Archive for April, 2015

Bringing Closure

Yesterday coming home from church Gene said, “Where are we going to ride today? Do you want to go to Denbigh?”  One year ago that meant, do you want to go see Daddy?  But times have changed and Daddy is no longer at 567 Colony Rd. Denbigh. He now has a much grander address on a street of gold in heaven.  This trip was on our bucket list for this spring but now going to Denbigh is just a trip down memory lane, a reflection on the has-beens of life.

We had a cd playing as we cruised along but just as we approached the Newport News exit we suddenly became aware of the song that was playing; “I Can Only Imagine” by Bart Millard.

This song had become one of Daddy’s favorites in the last months of his life as he anticipated “going home”.  Somehow it seemed like a God-moment as we listened to the song and remembered Daddy.

In May 1897, D.Z. Yoder and Isaac Hertzler (Gene’s great grandpa from Long Green, Maryland)  purchased a 1200 acre cotton plantation for $10 an acre. They very quickly generated interest in numerous other Mennonite families who came to the Tidewater area, drawn by the lure of affordable farm land. The group became known as the “Colony”.  They tilled, planted and rejuvenated the worn out, overgrown land turning it into productive fruit orchards, dairy, poultry and produce farms.  This fascinating story is told in  the book “Fifty Years: Building on the Warwick”. During the next 100 years, the land was divided, subdivided, developed and sold until only 45 acres remained in the middle of the city where Mama and Daddy Hertzler lived. Daddy tenaciously withstood pressure to sell and held on to his beloved farm. But now that era and the “Colony” are officially gone. The streets; Colony Road, Hertzler Road and Miller Road surrounded the farm like a hedge of protection, keeping the city at bay.


We circled the block around the farm twice and snapped a few pictures from the road. Someone else now lives in the house and owns land. It is no longer in the family.  The farm still looks the same but it is definitely missing Daddy’s magical touch.






After circling the farm, we stopped at the Warwick River church cemetery, opened the wrought iron gate and quietly walked to the gravesite to pay our respects.  It almost seemed like hollowed ground. We know a cemetery is just a bone-yard but they are beloved bones and their resting place is the only spot on earth that is still a connection to them. Someday those old bones will come to life as they spring out of the grave and meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4: 16-17).  Daddy loved trees and his burial spot is underneath the boughs of an old tree, the only tree in the cemetery.



We walked among the headstones and talked about the many familiar names; Issac and Fannie Hertzler (Gene’s great-grandparents), Henry P. and Anna Hertzler (grandparents), Menno Hertzler (an uncle who died in a boating accident on the river), Uncle Dan and Aunt Dora Brunk, and many other relatives and church acquaintances with the names of Yoder, Burkholder, Fisher, Moyer, Nice, Hahn, Shank, Hostetter, Ziegler, Schaefer, Brunk, Miller, Shenk, etc. Each headstone represents a life lived, some briefly, some many years. Each was a life with a story to tell and most had a huge impact in the Warwick River Mennonite Church community and beyond.





I took the next three tombstones because they were a part of the many folks who migrated  west to Powhatan and have had significant influence in the church and community here.





Finally we were ready to leave. With a few backward glances we got in our car and drove away.


We decided to stop by a friend’s home on our way out of town. The hours ticked by as we talked about Mama and Daddy and some of the many challenges they faced, particularly in their last years. This friend understood and the time spent there was life-giving and healing.  We left feeling that, finally, we could have closure on that chapter of life.

A few final pictures:

Great-grandparents, Isaac and Fannie Hertzler, build a stately house with a white picket fence on the bank of the Warwick River just a stone’s throw from the farm. The lot was part of the farm at one time. The house and grounds have been very well maintained through the years. I had to take a picture of the old wagon sitting in the front driveway.






A Sunday Afternoon Drive

Walking out of church today Gene said, “Do you want to go on a Sunday afternoon drive?”  Of course I did.  We haven’t done that for years and years and years; to just drive for the fun of driving and seeing new country.  We went home, changed our clothes and hit the road heading west. Now Gene did have a destination in mind; I saw him browsing the internet before leaving for church even though he made no mention of what he was doing. He wanted to find one of our beef customers in Nelson County.

We took scenic Route 60 west and stopped at Pino’s, a country diner in Buckingham County, for lunch. The food was superb and the variety on the menu was exceptional.  We then drove past another beef customer  a short distance down the road before heading north on Route 56 towards Nelson County. The rolling countryside was beautiful and there are a lot of cattle farms in Buckingham.  Only a farmer can truly understand the beauty of cattle grazing in lush, green fields.

After driving the main road for about thirteen miles, we turned off on a side road at Wingina and wound on a curvy road along the bluffs and foothills.  We admired the river bottom pastures and homesteads nestled against the ridge or perched high on the bluff  overlooking the James River and railroad tracks. We knew “sort of” where the farm was but was not able to identify it.  We knew he usually wasn’t at the farm on the weekends so this was not a business visit.  Because it was raining the only picture I took was this train trestle over the Tye River about 400 yards before it empties into the James, from the car window.  Otherwise, we still might not be home as I would be along the road or river somewhere taking pictures!


We eventually meandered our way to Route 29, headed north towards Charlottesville before catching Route 6 east towards home, with a brief stop at Walton’s Mountain museum in Schuyler.  It was neat driving through quaint towns of yester years; many of which are still thriving with pop and mom businesses.  Many towns I knew the names of but had never been through;  Lovingston, Scottsville, Fort Union, Columbia and George’s Tavern.  It made me appreciate a customer that regularly comes from Scottsville for his horse hay and shavings and now I can’t wait to tell him so.

I remember as a child a favorite Sunday afternoon activity was when our family took a leisurely drive. If you want to really learn to know an area, see where the locals live, figure out how roads connect and where they go; take a Sunday afternoon drive.  Time almost stands still as you cruise along without having to be at a destination in a hurry. It was five hours of pure pleasure!

Spring is Bursting New Life

Signs of spring are everywhere and it is so wonderful, so refreshing and so beautiful. We love riding the golf cart over the farm, admiring the cows and newborn calves.  The woods are just bursting with new life, flowers are blooming and birds are singing. How grateful I am to live in a part of the country that we get to enjoy spring. God is so good.

Take a ride with me…..




Red tulips


Strawberries are blooming. I can hardly wait.


The lettuce and onions will soon be ready to eat.


The Maple trees are blooming. As kids we called them “helicopters” because of the way the twirled as they flurried to the ground.


The poison ivy is growing well.


The pear tree is full of fragrant blossoms. Do you see the busy wasp collecting nectar?


Can you believe that in one month, right around Mother’s Day, these peonies will be full-grown and laden with sweet smelling flowers?

IMG_7892Blooms on the birch tree.

IMG_7894Lots of baby calves.

IMG_7901If a calf is red or has a white face it is the offspring of our Red Hereford bull.

IMG_7906Some of the cute faces of the calves.




Noah says his grandpa has 60 hundred thousand million jillion cows.


Curious cows and Noah is scared to death of them.


Gene used his hat to hold the fence down so that he could climb over the fence.


He went over and sat on the ground to show Noah how to be very still and speak quietly to the cows and they will come up to you.


The cows looking at Gene and working their way to him.


The cows were grazing and also enjoying the warm sunny afternoon.

I am reminded of God’s promise to Noah when he stepped off the ark and the earth was springing forth new life. It was fresh and clean and invigorating after months in the dark, cramped, smelly ark.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease”.

Genesis 8:22

Two more pictures….I took these several days ago.


A hazy, full moon.


Fun Week at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Farm

This is written by guest blogger, Karla Hostetter.  She and her brother, Ryan, have spent 5 days here over spring break. Karla is in 6th grade and loves to write.

The first full day I was here was Sunday. Noah came over and he had fun playing with Ryan and me. We first biked on the side of the driveway, but then decided to go into the cow pasture because Noah was having trouble biking on so much gravel. Ryan got tired of biking so he drove the golf cart beside Noah and me. Noah’s bike’s tire was starting to get flat so Ryan and I had to take his bike to Grandma to get the tire pumped up. I took my bike back to the house while Ryan got Noah’s bike. Ryan held the bike onto the back of the golf cart while I drove carefully and slowly to the shop. Noah’s tire got fixed by Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma pumped up the first tire, but could not get the second tire to pump up. That was because the tire slid out of its place. Grandpa put the tire back in place and got it pumped up. While Grandpa was fixing Noah’s bike, we went to play indoors. We had lots of fun. It was finally time for Noah to go home. His bike was fixed and he had fun.


The second full day was Monday. Monday was the day where I went to the back of the store with Ryan and Grandma to hold the baby ducks. I watched them for a little bit and got brave enough to hold one. He was a cute brown and black duck. I was just saying how cute he was to grandma when he did it. I didn’t realize at first but when I put him back in the cage and looked down at my hands, I spotted it. I spotted the poop on my hands. “ewww” was what I said. When I spotted the poop, Grandma did too. The entire time, from when I looked at my hands and walked back to the store counter where you check out, Grandma was laughing and laughing. That is a memory I do not miss.

Another thing that I did Monday was help clear the sticks from a certain spot across from the house. Grandma wanted to mow there so Ryan and I helped clear sticks for an hour or so.


We also drove the golf cart around the cow pasture which isn’t new, but getting the golf cart stuck was new. Ryan and I took turns on the golf cart and it was Ryan’s turn. He took the wheel and drove down to the bottom of the hill where it was muddy. The first time he drove over it just fine, but when we were going over it again he got stuck. I don’t blame him completely because I did tell him to go in through that spot, but I also did tell him to stop. I just said it a little too late. Ryan put the golf cart in neutral and then he got off the golf cart and tried to pull. I did the same. We pulled as much as we could pull and then we pushed as hard as we could, but it was no use. It would not budge. Ryan  started the engine again. The golf cart just got deeper and deeper into the mud. Ryan and I needed help. We walked all the way back to the store and told grandma. Grandma said that it was ok because they would get it out. Later Ryan and I hopped into Grandpa’s tractor and went with him to push it out. Grandpa didn’t stop the tractor for us to get out. He kept going until he pushed the golf cart out of the mud with the tractor’s “spikes”.

The last exciting thing I did that day was ride a horse! I biked to the horse stable and asked if I could ride. When they said yes,  my heart leaped with excitement. They told me that I would be riding Taz. I kept my bike helmet on and they saddled him up and I climbed up on the stairs and hopped on her because she was so big. I felt like I was so high in the air as I rode around the pen. It felt so magical. Taz. This was the most exciting day this week.


Tuesday was the day that Lauren came over. All three of us hung around for a while then rode on the golf cart. We drove the golf cart on the driveway and into the pasture. We eventually got tired of doing that and went back into the house.

Grandma said we could make cookies, so we decided to do so. We made Molasses Crinkles. We mixed the ingredients and then baked them. Some were a little crispy, but they were still good.


Lauren and I hung around and talked the rest of the time. Later, after Lauren left, I went biking in the cow pasture. I biked along the road until the pasture stopped and another one began. When I was pretty far down I saw out of the corner of my eye a cow laying in some wire. When I got close, it stood up scared. I noticed that it was tangled in the wire and stuck, so it couldn’t go very far. I wasn’t sure if I should help it myself or not, but I decided to leave that business to Grandpa. I raced back to the house, parked my bike, and walked up the driveway on the left side to get the golf cart from Ryan. I met him near the horse stable. He picked me up wondering why I was up that far up the driveway. I gave him a brief summery of what happened, then told him to take me to the store so I could tell Grandma and Grandpa. I found Grandma at the store and told her about the situation. She said she would go look in a minute. I went out to wait in the golf cart. Grandpa walked by the golf cart and went into the store. Then he came out and sat in the driver’s seat and asked me where I saw this stuck cow. I told him that it was on top of the hill and in the first pasture or the one you enter when you first go into the cow pastures. We took off to help the cow. When we arrived at our destination, Grandpa told Ryan and I to be very quiet. We were quieter than a lamb. Grandpa was amazing at getting the cow untangled. He first snapped the wire and pulled gently. Next he stepped on the wire to keep it still. Last of all he pulled a little more and the wire came off. The cow helped himself at the end by pulling away from the wire. Grandpa wrapped up the wire and put it on the fence post so it wouldn’t happen again. Ryan was going to take a picture, but he missed it. He had three to five minutes to take it and he completely missed it!

Wednesday, our last full day, and Lauren came over again but for a shorter amount of time. We started out by going to the store. Grandma had some chicks in the store and they were super cute! I decided to hold one. I enjoyed holding him lots. It was then when I decided to hold more chicks. I had held lots when a chick did it to me, again! I said, “Why does this always happen to me?” Grandma said, “I thought you wanted a farm?” I gave her a look that made her laugh. This pooping business has got me twice this week, and I didn’t come down here to get that!

Lauren and I played a game in the yard together. We would start a ways from the house. One person would close their eyes, spin around, and find their way to the house. The other person would tell them if they were close to something. Lauren and I played that game for thirty minutes or so. After we both had a chance to find our way to the house, it was time for Lauren to leave.

Later that evening I went on the tractor with Grandpa. During our “trip” I accidently said straw instead of hay. Grandpa told me the difference, which I was amazed at. I always thought that they were the same thing, but apparently hay is just dried grass. Straw is green, but turns yellow when ripe. When wheat turns yellow it looses some of its protein and the cows would still be hungry if they ate it, but with the dried grass, it will fill them up. I figured that I don’t need school with Grandpa around to teach me. 🙂


Ryan’s Spring Break at Grandpa and Grandmas

This is written by guest blogger, Ryan Hostetter. Ryan is in the third grade. Ryan and his sister, Karla, spent 5 days at our place over spring break.



Monday Morning…

Karla and I went to the horse stable to find out when Karla could ride a horse. The lady said” Come another day when it’s not windy”. While we were at the stable we saw some cats.




Monday evening…


When  we were driving in the cow pasture I saw a bull’s head-bone and the horns were still on!


In the morning, (Monday) I took a video of the cows chasing us with the hay bale.


Helped a customer find the baby chick room.


I was driving the golf cart (with Karla) and we went exploring in the cow pasture.  Karla thought it wasn’t muddy there so when we came back around Karla said, “STOP!” but it was too late. We were stuck and we tried pushing and pulling but it was really stuck.


How dirty the golf cart was after it was out of the ditch.


Karla and I cleaning the mud off the golf cart.

P.S. I did the cleaning basically.



One day it was so windy the barn at the horse stable flipped over.



I saw Spot snooping around under the fence.


How the marbles start


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