Down on the Farm
One Saturday I was offered the opportunity to visit a farm in Virginia. Always keen to see and compare sights, I jumped at the chance. Travel to the farm was down via Washington DC, around the beltway (the circular highway surrounding Washington - 4 or 5 lanes in each direction) and out on Route 66 past Dulles International Airport. A couple of hours of westerly travel was required to get into Virginia and the farm we were looking for.
Think about that name - Maton Hill? Does it have a hint of French or Latin? Does 'Matins' ring a (church) bell? In my humble opinion the name probably means Morning Hill. Whatever, it certainly had a very stately farmhouse.
As you can tell, the house had been built in two stages, the left hand side being completed in the 1800s. Inside you could see lower roof levels and smaller doorways, heavy wooden beams, narrow stairs and a root cellar. The extension made it large and roomy but offered a distinct comparison of building styles. Americans don't use sheep to trim their lawns - they go in for lawn-mowing using a range of powered implements, most of which you ride on. Grass is cut long, not to ground level as in NZ, mainly to preserve the roots from the effects of too much sun or too much snow.
The range of out buildings were also interesting. The red barn had stables where three horses were free to come and go as they pleased. Two had chosen inside, away from the heat and flies, while one wandered around outside, or came looking for a pat when we came to the paddock gate. Also in the barn were high lofts and space to store a year's supply of hay. The animals all live inside during the winter and need feeding and cleaning out each day which must be an arduous chore. The farm also had chickens and some shy sheep which we never saw. The white building used to house pigs but now has general storage.
Every farm needs a dog and this one had a Tibetan wolfhound who was a bit of a smoocher. She also had cute fluffy ears.
A feature of the Virginia countryside seems to be dilapidated old buildings. Most of these appear to have been left to collapse or rust into heaps, however they do look quaintly scenic.
We came away from there after a raid on the vegetable garden - new potatoes, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes - all of which became a very welcome meal at a later date. Thanks to Laura, her Mum and the pooch (whose name escapes me).