BIRDS OF A FEATHER
When Barbara duPont is not out riding her horses, she roams the fields with her feathered friends. Barbara is a falconry enthusiast. Her falcon, Darwin rides around perched on the back seat of the car while Barbara runs errands. “My bird is a tierce (male) by a Gyrfalcon Falcon from the far north Alaska, Canada, Antarctica and a Saker Falcon from the Arab peninsula and India,” Barbara reports.”He was bred in captivity by Robert Kennedy, yes son of Bobby, who’s a long time falconer and breeder.
Darwin is “flown” on ducks, partridge, and anything he fancies with feathers. “Crows are hunted on horseback and are fabulous sport for falcons in Scotland and the Border District,” Barbara says, adding.
“He’s a very sociable hawk and enjoys all our family, sleeps and shares his dinner with our Maine coon cat, Sassy, who’s his self appointed body guard on occasion. He’s such a wonderful bird and it’s a true privilege to work with these magnificent wild creatures.”
APLCAS, LLAMAS, AND CAMELS OH MY
At Heronwood Farm in Upperville well-known real estate developer and arts philanthropist, Robert Smith switched from raising Thoroughbred race horses after seventeen years to breeding Huacaya alpacas in 1999. While in the horse business, Smith sold several yearlings at the Saratoga sales including one colt, for $650,000. The horse business encompasses presents many challenges, chief among them a fractious young horse with a risk of injury before ever getting to the starting gate.
The current potential return on the investment in alpacas is a bit more solid. The (docile) offspring usually sell for equal to the price of original female. (According to the The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association a top female can run from $25,000-150,000.) In addition to selling alpacas for breeding and show, Heronwood Farm also sells fleece for knitting as well as finished sweaters and soft teddy bears and will be part of this year’s Hunt Country Stable Tour on Memorial Day weekend.
Alpacas, llamas and camels all come from the same family. Recently Indi, an adorable one-year-old dromedary camel, was sent to Middleburg for a possible rehab at the horse swimming pool. Indi, the swimming camel, was unable to walk and made a gallant attempt in the water for two weeks, but sadly didn’t make it due to a mysterious illness.
SWEETIE PIE AND COW PIES
Harriett Condon didn’t have room for a horse and always wanted a donkey. So when she heard about the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program, she did her homework and then hitched up her horse trailer. She drove down past Lorton to pick up Sweetie Pie.
“I’ve seen these donkeys all over the world, they’re so dear and good little friends,” Harriett relates.
When folks in Middleburg are looking for a dear little friend they frequently turn to Hilleary Bogley, the president and founder of the Middleburg Humane Foundation. Here one can adopt not only cats and dogs, but also goats and even a pet pig. Hilleary also runs Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor and a thrift shop in the village to raise funds for the foundation.
The extraordinary countryside in this corner of Virginia also provides abundant grazing for numerous breeds of bovine. Actor Robert Duvall has a field full of refined Texas Longhorns. Lisa and Zohar Ben-Dov raise those delightful fuzzy Scottish Highland Cows as well as the Belted Galloways, fondly referred to as Oreo coos.
Meanwhile, Dr. Betsee Parker, who recently purchased the 129-acre historic property known as Huntland, will soon be carrying on in the tradition of Viola Winmill when her goats are fully trained to pull a vintage Victorian cart.
And oh…about that Zebra. Nderu lost an eye in an unfortunate encounter with a horse. She became a bit unpredictable and was sent to the Washington Zoo, where she lived happily ever after.