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Wood Ducks

December 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment
Drake and Hen

By Andrea Gaines

There’s a wide rambling creek and large wetland area near my house, about 3 1/2 miles south of the town of Purcellville. The creek is called Crooked Run, the same small waterway that runs through some of the last remaining farmland in the town, Crooked Run Orchard. It is part of the larger Goose Creek system of Loudoun County waterways and connects to both the Potomac Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay.

One late spring morning I was walking along a dirt road there, and glancing towards the trees edging the wetland, I saw a large bird emerge out of a hole in a dead tree and float in a half-graceful-half-plunge to the shallow water below. The bird hit the water and joined what looked to be a mate, disappearing into some marsh grass. … Continue Reading

Virginia Peanuts Could Show Record Yield in 2012

November 10, 2012 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced today that Virginia’s peanut yield is forecast to be 4,200 pounds per acre this year, up 200 pounds per acre from the previous month’s forecast. If realized, this would be a record yield. Production is estimated to be 84 million pounds, up 37 percent from last year. Producers are expected to harvest 20,000 acres in 2012.

The compilation of data is based on conditions as of November 1, 2012, as recorded by the Virginia Field Office of the National Agriculture Statistics Service. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun – The Life & Times of Wild Turkeys

November 7, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment
male turkey for web

By Andrea Gaines

Early last spring I was heading north on route 340 towards Berryville – leaving Clarke County and heading into Loudoun County.

I’d heard lots of friends talk about how remarkable it was to come upon a flock of wild turkeys. But, this, this was amazing! A huge group of what looked to be 75 or 100 mini dinosaur-like birds, fanning out across an old cornfield, oblivious to the cars zipping by them, methodically combing the ground for food.

Turkey is such a common mass-produced food to us all, particularly around the holidays, that we forget this ground bird is also a fairly common wild animal.

In the early 1930s wild turkeys were on the verge of extinction. But, today, thanks to wildlife restoration and protection programs, wild turkey are fairly abundant. 200,000 wild turkeys are estimated to occur in the state of Virginia, alone. … Continue Reading

Loudoun’s Master Gardeners’ Accept Applications for Class of 2013

October 16, 2012 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

The Loudoun County’s Master Gardener program is accepting applications for the Class of 2013.

The program is seeking individuals who are willing to give back to the community through volunteering and who have a desire to learn about gardening fundamentals. A gardening background is helping but not required.

Master Gardeners are volunteers whose mission is to educate Loudoun County residents about safe, effective and sustainable landscape management practices. Volunteers receive extensive training under the auspices of Virginia Tech and the Loudoun County Cooperative Extension office to provide unbiased research-based horticultural information to the community. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun – Living With Coyotes

October 3, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

By Andrea Gaines

You see it from a distance … something that looks a bit like a dog or maybe a fox.

But something about it is different. It has a tail that droops down in a relaxed fashion – unlike the foxes you see darting across a field with their tails in straight alignment with their spine.

What you might be looking at is a coyote – otherwise known as an American jackal or prairie wolf. Coyotes are found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada. And, yes, they are also occurring in our part of the country in greater and greater numbers. For coyotes are adaptable creatures, and, unlike their cousin the wolf, the coyote’s range has actually expanded. … Continue Reading

The Farrell Team Gives Back at Fields of Athenry Farm

October 3, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment
Farrell Team

By Andrea Gaines

On a day that was as beautiful as the purpose of the event, The Farrell Team, a team of personal mortgage advisors that is part of First Home Mortgage in Leesburg held an impressive celebration demonstrating what it’s like when companies truly “give back.”

The event, held at Fields of Athenry, the family farm of one of the Farrell Team’s members, MaryTeresa Boland, raised over $4,000 in donations … but not just any kind of donation. Fields of Athenry is a local producer of fresh, hormone and antibiotic-free meats, including beef, pork, poultry and lamb. Guests at the event could make a cash donation if they choose. Or, they could purchase one of four food bundles which would be distributed over the holidays to the people and families served by several of Loudoun County’s most effective charities: the Purcellville Food Pantry, Loudoun Interfaith relief, and The Good Shepherd Alliance. … Continue Reading

Loudoun’s Master Gardeners’ Accept Applications for Class of 2013

September 10, 2012 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

The program is seeking individuals who are willing to give back to the community through volunteering and who have a desire to learn about gardening fundamentals. A gardening background is helping but not required.

Master Gardeners are volunteers whose mission is to educate Loudoun County residents about safe, effective and sustainable landscape management practices. Volunteers receive extensive training under the auspices of Virginia Tech and the Loudoun County Cooperative Extension office to provide unbiased research-based horticultural information to the community. … Continue Reading

Save the Dog!

August 12, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden 2 comments

Oatlands Embarks on Campaign to Save Treasured Dog Sculpture, Nominated as one of Top 10 Endangered Artifacts by Virginia Association of Museums
The dog sits regally overlooking the gardens at Oatlands, a National Trust Historic Site in Leesburg, Virginia. The employees at Oatlands fondly refer to him as “Rusty,” which partly describes the state he’s in and his current plight. While the exact historic details of this exemplary canine statue are unknown, the dog was brought to Oatlands sometime in the 1920s or 30s by William Corcoran Eustis and his wife, Edith Morton Eustis. The couple who owned Corcoran House in Washington, D.C. purchased Oatlands in 1903. They sold Corcoran House in 1919 and, sometime after that, brought the dog with them to Oatlands. The dog originally sat upon a wall at the Corcoran House mansion which was located near Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. (Now the site of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building.) … Continue Reading

Conservation Money Available for Farmers

August 12, 2012 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District has money available for landowners wishing to put conservation in action on their farms. LSWCD is accepting sign-ups for cost share for cover crops, grassland conversion, streamside fencing, water trough systems, as well as other Best Management Practices. The sign-up period for cover crops and grassland conversion practices runs until October 1st. Sign-up for the streamside fencing and water system practices, as well as all other program practices, will be accepted throughout the year. For more information about the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Program, including the current cost share rates, or to schedule a site visit for your farm contact, LSWCD at 571-918-4530 or via www.lswcd.org.

Wild Loudoun – American Kestrel

July 31, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment
kestrel grey

By Andrea Gaines

With dramatic coloring – and a body almost like an oversized parakeet – the American Kestrel is one of the most exotic birds you will see in Loudoun County.
That perfectly shaped aviator you see on a passing telephone wire just might be a kestrel … so slow down, pull over to the side and take a good look. Is it relatively small? Does it have a distinctively small curved beak? Does it have dark markings and dots on its head and breast area and a pretty grayish head? Does it have short cropped wings? Does it look like it is about to take off like a rocket after something?

Kestrels are small, open-land falcons – perhaps the most common diurnal (daytime) raptors (hawks, owls, falcons, etc.) in North America. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun

July 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden Be the first to comment

Celebrating the Rescuers at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

By Andrea Gaines

It’s “baby season” at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC), a Millwood animal hospital and shelter that takes in injured and orphaned birds, small mammals and reptiles, nursing them back to health and releasing them back into to the wild.

In March baby birds, possums, racoons and foxes – many from Loudoun County – start showing up, having fallen out of their nest, been struck by a car or lost a parent. Each animal is given the medical care it needs – including surgery when necessary – and, depending upon the species, stays at the Center until it has developed the strength, and hunting and foraging skills it needs to survive on it’s own. Injured adult animals get the same kind of care, and, in the best case scenario all survive their trauma to resume a wild life. … Continue Reading

Summer 2012 Brings More Opportunities to Put Local Produce on the KitchenTable

June 6, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

The “Buy Local” movement is building steam in western Loudoun County with the opening of two new farm markets – one of which seeks to grow into a full-fledge local products grocery store.

The New Lovettsville Cooperative Market

The Lovettsville Cooperative Market (LCM) and Market Table Bistro (MTB) – Lovettsville’s newest destination restaurant – have launched a new farm market in this very active community. … Continue Reading

New Farm Market Launches in Lovettsville

May 28, 2012 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Be the first to comment

The Lovettsville Cooperative Market (LCM), a growing co-op seeking to open a community grocery store in Lovettsville, and Market Table Bistro (MTB), Lovettsville’s newest destination restaurant, are launching a new Farm Market in Lovettsville. The Market will open on Sunday, June 3, from 10am to 1pm, and will continue every Sunday through September. The location is 2 North Light Street, in the parking lot of Dr. Carroll Johnston, just behind Market Table Bistro, off West Broad Way in downtown Lovettsville. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014


The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014


By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012


By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …


Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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April 2014
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate


April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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Easter at "The Park"


April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club


April 30, 2014

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

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May 4, 2014

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

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View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014


In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …



Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014


In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …



Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014


Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014


At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election


Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

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Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger


By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting


U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014


Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014


Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …


Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …



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