The Family Residence at ThunderCroft

As both Buck and Janet attended Virginia Tech, the family residence is often revered as the "Hokie Homecoming Place," and as such, has evolved into a retreat for extended family, friends and businesses acquaintances.  When not otherwise immersed in the day to day maintenance of the property, Buck and Janet take care of a few horses, chickens and pets, harvest honey, maple syrup in the winter and can fruits and vegetables from the garden. The family opens their home to accommodate extended family and to host an occasional wedding for close friends and family.  ThunderCroft also welcomes a few corporate meetings whose guests find the mountainside homestead a relaxing reprieve.

The Family Residence

Kitchen and dining room tables are always a pleasant spot to relax or work

Amenities For Visitors

Daytime visitors and overnight guests are welcomed to use the family swimming pool and hot tub and even the meadow fire ring for personal and business pleasure.  Trail hiking and horseback riding are also options to consider.  Sometimes guests just prefer to sleep in and then spend the remainder of the day relaxing on one of the exterior porches that overlook the majestic mountain vistas just beyond the property.  Wildlife encounters are almost guaranteed daily and guests are rarely without a camera to record their experiences.  For the more adventurous guests, long hikes can be taken up Brush Mountain Trail to the fire road at the top for miles of hiking along the ridge.  Biking is great in the area on back roads and numerous activities can be experienced in the area to include hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and visits to numerous local attractions.

Wildlife Observations "Back Porch Style"

Wildlife observation begins just outside the family's backdoor.  With several protected porches, guests can linger with a cup of coffee from sun rise to sunset, taking in countless opportunities to interact with birds, insects and small mammals.  Landowner Buck Cox recommends a field guide for quick and easy identification of species and perhaps a field notebook for occasionally taking notes on one's experiences.  

View from back of residence

Rudbeckia hirta, Black Eyed Susans

Speyeria cybele, Great Spangled Fritillary

Xylocopa virginica, Male Carpenter Bee

The Family Pool

Just a short stroll beyond the flowerbeds is the swimming pool and hot tub.  A favorite gathering place for family as well as for friends and guests, the pool and hot tub offer a relaxing reprieve with stunning views of the mountain vistas that surround ThunderCroft.

Meandering path towards pool and hot tub

Family at the Pool, (left to right), Jarus, Kara and Janet

The Family Garden

As sustainable living is also a major goal at ThunderCroft,  the family maintains a summer garden which supplies most of vegetable requirements for a healthy diet.  Early in the spring, the ground just beyond the family residence is tilled for the coming season's crops.  Early cool weather crops are first with a variety of greens including lettuce, spinach, chard and kale.  After the first frost, more seasonable crops such as beans, potatoes, squash, zucchini and melons are planted which thrive in the warm mountain climate, producing an abundance of fresh vegetables well into the fall months.

Early spring garden with first crops

A Word On Egg Color

The actual egg color itself is determined by the genetic structure of each hen.  Each individual species will lay a certain color ranging from white to blues and greens and even shades of brown.  The overall health of the individual chicken as well as her individual diet will be reflected in the intensity of the color as well as any unusual markings such as spots or streaks.  The actual "egg making process" can be likened to that of a "conveyor belt" of sorts.  Each chicken has a predetermined amount of eggs in her ovaries at birth.  As a young hen, her ovaries will begin releasing eggs one at a time until she runs out of eggs.  When the egg is released from her ovary, it travels down her oviduct and eventually is laid, roughly 24 hours after its initial release.  Then, within roughly an hour, the process begins again.  Very young hens whose hormonal cycle is still maturing often work a little quicker and much older hens will work a little slower.  During the passage of the egg through her oviduct, it stops along the way to have an exterior shell deposited as well as various  naturally occurring chemicals which will determine its color.  The chemical oocyanin, a natural byproduct of the hen's bile formation, produces hues of blue and the chemical protoporphyrin, a byproduct of hemoglobin breakdown, produce hues of brown.  Olive green eggs are formed when both chemicals are released.  Interestingly,  only the blue color permeates the entire egg shell so the interior of both blue and green eggs is blue, yet the interior of brown eggs remains white!

Birds of a Feather, The Girls of ThunderCroft

As with all sustainable country living, ThunderCroft would not seem complete without the 'Girls of ThunderCroft', the hearty and lively flock of chickens that provide top notch insect control and an endless supply of fresh eggs.  Although they are equipped with a henhouse for protection against predators and the elements, most days you will find the flock gently meandering around in the upper field adjacent to the house.  Only at dusk, with a little prodding from their keepers, will they flock together and dutifully return to the safety of their mobile coop.  Visitors lucky enough to visit the actual "hen house" during egg collecting time often inquire about the numerous different colors ranging from whites and browns to blues and greens as well as notable differences in the sizes of the eggs.  We have compiled some "egg facts" here to help visitors understand these characteristics.

By mid week, the eggs are sorted and ready for sharing

A cold winter morning's collection rides home in a hat!

Zucchini and Green Beans offer their bounty from early summer into fall

An early summer fawn

One of the girls!