Monthly Archives: April 2014

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

So… guess who showed up at White Plains tonight? You guessed it… one police car, three fire trucks, one ambulance, and two very confused land owners. It all started when I suggested that we have a bonfire and pizza after a long day of mowing fields.

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Now, you have to understand that this isn’t our first fire on the property… In fact, it might be our almost-tenth brush fire. The difference between this one and all the rest is that it was closer to the main road than the others, and considerably more visible. This is where our plan backfires.

We get settled in to the lawn chairs, the first piece of pizza is dished out, the fire is going just fine, I have the garden hose around the edges… and I notice that people are driving about 10 miles per hour in front of the house. This doesn’t happen on a road where drivers compete to see how fast they can go. I immediately know that this isn’t going to turn out well.

The next thing I know, there are sirens. Not just one, but two – and then three – and then more arrive. First arrives the cop. Then the firemen. Then the hose from the fire truck. Then they start putting out the fire… but WAIT… not the PIZZA too! “Sorry, Sir…” was all he said. Thankfully, the pizza was saved at the last-minute.

Needless to say, we caused quite a stir, got a healthy lecture from the very nice Fire Chief, and walked away with a LOT more information than the County website had ever bothered to provide us. I’m learning very quickly what it’s like to live in a county where you have to work really hard to learn the rules – not the most progressive municipality I’ve ever lived in.

On the other hand, the cop turned nice when he found out that we owned the property and weren’t just starting fires illegally, the Fire Captain and his crew did an excellent job, and the entire crew was very courteous… except for the guy who tried to put out our pizza.

Tigers in My Bed

I feel like I haven’t seen enough sun over the past few weeks. Coming out of the wet, cold winter, we got pummeled with rain and a couple of nights of frost. It seemed to never end! And then we travelled south, but didn’t find any sun there either. Three days of rain. Finally arriving back home, Monday proved to be a beautiful day. My poor cold-weather seedlings had been in their plastic confines for way too long and needed to get into the ground.

For next season, the ground will have been worked in fall, making it easier to plant early. The ground is still too wet in many spots, but this small kitchen bed will be ideal to get items in quickly. It looks like a fence will be necessary to keep small tigers out.

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Daffodil Delight

I’ve never seen so many daffodils in one place. There aren’t very many different varieties, but I found six in my walk yesterday afternoon. I don’t know any of them by type – do you?daffodils

I think my favorite is the top right, with the orange center.

Plow Me a River!

It’s a terribly rainy day on the farm. It feels like everything has been wet for months. If it wasn’t melting snow, it is sporadic rain storms. Don’t get me wrong, I love both rain and snow, but now that I’ve been trying for weeks to turn over ground for a spring garden, the two have been causing me much angst!

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And perhaps I shouldn’t tell you that I almost got the tractor stuck last week trying to plow… and then again yesterday trying to till… multiple approaches and it boils down to just being too wet. Thankfully they laid gravel on the driveway before rainy season – less chance that I’ll get the car stuck [again].

It could also be that the farm is situated at the top of a hill with wetlands and multiple streams coursing all through the surrounding land. This makes the natural spring that provides the house with water very prolific, but it doesn’t help when you just want to plow. Soon. Patience. Almost there.

At least we got a fire pit in before the rain started.

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Family Cemetery

Mr. Alexander B. Gouldman purchased over 300 acres of White Plains at a public auction on the courthouse steps in the mid 1880s, after the death of its previous owner, Mr. James Slaughter Quesenberry.

The Gouldmans owned White Plains until the 1920s and were a well-known part of the local community. They were often cited in The Daily Star newspaper, a precursor to the Free-Lance Star that exists in Fredericksburg today.

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Click on the images to see larger versions of the newspaper clippings that I found in my research. The first tells of Mr. Gouldman’s excellent hunting skills and his show at the County Fair and the other finds the family doing some weekend shopping in King George.

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Mr. Gouldman and his wife, Virginia, loved and cared for White Plains for nearly 40 years and are now buried in the property’s small cemetery. Other graves are identified only with large quartz markers, one of a small child born to the Owens family in 1893. She lived just three days before being laid to rest. An archive letter from past residents of the property talk about the huge cedar tree that once covered the site. While only half of it is left, the periwinkle and small wild flowers still cover the ground.

I’m glad they are here.

Animal Graveyard

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I’ve spent a lot of time the past few weeks pruning the dead wood from the fruit trees that we discovered just below the house. Unfortunately, we have no idea what they are and the arborist couldn’t even identify them. We are pretty sure what they are “not” but little clue what they are – until they bloom, which is just around the corner.

While thinning undergrowth in the orchard, I found the most interesting skeleton – fully complete and undisturbed. Whatever animal it was, it simply laid down and never revived. Every bone was in its perfect place. Fox? It’s got quite a snout.

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The Hives Arrive!

BeehivesThe beehives arrived today from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm! After two months of classes, I’m armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. I have textbooks, hives, a mentor willing to walk me through my mistakes, and hopefully some very patient bees.

The weather was also perfect today. The peonies are about 1 inch high, the daffodils are opening up, and the crocus are perfectly blue.

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