickwork.

The final lecture was the most entertaining,  given by Paul “Chip” Callaway, a certified landscape architect/owner of Calloway and Associates.  His hilarious commentary that accompanied a voluminous slide show of his special projects, those restoring the gardens and landscape of historic buildings, kept the mood of his audience light, focused and amazed.

Handmade doors with mortise and tennon joinery open from the through passage to the living room in the earliest part of the home. Note the deep, paneled recess of the doorway, indicating a former exterior wall.

Now fortified with this interesting knowledge base gained from my attendance at the symposium, I again visited my listing “Prospect Hill” located on Seaside Rd. approximately 22 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I had previously guessed that the first section of the home was of Federal design and construction around the period of 1790-1810, the second, larger and more ornate addition in  a Greek Revival tradition dated around 1830  and the third section, a one and one-half story addition containing the kitchen, was of the 1890’s period.  Upon my next visit to the property, I used the tips from the symposium to confirm or deny my original assessments. First, up in the attic area and down in the basement, I examined the exposed beams and joinery for sawmarks and fasteners. Second, I studied the great wall of bricks and exposed chimneys for telltale signs of handmade bricks, like thumb and finger impressions. Third, I then closely examined the windows and glass. My post-symposium investigation revealed that the home was constructed with oversized handhewn, heart of pine beams with diagonal but straight sawmarks and plenty of mortice and tennon joinery. Also, I found square cut nails with machine cut heads, both indicating the first section was probably produced shortly after 1790. This part of the house was finished with interior wood paneling, fireplace mantel and cabinets distinctly styled from the Federal period, (cir. 1780-1820).

In the Greek Revival addition, handcarved wood panel wainscoting with marbellized baseboards - note fluted columns in panelling.

The second part, a larger more ornate addition was finished with elaborately decorated woodwork, especially the very fancy, intricately hand-carved fireplace mantels. Further, the marbellized paintwork on the baseboards and the fluted doorway surrounds confirmed the style of the Greek Revival period (cir. 1820-1850). This addition has a massive 3-brick thick, free-standing three story brick endwall laid in the Flemish bond pattern. The top three feet of the exposed chimney had been blasted by lightening and I found on the ground plenty of bricks with thick slabs of mortar. Close examination of the bricks revealed holes and thumbprints, indicating that these were handmade sometime prior to 1833.

One of three massive handcarved fireplace mantels of museum quality - note the marbelized paint on the baseboard below the wood panel wainscoting.

Lastly, off to the east of the home is an overgrown boxwood garden of formal design interspersed with crepe myrtle and one of the few cork trees  on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The size of the boxwoods indicates an age of well over one hundred years and the garden certainly begs for restoration and rejuvenation.

The 1890's kitchen addition - note the floor-to-ceiling cupboard and tin ceiling.

As the listing agent, I have become very attached to this old house and her museum quality architectural features. Her situation on a sixty acre farm of fields and forest is ideal for a country estate property and a lovely 3/8 mile driveway approach draws one’s imagination back to the days of self-sufficiency and fox hunts. Many generations and all their attendant celebrations have graced this property and she now awaits a new owner who will love and cherish her spacious, well-appointed rooms that, if walls could speak, could tell many stories. For even more information on this home, call  David Kabler at Blue Heron Realty Co., 757-331-4885 .