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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!

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.

 

 

 

Lynchburg Museum highlights local aviators.

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Chauncey Spencer,  Lynchburg's Tuskegee Airman

Chauncey Spencer, Lynchburg’s Tuskegee Airman

The Lynchburg Museum will be hosting an exhibit featuring Local Aviation Pioneers for First Friday, August 2,2013.   Lynchburg was the home of many great pioneers, most recently Leland Melvin who was aboard the 24th and 31st space shuttle flights to the International Space Station.   Before Leland made his historic flights the path was paved by other Lynchburg residents including Chauncey Spencer, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, Vincent “Squeek” Burnett who is reported to save the B-26 Bomber program during World War II, by training pilots on how to properly fly the plane which had a reputation of crashing.  Other notables include Lieut James Roland Kyle, Jr,  Woody Edmundson, Dan Druen, Lucille Kent and George Loving.

There will be lots of photographs and displays showing the accomplishments of these aviation pioneers.  Additionally Charlie Burnette, who helped found the Virginia State Police helicopter program in 1968, Lawrence Falwell, co-founder of Falwell Aviation and member of the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, and Jim Rogers, who served in the US Air Force for 20 years and is author of: Planes, Pilots, and Gofer Tales of Lynchburg, Virginia’s Old Preston Glenn Airport will be on hand to answer questions.

The Lynchburg Museum is located at 901 Court Street and will be open free of charge on Friday 2 August from 5:00pm until 8:00pm.  The Museum is on the free trolley route that loops between participating attractions.  For more information, call 455-6226, or visit www.lynchburgmuseum.org.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about those from Lynchburg who made aviation history.

Note:  Guests of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast love to tour this museum.  It is small but it tells a great story about the area and it’s people.  This is one exhibit you don’t want to miss.

Spirtual Concert at Old City Cemetery

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On Sunday, July 14th between 3:00-4:00 PM, at the Bicentennial Chapel on the Old City Cemetery grounds in Lynchburg a special concert will be performed.

The Soulsters from the Hill, based out of Diamond Hill Baptist Church,  will present a free and informal music performance of late 19th and early 20th-century Negro spirituals in the style of Fisk Jubilee Singers.  The majority of the songs are performed almost exclusively a cappella.

The original Jubilee Singers introduced “slave songs” to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving this unique American tradition known today as Negro spirituals.  “Slave songs” provided information, inspiration and hope to slaves.  The songs represented survival.

Although this concert is free, reservations are required.  Please contact Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg VA at 434.847.1465.  For directions visit their web site at www.gravegarden.org.

If you would like to visit Lynchburg for the weekend stay with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  We promise we won’t sing for you, either with music or a cappella!

 

2nd Annual Lynchburg Restaurant Week

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Lynchburg Restaurant Week was such a hit, in it’s inaugural year, that it is returning in 2013 between June 22-29, 2013.  Restaurant Week invites the local community and those visiting our city, while staying at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, to experience some of Central Virginia’s delicious local fare.

Featuring 22 local, independently-owned restaurants offering 26 special “price fixed” dinner menus, this week of wining and dining also benefits Meals on Wheels of Lynchburg through a portion of the sponsorship proceeds given to the local non-profit.

As an added feature this year menus will feature a “100-Mile Meal” logo.  This logo represents the conscientious effort made by the local restaurant owners and chefs to source ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of Lynchburg.  Some of these ingredients include herbs, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy.

Restaurants this year can be found throughout downtown Lynchburg, Boonsboro, the Wards Road and Graves Mill Road area and other great dining pockets found in the greater Lynchburg area.

For more information about which restaurants are participating, menu selections, hours and for the chance to win a gift card to one of the 22 participating restaurants visit www.LynchburgRestaurantWeek.com.  You’ll be glad you did!