Meet the Bunnies of Belle Grove

Jun. 5th 2013


Something was tickling his nose. He raised his head and that was then he could feel the warm morning sun shining down on his little nest. The blades of grass dripped another drop of dew and it tickling his nose again. He quickly nuzzled down his head into the warm fur that his mother had placed for him just before he was born. He loved the warmth and smell of his mother. It made this little nest feel like home.

Suddenly he heard his name being called, “Jasper, it’s time to get up.” The sweet sound of his mother’s voice let him know that it was breakfast time. If anything could get Jasper up and going in the morning it was the thought of the sweet blades of grass and clover in the field beside the driveway.

Out he came, stretching and raising his face to the sun to warm him. Just as he stretched out his front paws, the attack came. It was on top of him before he could react. A hard thump and over he rolled. But it was the giggles of his sister, Alice that let him know that he was okay. “Alice! You scared me!” Jasper shouted at her as she made her escape. “I know. That’s why I did it.” She laughed and hurried to catch up with her mother and father as they made their way toward the driveway field.

Jasper thought about how he would get her later. As he raised his head, he could see over the bluff at the river that gentle flowed by this plantation. This morning a mist was raising off the water and made it look dreamy. Overhead he could hear the birds singing. There were hundreds of birds here of every shape and size. Cardinals, Robins, Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Blackbird and Finches all call this plantation home. There was even a pair of Osprey that nested here every year. Miss Dolley and Mr. James weren’t a danger Mother had said because they ate fish from the river. When the Osprey weren’t here, the Bald Eagles were. Mother said that they needed to be watchful with them.

River Morning Mist small

“Jasper, come on!” shouted his father, Francis. Jasper ran quickly to catch up. The field beside the driveway wasn’t far. They just had to come around the big house to get to it. They generally stayed close to this area, even though the fields were as far as the eyes could see. Jasper sometimes wondered what the grass on the other side tasted like. He had asked his mother, Sarah, but she had told him she didn’t know. She had said that they didn’t go over there. He had thought about asking his grandmother, Rebecca because she knew everything. She had been around this plantation for a long time and was the keeper of the history.

Grandma Rebecca had told him that his family had lived in this field for many, many years. Her stories had come down from generations of other bunnies that had lived before them. Jasper loved her stories and begged her to tell them often. Grandma Rebecca would talk to them as the nibbled on the clover. Maybe today she would tell them another story.


Just as Jasper rounded the corner, he stopped fast in his tracks. His family was standing very still and was laying low with their ears down. He knew this was a sign that danger was near. He was just a few feet from them, but to him it was miles away. He didn’t know what it was and he was scared.

It was just a minute later that he realized that one of those loud, moving things was passing by on the driveway. He didn’t know what it was, but it was loud. The sound broke that silence of this plantation and he didn’t like it. His father that told him that it was something that the humans used to move around in. He had seen them get into it and disappear. His father had warned Jasper and Alice to stay away from these humans. They were dangerous and could harm them. Hearing the noise from this big thing, Jasper believed his father.


A minute later and it was gone. The family of bunnies moved over to the field by the driveway to eat their breakfast. After a quick nibble of the grass, Jasper sighted his sister just a few feet away. She was taking a break alongside the driveway and enjoying the bright, warm sun. Jasper decided it was time for revenge. He crept up on her, slowly, one hop at a time, nibbling grass to throw her off. Slowly, slowly, he was almost there. Jasper lowered himself to get a good spring. One, two, three…. He jumped up high to pounce on her. Before he could land his jump, Alice had turned around and leaped back at him. Surprised, Jasper couldn’t react. Alice caught him mid-air and they fell back to the ground. She was on top of him and then she was gone. Jasper rose up and ran after her. They chased each other, laughing until they were worn out. Out of breath, they stopped and rested.

Mother and father were still nibbling on the grass. Alice had found a spot in the sun and was again nibbling on her favorite clover. Jasper had also found his place in the sun. Its warm rays heated his back and gave him that warm nest feeling. Before he knew it, he was drifting to sleep. As he closed his eyes, he thought to himself, “This is the best place in the world.”


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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Bunnies of Belle Grove | 20 Comments »

The Calm After the Storm

Jun. 3rd 2013


Yesterday as I was driving home from the Bridal Show in Fredericksburg, I got surprised by a very bad thunderstorm. I took Port Conway Road, which is a shortcut from Route 3 (Kings Highway) back to Highway 301 (James Madison Highway) to get back to the plantation. As I was driving the wind really picked up. This road has allot of overhanging trees, so my main worry was not getting hit by one coming down.

Port Conway Road is really a very nice road and it cut some of our plantation acres in half. Just as I was about to the end of our plantation, lightning struck some trees. The trees had to be no more than half a football field’s length from the road. I first saw the flash of white light and then saw bright red sparks flying everywhere! It took my breath away! I was so glad it didn’t hit my car! I didn’t stay long to see if the trees fell or not. The wind was too high and the rain was coming down too hard.

After I got in, I settled down to writing my post about our Bridal Show while the thoughts were still fresh in my mind. The wind started dying down, but the rain kept coming in small squalls. Around 9:30 (eastern) as I was just finishing up adding all the pictures, the lights went out. Okay, now I have to tell you, it kind of freaked me out a little. I mean think about it. A heavy rain storm going on with a clash of thunder every now and then. A huge old house in the middle of a plantation. No lights…anywhere. I think you get my meaning.

Thankfully I had my “safe guard” nearby. I have started carrying a flashlight lantern when I go to and from the house and car during the night. You never know what is moving around in the dark. So I grabbed it and turned it on. With what was left of my battery on my computer, I finished the post and published. Then hunger struck.

I headed out the door, yes at 10:00 to get something to eat. I decided that I would head to Horne’s in Port Royal. This is one of the greatest late night diners in the area. As I headed down the lane to the highway, I caught sight of what I thought was a black and white cat. But something struck me as odd. The legs were too short! That is when I realized what it was. We have a skunk on the plantation! Let’s hope Hurley doesn’t find out!

After dinner, I headed back to the house. That is when I realized we were still without power. By this point, my cell was dying so I sat in the car and let it charge while I kept Brett up. I know I was really stalling because I didn’t want to go inside without lights, but really it was a little scary to think that I would be all alone in this dark house with no way of seeing what was making any of the sounds. And believe me, it was dark! Both inside and out. Brett just told me to go in and go to sleep. I told him to just call and get me a hotel!

I didn’t want to just sit there so I headed back down the lane. As I pulled out onto the highway, I saw the lights at the small church come on. So I turned around and headed back in. Sure enough all the lights were on inside the house. Whew…. I got inside and pretty much crashed until this morning.


Bright and Early

We have been having contractors coming to make minor repairs over the last week. Mainly it has been the plumbing company. But this week, we got the handyman repairs started. It should take but a week or two to get things done, but looking at it you would never thing so.

I woke up at 6:00 and tried to drift back to sleep. It didn’t happen. As I lay there snoozing, I heard Dolly, our osprey. I knew it! I looked out the window and the handyman guys were here. It was 7:30. I jumped out of bed and dressed quickly. I didn’t care how I looked. I was just glad they were here and were really to go!

After everyone arrived and they got going, I headed back over to King George to make some copies. Wow, the storm was really bad last night. The first thing I saw was the wheat in the field. It was all bent down and laying on the ground. I told Brett about it and I have to say I love his response!


“Alien landed and left crop circles”

Then I headed down Port Conway Road to see if I could see the trees. Oh wow! They really did take a good hit! It was amazing that they didn’t look worse! What was more amazing was that they didn’t fall or hit me!


Back at the plantation and I was running around the mansion taking pictures of the work going on. I have to document this to add to the Belle Grove Plantation History! But these guys (and one girl) were amazing! They got so much done today! Chris Haller, owner of Lakeside Services (the handyman) told me that it would take two weeks total and I wasn’t sure if that was going to be right. But looking at the way they busted things out, I think we may get it down right on time!

Chris Haller of Lakeside Services

Chris Haller of Lakeside Services








Jason and Cheryl from Harries Plumbing have also been great! They have work so hard to make sure the water system was up and in great condition. They have flushed out all the hot water heaters, checked the bathrooms, check and turned on all the ice makers (we have two), install four water facets outside and even gotten into the crawl spaces to check all the pipes. They are so great!


Around 4:00 I got a call that our banner was ready. I ordered a banner to place at the end of the lane near the highway to use as a temporary sign until we can get ours installed. I am going to have Brett put it up this weekend. If you are driving down Highway 301, you should be able to see this weekend!


As I arrived back at the plantation, I got a wonderful thrill! You know how I just love the wildlife here. Well, as I entered the lane, I was greeted by a groundhog at the start of the lane. But just down about half way, I could make out the head and ears of a white tail deer laying in the wheat fields! It was amazing. As I slowly moved up, a second one appeared! She was just grazing on grass with her cute white tail flickering back and forth. Sadly they heard me and moved on into the wooded area. But then as I came into the bowling green, there sat two sweet rabbits nibbling on grass. How sweet to have them all greet me as I return home.


And just when I didn’t think it could get any better, I got surprise guests. Sarah and Dave, from Gloucester stopped by. They are moving a friend in the area. Sarah brought me another cookie! This one is from Ginger Snaps and is her daughter’s business. This cookie  is too cute to eat! Since I got to eat the last ones, I have decided to take this one to Brett. I know he is going to love it! Thank you to Sarah and Dave for the wonderful surprises!

Now I am off to eat dinner and get ready for the “Evening Show”, our sunset. The clouds have parted and the sky is almost clear. Maybe with the few small clouds this afternoon, we might get a few sun rays for the sunset. Either way… it has been a great day at the plantation!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 33 Comments »