How to Wow Potential Buyers

Any homeowner looking to sell wants to make sure their house is in the best possible condition when it goes on the market. Not only does this mean checking off all the traditional items from a seller’s to-do list – applying a fresh coat of paint, cleaning carpets, pressure-washing driveway and decks – but also thinking a bit outside the box in terms of enhancing curb appeal and making it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living happily ever after in your beautiful home.

Getting Your House Ready to List

As you prepare your property to sell, it’s important to remember that there will likely be other homes on the market similar to yours and that are competing with yours for potential buyers’ attention. A home that looks well-maintained and tidy, both online and in person, will do as much to attract buyers as the amenities of the property itself.

Consider the following tips to help your house make the most favorable first impression.

  • Clean up a messy, neglected yard. Imagine driving up to a house where grass is knee-high, bushes need trimming, mulch is old, tired or non-existent… Curb appeal suffers tremendously when the exterior of a home is not up to par. A first view of a home where the landscaping, driveway, and/or lighting shows neglect may tell a potential buyer that the rest of the home may be run down as well, killing that buyer’s enthusiasm to tour the property before they even enter the home.
  • Banish the clutter. Whether inside or out, an excessive amount of “stuff” is often a deal-breaker for anyone who’s trying to imagine themselves living in your house. Too many photos and personal items may also call too much attention to current property owners’ families, pets and past. De-cluttering and de-personalizing a space go hand-in-hand in making your home as appealing as possible to buyers.

De-cluttering can be a daunting task, yet there are plenty of small businesses that focus entirely on home organization, trash removal and storage. Sometimes a homeowner may not wish to part permanently with personal items, in which case a storage unit may turn out to be the best solution, at least in the short run.

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint, inside and out. Most buyers are seeking a move-in ready home. A house that is in obvious need of painting may be a huge turnoff to a buyer who doesn’t want to have to deal with such a large project so soon. Inside, neutrally-colored walls look great in photos and may make rooms look larger or brighter, while outside, curb appeal is greatly enhanced by a freshly painted exterior.
  • Hire a handyman to take care of any small repairs. Dripping faucets; burned out light-bulbs; cabinets that don’t close properly. These are some of the details buyers will notice as they walk through your home, mentally comparing your house to all the other homes they are viewing. It will be well worth the effort to make a list of any repairs, small or large, and hire a handyman or plumber to help out on whatever tasks require a bit of extra time, effort or expertise.

Sprucing Up Your Home by Staging

The decision to purchase a house is as much an emotional decision as it is a practical one. In a competitive real estate market, it’s important, once again, that the property looks as amazing as possible by the time buyers start viewing it. Appearance needs to be flawless – or as close to flawless as possible.

The visual psychology of prepping a home for sale is as critical as anything else. Once a buyer says to him or herself, “I could live here…” then they are already mentally starting to make that possibility a reality. The goal of staging is to make the home as impersonal yet attractive as possible through a process of de-cluttering, rearranging furniture, displaying colors that are warm, neutral and inviting, and making sure lighting is clean and bright. For some, the payoff for styling a home with a professional stager is well worth the extra expense.

Tips for the Day of Showing or Open House

  • Leave the premises. A homeowner who is present during a showing or open house can make buyers feel uncomfortable or crowded.
  • Make sure potential buyers will have plenty of time to roam through your house and won’t feel pressured to show an immediate interest.
  • Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature, particularly on very hot or cold days.
  • Create a welcoming atmosphere by making sure the house smells pleasant, clean and fresh. Strong air fresheners, candles or spray perfumes are distracting or may simply turn off certain buyers who are allergic to or don’t care for certain aromas.
  • Turn on lights in each room or open blinds or curtains to let in as much natural light as possible, but also to highlight certain outside features or views.
  • Set a mood by leaving a fire in the fireplace, turning on soft music, or leaving a plate of cookies or finger sandwiches as an additional welcoming touch.

For more tips on preparing and staging your property to sell, check out these informative sites.



Grace Cove Estate at Falls Lake

Exquisitely Designed Grace Cove Estate Home on 30 plus private acres adjoining Falls Lake! Heavily wooded, gated, paved drive, 8000+ square feet, pool and more! $2,395,000

Two story foyer at custom marble-tiled entryThis exceptional property is located just minutes from Falls Lake and close to both Raleigh and Durham. Built in 2008, the custom five bedroom, seven full bath home offers all of the amenities including an open floor plan, HUGE kitchen, first floor master, four car garage with bathroom, a two car garage/workshop downstairs, outdoor porches and patios, pool, custom waterfall and Koi pond, and attentive landscaping throughout.

Interiors feature ten foot ceilings on the first floor with five piece crown molding, heated floors, domed stained glass, a two story foyer with custom marble, arched doorways, elevator, extensive custom mill work, custom wrought iron, heart of pine floors, granite vanities, an extensive security system and so much more. Over 1,200 sq. ft. of unfinished space and storage! Poolside covered entertainment area

The quartz counter tops in the kitchen are matched with stainless steel appliances and Sub Zero freezer. There are two fireplaces with wood stove in the library along with wormy chestnut paneling, and please remember the home gym and craft room.

The first floor master suite is spacious with extra sitting room, onyx vanity tops, large garden bath with heated jacuzzi tub, separate walk-in steam shower, and extra large his & her closets, both completely cedar lined.

The well-landscaped exterior include two private automatic gates, paved drive, 5000′ of galvanized fencing, two wells with water filtration system, all on 30 plus acres! Call brokers Frank Gombatz (919)-696-4249 or Gardner Reynolds (919)-749-3177 for details.



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Historic 1800’s Southern Plantation Home for Sale

This Historic 1800’s Southern Plantation Home on 12+ acres has been Respectfully and Lovingly Restored with Modern Amenities. It is located in a Country Farm setting just minutes from Historic Warrenton, and Convenient to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Rocky Mount, and Roanoke Rapids. Currently a successful Income Producing Wedding Venue & B&B, this 7000 sq. ft. Manor House with 7+ bedrooms would also make an impressive private residence. Horses Welcome! Limited Owner Financing available. Call for Details!

Magnolia Manor Plantation For Sale

It doesn’t happen often that a unique property with a sterling reputation and proven business income becomes available in our area. When that property includes 13 acres, a restored and updated plantation house that dates originally to the early 1800s, several original outbuildings, a pecan orchard with 21 mature trees along with a variety of other trees, and a magnificent showcase Magnolia tree, it is truly a one-of-a-kind offering. The Magnolia Manor  could be your primary residence if the business wasn’t part of your dream.

Magnolia Manor Plantation is a rare gem. Known as a charming Bed and Breakfast, and operated since 2003 by the current owners, the distinctive property is also a premier wedding and event venue in the

Piedmont area, consistently winning awards for its “barn weddings.” However, the sophisticated charm and stunningly beautiful setting of this Warrenton property belie that description. No matter. If you are interested in further exploring the possibilities of Magnolia Manor Plantation, please contact us at your earliest convenience. 

Contemporary Wedding Trends

Outdoor weddings, particularly those that combine rustic elements with traditional romantic trappings, are all the rage. A recent article in The Atlantic notes that in 2017, 15 percent of couples planning to “get hitched” chose a farm or ranch for the event, and flocked to local barns throughout the nation for receptions that combine both rustic and upscale elements. 

It’s a trend that continues to grow in popularity, according to online wedding authority. The Knot, a popular digital magazine and wedding planner, insists that traditional venues are losing their appeal. In the search for personal expression, meaningful individuality and trendy themes, what has become known as “rustic chic” is at the top of the list. Part of the appeal is the juxtaposition of natural beauty and timeless tradition as exemplified by worn woods, soaring spaces, weathered beams and earthy accessories that can be brought together in a barn setting.

One explanation is the immense popularity of outdoor ceremonies; retreating to a barn for dinner and dancing eliminates the need for a ballroom and, essentially, tosses old “rules” out the window. While beautiful gowns and formal wear are still the choice of most couples, a barn wedding is as likely to feature bare tables and wildflowers as formal table setting with candles and exotic centerpieces. There is a more relaxed vibe. Crystal, engraved menus, white tablecloths and tiered wedding cakes can give way to Mason jars, chalkboards, homespun and pottery, and cupcakes with ice cream.

A barn wedding doesn’t necessarily spell boots and denim or polkas and square dancing, but it does tend to put all ages at ease, and prompts wide smiles on the faces of all guests! Millennials, in particular, gravitate to the inherent informality of a natural, sometimes folksy setting, even though rustic does not equate to cheap!

North Carolina Barn Weddings

Our state, with its varied terrain and unique historical sites, offers great options for outdoor weddings, from the beach to the mountains. There are also many choices available for a rustic-themed celebrations.  

The barn at Magnolia House Plantation, however, is not your typical red barn with an overflowing hayloft. In fact, you won’t find hay bales anywhere on the property, and there are no farm animals in residence.

What there is, instead, is a choice of distinctive ceremony sites scattered throughout the acreage.

Couples can choose to exchange vows on the front porch of the manor house, in the orchard, under the spreading boughs of the Magnolia tree, or elsewhere — on a secluded rise with only lawn and sky for a backdrop. Receptions are most often held in the Carriage House Pavilion, known as “The Barn,” complete with a wooden dance floor and a bar setup contained within an adjacent silo. But, again, there are options.

That’s just part of what makes Magnolia Manor Plantation appealing.

Wedding packages at this historic venue traditionally allow use of the home’s interior spaces for changing rooms or for overnight guests, and the grounds are available for wedding and engagement photographs. 

Looking Ahead

The reputation and future potential of this year-round business are intertwined with the property’s appeal as a wedding venue, but it is equally suitable for other types of celebrations and corporate events or just call it home. A cadre of trusted and cooperative vendors is available to transition to new ownership and to building ongoing relationships. 

If you are interested in further exploring the possibilities of Magnolia Manor Plantation, please contact us at your earliest convenience. Opportunities like this never linger long on the market. $985,000!

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Three Fun Summertime Day Trips in the Piedmont

Three Fun Summertime Day Trips in the Piedmont

May 13, 2019

From the golden Atlantic beaches of North Carolina to the Great Smoky Mountains, our state is a natural playground for those whose recreational interests range from biking to hiking to wine tasting and beyond. In the Piedmont region alone, there are opportunities galore to get out of town for a half- or full-day adventure that are sure to entertain the entire family.

Discover Mayberry

Just a short drive from Raleigh, scenic Mount Airy will immediately seem familiar to anyone who’s seen an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show over the years, the setting of which was based on the small town of Mount Airy – Andy Griffith’s own home town. The quaint streets and neighborhoods of this charming community continue to draw visitors today with such attractions as the William F. Carter house, Galloway Opera House, Holcomb Hardware and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, while Mayberry R.F.D. aficionados enjoy visiting and reminiscing at the Andy Griffith Museum and Playhouse, Floyd’s Barber Shop, the Mayberry Replica Courthouse, Wally’s Service Station and Mayberry Courthouse. The fun annual Mayberry Days festival occurs in late September each year, drawing thousands.

The location of this idyllic town is the perfect starting point for visits to the many wineries of the Yadkin Valley, and an ideal town to visit for its many parks, greenways, museums and historic sites. The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway is an easy hour’s drive from Mount Airy, and Pilot Mountain State Park, with its extensive hiking trails and campsites and the iconic, distinctive peak of Pilot Mountain, is also a brief car ride away.

Explore a Piedmont Vineyard

You won’t have to travel far to visit one of North Carolina’s dozens of outstanding Piedmont-region wineries and vineyards. Situated in scenic rural settings between Raleigh in the east to Charlotte in the west, North Carolina’s Piedmont wineries offer tours, tastings and opportunities to explore vineyards and winemaking operations in many of the most scenic areas of the state.

  • The family-friendly Catawba Farms Vineyard & Winery, less than an hour from Charlotte, has something for everyone, with an on-site tasting room, vineyard, picnic area, farm animals for the kids, and an historic inn which also serves as a bed & breakfast. Wine, of course, is available to purchase by the glass, bottle or case, and Friday through Sunday, food is also prepared for purchase. Find out more about Catawba Farms here:
  • The picturesque, 35-acre Cypress Bend Vineyards produce a broad range of 16 Muscadine – or Scuppernong – table wines. The winery features an outstanding tasting room, retail shop offering food and snacks for purchase, and a large, comfortable front porch for sipping wine and enjoying the expansive views of the grounds. Jazzy Fridays, occurring every Friday year-round, are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family, enjoy some dancing, and hear some fabulous live jazz in an outdoor tent.
  • Pittsboro’s Chatham Cider Works produces small batch, traditional hard ciders made from North Carolina apples. Guests are able to enjoy samples of all ciders at the distillery room on-site, and purchase bottles or kegs of all ciders in the shop. Tours are offered upon request. Find out more about Chatham Cider Works, here –

If your passion for wine is such that just ONE vineyard or winery or wine-tasting room is never enough for your adventurous palate, an outing along one of North Carolina’s wine trails might be just the ticket for you. North Carolina is blessed to have a coast-to-coast climate that allows for the growth of all major grape varieties, and as such, there are plenty of regions in which it’s possible to visit multiple wineries in a day, or even half-day. North Carolina’s has several “official” (and plenty of non-official) wine trails, or suggested itineraries, among which are these:

  • Yadkin River Wine Trail. A group of five wineries in Boonville and East Bend. The Yacking Valley is packed with top-notch wineries.
  • The Haw River Wine Trail includes wineries near Burlington and Alamance.
  • The Blue Ridge Wine Trail winds its way through the picturesque countryside of North Carolina and southern Virginia.
  • North Carolina’s Southern Gateway Wine Trail, Shallowford Wine Trail, and Swan Creek Wine Trail are also located in and around the fertile Yadkin Valley.
  • Though not in the Piedmont, the Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery and 1861 Restaurant and Winery comprise the fairly new, scenic Boone Area Wine Trail.

Battleship North Carolina

Across the river from downtown Wilmington, the remarkable Battleship North Carolina invites visitors to step aboard for an immersive learning experience all about the ship’s impressive legacy. The first of several battleships to join the American fleet in World War II, she and her sister ship – the Battleship Washington – comprised the entire North Carolina Class, ships considered, at the time, the world’s greatest in terms of weaponry. During World War II Battleship North Caorlina took part in every major battle in the Pacific, successfully defending dozens of attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers and earning 15 battle stars in the process.

In 1947, after several post-war years serving as a training vessel, Battleship North Carolina was decommissioned, and after a campaign by the citizens of N.C. to save her, brought to her current location in Wilmington. The ship was dedicated in 1962 to all the North Carolina servicemen and women who served – and perished – during the Second World War.


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Daybreak Farms 669 Acres in Edgecombe County

Daybreak Farms in Edgecombe County! A Private Family Style Hunting Preserve with Almost 670 Acres!

This is the perfect private family retreat property with lots a character and very diverse! Located on 1240 Maple Swamp Road in Tarboro, this vast property has everything for the sportsman including a nice cabin style home. The farm offers a mix of open land with prime ag opportunities, a very diverse portfolio of timber stands including mature pine plantations, replanted pine stands, persimmons, saw tooth oak groves, mature hardwood forest on Fishing Creek and more! There is +/- 1.7 miles on Fishing Creek and loaded with turkey and deer! $2541 per Acre!

This farm is perfect for a recreational family or investment group and has been managed professionally for 20 years with wildlife and timber. Access is incredible with miles of well maintained roads. Call for details and a private showing. $1,700,000  1240 Maple Swamp Road, Tarboro

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North Carolina Barrel Racing

May 7, 2019

 There’s nothing more uniquely American than a rodeo, and no rodeo would be complete without the thrilling event of barrel racing. Fast-paced, fun and entertaining, everyone enjoys seeing horses and riders race against the clock in an exciting display of skill and horsemanship.

The History of Barrel Racing

Barrel racing, not surprisingly, evolved out of rodeo events from as long ago as the 1880s, when Buffalo Bill Cody’s famous wild west shows began featuring women in key roles in order to draw as many spectators as possible. Annie Oakley, one of the most famous female gun handlers from the period, was convinced to take part, and other women started competing in horse races and other displays of talent as show organizers realized the draw of female entertainers. Through the 1920s, cowgirls participated in some of North America’s most famous rodeos, including the Calgary Stampede, Pendleton Roundup and the spectacular World Series Rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The sport itself developed over time but is believed to have officially been introduced in 1948. Created by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, or WPRA, as the first real rodeo competition for female horseback riders in Texas, the spectator event focused almost entirely on women athletes, as it does today. Though boys and girls both take part in youth and amateur competitions when they are young, generally speaking it is a sport devoted almost exclusively to female equestrians.

Rules of Barrel Racing

The rules of this sport are fairly simple – a horse and rider must race their way around a series of three 5-gallon barrels placed in a cloverleaf pattern as fast as possible, and the rider with the shortest time is the winner. The course must be completed with no skipped or overturned barrels; a tipped barrel will add five crucial seconds to the rider’s overall time. The first barrel in the course is sometimes referred to as the “money barrel” because how well or poorly a rider does in reaching and circling this first obstacle of the race often determines how well she does in the run overall.

Horse Breeding and Training in N.C.

Barrel racing horse farms exist throughout the state of North Carolina, breeding and training race horses that are athletic and coordinated enough to become barrel racers. Typically training starts around the age of five, at which point a horse not only starts going through rigorous physical and agility training, but he is taught to listen closely to and obey the commands provided by his rider. Appaloosas – the most well-known breed of horse in the U.S. – Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses are the breeds most typically chosen to be barrel racers; all are fast, intelligent, athletic and full of energy.

Tips for Getting Started

The path to success in the world of barrel racing will involve many different stages and factors. To start off, the proper selection of a horse is extremely important; the horse should be healthy, athletic and strong with a good temperament, and the horse will need regular guided exercise that will allow him to run and maneuver during a competition at a very fast pace. The saddle used, one that provides the greatest possible stability, will be one designed specifically for the sport of barrel racing. The rider will need to learn to lean slightly forward in that saddle during a race in order to keep the horse as balanced and free to run as possible, and to be able to communicate effectively with the horse through a series of movements and vocal commands. The rider will learn that control, in learning to barrel race, is just as important as speed.

Barrel Racing in North Carolina – Upcoming Events

Rodeos taking place throughout the year in North Carolina featuring bull riding, roping, barrel racing and other exciting competitions include these fun upcoming events –

  • SEBRA (Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association) Rodeo at Prices Arena in Dallas, NC / Saturday, May 25, 8:00 pm
  • NCYRA (North Carolina Youth Rodeo Association) Harmony Rodeo at Circle G Arena in Harmony, NC / Saturday & Sunday, June 1-2, Noon each day
  • 5L Rodeo sponsored by the NCPRA (National Cowboy Pro Rodeo Association) in Cleveland, NC / Friday & Saturday, June 14-15, 8pm each evening
  • Bar W Agricultural Scholarship Fund Rodeo at Cutworm’s Corral in Hayesville, NC / Saturday, July 6, 8 pm
  • Currituck Bulls ‘n BBQ (SEBRA) at Currituck Rural Center, Powells Point, NC / Monday, September 2
  • Coastal Run Super Show presented by the NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) at Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston, NC / Saturday & Sunday November 23-24, 8 am each day

Barrel racing shows are also taking place statewide over the next month or two, including the following events. More information about these two competitions may be found on this site:

  • Yadkinville, NC / Lone Hickory Indoor Arena
    • May 19, 2019
    • June 9, 2019

Find out more about barrel racing here:


$429,000 Looking for the right farm with plenty of open space and water? This beautiful 56 acre property is a recreational paradise ready for your Custom Home(s) and A PERFECT FARM For a Family Compound! This Property has been groomed for years w/Outstanding Open Pasture Areas, Multiple Ponds, Rolling Terrain, and Scenic Views at Every step! Metal Structures in Place for Kennels or Workshops! Ponds now used for small Crawfish Operation but can be Easily Converted for Catfish production or Trophy Bass Ponds. There is a perfect area for 14 acre large lake!  1800 Gillburg Road in Henderson. $429,000

There is a Temporary Mobile Home in Place while you build your DREAM HOME!

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7306 Wiley Mangum Dr, Bahama NC

(JUST SOLD) $439,500 GORGEOUS HOME AND VERY PRIVATE EQUESTRIAN FARM ON OVER 6 ACRES IN BAHAMA! Completely Fenced Pastures & Yard Ready for Horses and Animals! 4-stallhorse barn, Riding Ring, & Equipment Storage Barn! Well Kept & Maintained, this is a Dream Property with Plenty of Outdoor Space Perfect for Entertaining! Large Back Porch with Gazebo! Large 1st Floor Master Suite and Spacious Bath & 1st Floor Laundry. Cathedral Ceilings in Den with Grand Fireplace. 2 car Garage and Storage, Generac Back-up Generator and More!!

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Is a Hobby Farm Right for You?

Has it always been your dream to raise a flock of chickens? To grow your own fruits, nuts, herbs and vegetables? Perhaps you’ve always just wanted to live a simpler lifestyle in a rural community where the most traffic you’re likely to face in the evening is a flock of sheep crossing from one side of the road to the other. If so, a hobby farm might be just the thing for you.

What exactly is hobby farming?

From the mountains to the coast, small or part-time farmers or regular homeowners, even, with a passion for the farming lifestyle are enjoying the fulfillment of running small-scale farms – typically five acres or less – based entirely on their own interests. Not all hobby farmers are looking for a money-making venture, and not all are interested in self-sustainability. Some are families, some are “weekend farmers” who farm in addition to their regular careers, and some are retirees with the time and resources to put into new projects, entirely out of a passion for doing so. There is, in fact, no typical hobby farmer.

Usually, a hobby farmer is unconcerned with recouping the money he has invested in his venture; his interest is in fulfilling a desire he has to raise crops and/or animals on a small scale for the personal satisfaction of it all, only. He has the money to spend on seed, livestock, equipment and feed and he operates the farm because he enjoys it. Success depends on how he defines the purpose of his farm, and how close reality actually comes to achieving those goals.

Where to Begin?

Before making the decision to purchase a hobby farm, it’s important to consider all the ins and outs, both obvious and not-so-obvious, that come along with operating your own small farm, including these.

  • What are your personal goals for the farm? Are you interested in growing crops, or raising animals, or a mix of the two? What are your long-term plans for the farm?
  • What is your budget? Keep your eyes out for properties that you can afford, keeping in mind the additional funds necessary to get your hobby farm up and running. Based on your goals, take the time to figure out exactly how much land you’ll need as well as what other expenses will be involved.
  • Make sure you consider the true value of the property and the economic climate of the area in which the property is located before you purchase. If one property is priced substantially less than another, comparable piece of land, why is that? Is there a water source on the property? How is the soil? What might happen if you purchase in a depressed area, should you decide to sell down the road? Make sure that the farm you purchase meets all of your financial needs AND personal objectives.
  • Do not assume that you will need a piece of property larger than what your actual plan calls for. Do your research ahead of time to find out how much land other small hobby farmers have dedicated to raising animals or cultivating a few crops. Even an acre or two may turn out to be enough space.
  • Make sure you are fully aware of what livestock local laws will allow you to keep on your property. Not all animals are welcomed with open arms in all communities, so in order to avoid an unpleasant surprise down the road, check with the local municipality first.
  • Be sure to consider what sort of a water source the property has prior to purchasing. A vacant piece of land might make it necessary to dig a well on your own, so plan for that. Even the existence of a stream might not necessarily mean that you have rights to use that water.
  • Does the property include a house or other structures that you may or may not want? How is electricity provided? If there is a home, is it in livable condition? What about cable and phone service? Will there be any additional expense involved in bringing these features up to date?

Hobby Farm Vs. Homestead

There are quite a few differences between what is called a “homestead” property and a hobby farm. Basically, a hobby farm is just that – a small farm operated primarily for pleasure – while a homestead is a business venture. A homestead supports the family or farmer living on it, which is not the case of a hobby farm. The sustainability, too, of a homestead is unique in that the farm is designed to be able to entirely provide for its own needs and those of the homesteaders themselves. Anything that cannot be grown or raised on the farm can be purchased with revenue from the homestead. The financial operation of a homestead thus HAS TO be a success; it must show a positive flow of revenue.

Some of the More Challenging Aspects of Hobby Farming

Tax rules and regulations vary from state to state, and in North Carolina, where small, full-time farmers receive certain tax breaks, this is NOT the case for hobby farmers. Additionally, the efforts involved in maintaining a hobby farm are potentially substantial – hot, sweaty hours spent out in the field are unavoidable, as are certain other tasks that might be tiring or unpleasant. And as fun, interesting and rewarding as hobby farming sounds, the added responsibility of caring for crops and animals is sometimes too much for some people to handle.

The Biggest Rewards

Nothing much comes close to the feeling of looking around yourself and seeing the fruits of your labors in a flourishing herb garden, a basket full of farm fresh eggs, or a happy herd of cows grazing on what once was simply a very green, grassy hillside. The mundane acts of watering, weeding or feeding on a warm spring morning are somehow elevated to the most enjoyable tasks imaginable. Most individuals quickly realize how truly happy they are living the self-sufficient, practical and rewarding lifestyle of a hobby farmer.


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The Buzz About the Honey Bee

April 8, 2019

Our warm-climate neighbors to the south may beg to differ, but one of the true joys of living in North Carolina is experiencing the state’s four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter. There’s something about the inevitability of nature’s rhythms that makes us, as humans, appreciate that we are as much a part of the overall cycle of life as are the plants and animals that inhabit the world around us. One of the most telling signs of spring, of course, as days grow longer, is the almost magical reappearance of insects in the garden as they hatch, transform or awaken after months of near total inactivity. One of these insects is the honey bee.

We live in a fairly temperate climate, so not all insects in our geographical area hibernate – flies, for instance, tolerate the cold quite easily – but many insects spend winter months burrowed into the ground, into tree trunks or under rocks, where they are sheltered from the cold and protected from predators until temperatures start to rise. The honey bee is one insect that doesn’t entirely hibernate, but instead becomes almost completely dormant throughout the cooler winter months within its hive, or nest. There, the swarm surrounds the Queen in order to keep her safe from natural enemies such as bears, beetles, and yellow jackets, and they protect her from the cold by “shivering,” or vibrating, which raises the temperature of the hive – and the queen, at its center – considerably. Because there are few, if any, flowers blossoming over the winter months, the bees rely on the honey they’ve stored within the hive for energy and survival.

Hive Life

As temperatures increase, so does activity both inside and outside the hive. By the time the queen emerges in early spring, she is ready to start laying eggs again and re-establish the colony. Worker bees, who are all female, venture outside the nest searching for food sources – pollen and nectar – that will allow them to re-build their strength and feed other worker bees within the hive. When a bee has found an area such as a field that is especially abundant with flowers, she returns to the nest and does a type of dance in order to show her fellow worker bees exactly where the area can be found. The pollen that honey bees collect is mixed with nectar and water within their mouths and deposited into the honeycomb’s cells as a material called “bee bread.” Once the comb is full, the worker bees flap their wings in order to extract all the extra water out of the mixture – a process that results in the sweet, syrupy liquid we know as honey. At this point, the bees cover the nectar with a thin layer of wax and leave it stored until the following winter, when it will be needed for survival.

Pollen – that light and airy, yellowish powder that is oh-so-visible this time of year – is critical for fruit and seed production. The type of pollen we see these days coating anything and everything in our yards, on our automobiles, on our clothing, in our hair… is pine pollen, which is distributed from tree to tree on the wind. Flower pollen, however, is carried from plant to plant by honey bees and a few other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles and moths. In order for crops and other plants to develop and seed, they need to be pollinated. Honey bees transfer flower pollen via “pollen baskets” on the stiff hairs of their rear legs; lumpy, yellowish bits of pollen that are stored in these receptacles or stick to the bee’s body as she flies from flower to flower are often visible to the human eye.


The Economic Importance of the Honey Bee

In North Carolina, honey bees are by far the most significant insect pollinator for “forage” crops – alfalfa, cotton and soybeans, for instance – and other food crops such as such as blueberries, apples melons, peaches, cucumbers and squash. To understand how critical the honey bee is to our economy and our food supply, it’s interesting to know that bees pollinate about a third of all food that human beings eat, and in North Carolina, many of the state’s crops could not be commercially maintained without honey bee pollination. Farmers sometimes strategically place hives in order to ensure the maximum number of pollinators in their fields, and even rent hives in order to do the job during the blooming period.

The History of the Honey Bee and Growth of Apiculture in the U.S.

The honey bee, incredibly, has been around for about 125 million years. As early as 6,000 BC, in Spain, humans began using the bee as a food source (honey), and other early civilizations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and India soon followed suit, developed beekeeping centers that existed until the Roman Empire dissolved, around 400 AD. The introduction of the European Honey Bee to the U.S. by early European settlers contributed to a new industry, apiculture, that, during the 1800s, grew substantially with the inventions of the moveable-frame hive, the smoker, the comb foundation maker, and the honey extractor – all tools that continue to be widely used. Today, it is estimated that there are as many as 2-3 million honey producing colonies in the United States. North Carolina, with more beekeepers that any other state in the country, designated the honey bee the official state insect in 1973.

Most individuals in our state keep bees as a hobby, but many others have become involved in more commercial aspects of the beekeeping industry, in these areas and more:

  • The sale of honey
  • The rental of hives, for crop pollination
  • The sale of beeswax and beeswax products such as candles, lip balm, wood polish and lotion
  • The sale of specialty products such as royal jelly (a honey bee secretion used to feed bee larvae and adult queens, believed by some to help regulate blood pressure, balance cholesterol, fight cancer and improve health overall in many other areas) and pollen

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