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Wild Loudoun – Reindeer. Here. But Neither By Day Nor By Night. By Dreams.

December 3, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun – Reindeer. Here. But Neither By Day Nor By Night. By Dreams.

On one of those quiet cold Loudoun nights to come – a night when the winter storm has blown through and you have stepped out for a few minutes to sweep the snow off the front steps before going to bed – you might have imagined a deer-like creature looking at you through the dark.

The softly glowing eyes – a pale blue – are there for a moment and then they are gone. So, you set your broom aside, take a last look into the dark and head inside and up the stairs to bed. Climbing under the covers you bury your face into the pillow … still seeing those softly glowing eyes. And, while you sleep soundly, you wake in the morning wondering why all of the more wild lore associated with Christmas – including flying reindeer – are dancing in your head. … Continue Reading

The White-Footed Mouse: Beauty in Miniature

November 6, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on The White-Footed Mouse: Beauty in Miniature

I can’t imagine that the soft drumming sound I might have heard coming from a woodpile, or the faint buzz I’ve heard in grassy areas could have been coming from the common, white-footed mouse … but I like to think it might have.

All wild animals have what we’d consider to be mysterious behaviors, and many of those behaviors help them survive. The white-footed mouse – common to nearly every county in Virginia, including Loudoun – drums its feet rapidly when alarmed, and replicates this behavior on hollow reeds, creating a sort of buzz. The normal drumming biologists know indicates that the mouse is afraid of something. The reed drumming is something else – no one really knows why mice do it. … Continue Reading

1,798 and Counting

October 6, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on 1,798 and Counting
monarch released 9_25_13

Earlier this year the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) launched a 2013 campaign to “raise and release” monarch butterflies.

Due a precipitous loss of habitat, monarch populations have plummeted. Female monarchs lay their eggs on wild milkweed and milkweed only, and both modern day farming practices and over-use of herbicides is wiping out this essential flowering plant.

As part of its lifecycle the butterfly participates in one of the most extraordinary migrations on the face of the earth, with the last generation of the season flying sometimes thousands of miles to warm overwintering spots, including select-forested areas in Mexico.

The purpose of the LWC’s campaign is to “fill the gaps” in the monarch’s lifecycle, increasing the chances that individual monarch eggs and caterpillars make it to adulthood, complete their migration, and start the springtime process that replenishes the species.

At the time of this printing the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its volunteers had raised and released 1,798 monarchs, nearly 90 percent of their 2013 goal of 2,013.

Wild Loudoun: Trumpet Vine – Zesty, Assertive Beauty


It can cause a rash. Plant or cultivate it in the wrong place and it can take down your house. It tends to crowd out other plants. And, its nectar is a closely guarded secret – not many animals and insects can reach far enough inside to take advantage of it.

So why do I love the North American native known as trumpet vine?

Well, both the foliage and the flowers are stunning in their color – a deep, emerald green and a hot and zesty orange. It has a strong constitution. Older vines develop thick, woody trunks that can grow up to seven inches thick and thirty feet high. It has a sort of prehistoric look, with large, curved, tubular flowers, spiky leaves, and oversized pods that use the wind to disperse hundreds of brown papery seeds. And, it greatly benefits both bees and hummingbirds, two living things that could really use our help right now. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Harvest Moon

September 4, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Harvest Moon

By Andrea Gaines

We’ve all heard the term “harvest moon.” But, what exactly is a harvest moon, when does it occur and what are the wild residents of Loudoun County doing during this time?

A harvest moon starts with what’s known as an “equinox.” Derived from the Latin term ?aeguus, meaning equal, an equinox marks two times during the year when night and day are approximately equal in length. A vernal equinox occurs in the spring and an autumn equinox in the fall, marking the beginning of that season in the northern hemisphere.

A harvest moon occurs when there is a full moon on the same day as the autumn equinox. The 2013 harvest moon for the northern hemisphere comes on the night of September 18-19. … Continue Reading

Ayrshire Farm Is the First Farm to Gain Predator Friendly® Certification

August 30, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Ayrshire Farm Is the First Farm to Gain Predator Friendly® Certification

Ayrshire Farm and The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network have announced that Ayrshire Farm is the first farm in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be certified as Predator Friendly®. Predator Friendly® recognizes best practices for wildlife stewardship on farm and ranch lands.

Ayrshire Farm, a recognized leader in the world of sustainable agriculture and one of the first farms in Virginia to achieve certified organic and Certified Humane® status, has recently gained Predator Friendly® certification under an independent audit system through a unique partnership with Animal Welfare Approved and its audit team. Ayrshire’s Predator Friendly® certified beef, rose veal, pork, chicken, eggs, and honey are available online (www.ayrshirefarm.com ) and from the Home Farm Store in Middleburg. Many of these products can also be found on the menu at Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville, Va. as well as restaurants throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel

August 7, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel
File:Actias luna in Florida.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encycloped

I’ve seen a luna moth “in the flesh” several times, one time in the most unusual of places.

The first time I saw one I was driving down a quiet dirt road at night when a large, cool green-winged thing landed on the hood of my car.

I had a passenger with me and I must have scared her as I slammed on my breaks, jumped out of the car and exclaimed, “It’s a luna moth! It’s a luna moth! I can’t believe it! I have never seen one before!”

Unlike most moths – which often flutter furiously when encountered – the luna moth paused where it had landed and then ever so slowly floated away into the dark woods on the side of the road.

The next encounter was the most unusual one. Coming out of a Purcellville convenience store late one afternoon I noticed a luna moth resting on the side of a brick wall. I tried to interest another passerby in my sighting, and they actually seemed pretty surprised, if only for a moment. … Continue Reading

Free Gardening Lecture – Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting)

July 28, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Free Gardening Lecture – Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting)

Join Loudoun County Master Gardeners at their monthly lecture series at the Rust Library in Leesburg on Thursday, August 8, at 7:00 p.m. Are you interested in being part of a community that is helping to preserve unusual and heritage vegetables and flowers by collecting seeds? Seed saving is a cost-effective and rewarding pastime and Michael Neese will tell us how to go about it in his talk “Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting).”
Today, heirloom seeds are readily available but that was not the case when Mr. Neese was starting a vegetable garden and wanted to buy local heirloom seeds suitable for his microclimate. Instead what he found was a generous community of “seed savers” who not only freely gave him seeds but also shared their collective gardening wisdom. That experience led him to organize a seed exchange at his church that has now become an annual event and to share his gardening knowledge in the community too. Mr. Neese, has founded many community gardens in the Winchester area, is active in numerous community organizations and serves as Winchester’s Recycling Coordinator. In his words, “If you don’t see the change you want in life, start it.”

For more information about the Loudoun County Master Gardener program, visit www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Bear Spotted In Lincoln

July 17, 2013 Farm and garden Comments Off on Bear Spotted In Lincoln

This picture was taken just days ago on Sands Road in Lincoln. Another bear … perhaps the same one … was spotted further north in the direction of
Purcellville approximately two weeks ago. If you feed the birds (or your pets!) in your yard, on your porch or in your barn, experts advise you to
bring the food inside at night. Let’s enjoy our wildlife! But these easy steps will help prevent the bears from relying on easy food sources.”

Saturdays in the Garden with the Loudoun County Master Gardeners

July 5, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Saturdays in the Garden with the Loudoun County Master Gardeners

Come on out for free expert advice on vegetable gardening at the Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ “Saturdays in the Garden” program Saturday, July 20 with a talk on “Managing Insects in the Vegetable Garden”. The program is held at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, 10:00 a.m. to noon. The talk will be followed by a question and answer session with experienced Master Gardeners. … Continue Reading

Wildflowers … Nature’s Buffet Table

June 4, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wildflowers … Nature’s Buffet Table
Birdsfoot Violet 2 by MAG

Wildflowers delight the senses in so many ways. They present us with exquisite colors and delicious scents. Sometimes you want to reach out and touch their soft or spiny leaves and blossoms – just to imagine what it would be like to be them, swaying in the breeze or carpeting a forest floor.

But, nature is a both a beautiful and a practical sort. The bee, the butterfly or other insect, the bird, or the small mammal might be alerted to a wildflower because of its color or scent, but it goes there for the nourishment the plant provides.

Indian Pipe (or “Ghost flower”): This is a beautiful and very unusual wildflower that grows in the shade on forest floors. It lacks chlorophyll, the green substance plants create from the sun, and so it is white – occasionally with black flecks or a blush of pink. It secures its nutrients from the fungi associated with different types of trees. Butterflies and small bumblebees feed on the Indian Pipe flower’s nectar. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Flight of the Monarch 3,000 Miles on the Wing


What is more arresting … the warm kaleidoscope colors of a Monarch butterfly’s wings, or the mind-blowing fact that the insect you are looking at might have flown 3,000 miles to get where it is?

Monarch butterflies start out life as tiny, fragile eggs laid on the underside of a milkweed leaf – eggs just about the size of a sesame seed. Female Monarchs rely exclusively on milkweed to lay their eggs. Part of a survival strategy, milkweed contains a natural toxin that makes Monarch caterpillars and adults inedible, or at least unpalatable, to predators.

Four days or so later the life force in the egg produces an inconspicuous little “worm.” But, with the milkweed’s leafy nourishment, that worm will grow into a chubby and very distinct green and black striped caterpillar – a voracious eater on it’s way to gossamer wings. … Continue Reading

23rd Annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival

April 18, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on 23rd Annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival
flower and garden

Historic Leesburg will once again be in full bloom as lush landscapes and gorgeous gardens fill the streets. On April 20 and 21, over 150 vendors will be on display featuring landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and so much more. Stroll through the streets and take in the sights and sounds of spring-time. Whether gathering ideas for your new outdoor patio, stocking up on gardening supplies, or searching for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, this event will have something for everyone! The event runs from 10:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p,m, on Sunday.

For a taste of Loudoun County’s garden bounty, be sure to visit the Beer and Wine Garden located on Town Green. This tasting area will feature some of Loudoun County’s best wineries and breweries. Take home a commemorative glass and bottle of your favorite vino to enjoy after the festival concludes. Breweries to be featured include MacDowell Brew Kitchen/ Mud Hound Brewing Co., Lost Rhino, Starr Hill and more. Wineries include Bluemont Vineyards, Little Washington, and 868 Estates.






Asterisk No More


By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Moods come and go, but greatness endures.” These prescient words were uttered by President George H.W. Bush, a man who knows firsthand the truth of his own saying. In 1992, President Bush garnered only 37 percent of …

Second Bull Run

Bull Run Creek

It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a …

Snowmageddon III?  Seven Survival Tips for Parents


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. “snOMG,” “snowmageddon,” “snowpocalypse,” and “kaisersnoze” are a few terms to describe what just happened in Northern Virginia. The storm was reported to be the second worst storm on record. And while many children and teens gladly …

What Is a Sport?

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde On January 10, hundreds of talented dancers from across the East Coast competed at the Universal Dance Academy Regional Championship at West Springfield High School. Tensions were high and the stakes couldn’t have been greater. What …

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn


It’s natural to be nervous when the markets head for negative territory. Keep a positive perspective with these six investing reminders. It can be very unsettling for investors when their portfolios and the markets start heading for the red and …

El Nino Evolution

Figure 3. Sea-surface height as inferred by by NASA satellites during the current El Niño (December 27, 2015, at left, from Jason-2) and at a comparable point during the last “super” El Niño (December 28, 1997, at right, from TOPEX/Poseidon). Warmer temperatures in the upper ocean result in higher sea-surface heights, as the seawater expands. In 1997, the above-average sea surface height was generally more intense and peaked in November. In 2015, the area of high sea levels was less pronounced but considerably broader. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. (see [4])

Figure 1 shows the annual global temperature anomaly since 1980 up to November 2015 using the NASA GISS data set [1]. NASA has not yet published December’s data though BEST has [2] and yes 2015 was the hottest year on …


Grief and Greed


By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …


Oh No, It’s the Christians!


By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Job Well Done!

town of purcellville sign

Kudos to Town Manager Rob Lohr and his awesome hard working staff. You did a fantastic job of snow removal throughout the Town of Purcellville this past week. Mr. Lohr …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville


Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016


Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015


Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015


Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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February 2016
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Loudoun Valley Boys Basketball Spirit Night at Coach's Corner


Music Together Classes - Winter Session


Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY


Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY


5K Race to Benefit Riverside High School Athletic Department

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Music Together Classes - Winter Session


Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY


Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY



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Loudoun Symphony presents A LITTLE CHAMBER MUSIC

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

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THE EDGE: Malone Benefit Concert


Loudoun School of Ballet Winter Showcase

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VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY


Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY


VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theatre, 100 Lunches" by Jack Sharkey & Leo Sears

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Run and Walk To Your Nearest 5K Pregame Event Happening on Super Bowl Day In Leesburg

3 Feb 2016


There is a new Running Company, the Pace Makers Running Company, in town and they are on a mission to help the local population with their health goals while raising money for selected charities. The race at The National Conference Center in Leesburg on February 7, is to help benefit the Riverside High School Athletic Department. The upcoming race on …

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Lovin’ Leesburg for All Its Beauty

3 Feb 2016


By Hannah Hager We may be in the thick of winter, but this home on Cherry Spring Lane will melt your heart. Come spring you’ll fully be able to enjoy this simple, yet elegant brick home and its surrounding green pastures enclosed by miles of black wooden fences. Beyond your immediate yard are sweeping views of the mountains and valleys …

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6th Annual Loudoun Grown Expo February 27

3 Feb 2016


It’s that exciting time of year again for the Sixth Annual Loudoun Grown Expo. The yearly event will take place at the Bush Tabernacle 250 South Nursery Avenue, Purcellville, on February 27 with new expanded hours starting at 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be wine and beer exhibitors, farm exhibitors, artisans and makers, restaurants and other rural economy …

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Around Virginia

Education Savings Accounts Make Big Move in House


The Virginia House of Delegates gave a strong push to House Bill 389, Delegate Dave LaRock’s (R-33rd District) innovative Education Savings Account legislation, as the House Education Committee voted 13-9 in favor of advancing the bill forward. “This is definitely an exciting development for parents and students in the Commonwealth,” …

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Kaine to Hold Hearing on Opioid Abuse


On Monday, February 1, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, will hold a field hearing in Loudoun County to examine the ongoing fight against opioid misuse and abuse among older Americans. Kaine has met with families, law enforcement and business leaders across Virginia …

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Youth Can Apply for 2015 Livestock Exhibitor Scholarships


Youth who exhibited beef cattle, sheep, meat goats or swine in the 2015 State Fair of Virginia 4-H and FFA youth livestock program are eligible to apply for 12 new scholarships being offered by the State Fair of Virginia. Scholarships will be offered in three age groups: Juniors (9-12), Intermediate …

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Western Loudon Volleyball Club “Hitmen” Team Finishes Second

3 Feb 2016


The Western Loudon Volleyball Club U14 boys team, called the “Hitmen,” finished second in a tournament held January 17. This is the first ever boys team for the WLVBC (and only the second boys club in the area). Coach Allan Kotmel led the seven-member team. WLVBC started eight years ago, …

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ODFC West Travel Soccer Program Shines

2 Dec 2015


The Old Dominion Football Club West boys and girls middle school travel soccer program scored big the weekend of November 21 and 22.  The girls Quest Premier 22 team took home the championship in the U12 Girls Premier Division of the Hunt Country Classic located in Fauquier County. The boys …

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