“Skunking” Away

Jun. 19th 2013
Sunset at Belle Grove by Tamara Riley

Sunset at Belle Grove
by Tamara Riley

Yesterday was another one those days that so much happened that it was hard to write about it all. But there is one more thing I just have to tell you about.

If you follow the blog and Facebook, you know we have allot of wonderful wildlife. We have deer, groundhogs, osprey, rabbits, eagles and raccoon. Recently, I came across a skunk that seems to like to hang out in our lane at the entry of the plantation. When I first saw it at night, I thought it was a cat. But the white strip down the back quickly told me this was not a “cat” I wanted to get close to.

Yesterday, we got a surprise for our skunk. He decided to head over to the bowling green and visit the grassy field behind the caretaker’s house. Being sunset, I thought I could finally get a good shot of him. So I jumped into my car, windows rolled up mind you, and headed to that side of the driveway.


He had moved off into the tall grass and my camera doesn’t have a good long range lens so it was hard for me to get up close. So, I decided to do a little off roading. Of course with all the rain, I was just praying I didn’t get stuck in the mud. Can’t you image me telling the toll truck driver, “Yeah, I got stuck because I wanted a close up picture of a skunk.”  Boy would this small community have a laugh about that one! Thankfully I didn’t get stuck.

What I got was a really funny story!

I got up to the edge of the grass and I could see him walking towards the caretaker’s house. He was down low in the tall grass, so all I could get was this black thing moving through the grass. I kept thinking to myself, “Just look up!”

Then I got an idea…. I will tap on the roof to get his attention. Yes, I had the window rolled down to get a better shot.

So I reached up and tapped on the roof….

Have you ever seen a cat when you startle it?

It jumps up really high in the air.

That is what this skunk did!


He jumped up, turned to face me and had his tail sticking straight up in the air!

It was so funny!


After a few seconds, it continued on its way.

I tapped the roof again.


It jumped, turned and had it tail up again!


It continued walking….

I did this about five times, each time, it would jump up, turn and had its tail sticking straight up in the air!

I only got two good shots of him doing this because after the second time, I was laughing too hard!

I pulled away from the grassy area and the skunk made his way on through the grass. I am sure I will get another chance to see him. My friend who was visiting me later saw TWO skunks near the bowling green. Who knows. Maybe one day we will have baby skunks too! But now I have to think of a name for the two. One thing is for sure, it won’t be Pepe or Flower.

Anyone want to make some suggestions?

Sunset on the River on 6-18-2013

Sunset on the River on 6-18-2013

To see more wildlife here at Belle Grove

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 32 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!

To see more about Belle Grove Plantation

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

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