Letter to the Editor

Editor, The News-Gazette:

Why is Virginia still under a state of emergency?

It is the state of emergency in Virginia that allows Governor Northam to mandate masks, social distancing, and crowd limits. But Virginia isn’t sick, SARS-COV2 isn’t as deadly as we feared and there is little evidence that masks are effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The rolling seven-day average number of deaths related to SARS-COV2 in Virginia has been less than 10 deaths per day since Sept. 26, and an average of only five deaths per day since Oct. 11.

Although we are seeing a lot of positive tests nationwide, those who are affected and are less than 70-years-old have a better-than-99 percent survival rate due to improved therapeutics and treatment protocols.

Most importantly, a survey conducted by over a dozen medical institutions for the CDC and published in Sept. 11’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Fisher, et. al. 2020) showed 85 percent of those who contracted COVID-19 during July among the study group either “always” or “often” wore face coverings within the 14 days before they were infected. More than 70 percent of those outpatient individuals who tested positive reported always wearing masks. Just 3.9 percent reported never wearing a mask.

With daily deaths so low, such a high survival rate among those affected by SARS-COV2 and masks apparently having little effect, why are we still under a state of emergency and a statewide mask mandate?

If you have questions about the State of Emergency, please call Governor Northam and ask him for clarification. I have tried a number of times to make contact with his office and have had no success – (804) 786-2211.

BECKY ALMY Kerrs Creek

Editor’s note: According to a “fact check” by USA Today following the release of the Sept. 11 report mentioned in this letter, that report is open to misinterpretation.

Taking the mask off to eat in a public setting had a lot to do with contraction of the virus, according to the study, the USA Today noted. The Centers for Disease Control tweeted about the study that “People w/ and w/o #COVID19 had high levels of mask use in public. Even for those who always wear a mask, there are activities where masks can’t be worn, like eating or drinking. People w/ COVID-19 were more likely to have eaten in a restaurant.”

The report, the USA Today writer explained, analyzed 314 symptomatic adults who received SARS-CoV-2 test results during July. Of those, 154 tested positive, which were referred to as “case patients.” Another 160 tested negative, referred to as “control patients.”

While 70.6 percent of the case patients self-reported always wearing a mask, a higher percentage of the “control patients” who did not contract COVID-19 self-reported always wearing a mask, “which suggests that their mask-wearing may have helped stave off the virus.”

The USA Today story also noted that just 11 patients in the entire study reported that they never wore masks. “So the percentage of individuals who tested positive and never wore masks was guaranteed to be low.”

The CDC continues to recommend wearing masks as a way of preventing the spread of the virus from those with COVID-19 to others. CDC director Robert Redfield said last month that the U.S. would be able to get the coronavirus outbreak under control if people universally wore masks and socially distanced for 12 weeks.

Researchers from the University of Washington’s School of Medicine recently predicted that current state strategies could lead to over 500,000 deaths nationwide by Feb. 28, but that nearly 130,000 lives could be saved if at least 95 percent of the public wore masks.

Link: https://www.thenews-gazette.com/content/emergency-order-mask-use-questioned


We are Harvest Hosts!

We have been RVers for a couple of years and decided to sign up for Harvest Hosts last year. After a trip this summer, and a lovely stay at the Morris Farm Market in North Carolina, we decided to become a HOST!

What is Harvest Hosts?

Harvest Hosts is a membership program that provides access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, museums and other unique attractions that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight. For a yearly membership fee, Harvest Hosts’ members are invited to stay at hundreds of interesting locations around North America, and experience new opportunities to explore and enjoy the RVing lifestyle. The company’s goal is to provide meaningful experiences for RVers and Hosts alike.

Staying at Owl Moon Farm

You can visit the farm year-round and camp overnight in our hayfield. We offer NO amenities (no power, no water, no sewer) but the views can be terrific. We’re close to I-64 so we might just make the perfect stopover on your next RV trip.

Check out their site to learn more. www.harvesthosts.com

Why is Virginia still under a state of emergency?

With 0-1 deaths related to COVID per day in the entire state, which seems like a pretty clear win, I’m still left wondering – what are we waiting for?

In the past few months, there has been an incredible amount of research and data collected to show, definitively, that Virginia (and the nation) are in great health, and that the continued panic regarding SARS-COV2 is unhelpful, and in fact, quite dangerous. We have never, ever, eradicated a virus like SARS-COV2 (or any other coronavirus, or any influenza virus) with vaccines, social distancing, or mask wearing, and to suggest that it is even possible to do so is simply anti-scientific. We have no idea what our population’s IFR is with annual influenza, for example, because we do not routinely test healthy people for the flu. So with nothing to compare SARS-COV2 to, every COV-positive test seems terrible – even though the overwhelming majority of people who test positive are non-symptomatic, ie, healthy.

We were told our strict lock-down measures were put in place to “flatten the curve” and to “slow the spread” in order to improve our hospitals, equipment and staffing. We were not trying to ELIMINATE the virus or to STOP the spread. Epidemiologists have long understood that herd immunity is required for a virus to die out. Unfortunately, due to the drawn-out lock-downs, we are 8 months into this and we still have a virus.

Thanks to science, we now have numerous successful treatment protocols and safe and effective medications that are improving the outcomes of most patients. In fact, we are seeing a better-than-99% survival rate in all patients except those 70 years and older, who, after age 72, have out-lived their average life expectancy in the United States. We simply aren’t seeing the firestorm of disease we were warned about in the now-debunked Imperial College study. With all this excellent news, why are we still mandating masks and limiting crowds?

We are as safe from SARS-COV2 as we are from SARS-COV1 and the annual cold or flu. We don’t mask school children for the flu – which they actually do spread to adults – and we don’t limit the number of people at outdoor gatherings for the flu.

This State of Emergency must end. Immediately. And we must return to normal. Not new normal. NORMAL.

This may come as a surprise to some of our neighbors, but it’s not just me saying so. I hope you’ll take the time to read The Great Barrington Declaration if you haven’t already. 

In addition to the CDC and VDH websites, I’ve also found this website to be very helpful in sifting through the data.

On the fence?

Creators Of Hope Rising, Revive Us To Host “Non-Essential” Outreach Event For Christian Voters. The live-streamed event will feature worship and influential guest speakers, including Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Kirk, and Kirk Cameron

CHINO HILLS, Calif., Oct. 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — From the creators of successful Faith outreach events such as Hope Rising and Revive Us, comes Non-Essential, a get-out-the-vote event for Christians ahead of the 2020 election.  

The event will take place at Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, California, in front of a live audience of 2,500 people, and will be streamed on nonessential.live from 5:00 – 7:00 PM PST on Sunday, October 18, 2020. All speakers, musical guests, and audience attendees will be live, in person (not via video stream).

During the event, national faith leaders and panelists will explore and discuss the unique issues of 2020 in relation to faith and voting, such as COVID-19, national civil unrest, the sanctity of life, racial division, and more. Worship will be led by leading recording artist, and K-LOVE Male Artist of the Year, Danny Gokey. The ultimate goal is to encourage the more than forty million inactive Christian voters in the United States to participate in this year’s election.

“Through amazing worship, powerful guest speakers, and insightful casual discussions, Non-Essential is going to unite Christians together from around the entire country,” said Ryan Higgins, Co-Creator of Non-Essential and Founder of The Tempus Collaborative.

“Every election cycle, I’m both shocked and disappointed to learn how many Christians do not participate in our elections and it’s my hope that an event like this can make a historical difference,” Higgins continued. “In an era when attending church, worshiping, supporting our police forces, protecting the life of the unborn and so many of the Christian values we hold dear are being deemed non-essential, it’s time for the family of faith to stand and have our voices heard.”

For more information

Letter to my pastor


Hey! It was good to see you, albeit briefly, at the Farmer’s Market this weekend. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to catch up!

This is a note that has been on my heart for a long time. Actually, it’s been right at a month. I pray you’ll hear me out and not take offense when I say that we believe insisting on masks and encouraging social distancing due to COVID-19 is spreading false information and even propaganda.

  1. There is simply no science to support healthy person mask-wearing for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Here’s a link to an article about Mask Facts
  2. There is simply no science to support the need for the prevention of this particular disease. (Many sources to follow.)

We know that children are not at risk of dying of COVID-19, nor do they contribute to the spreading of SARS-Cov2. We know that tweens, teens and young adults are at an increased risk of suicide due to social isolation, insecurity, and covid-related anxiety. We know that testing is guaranteed to find positives even in people (and fruit!) with ZERO virus (source more), meaning that 2020 deaths are up to 94% mis-attributed to Coronavirus, and that widespread testing is not only a terrible policy on the practical level, it is no longer recommended by CDC (source). I recently learned that the CDC has been tracking what it calls “Covid-Like Illness” (CLI) throughout 2020 and going back to November of 2019, and found that we are at the SAME levels today as we were in November 2019. Meaning either COVID-19 was around then and no one knew/cared, or it’s gone now (Page 7 for the CLI information).

We know that the government is fast-tracking a vaccine that is neither safe nor effective, and that it is likely to contain a bioflouresence material (eerily called Luciferace; I am not joking) which will allow people to be “tattooed” with a “mark” to prove they have received the vaccine. (source)

We believe this is a hoax, perpetuated as a way to control the US citizens. Maybe just to mess with the election, or maybe to force us to take the vaccine. Either way, our family is simply unwilling to engage with organizations or people that are unwilling to look behind the curtain. (Ephesians 5:11)

Our family was excited to join the XXXXX family for in-person services in July. We had been attending church from home all summer, at XXXXX and at XXXXX (my mom’s home church), but were really craving that community engagement that can only happen when we gather together.

 We recognize that things are weird post-covid, and that you and the church, especially meeting in XXXXX, may be held to a higher level of scrutiny than some churches in our community. We know the temperature around the US is rising, which might make wide open gatherings risky. We’re seeing riots raging all around the country, which are not only condoned, but are in fact celebrated by the media and political elites. Casinos and shopping malls are open, but many churches are forced to remain closed, or have willingly refused to re-open. Courageous pastors like John MacArthur, Ken Graves, and Rob McCoy are being fined and threatened with lawsuits and jail time – for exercising their right (and duty) to open their doors to their congregations.

At first we were willing to say, Pastor XXXXX is doing what is best for the congregation, he is protecting the least vulnerable. Isn’t that what Jesus would want us to do? If some people are nervous about coming to church because some people aren’t wearing masks, it makes sense for him to send a note begging people to wear their masks and practice social distancing. So we stopped attending services because we didn’t want to be a stumbling block for others.

But the masks are a lie. The risk of this disease is overblown. The tyranny that Americans have willingly endured (even welcomed) is shocking. And by engaging in this charade, you are spreading the lie.

I’ve heard the Romans 13 argument plenty of times this year, summarized as “God put our rulers in place and we are called to obey.” However, to borrow from John MacArthur, “while civil government is invested with divine authority to rule the state, neither [Romans 13 nor 1 Peter 2] grants civic rulers jurisdiction over the church. …God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church.” (full letter) We the People are the civic rulers in the United States of America. The Constitution is in place under our consent.

As a newbie in the congregation, I do not know the administration hierarchy of XXXXX Church. I know not owning your building puts you at a significant disadvantage. But those things should not be enough to stop you from serving the church, the body of Christ, with a vision for the Kingdom first and foremost in your mind. 

Regardless of where you stand on the COVID-19 “issue,” your alarm bells should have been screaming when your state mandated that churches be closed. Ever. But especially over Easter. Then into May, and June..? Throughout the summer you have seen the media blow this out of proportion, ginning up fear and encouraging citizens to give up their liberties. 

YOU as the pastor could have insisted on in-person gatherings from the beginning. Once gathering was allowed again, you could have said “wear masks if you want, don’t wear ’em if you don’t want to.”

YOU as the pastor can find a new location if XXXXX requires heightened and erroneous restrictions on your church. You could meet outside at a park, or at someone’s farm where there is plenty of room for folks to distance if they want to, not to mention all the fresh air for virus-killing. 

And if anyone (leadership, elders, staff, long-time members) doesn’t want to come, they don’t have to.

With an eye to our eternal heavenly Kingdom, and the real, literal second-coming of Christ on earth, Christians are told to expect a falling away. We are called to jump into the refiner’s fire, to be willing to be uncomfortable, unpopular, even martyred! We are not called to go along to get along. We are not called to put up with tyranny. We are called to be discerning and when we find false teaching we are called to shout the Truth.

Getting kicked out of XXXXX or losing an elder or two is nothing compared to the risk of spreading falsehoods – especially within a community of people who are looking to you for guidance.

We want to attend a church with a pastor that is willing to take a stand. Are you that pastor?


First Farmer’s Market!

We are so excited to be a founding vendor of the Kerrs Creek Community Market! Our first market is THIS Saturday, May 30th, and we’d love to see you. Come by between 9 and 12 to meet us and some of our neighbors!

Hart Burn Farm
Corner of Rte. 60 and Fredericksburg Rd.
Lexington, VA

We will have yarn, roving and raw fleeces from our homegrown CVM/Romeldale Sheep.

Rose getting shorn in 2015
Rose and Flower fresh off the shears

Etsy store is CLOSED

We have decided to close our Etsy store. Please email us for information about our yarn, come see us at the Kerrs Creek Community Market (most Saturdays 9-12), or visit House Mountain Yarn Co. in Lexington!

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve opened an Etsy shop for Owl Moon Farm! We have 200-yard skeins of 2-ply, sport-weight yarn from 4 sheep (Cloud, Stormy, Dot and Rose) for $24.00 each. I’ll ship anywhere – just shop and Etsy will calculate your shipping costs. I have 24+ skeins of EVERY color in stock right now!

2017 Yarn Etsy


Two summers ago I went to a fermentation workshop at Blooming Glen Farm in Bucks County, PA with Amanda O’Brien of Phickle.com. I really enjoyed the workshop and learned a ton. I left feeling inspired and determined to eat only fermented veg from then on. But I ended up killing everything I tried! My cabbage kraut got dry and moldy and my whey-pickled carrots were just gross. I enjoyed the pickled beets we made during the workshop, but since I had been keeping them in the microwave {uncovered}, the jar ended up overflowing and pink pickle juice was everywhere. I started to think pickling wasn’t right for me.

But this summer I was determined to try again. I attended another fermentation workshop in February, this time hosted by the local chapter of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering, and something about hearing some simple recipes and tricks from women just like me made it seem 100 times more doable.

Bormioli Rocco Fido Hermetic Jars

The most important thing I learned that night was to use the swing-top, Fido brand jars for everything. The rubber gasket allows built-up CO2 to escape, and that positive pressure means no air {or mold} can enter the crock. This summer I have made at least 8 batches of pickles in my Fido jars with zero mold. I did a test batch in a regular mouth mason jar with an airlock {like this} with the same results.

Cabbage Kraut JuiceThe second most important thing I learned: If you’re mashing up some cabbage, and you don’t have quite enough water squeezing out to cover the cabbage {even after you’ve added a weight}, you can add more salted water and still have positive results. It seems pretty obvious to me now, but my very first attempt at sauerkraut, way back in 2012, was such a dry, dismal disaster I threw it out and swore I was done with homemade sauerkraut. That’s three summers of no fresh kraut. But my kids decided they love sauerkraut, so I had to give it another try. For my first batch of the season I had such an old head of cabbage, I didn’t think any amount of mashing would yield enough liquid. So after mashing and squeezing as much as I could, I just topped it off with salty water everything turned out just fine.

IMG_5164I’ve been using the Sour Pickles recipe from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. He calls for “2 to 3 heads garlic, peeled,” but even with my “epic” garlic harvest this year {approximately 60 heads}, I don’t have enough to do that, so I usually end up doing 5-6 cloves, and 3 Tbsp. dill seeds, plus a “handful” of oak leaves {supposed to keep ’em crunchy}. I fill a half gallon mason jar with water and 6 Tbsp. of salt and shake to dissolve. Once my crocks are packed with veggies I pour the salty brine over everything. Sometimes I need to mix up a little more, but if I have extra I just save it until the next batch. I’ve used the same recipe for pickling cucumbers, beets {peeled and sliced}, and green beans {raw} all with delicious results. {Read here about why a cloudy brine is OK.}

Overall, I’ve been really excited to get pickling this summer and encourage you to give it a try!


Puppy Update: 1 year

The “puppies” turned one this week! Here are some of the highlights of their first year:

Both collies participated in a Herding Instinct Test in April and performed very well. While we have not had a chance to get any more formal training, we brought home two new lambs that weren’t keen on going to the barn at night, so we started letting the collies help us get the sheep into the barn. Both dogs were eager to help, and were quick to pick up on what we were asking them to do. Unfortunately, their eagerness means they often over-run the sheep. Both dogs in the pen at the same time seems a recipe for disaster, but even having the not-working dog outside the pen seems to increase the energy level too much for my comfort, so we’re going with one at a time for now.

Kep & Findlay have shown a great interest in “helping” with the chickens as well. They do not seem inclined to harm the birds, but their energy can get out of control and has, on more than one occasion, led to the “rolling” of a hen. I have deliberately asked each dog for help with the chickens from inside the pen one time. For a while few of our birds insisted on “roosting” under the chicken house instead of inside it and since we needed to move the house the following morning, I needed all the birds inside. I was able to get three of the four inside by myself, and Kep helped me catch up the straggler. He was definitely excited but really seemed to be listening to me. On a second occasion, after a chicken refused to cooperate following a chicken-house-move, I took Finn by the collar and walked with him behind her, saying “Easy, easy..” His presence alone was enough to gently encourage the wayward hen to return to the flock.

After losing a few chickens late last summer, presumably to airborne predators, we have not lost another since the boys have been on full-time duty. We did have an accidental chicken death in the fall when one of our younger hens left the pen and ran into the barn. All the dogs chased her and she got squeezed between some old barn boards and the stone wall. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was our 12-year-old dog, Hickory, who had the last contact with her. After getting Hickory out, I was able to send Finn into the tight space and encouraged him to “get the chicken.” He brought her out just far enough so I could grab her and I asked him to give her to me. He dropped her at my feet. While Kep & Finn are probably too old to be considered for full-time chicken guardian duty, they have done an exceptional job keeping our chickens safe from outside the pen.

The collies have separately or as a team, killed, retrieved, scared off or otherwise annoyed: 5+ moles, 1 groundhog, 1 squirrel, skunks, coyote {twice}, deer, hawks, crows, vultures, bears {suspected}, owls {much to my chagrin} and 1 tom cat. They have proven to be useless against mice, so far. 🙁

Kep & Findlay have been wonderful with our dogs and our children. They are still a little too interested in our two outside cats, but don’t bother the indoor cats at all. Finn is the more sensitive one, reacting like his feelings are hurt when I’ve reprimanded him. He also doesn’t like to be touched from behind. He’ll ask for space and hasn’t shown any true aggression, but he really, really doesn’t like to be brushed or have his nails trimmed. In fact, he’ll put his mouth around my hand {or the comb I’m using} to dissuade me from grooming him. Unfortunately, his very, very thick coat tends to get matted and is constantly full of burrs so we’re working on it a little at a time, trying to make it a positive experience for him… Kep, on the other hand, lets me comb his entire body and trim his nails. Finn’s coat is also much thicker than Kep’s, and I do prefer Kep’s easier-to-maintain coat.

Kep is more biddable, probably because he has bonded more closely to me. Findlay is not nearly as willing and in fact can be a bit of a bad influence – he is much harder to recall and tends to run off {a bad habit he learned from our older dog, I am sure}. While I know focused training could help with some things, Finn often looks right at me when he’s disobeying, as though daring me to get angry. He just doesn’t have the instinct to “help” that Kep has. Fortunately, we have a lot of space, so when Finn runs off he’s usually still on the farm, but he does chase the car off the farm {I have to put him in his kennel now when we leave} and has recently started going next door to bark at my neighbor’s penned hunting dogs. Kep chased us for a while – I could tell he wanted to stay put but was persuaded by his brother to disobey – but seems to have grown out of it. Kep almost never misbehaves if Finn is not around.

Findlay is an absolute love when you’re not messing with his fur or feet. He “hugs” and is an incredibly gentle “kisser,” just barely touching you with his nose, and always with a closed mouth {unlike Kep who is an exuberant and toothy kisser}. Finn has never met a stranger, which makes him a great greeter on the farm. In fact, one of our biggest challenges has been keeping him away from our rental cottage – he keeps an eye on the doors and makes a beeline whenever he sees someone step outside. Finn will run up and waggle all over the guests while his brother is barking his head off. It’s a bizarre scene to be sure…

Bottom Line: We have decided to neuter Findlay and leave Kep intact. It was always our plan to choose one of the pups to breed, and I think Kep is a more complete package – at least for what I’m looking for in a farm collie.

Our plan for the next year: 1) Get more sheepherding training and practice and 2) Find a female to start a family with 😉 We’ll definitely have our hands full!


Two pups on one rock
Two pups on one rock

Kep {2 Months} and C
Kep {2 Months} and C

Puppies {2 months } and Hickory
Puppies {2 months } and Hickory

Two Puppies at the Bonfire {3 Months}
Two Puppies at the Bonfire {3 Months}

Finn {4 Months} and O
Finn {4 Months} and O

Kep {7 Months}
Kep {7 Months}

Kep & Findlay {8 Months}
Kep & Findlay {8 Months}