100% Premium Virginia Orange Juice Fall has finally arrived, and that means here in the Blue Ridge mountains it’s time to start picking oranges. Yes, that’s right. Move over, Tropicana, make way for… Poncirus trifoliata. Ok, so maybe you’re suspicious, and maybe rightfully so. But the first time we found a trifoliate or hardy orange…

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This summer, on a not-quite-whim, we turned a large chunk of our backyard into a cornfield. It wasn’t quite a whim, because we knew we wanted to expand our garden; however that hadn’t materialized by June, when we took a family trip across the western border to beautiful Monroe County, West Virginia. There we found…

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Up From Slavery Tucked away in Franklin County is a memorial to the humble roots of a great man. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace of a man who inspired a generation of African Americans emerging from the horror of slavery. It also celebrates Booker T. Washington’s own personal journey…

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My kids are about the least likely in the state to become addicted to video games. That’s mostly because their dad and mom aren’t into video games, and we’re fine with keeping things that way. Growing up in the earliest era of gaming, I managed to stay clean even through college, and by that point…

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Both of our kids have been interested in reptiles for a while. Our older son is more predisposed to the extinct variety. He fills notebooks with dinosaur drawings and has gotten quite knowledgeable. Just the other evening after dinner, he was chatting with me about one of the stories he wrote that involved a stegosaurus.…

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My kids have been fascinated by the American Indians for years, stimulated by a combination of books, trips, and artifacts. The Indians’ deep connection with nature, their resourcefulness, and the sad story of their vanished way of life seem to strike a chord with my kids, and usually lead to deep conversations. All the Indian…

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Having a Blast in 2020 – Part II OR The Journey of A Thousand Feet Begins with a Single Stomp My last post explained how my kids became Youtube rocket-launch junkies. As time went by, they wanted to get their hands dirty (sooty, gluey, greasy…). Here’s how their rocket careers got (increasingly higher) off the…

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Having a Blast in 2020 – Part I One of the (few) positive things about 2020 has been space exploration. Over the past months, my kids’ interest in space has, shall we say, sky-rocketed.  Admittedly, they already had a head-start, as over their first few years of life they’ve amassed a personal library of space…

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In a previous post, I mentioned some of the advantages of raising chickens in the Roanoke valley. As I wrote, I was reminded of one disadvantage of chicken owning: it allows you to encounter the Roanoke valley’s range of predatory animals up close. There are effective ways to protect chickens from each of these predators,…

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Chickens are one of the easiest ways to raise a part of your own food with a low upfront investment and minimal daily exertion. We owned them for a few years, and intend to do it more in the future. There are many excellent blogs and books by subject matter experts (chickenologists?) about raising chickens,…

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