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Shrimp Harvesting in Central Virginia

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Sugar Hill Sweetwater Shrimp

A basket of fresh shrimp on shrimp harvesting day

When you think about shrimp harvesting and eating fresh shrimp most people think about the gulf coast states, Central Virginia is probably not on your radar when it comes to shrimp.  After all, it’s a 4 hour drive to get to the ocean.  But just outside the quaint little town of Brookneal (about 45 minutes south of Lynchburg, Virginia) is the Sugar Hill Sweetwater Shrimp farm.  Mark Guthrie’s family has owned the farm since 1908.  He, his father and grandfather grew high quality tobacco on the farm until pressures from government and big tobacco companies caused him to look for a different cash crop.  What made growing shrimp possible was the fact that when his grandfather was looking to buy farm land he wanted a place with a good water supply.  He found a property with a spring fed pond to not only supply water for irrigation of crops but as a good supply of drinking water for the family.  A hundred years later that spring fed pond provides the water source for today’s shrimp ponds.

Water from the shrimp pond flows into this wooden box where the shrimp are collected

Water from the shrimp pond flows into this wooden box where the shrimp are collected

Each spring Mark purchases the larva of Giant Malaysian River Prawns.  In the wild, the Giant Malaysian River Prawns lay their eggs in the salty waters at the mouths of rivers.  The larva then make their way upstream to the fresh water of the river and grow.  Mark keeps the larva in a climate controlled environment until the pond water has warmed up sufficiently to move them into the ponds.  A paddleboat type device keeps the water aerated to enable the shrimp to breath.  Like other farm animals, shrimp need to be fed from time to time, but if life gets in the way of farming and you miss feeding them they forage the pond for their own food.  Another advantage to farming shrimp is you are not at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to heat, drought or too much rain, disease, insects, deer and so on.  As summer comes to an end so does the shrimp farming for the year because the shrimp don’t survive if the water temperature drops into the 50’s.

Harvesting shrimp is a relatively simple job.  The shrimp ponds were built with a low spot on one end of the pond and the bottom of the pond is sloped to the low spot.  Think of his pond as a half acre bathtub.  On harvest day, Mark simply pulls the stopper out of the pond and the water runs out the drainage pipe into a large wooden box that catches the shrimp.  The water flows through the box and continues downhill to the large spring fed pond.  The shrimp are then scooped out of the wooden box and put into holding tanks.  This year the shrimp were larger than in previous years because he stocked the pond with fewer larva allowing each shrimp to grow larger.

 

Capturing remaining shrimp net at the pond drainage pipe.

Capturing remaining shrimp net at the pond drainage pipe.

After the pond has been emptied the net around the drain is checked for any shrimp that didn’t get carried out of the pond through the drainage pipe.  After all the shrimp have been collected they are put on ice to bring their temperature down to 40 degrees or lower then they are ready to be sold.

Shrimp Harvesting

Transferring shrimp into holding tanks.

Unless you live on the ocean you probably can’t buy shrimp that are any fresher than these shrimp on harvest day.  The shrimp are textured and colored much like lobster and very low in cholesterol.

A male shrimp

A male shrimp

A female shrimp

A female shrimp

The male shrimp has claws at the end of a long blue colored arm.  The fertile female shrimp have a yellowish colored underside where their eggs are stored.  When preparing freshly caught shrimp it is best to keep the head on the shrimp because it adds flavor.  Shrimp that aren’t sold on harvest day are beheaded because there are enzymes in the head that allow the shrimp to digest their food.  If the head is left on the shrimp, those enzymes can start to digest the meat of the shrimp.  Cooling the shrimp below 40 degrees stops that process, but it is best to remove those enzymes if the shrimp aren’t being consumed right away.  Mark will be flash-freezing any shrimp that haven’t sold on harvest day so if you are interested in buying some fresh shrimp give him a call at 434-376-5375 or communicate with him via his Facebook Page

Shrimp before their ice bath

Shrimp before their ice bath

If you are looking for a unique experience you will definitely want to put harvest day on your calendar next year.  Mark typically harvests the shrimp on the third or fourth Saturday of September.  Directions to his farm from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast are:

1. Start out going southeast on Cabell Sttoward D St.

0.01 mi
2. Take the 1st right onto D St.

  • If you reach C St you’ve gone a little too far
0.2 mi
3. Turn left onto Rivermont Ave/US-501A. Continue to follow US-501A S.

  • US-501A S is 0.1 miles past Hancock St
0.8 mi
4. US-501A S becomes Church St.

0.2 mi
5. Take the US-29 S ramp.

0.1 mi
6. Merge onto US-29-BR S.

1.0 mi
7. Take the US-460-BUS E/US-501-BUS S  (Campbell Ave.) exit, EXIT 3B.

0.1 mi
8. Merge onto US-460-BR S/US-501-BR S.

2.1 mi
9. Stay straight to go onto US-501 S/Campbell Ave. Continue to follow US-501 S.

7.9 mi
10. In the town of Rustburg, Turn right onto Village Hwy/US-501/VA-24. Continue to follow US-501.

  • US-501 is 0.1 miles past Honeybee Ln
  • Hardee’s is on the corner
20.5 mi
11. Stay straight to go onto Lynchburg Ave/VA-40. Continue to follow VA-40.

3.3 mi
12. Turn slight left onto Sugar Hill Rd.

  • Sugar Hill Rd is 0.5 miles past Swinging Bridge Rd
  • If you reach Mt Calvary Rd you’ve gone about 0.5 miles too far
0.1 mi
13. 179 SUGAR HILL RD is on the right.

  • If you reach Ball Park Rd you’ve gone about 1.1 miles too far
The last step on shrimp harvesting day...Selling to the consumer.

The last step on shrimp harvesting day…Selling to the consumer.

We had thought about serving our guests a shrimp omelet but unfortunately the couple pounds of shrimp we bought didn’t make it past dinner.  Lesson learned….next time, buy more shrimp!

Apple Pancakes with Applesauce Syrup

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A bed and breakfast recipe, Apple Pancakes

Apple Pancake with Applesauce Syrup

This month we are celebrating the start of fall with our Apple Pancakes.  Fall is here, the days and nights are a little cooler and the local orchards have a bumper crop of apples so we decided to feature apples in our September signature breakfast.  We took our ultimate buttermilk pancake recipe and substituted brown sugar for the white sugar, added apples that were peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes and created a great syrup out of applesauce.

Of course, if you don’t live close to an orchard or a farmer’s market you can pick up fresh apples at the supermarket.  I used granny smith apples because they hold up well when cooking and add have a tangy sweet crunch to the apple pancakes.

Below is the altered recipe:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons of brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk–room temperature
  • 3 eggs–room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 medium sized granny smith apples, peeled and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces

First mix all your dry ingredients, (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl.  Next, beat the eggs in a separate bowl then add the buttermilk and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Add the cubed apples and gently fold until combined.  It is OK if the batter is lumpy.  If the batter is a little too thick you can add a little more milk but you don’t want the batter to be too soupy.

Preheat the griddle and pour about 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle. Flip the apple pancakes when you have bubbles that pop and don’t fill-in with wet batter.  Cook the flipped side until golden brown and then serve with maple syrup or Applesauce Syrup (below).

In keeping with celebrating the apple this month we made a thick applesauce syrup and topped the apple pancakes before we served them.  We hope you enjoy them as much as our guests did.

  • 2 cups chunky applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Mix the above ingredients in a medium sauce pan on low heat stirring constantly until mixture boils.  Remove from heat and serve over the apple pancakes.

Just a reminder that The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast posts a recipe to our blog each month.  There are now over 30 recipes on the blog!  We would love to serve you our legendary breakfast, but if you can’t make it to Lynchburg you can always try our recipes at home and let us know how you liked them!

 

Richard Thomas Watts dies

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Richard Thomas Watts
September 5, 1813-September 21, 1910

 

Richard Thomas Watts, better known as R.T. had the home at 404 Cabell Street built for he and his family in 1878.  Today the home is The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg Virginia and was named as one of the top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the United States by BedandBreakfast.com.  On the anniversary of his death we are reprinting the obituary that was published in Lynchburg News on September 22, 1911.

Citizen, Business Man and Veteran Passes Away After Long Illness.

Richard Thomas Watts, aged 78 years, one of the pioneer wholesale merchants and for many years a man prominent in the financial affairs of the city, died yesterday morning at his residence on Cabell Street where he had been ill nearly two years.  Mr. Watts’ illness dated back to a stroke of apoplexy which was sustained on November 17, 1908.  He recovered from that sufficiently to be about, but never gave attention to business.  For some days his condition had been critical and the end did not come as a surprise today, for it had been expected for the past day or two.

Mr. Watts was a native of Bedford County, having been born on September 5, 1838.  When but a youth he went to Salsibury, N. C. and at the age of 18 years started in business with the firm of G, M. and A. T. Jones.  Later, he went to Selma, Ala.,where he was a partner in a merchandise business with A. T. Jones.  When the war between the States broke out, Mr. Watts enlisted as a private in company A, Second Virginia cavalry, joining that command at Manassas Junction.  He served as a private and color bearer with that company until he was recommended by General T. T. Munford, now of Lynchburg, for promotion as adjutant of Whites battalion, this promotion coming for bravery.  He held that command until May 6th, 1864 at which time his horse was killed under him and he was wounded and taken a prisoner at Spotsylvania Courthouse.  He was sent to Fort Delaware, where he was held prisoner of war until the surrender took place, after which he returned to his old home in Bedford.

Later he came to Lynchburg and together with his brother, the late J. W. Watts, and brother-in-law, the late George M. Jones, formed the well-known house of Jones, Watts & Co., this being one of the first wholesale houses of the city.  In 1888 he retired from this concern and became largely interested in coal properties as well as holding other large financial and industrial institutions of the city.  Until his health gave way he was vice president of Lynchburg Trust and Savings Company and a director in the Lynchburg Cotton Mill, as well as in other private industries of the city.

Mr. Watts was educated at Emory and Henry College, having spent several years there before the war.

On April 22, 1874, Mr. Watts married Miss Emma M. Hurt, a daughter of the late Stephen H. Hurt, who, together with four sons and a daughter, survive.  The children are:  R. T. Watts Jr.,  Dr. Stephen H. Watts of the University of Virginia; James O. Watts, R. C. Watts, and Miss Mary Watts, all of whom were present when the end came.

Mr. Watts was a member of Court Street Methodist church, having been faithful in his attendance upon its services until sickness prevented him from doing so.

The funeral service will take place this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the residence, and the burial will be at Spring Hill.

General T. W. Munford, who recommended the promotion of Mr. Watts, has prepared the following tribute to the decease:

Adjutant R. T. Watts entered the Confederate Army as a private in Company A, Second Virginia Cavalry, from Bedford County, then commanded by Capt. W. R. Terry, who was promoted to the Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry as its colonel, succeeding Colonel Jubal A. Early, and subsequently becoming brigadier general of Pickett’s Division, Col J. W. Watts a brother of the deceased, succeeding Colonel Terry at the re-organization of the army in March 1862, was elected lieutenant colonel without opposition.  He detailed his brother as courier at his quarters.  He soon attracted my attention by his dash and strict attention to all duties.  At a sharp encounter between General Ewell’s division, to which we then belonged, and General Hooker’s division near Bristoe station the day before the second battle of Manassas, it became necessary for General Ewell to retire his battery because of the advantage of position and metal of the enemy, but is was a delicate .  Ewell was not there to bring on a battle nor to run, he ordered me to send a sergeant and four men to gather up the debris left by our crippled battery, not wishing to show that it was a retreat.  Courier R. T. Watts was dispatched for this detail and soon returned with the four troopers.  General Ewell said to me: “Where is the sergeant?”  The reply was: “He has not yet gotten up.”  I replied, “Watts will take them himself and the next time the sergeant will listen to his instructions.”  Watts was then told by General Ewell to go to that position and gather up every buckle that belonged to the battery.  We were watching and they were soon dashing up to where the battery had stood.  The enemy opened fire upon them, but they literally swept the deck and brought off everything.

General Ewell remarked to me: “That fellow should be a sergeant, for he has won it by distinguishing himself.”

The next day in the great cavalry fight he was made by my order sergeant major of the Second Cavalry.

Col Elijah White, whose original company had served some months  with the Second Cavalry, wrote me a note requesting me to send him a man to act as his adjutant and believing Sergeant Major R. T. Watts qualified he was dispatched and graciously accepted the offered position, and he more than once exemplified his qualifications and satisfaction for the promotion.

“Adjutant Watts was a quiet, unobtrusive, active soldier.  Like his noble brother, when his name is mentioned in the presence of old comrades it will ever be with pride which only Confederates felt toward each other and understand.”

Buchanan Swinging Bridge

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photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, Lynchburg

Buchanan Swinging Bridge

Perhaps the most recognizable architectural structure in the town of Buchanan is the Buchanan Swinging Bridge.  Not long ago we read an article about this quaint little town and decided to head there to check the town out and to see if there were any treasures we couldn’t live without in the couple of antique stores in town (there weren’t).  The town is a small southern town on the James River.  Main Street is dotted with mom and pop shops (there were no chain stores that we saw).  The people were friendly and this would be a great place to get away from the rat race.

Stone Pier of the Buchanan Swinging Bridge dates back to 1851

Stone Pier of the Buchanan Swinging Bridge dates back to 1851

While the town is small, the town and the bridge are rich in history.  The bridge is 366 feet long and just over 57 feet tall and portions of this bridge date back to 1851.  Today the Buchanan Swinging Bridge is recognized as a National Register Historic Landmark.  The large stone pier rising from the James River was constructed in 1851 as part of the Buchanan Turnpike Company’s Toll Bridge. Back then, the bridge was a covered bridge.  The toll to use the bridge was five cents for every person plus an additional five cents for each horse, mule, oxen or wagon.  On June 13th 1864 Confederate General McCausland burned the bridge by packing it with oil soaked hay and then lighting it on fire when Union General William Averell’s cavalrymen attempted to cross the bridge on their way to Lynchburg where they would join up with Union General Hunter who was under orders to burn Lynchburg because Lynchburg was a major supply depot for the Confederate Army.  The wind carried embers across the river and eleven houses burned.  Averell’s men helped extinguish the fire.  The bridge survived the fire but was unusable.  The next day, General Hunter’s troops crossed the Blue Ridge Mountain (on what is now Route 43) on his way to Lynchburg.

After the war, the bridge was rebuilt but in 1877 the bridge was destroyed by a major flood.  The R&A Railroad Company built another bridge during this time and that bridge was toll free.  In 1897 this bridge was replaced with a steel bridge that remained in use until 1938.  In July 1937, construction of the current concrete James River Bridge was started with an agreement to maintain a pedestrian bridge (today’s Buchanan Swinging Bridge) between the town of Buchanan and Pattonsburg (the town on the opposite side of the James River).  Today, the Buchanan Swinging Bridge uses the large stone pier of the original covered bridge that dates back to 1851.

If you are looking for a nice day trip you may want to consider a trip to Buchanan where you can grab a bite to eat at one of the mom and pop restaurants in town.  From Lynchburg, take RT 460 west to Bedford’s RT 43 exit.  Stay on RT 43 and you will wind up at the Peaks of Otter entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Turn Left onto the Parkway (heading south) and stay on the Parkway for about 5 or 6 miles until you see the exit for RT 43.  Take Rt 43 into the town of Buchanan.  As you enter the downtown area, the bridge is on the right.  Driving time from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg is about 90 minutes.  And just in case you were wondering, yes, the bridge does swing back and forth as you walk across the bridge.

Monks visit Randolph College

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Monks making a mandala at Randolph College

Monks making a mandala at Randolph College

Randolph College welcomed back a group of Buddhist monks from the Rashi Kyil Monastery in Derha Dun India.  The monks are touring the United States and will be on campus for 5 days. During that time they will be not only interacting with the students and facility but with those that want to stop by and visit.  While on campus they will be working on a Mandala (a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the universe).  Most mandalas are the form of a circle with a square.  Mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts as a spiritual teaching tool for establishing a sacred space and is an aid to meditation and trance induction.  The mandala is made by arranging colored grains of sand into a pattern.  This practice has been done since the sixth century.   Two years ago Randolph College hosted the monks on their tour of the United States.  They also created a mandala then so and you can watch a video of their 2011 visit if you can’t make it to Randolph College before they depart.

 

The mandala is expected to be completed tomorrow (September 11, 2014) early afternoon.  At 3:30pm they will hold a closing ceremony in which they will destroy the mandala and disperse its colorful sand into a nearby creek.  The public is invited to watch the monks finish the mandala as well as attend the closing ceremony.  The mandala is being made at the Houston Memorial Chapel on campus.  Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to witness a historic form of religious art as well as interacting with the monks.

Work in progress by monks at Randolph College

Work in progress by monks at Randolph College

UPDATE:

Yesterday, September 11, 2013, Kathy and I attended the closing ceremony at Randolph College.  The mandala had been completed (photo below) and then the monks chanted and then gathered all the sand up and it was distributed to those in attendance.  After everyone got their sand, there was a procession to a stream that feeds into the James River and the sand was sent downstream.

photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Completed mandala

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Closing Ceremony at Randolph College

Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia is a small liberal arts school.  Formerly known as Randolph Macon Woman’s College, men were admitted four years ago and the name was changed.  This is one of the most beautiful schools I have ever seen.  Additionally, it has been ranked as one of the top schools in the country.  They often have speakers and events that the public is invited to attend such as this one.  If you are visiting the area or considering a college you want to keep this one in mind.  Check out their website at:  http://www.randolphcollege.edu/.

 

2013 Tour of Historic Homes

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123 Harrison Street, Lynchburg VA

Tour this home on the Tour of Historic Homes. The Sneed House was built in 1894.

It’s that time of year again!  School is back in session and life is getting back to normal and the Lynchburg Historical Foundation is hosting its annual tour of historic homes.  This year the homes will be in the Garland Hill Historic District on Sunday September 22, 2013.  This is a great opportunity to tour 5 homes that were built from the mid 1800′s to late 1800′s.  These homes will be open from 1:00-4:30pm.  Tickets are $20:00 per person and all proceeds benefit the Lynchburg Historic Foundation programs.  In addition to the tour is the patrons’ party which will be held at the home of Anne Taylor and Joe James at 303 Madison Street.  Tickets to the patrons’ party are $75.00 per person and include the tour as well.

This beauty was built in 1882 and will be open for the 2013 Tour of Historic Homes

This beauty, The James Loyd House, was built in 1882.

Again this year, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, Lynchburg’s award winning B and B is offering two free tickets to our guests that book at least two nights with us the weekend of September 20-23, 2013.  To obtain your free tickets to the 2013 Tour of Historic Homes mention the tour when making your reservation. (See below for restrictions.)

Tickets to the Tour of Historic Homes can also be purchased the day of the tour at one of the homes on the tour or prior to the tour at the Lynchburg’s Visitor Center located at the corner of 12th Street and Church Street in downtown Lynchburg.

As many of you know, I love the character of old homes which is what brought us to Lynchburg.  Today’s modern homes have many great features but what most lack is the character that went into homes, especially those built from 1870-1920.   This blog contains exterior photos of the five homes that will be on tour.  Hopefully you will be able to attend the 2013 tour of historic homes so that you will be able to see the interiors of these homes.

Give us a call today at 434.846.1388 or go on-line at www.TheCarriageHouseInnBandB.com to make your reservation for that weekend!

Will look forward to seeing you September 22, 2013 for this annual event!

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

A wonderful property featured in the 2013 Tour of Historic Homes. The Padgett House was built in 1883.

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

The Wilson House was built in 1894 and is a must see!

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

The Tabb-Slaughter-Diggs house is the oldest home on the tour, built from 1845-47

 

Restrictions:   this offer cannot be combined with any other offer, special, package or discount.  You MUST mention the tour when making reservations to obtain your free tickets.