050206yard.jpg Welcome to the lower 40, otherwise known as the front yard of Chateau Thompson — three-and-a-half acres of rolling hillside that drops off sharply from the front of our house, sloping as much as 35 degrees as it plunges down towards a creek and the intersection of Greenbriar Lane (a private road) and Sandy Flats Road, which is sandy but never flat. At current gas prices it costs between $15 and $20 and takes most of a day to mow this expanse of green. The yard extends all the way down to the road and beyond the driveway that slopes down out of sight on the left. The yard and the view were high on the list of things that attracted us when we bought the house. But John Paul Houston, a previous owner, has since told us he had trouble selling the place because of the front yard. Too many people, he said, took one look at the yard and said "no way I’m mowing that." On some days, after several hours of dealing with the many twists and turns or leaning into the hill to keep the mower upright I wonder if they weren’t smarter than us. But only on some days.


  1. I don’t know, what is it about Americans and taming nature? … the more you demand the less is willingly given. Doug has a glorious piece of American heritage in the land he smiles at each morning over the rim of his coffee mug (though tea is more apropos for Virginia), why not look to different ways to care for it? Perhaps a wild-flower meadow and beehives, bringing back the lost flora of Virginia and a taste of why it is such a great place to live. You don’t need to subdue nature by burning petrol to enjoy it. Think out of the box.

    A couple of PSs:
    Sean Pecor: Get yourself to Southern Europe or North Africa and find out just how incredible goat can taste.
    Tom King: A few more acres might be needed for cattle 😉

  2. If I had so much space I think I would have a meadow – although for me a wood would be pretty high on the list too – but not with that view!

  3. John B, I think you have me confused with Fletch. But I may be even more anti-goat than Fletch 😉 In my experience goats are particularly good at eating what they’re NOT supposed to eat! I’ve had two bicycle seats eaten by goats. I’ve seen them eat snowmobile seats, john deere gator seats and expensive groundcovers. Goats in my humble opinion are loud and obnoxious animals that given the opportunity will teach well behaved lawn mowing sheep to mow things they’re not supposed to mow 🙂 Also, goats like to jump on top of cars. Goats are the only farm animal I expressly forbid on my property. On the other hand, they’re perfectly welcome on my dinner plate right next to the mashed potatoes 😉


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