Chickens

Dogs will shower you with love, affection and loyalty. Cats will allow you to appreciate their felinity. Horses can empower and enthrall you with a bond beyond magic. Chickens will make you laugh, laugh, laugh!

raising chicks at firefly farmEarly last Spring at the behest of my dearly beloved we took advantage of “free” peepers at Southern States here in Charlottesville. In one hand a box, half the size of a shoebox with three white and three brown chicks, in the other hand, and in those of my sweetheart were a heat lamp, waterer, chick starter feed, a roll of chicken wire and a notebook full of scribbles from the chicken seminar we had just sat through on folding chairs next to the chicken supply aisle.

chicks in their horse trough home

The chicks lived inside of course, first in a cardboard box and then in a horse trough turned chick village with abalone shell perches, climate control and a chicken wire roof to keep curious cats and dogs safe. Their chirping filled the house as they changed from fluff balls to fledges, insisting I get to work on their outdoor abode to be chosen from over one million designs found under the Google search, “chicken coops”. After banging together two failures their palace arose with a standing seam metal roof, private roosting boxes, convenient perches, ramps, hanging feed and water and most importantly, galvanized hardware cloth extending six inches underground practically daring chicken predators to take a shot.

finishing chicken coop construction

chicken coop ready for its new inhabitants

We started with a chicken run which worked for a couple of days until the first chick said “watch this” and flew out. Round ups proved pointless and the run was abandoned and free range adopted. Fortunately, chickens put themselves to bed right around dark so all we have to do is latch the door and they are safe for the night.

free range chickens leaving the coopchickens roaming free at firefly farmchicken roaming freeChickens start laying at about six months. We found the first egg out in the lawn and took pictures of it from all angles, posted it on Facebook and then fried it up as a huevo ranchero. We now get 5 or 6 eggs a day. “We” is a bit of a misnomer since Gabriela travels for work and I am usually home alone. That’s a lot of eggs so I carefully plan for future favors as I dole out precious dozens of Firefly Farm free range eggs

free range chicken exploring

But here is the best part. These six “free” chicks have added enormous personality to our little country home. Yes, they all have names. They follow you around looking for treats, (dried meal worms drive them crazy), they walk between the dogs legs, pick up after the horses and peck at the sliding glass door to come inside. (No way Jose). When they run, you can’t help but laugh. Their sounds are as expressive and communicative as a zoo at feeding time and they’re seriously good looking birds, each with a personality and each giving us an egg a day.

chicken eggs in the nesting box

I couldn’t recommend this easy entre’ into animal husbandry more highly. Urban chickens are allowed in most areas and more and more often we are seeing chicken coops included in the real estate listings even in the city. This is a great way to get your kids involved in animals and the outdoors, instilling responsibility for those who might take it seriously. Spring is just around the corner so think about wandering into Southern States or Tractor supply in April. Just prick your ears for the peeping and prepare to add a new dimension to your life.free range chicken egg

Land, Land, Land!


32.2 acres with a stunning view of Old Rag in Madison County, with a 19th century farmhouse. $590,000. MLS 537055

Land for sale: 50 acres with 13 division rights and 1920s farmhouse near Charlottesville, Virginia

50 acres with 13 division rights, just 20 minutes from CHO, with a 1920’s farmhouse, steams, and springs. $349,000. MLS 535512

Land for sale: 155 acres next to Stone Mountain Winery in Green County, Virginia

155 acres right next door to Stone Mountain Winery in Greene County. Magnificent property at 2000′ elevation. $425,000. MLS 515293.


 

Contact John to learn more about these properties >

 

Our Turn

IMG_5925

Six years ago my mom passed away. My dad had been doing well since then on his 22 acre farm in Madison County, gradually turning over the mowing to a landscape company, leasing the front field to a neighbor for his cows, keeping the pool open and the place going for our family oyster roasts and pool parties where all five of the Ince families would gather with kids and grand kids, celebrating our good fortune and especially our father.

A simple stumble started the clock ticking. Broken ribs put Dad on oxygen. Team Ince went into motion, moving him downstairs, hovering to the point of pestering and scouting out retirement homes. Dad recovered fully but read the writing on the wall and began looking at his next step in earnest. The ball started rolling. 88 years of life needed to be reduced into a two bedroom apartment. Furniture, artwork and priceless trinkets had to be dispersed among five families, the house needed to be cleared and the farm needed to be sold.

We met each weekend at the farm, my sisters and I, beginning at the top, opening trunks with trepidation then sitting cross legged, facing each other, going through photos, laughing and crying equally as the fabric of our lives went into precious piles and trash bags. It has been a rich time for us, learning more about our parents and their history than we ever knew, refreshing childhood memories from the myriad of homes we lived in as a Navy family and realizing how strong a bond our parents instilled in each of us for the others, making the distribution of our family treasures a demonstration of love rather than division.

IMG_0442Ten weekends have passed and now the family farm, St Clair, stands empty, proud and clean, awaiting its new owner who has already stepped up. We’re “the kids” to Dad but now we have had a chance to take care of things for him and it has been a pleasure. His apartment at The Collonades is exquisite with his favorite things. His moniker, “The Admiral” gives him some well deserved status and pride and the process has been an affirmation that he and Mom brought “the kids” up right.

As our parent’s generation slips away it’s up to us to make the most of it. To celebrate well lived lives and to bring comfort and peace where we can. In the true world, that is our call now that our kids have flown and our elders can use our help. It’s our turn now, so let’s set a good example for our kids, for soon enough, it will be theirs.

What would you do with 50 acres?

Especially if it had all the right character for a vineyard?

Virginia vineyard property

Some beautiful rolling pasture for horses or cows?

Virginia farmland for sale

Building sites that will knock you socks off?

Charlottesville Virginia 50 acres pasture and forest for sale

Lots of water, springs and streams?

Virginia farm for sale with springs and streams

Beautiful hardwood forest?

50 acres forest and pasture for sale near Charlottesville VA

Even a charming 1920’s farmhouse?

Charlottesville VA 1920s farmhouse for sale

And 13 division rights?

Less than 30 minutes from Charlottesville?

Check it out.
mls 520933

Harvest

charlottesville country vineyard for sale

It’s that time  of year again when we reap what we sow, literally in the case of Virginia farmland. The corn is being threshed and spilled corn is gleaned from the side of the road by opportunistic birds and mammals knowing its time to start layering for winter. It looks like a third cutting of hay is coming off the hayfields but I’m not seeing cheaper hay prices.

Virginia hayfield virginia corn field

Virginia countryside

Soy beans are a bright yellow and the pumpkins are in the market and making appearances on front porches. The white grapes are being harvested from the vineyards with the reds a couple of weeks away yet. It’s fabulous time of year with weather you’d like to put up in a can to remember in February or Mid July.

virginia grape harvest

First Impressions

historic country residence

Preparing a country property for sale is a little more complicated than just staging a house. It’s all about first impressions and nothing says more about the stewardship of a property than the condition of the pasture and fencing. Well maintained fencing and nicely kept fields are often the first impression one gets as they enter a property and set the tone for the showing.

Broken fence boards, crooked gates and weedy pastures can make the difference between between a perception a fixer upper and well managed farm and often its just a weekend with some hand tools and mowers that turn the tide.

Split rail fences

If your property is large enough that we might drive upon the land, make that as easy as possible. Make sure the gates swing well and stay put as we drive through. If there is an ideal route for Realtors in their four wheel drive vehicles you might consider bush-hogging a route to follow especially if there is a dramatic building site they should see.

First impressions apply to your home as well so take care of peeling or faded paint, wobbly porch rails and muddy dog smudges. I have found country property buyers to be more forgiving of a home’s foibles when charm and character are evident so show off those old wood floors, that classic woodwork and those noisy old radiators. If there is a great view out that window make sure the curtains are open.

Mountain vista from the deck

Country property buyers are keenly interested in the land, often more so than the house, so make sure they have all the information they need to understand the property lines. A survey is the definitive tool but sometimes an aerial view of the property is the easiest to understand and can even show the shape and sizes of adjoining properties which is often of interest.

Bottom line, do what you can to make your property easy to show and to understand. Make sure your Realtor is a country property specialist who can convey the special features of your land and your home.

Looking at Land in the Winter

Anyone who has tried to walk their way through hay fields or woodland during high summer knows what a blessing the dormancy of winter can be, especially when it’s below freezing. It’s easy going in the winter without the threat of poison ivy, blackberry brambles or snakes and you can see all there is to see once the leaves are off the trees.

Pond on 165 acres of fenced farmland near Scottsville Virginia

Ever wonder what the view might be like if you cleared off a couple of trees? Ever wonder if you’ll see that neighbor’s house that seems so nicely screened with trees in the summer?

Camp Buckingham forest

Winter is the best time to look at land especially when it’s nice and frozen and mud is not an issue. Make sure you are aware of hunting seasons and enjoy walking the land without sweating the summer stuff.

Creek at Camp Buckingham

Speaking of land, there’s no better offering on the market right now than Camp Buckingham near Scottsville, 168 acres of fenced pasture and mature hardwood forest with significant timber value, two ponds, gorgeous building sites and lots of division rights. It’s a great value too at just $471,000. MLS# 512843.

Camp Buckingham land for sale near Scottsville VA

A Beautiful Piece of Land

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

We all have a picture in our mind’s eye of what home should look like. For my ex-wife, it’s a home in suburbia with neighbors and mini-vans, for my sister, it’s a charming home overlooking the C and O tow path in DC. For me, the land comes first and then the house works into it somehow. For each setting a different house would come to mind. If your picture is starting to take shape, give me a call and let’s look at some beautiful pieces of land. It’s a great time of year for it.

Click here and view at 100% for a brochure of this property.

www.charlottesvillecountry.com

Trout Stream

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.
I’ve been known to take a week off to travel out to some great trout streams, trying to learn new waters and new fish. I find great comfort, however, in parking in my regular spot along the Conway, taking a wide path downstream to my favorite starting point and seeing if I can find some old friends behind boulders or in riffles where they’ve been before. I drool over those thousand acre spreads in Montana or Wyoming with miles of wild cutthroat rivers, but know I’m not a rich enough cowboy to make that happen. If you’ve always wanted your own trout stream but aren’t in the Ted Turner category, you might want to take a look a look at these nice photos of the South River in Greene County. It’s cold, winter water and stocked by Fish and Game with fat rainbows from Fall to Spring. It’s also yours for just $475,000 and comes with 17 beautiful acres and a lovely brick home offering complete privacy and a location just 30 minutes from Charlottesville and less than five minutes to golf, tennis and swimming at Greene Hills Country Club right down the road. Premium Brook trout fishing is just fifteen minutes away on the Conway or Upper Rapidan in the Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest. If you’d like to take a look at a great riverfront property and talk local fishing please give me a call. I’ll enjoy it as much as you will.
Click here for a brochure of this property. View at 100%.
www.charlottesvillecountry.com

Knee High in Buttercups

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

Horses live a long time. They hit their prime around seven and can perform at a high level for about ten years after that. Once they hit twenty they’ll start slowing down a little bit. They tend to get a little more efficient with their energy, not wasting as much with all that cavorting around. They mature philosophically as well getting a wizened look in their old eyes, garnering respect from the youngsters who are all stronger and faster. My herd is aging. They are the remnants of an Egyptian Arabian breeding program begun around 1980. They were seven, now four. I’ve known each one since they were born and I’ll keep them till they die. It does my heart good to see them in good grass and buttercups up to their knees. There have been times when I’ve regretted being tied to this equine family but it’s times like this, May 4, 2011, that make it worthwhile. They’ve been around much longer than my son and daughter who are about to fly the nest. Two of the mares are in their mid-twenties, the fella on the right is thirty and the one in front is only five. It looks like my nest will be full for a while yet. I need to let my daughter know that her dowry is a horse.
www.charlottesvillecountry.com

Preddy Creek Trail Park

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

All the real estate ads that read “Close to NGIC” or “Close to DIA” might also say “Close to the Preddy Creek Trail Park” This is a wonderful resource for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders who can enjoy miles of well maintained trails in Albemarle County’s newest park just off Burnley Station Road in northern Albemarle County. I have explored both on horseback and mountain bike and found the trails somewhat less challenging than Walnut Creek Park but just as beautiful, traversing mature hardwood forest with multiple grade changes and nice views down to meandering Preddy Creek. The ample parking area with rest rooms has just been completed and includes room for horse trailers and even hitching posts for tacking up. The trail maps are not posted yet but getting lost is half the fun in this wonderful new asset for outdoor lovers in Albemarle County. Go to PreddyCreekTrails for a printable map.
www.charlottesvillecountry.com

Twentyten

filly-being-born2

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD

I love the ring of it. The aughts were awkward, hard to pronounce, no rhythm. It makes sense. We were just getting our legs under us in the new millennium and now we’re up and running. This whole decade will sound good and move fast.

There were a few good things that happened in ’09 like Sully’s heroic landing on the Hudson, and no one could say that Taylor Swift didn’t have a great year. Mostly though, we were licking our wounds, looking up to see if the sky was falling, and in my case waiting for that ball to fall in Times Square way before New Year’s Eve.

I’ve learned my lesson about over-anticipation, but this time I think I’m right on. Phones are ringing, contracts are being written. I had a client miss out on a property because multiple contracts came in on the first day. Speculators are fighting each other for Mediterranean and Baltic, I saw some new construction on Tennessee Avenue, and even Boardwalk is getting a facelift. And it’s not Monopoly money this time. Tighter lending requirements are a pain in the rear, but they are making sure new buyers are solid. The new homes going up are custom homes, not specs and the first time home buyers are taking advantage of incentive programs solidifying the critical base of the housing pyramid.

I used to train and sell Egyptian Arabian horses back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. There was a time when a really good mare would sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I watched an Arabian mare sell at auction at the Kentucky Horse Park for a world record 2.2 million. She was a nice mare but it made no sense. Today, you could buy a really nice Arabian mare for $20,000. That’s a lot of money, but she’ll take your breath away, and you’ll love her for two or three decades. I just sold a really nice home to some good friends for $430,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s a great buy, and a great house that they’ll love for two or three decades. It all makes sense again.

Twentyten It sounds good. It feels good. It is good.
www.charlottesvillecountry.com