Keeping the Kids Active & Entertained During Quarantine

Keeping the Kids Active & Entertained During QuarantineKeeping the Kids Active & Entertained During Quarantine

Looking for ways to get out of the house with the kids, stay sane and stay healthy, and stick to the commonsense rules of social distancing that have become such a focus of our everyday lives? Maintaining positive mental and physical well-being, for children as well as adults, is especially important during these challenging times, but there are plenty of creative ways we can keep our families entertained and active during this unplanned period – and gift – of together time.    

The Joy of Gardening With Children

There’s no better time than early spring to plant and care for a vegetable garden. Cultivating a garden together with our kids is not just a great way to get outside during some of the most pleasant months of the year, but the process of growing edible plants – vegetables, herbs, fruit – also teaches kids all about food, nutrition, discipline and the importance of hard work. Seeds or starter plants, tools, pots and other gardening supplies are always available to order online, and plenty of videos will help get the kids excited about the prospect of growing – and eating! – their own delicious produce.

A variety of quick-growing vegetables including zucchini, radishes, spinach, green beans and turnips will keep the kids busy and engaged, while squash and pumpkins are fun to plant because they’re impressive to grow – large and colorful on their fast-growing vines. Tomatoes, lettuce and certain herbs are easily grown in pots and will continue to flourish as they are picked throughout the season, and alfalfa or bean sprouts can even be grown on the back porch or kitchen counter, with sprouts sometimes beginning to appear in as few as 3-4 days.

Go Birdwatching

Spring is also the best time of year for birdwatching, as the millions of migratory birds that have spent their winter months in warm southern regions migrate back north again to build nests, explore and communicate with one another as they re-acclimate to life in the Northern Hemisphere. Sparrows, warblers, thrushes and woodpeckers are at their most active in late March and early April, staking out territories and singing their very distinct songs in an effort to find and attract mates.

Bird feeders in the backyard are a great place to start growing your children’s interest in birdwatching and identification, but even a short walk down a park path or into the woods will open their eyes as to the enormous range of birds in the area. Keeping a bird journal, spotting different species with a pair of binoculars and learning how to identify them based on size, color, song and behavior are all activities that are not just fun, but educational.

Go on a Turkey Hunt

Another great way to get older kids out of the house and into the great outdoors is by taking them on a spring turkey shoot. Beginning April 4th, youth under the age of 18 are able to hunt turkeys (male or bearded turkeys) statewide. Several restrictions exist, of course, which may resultKeeping the Kids Active & Entertained During Quarantine in heavy fines if violated; hunting with dogs during spring turkey season, for instance, is prohibited, as is hunting with any sort of handgun. But learning to call or scout out a turkey, handle a gun and even build a hunting blind are all hunting skills that your children will be able to use for years to come.

Go For a Run or a Nature Walk

There are ways to run safely during these times of social distancing that have everything to do with running on your own rather than in a group and sticking to areas or trails that are not likely to have much other foot traffic. It’s a prime time to explore some less-traveled routes – parks, paths or neighborhoods – that might be new to you as a runner or to try running at a time of day you may not be accustomed to.

Children, once again, are dying to get outdoors, and a nature walk with the kids might involve asking them to listen to and describe the sounds of the forest, the types of trees they see or signs of animal life – animal tracks, insects, animal droppings or bird nests – along the way. Even if the walk turns into a simple opportunity for some fresh air and change of scenery, the precious memories of these times spent as a family are likely to stick with them – and you – forever.



Land for sale in Warren County, North Carolina

Warren County Land & Farms for Sale NCWarren County: Rural Living in an Outdoor Paradise

Life in unspoiled Warren County combines the charms of the past with an abundance of opportunities for year-round recreation and sports and a growing arts, entertainment and dining scene. The ideal climate and natural resources of the area are quintessential North Carolina, while history is impossible to ignore in the county’s many historical sites, structures and place names.

A Unique Geography

Situated along the North Carolina/Virginia state line in the northwest corner of the Piedmont region, this peaceful county is a combination of lovely small towns (Five Forks, Soul City, Nutbush and curiously-named Lickskillet, to name but a few), the townships in which they’re located (Fishing Creek, Nutbush, Six Pound, etc.) and, finally, the county’s three sole incorporated towns of Warrenton, Macon and Norlina. A stretch of beautiful Lake Gaston, prime area for picnicking, fishing, boating and hiking, cuts across the northeastern corner of the county while equally impressive Kerr Lake offers multiple camping areas and more than 800 miles of stunning natural shoreline at the county’s northeastern edge. A population of around 20,000 is spread out over 444 square miles that are almost entirely rural. Real estate for sale in this region includes land for raising livestock, agricultural land and, of course, single-family homes both rural and in the hubs of Norlina, Macon and Warrenton.

History: A Colonial Heritage

Taking a look at the history of the region provides an interesting snapshot into some of North Carolina’s most fascinating roots. Over 300 years ago, Native American tribes inhabited the area, trading with settlers in what is now Virginia and North Carolina along a route – the famed Norlina Trading Path, or Great Trading Path – stretching from what is now central North Carolina up into the Petersburg, Virginia area. Early settlers, including William Duke, had come to the area mainly interested in growing cotton and tobacco; several hot springs also helped attract aristocratic visitors from up and down the coast. Towns sprouted up during the Colonial period throughout the mid-1800’s along this well-traveled trading “highway,” serving Native Americans and early European settlers who bartered guns, gunpowder, jewelry, blankets, agricultural goods and furs. By 1860, Warren County was the most prosperous county in the state, and plantations here some of the largest in and around the region.

As a Confederate state, however, North Carolina struggled with the issue of slavery throughout the Civil War, and after the war the county’s economy began to suffer. Magnificent old mansions fell into disrepair, hot springs resorts closed and agricultural output dropped off. It wasn’t until the late 1800s, as textile industries expanded and agriculture slowly began thriving once again, that Warren County started to regain some of its pre-war prosperity. Today the county’s economy is based primarily on manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and agriculture.

Town Life

The development of Warren’s County’s three incorporated towns – Warrenton, Macon and Norlina – is rooted in the area’s economic growth of the Colonial era and on into the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Macon. Locally known as the “Macon Depot” in the early 19th century and named for Nathaniel Macon, once Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Macon’s population of 134 makes it the smallest of the county’s incorporated towns.
  • Norlina. The largest of the three towns, Norlina’s population of just over 1,000 has remained stable since its beginnings as “Ridgeway Junction,” or “the Woodyard,” as it was later known, as it was located at a crossroads where a restaurant and the historic Landmark Hotel were built to serve local travelers. Still just over 1.12 square miles in size, quaint Norlina hosts the fun annual Ridgeway Cantaloupe Festival in early July.
  • Historic Warrenton, county seat and namesake of Dr. Joseph Warren, patriot who fell at Bunker Hill, was a showcase of Greek Revival, Federal and Italianate styles of architecture in the mid-1800’s. Over half of the town’s buildings, in fact – homes, churches and Warrenton’s famed Old Brick Store – are historic in nature, and many are listed in the National Register of Historical Places. The population of this town – just over 800 – has remained remarkably steady over the past two centuries.

Each April the town celebrates its SpringFest and 5K road race on the fourth Saturday of the month. Other fun yearly events include Fright Night and Harvest Market in October and the Christmas holiday parade early in December. The town’s Hayley-Haywood Park features a 9-hole disc golf course, walking trail and picnic tables.

Faith, Education & Transportation

Warren County schools are comprised of two elementary schools, one K-8, one middle school, three high schools and one non-denominational private school for grades 6 through 12. 110 churches are primarily Baptist but 17 different faiths are represented, including Methodist, Catholic and Presbyterian.

Macon’s small regional airfield, Nocarva Airport, is for private use only but the county is in close proximity to Wake County’s Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). Roads are excellent and generally in good repair, providing quick access to major metropolitan areas in North Carolina, Virginia and the D.C. area: Raleigh, Charlotte, Richmond, Washington and Wilmington. Hundreds of miles of train tracks crisscross the region, providing valuable transportation for commercial freight purposes, and the closest Amtrak station is just 45 minutes away from the area, in Rocky Mount.

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Aquaculture in NC: Crawfish, Catfish, Oyster Farming & More

Aquaculture in NCAs one of the most agriculturally productive of the southern states, it isn’t surprising that North Carolina is also renowned for its innovative farming methods and diversity when it comes to crops and animal production. And with a temperate climate, abundance of rural land and plenty of water resources, the state is ideal for a unique and thriving farming method called aquafarming. Farmland for sale in the Piedmont – from the mountains to the Atlantic coast, in fact – sometimes includes a lake, pond or other area that is utilized for aquafarming purposes.

Aquafarming – What Is it?

Aquafarming (or aquaculture) involves the cultivation and harvesting of water-reliant products – both plants and animals – in a controlled fresh or saltwater environment. Most are raised for food, but the purpose of some aquafarming is to replenish fish in wild areas, restore freshwater or marine habitats, raise fish as baitfish, or grow exotic or ornamental fish and/or plants for aquariums, zoos, and other commercial purposes. Few people are aware that aquafarming is responsible for almost half of all the fish and seafood that is consumed worldwide.

Due to Americans’ increased taste for fish and shellfish and a growing interest in commercial fishing opportunities, aquafarming – though still a fairly small segment of our state’s farm production overall – is growing rapidly. Globally, demand has also increased for specific types of fish – sturgeon and tilapia, for example – as well as fishmeal, fish oils, and crustaceans.

North Carolina farmers are becoming more and more interested in aquaculture as a means, most often, to supplement more traditional agricultural or livestock farming income, and many prefer it for a variety of reasons. First of all, traditional farming methods often involve fertilization; and over-fertilization sometimes leads to unhealthy levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, the depletion of soil nutrients and contamination of drinking water. Also, methane emissions from cattle production are a small element of greenhouse gas emissions overall, but raising livestock is often seen as less environmentally-friendly than aquaculture or other types of agriculture. Finally, plants and animals raised through aquaculture often – appealingly – require much less in the way of nourishment and pure labor.  

Marine (Saltwater) Farming in North Carolina

Our state’s coastline is long and its rich Atlantic waters and coastal estuaries are prime for raising a wide range of fish and shellfish, including clams, oysters and soft shell crabs. Most shellfish growers are located between the southern end of the Outer Banks and Wilmington.

  • Soft Shell Crabs. Although the growing process is more labor-intensive than growing oysters or clams, the production of soft shell crabs – most typically blue crabs – is the most lucrative segment of marine farming in North Carolina. In the proper, protected environment a Soft Shell Crabs NCfemale blue crab’s eggs are much more likely to survive than they are in the wild. Some growers, too, have experimented successfully with raising soft shell crabs in freshwater irrigation ponds.
  • Oysters. The demand for oysters is high in our state and the perfect environment exists in which to grow them in many of our coastal communities. Rather than the traditional method of gathering oysters by dredging along the bottom of sounds and estuaries, commercially grown oysters are often raised and harvested from columns suspended in the water or from floating cages.
  • Clams. Located primarily in waters with a salinity about 2/3 that of the ocean and where there is constant tidal movement, clam farms exist mainly in Pamlico Sound. Because of the multiple, lengthy steps of the clam production cycle and the very specific environment in which hard clams thrive, labor costs are fairly high and true clam farms – where clams are raised from hatchery seed – are few.

Freshwater Aquaculture

Freshwater farming of plants and animals occurs in the lakes, ponds, rivers and inland waterways of the state and requires the same basic needs as saltwater farming: the proper growing temperature, an adequate oxygen supply, and a method of waste removal.

  • Rainbow Trout. The nation’s trout industry (east of the Mississippi, at least) is based in North Carolina’s mountain region. Trout farming – the oldest form of fish production in the U.S. – takes place in farms near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with some catering to tourists but most supplying the U.S. trout market.
  • Catfish. Most successfully grown in areas of swiftly moving water, catfish are also raised in the lakes, ponds and some slower-moving streams of the western part of the state. Most catfish farmers raise these fish in order to supplement other sources of income, or in order to diversify their farming activities.
  • Crawfish. Crawfish farming involves a system of draining, flooding and the labor-intensive planting of forage crops in shallow ponds which are meant to simulate the natural habitat of crawfish. Harvesting of this delicious seafood delicacy takes place between April and June.
  • Tilapia. Another highly popular freshwater fish is tilapia, an easily-bred, mild tasting fish that is adaptable to most environmental conditions. Often grown in indoor tank systems, tilapia is one of the fastest-growing freshwater aquaculture species.
  • Freshwater Plants. Ornamental plants for freshwater aquariums, decorative landscaping plants such as cattails, and edible plants like watercress and rice are a few examples of aquatic plants that some farmers raise in North Carolina, mostly on a small scale.

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Dixie Deer Classic: February 28 – March 1, 2020

Dixie Deer ClassicIf the outdoor world is your world, this year’s 40th Annual Dixie Deer Classic event, the largest sportsman’s show in the South, is sure to be the highlight of your week. The fun event, sponsored by the Wake County Wildlife Club, takes place this weekend, offering visitors opportunities to shop, talk, learn and trade stories with some of the best of the best hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation experts in the world.

Show Highlights

Held on the 9th weekend of each year at the spacious NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, the show has always been – and still is – widely known as one of the nation’s most preeminent Trophy Whitetail Deer shows. Exhibitors’ booths, vendors and areas for competitions, seminars and food are spread throughout four buildings and an outdoor area designated for large-scale vendors, shows and demonstrations.

Highlights of the 2020 Dixie Deer Classic will include –

  • Amazing dog competitions and awards for “best dog” in Big Air, Speed Retrieve, Extreme Vertical and Iron Dog contests.
  • The Tarheel Open Turkey Calling Competition. Turkey calls must be original to their owners and are judged depending on purpose and design.
  • A daily wildlife scavenger hunt and kids’ fishing rodeo.
  • Over 300 local and national vendors of everything from boats to guns and hunting lodges to safari outfitters.
  • The show’s first ever Venison Chili Cookoff.
  • Celebrity presentations and events hosted by Michael Waddell, Nick Mundt and Travis “T-Bone” Turner of the Bone Collector series; and famed hunter, big game outfitter, writer and TV host, Jim Shockey.
  • Inspirational and informative seminars on decoy carving, coyote trapping, birds of prey, tree and camera placement, making and using a turkey call and more.
  • Raffles, giveaways and door prizes.

Family-Friendly Activities

Kids are more than welcome at the show with their own full range of activities such as retriever demos, BB gun turkey shoots, face painting, bow-and-arrow practice at Archery Alley, and their own Turkey Calling School and Contest. Young fishermen and hunters – boys and girls alike – will enjoy hands-on exhibits where they can hold animals and learn about the outdoors from vendors such as the NC Bowhunters Association and NC Trappers Association.

Whitetail Trophy Showcase

The Dixie Deer Classic’s renowned Whitetail Trophy Showcase features a range of competitors – Male, Female, Youth Male and Youth Female – and a list of competitions specific to North Carolina: Best by Gun, Best by Muzzleloader, and Best by Crossbow, for instance. All trophies entered must comply with the rules and regulations established by the Boone & Crocket Fair Chase Statement regarding the ethical and fair pursuit and taking of free-range, big game animals, and all entries and winners are recorded in the fabled Dixie Deer Classic hunting and trophy records system.

The Wake County Wildlife Club: Conservation & Education

The Club’s substantial efforts toward wildlife conservation and education are almost entirely supported by proceeds of the Dixie Deer Classic event, the group’s only fundraiser of the year. Over 150 members and an additional group of more than 200 devoted volunteers work together to put on this remarkable sporting event where local sportsmen can meet each other and be exposed to vendors and professionals from throughout the world of hunting, fishing and other outdoor adventures. The Club’s financial support of organizations such as 4-H – the organization pays for 36 area children to go to camp for FREE each year – as well as “Hunters for the Hungry” – over 30,000 venison meals per year are donated – are complemented by the group’s own educational facility, which provides courses in firearm safety, wildlife identification, specialty hunting and more.

Tickets and Times

TICKETS for the Dixie Deer Classic are $15; Youths 13-18, Seniors, Military and Women are just $12 on Friday; and kids under the age of 12 are always free!

HOURS: Friday 11 am – 8 pm, Saturday 9 am – 7 pm and Sunday 9 am – 5 pm.


Living the Farm Life in Scenic Nash County

Living the Farm Life in Scenic Nash CountyA few short miles outside of Raleigh is beautiful Nash County, North Carolina, one of the Piedmont region’s most thriving areas and a true mix of rural countryside and suburban conveniences. Many towns in this highly desirable part of the state are within commuting distance of the capital city, and properties for sale here – horse farms and hobby farms, acreage and ranches – are valued for their prime location and exceptional natural amenities.

Idyllic Country Living

Rural properties for sale in and around Rocky Mount, Nashville, Middlesex and Spring Hope are often cleared as farmland and frequently include ponds, streams and forest. Homes range in size from modest 1- or 2-bedroom cottages to large, one-of-a-kind country estates with vast tracts of land and numerous barns and other outbuildings. Field crops such as sweet potatoes, tobacco, cotton and soybeans thrive here; many farms also raise cattle, pigs and chickens. Some properties feature the grazing pasture, stables and other facilities that make them ideal for raising horses.

Acreage along the Tar River is often prime for hunting and fishing, too. Wooded areas provide an excellent habitat for deer, wild turkey, black bear, squirrels and rabbits while the river is full of catfish, bass and crappie. Lakes are well-populated by waterfowl – most commonly, ducks.

Falls, Water & Woods

Nash County’s natural landscape is one of rolling hills, waterfalls (the Tar River’s Upper and Little Falls) and lakes (Gum Lake, City Lake, Bellamy Lake). Recreational activities from canoeing along the Tar River Paddling Trail to fly-fishing, hiking, horseback riding and biking along a number of paths and creeks are perfect for anyone wishing to get out and enjoy nature for an hour or two. Rocky Mount’s Battle Park includes a boat landing, picnic shelters, fishing piers and the Tar River Trail and Reservoir, offering even more resources for fishing, paddling and boating.

Just outside of Nash County, the world’s largest waterfowl park – Sylvan Heights Bird Park – draws visitors from near and far with its population of over 1,500 birds from various parts of the world. This remarkable 18-acre resource serves as a global center for avicultural research and offers visitors close-up views of rare birds from almost every continent.

Peace, Privacy and an Enviable Quality of Life

The small towns and wide-open spaces of Nash County attract families and farmers with the appeal of unspoiled county living and plenty of recreational opportunities.

Local museums – the quaint Country Doctor Museum and Rocky Mount Fireman’s Museum, for instance – are unique to the area, while The Tar River Philharmonic and Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at Wesleyan College offer cultural entertainment in the Living the Farm Life in Scenic Nash County way of classical music performances, plays, concerts and the outstanding Mims Gallery.

History buffs enjoy Rocky Mount’s vintage train station and Twin County Museum and Hall of Fame, which includes several refurbished train cars and a design reminiscent of a century ago. The city’s Stonewall Manor offers a unique insight into antebellum architectural design and plantation living of the early 19th century. Rocky Mount Mills, North Carolina’s second oldest cotton mill – burned by Union soldiers then rebuilt, twice – is today a thriving riverfront commercial, residential and entertainment complex, but the building itself has been preserved to retain the look and feel of decades past. Here, too, the county’s thriving farmer’s market includes a busy storefront for sales of local products.

Other family-friendly local activities include skating rinks and bowling alleys, public tennis courts and pools, and three outstanding golf courses in Rocky Mount and Spring Hope. Rocky Mount’s Sports Complex hosts a variety of games and other baseball, basketball, horseshoe and soccer activities, and the minor-league Carolina Wildcats baseball team, based in Zebulon – just outside of Nash County – play at Five County Stadium.


Living the Farm Life in Scenic Nash CountyThere’s always a fun local event to look forward to in Nash Country, including these annual festivities

  • NC Pickle Festival / Mount Olive, NC / April 24-25, 2020

Hop aboard the pickle train or spot an eclectic group of local mascots – including the star of the show, Ollie Q. Cumber – racing their way through the middle of town; they’ll be competing for the esteemed NC Pickle Festival Mascot Trophy. Other fun events include a competitive pickle-eating contest, chili cook-off, arts contests, pickle treasure hunt and carnival games.

  • SpringFest / Mount Holly, NC / April 27 – May 4, 2020

This weeklong celebration of springtime in Nash County kicks off with 5K and 10K races downtown and riverside and includes a golf classic, family-friendly outdoor movies, lots of live music and a classic Car & Truck Show.  

  • Nashville Blooming Festival / Nashville, NC / May 8-9, 2020

This two-day event features musical acts, arts, crafts and food, parade, and special Mom of the Year competition – appropriately enough, since this fun celebration takes place over Mother’s Day weekend.

  • Spring Hope Pumpkin Festival / Spring Hope, NC / October 2020 (Date TBD)

Families, friends and visitors enjoy live music and dancing, pumpkin weigh-ins, pumpkin decorating, a parade, and lots of fall-related food, arts and crafts.

Find out more:


Impeccable Lillington Estate Blends Space and Charm

4584 US 421 Highway, Lillington, NC 27546

Lillington NC Farm for Sale with PondResidents of the peaceful town of Lillington, North Carolina enjoy abundant natural resources and an ideal, slower pace of life that many buyers seek in today’s Piedmont-area real estate market. Thriving Harnett County, in fact, is one of the top five fastest-growing counties in the state.

Lillington: Location is Everything

The bucolic rural setting of Lillington is hard to beat, but the town’s prime location – midway between Raleigh and Fayetteville and just a 40-minute drive to Research Triangle Park (RTP) or Fort Bragg – is even more enticing for some house hunters who desire to live as close as possible to urban areas for work and entertainment. Campbell University is conveniently situated within a 10-minute drive of downtown, and most of the area’s largest local industries – manufacturing, science and technology, agriculture and healthcare – are experiencing strong and steady growth. Overall the economic outlook for the area is very positive.

Cape Fear River and Raven Rock State Park

Raven Rock State Park, one of North Carolina’s most remarkable park resources, attracts hikers, bikers, fishermen, campers and kayakers with multiple trails and over twenty campsites on and around the picturesque Cape Fear River and massive Raven Rock landmark. Over 4,800 pristine acres provide a spectacular snapshot of the geology and topography of the region: dense hardwood forest; streams filled with catfish, bass, and sunfish; fields of colorful springtime wildflowers; and treetops where wood ducks, hawks, owls and woodpeckers nest and thrive.

Rural Luxury

The magnificent estate home at 4584 US 421 Highway is an exceptional residence for those seeking to enjoy country living at its fullest. 5,156 square feet of custom-built living space – two master bedrooms (one with fireplace), Lillington NC Farm for Sale with Pond 2home theatre, grand foyer and sunroom, all with 10-foot coffered ceilings – complement an open floor plan featuring quality craftsmanship throughout.

The attention to detail in this spacious home’s parlor, formal dining room, family room and office/study area is superb, as is the quality of the high-end (Jenn Aire) appliances, custom cabinets and walk-in pantry of the outstanding chef’s kitchen. Four bedrooms – two of these master – are large and filled with natural light, and a game room provides plenty of room for pool table, wet bar and more.

The outside of this stunning home is no less impressive, with a wide and welcoming covered front porch, beautifully landscaped yard and circular driveway, back porch overlooking a stocked private pond, and prime fenced pasture with riding trails. Two garages – one detached – provide ample space for cars, equipment and recreational vehicles. Several large fields on this large, private property are irrigated.

This home at 4584 US 421 Highway in Lillington is listed at $995,000. See more photos and video here!



How to Buy a Farm in Wake, Franklin, Chatham, Granville and other counties in Central North Carolina

There are many factors to consider when buying a farm and we would like to offer you the following services!

As your buyers agent, we will explain the entire farm or ranch buying process to you! Show all properties – not just Legacy Farms and Ranches or Fonville Morisey’s listings!  Provide access to new listings as they come on the market. Disclose all material facts pertaining to interested properties. Disclose potential environmental concerns such as lead based paint and radon. Provide you with a Seller’s Disclosure Form. Serve as your confidant. Provide information about the area schools, employment and recreation. Provide a market analysis on any interested property to verify its worth! Negotiate on your behalf striving to get the best price and conditions for you. Be a problem solver for you during the entire transaction. Write up all offers and counteroffers on your behalf. Serve as a buffer between you and your seller. Explain all contracts, addendum’s and reports during the transaction. Assist you with loan approval. Line up service professionals (lenders, closing attorney, painters, inspectors). Coordinate your closing! Maintain communication after the sale and more!

Many local farms have homes with ponds or lakes or horse amenities! Check out some videos and call for more info!

Trails for All Seasons: Exploring the Unique Greenway System of North Carolina

Greenway System of North CarolinaThere’s no better way to let go of stress, calm your mind, get fit and stay healthier longer than getting outside and enjoying the incredible outdoor spaces of our beautiful state. North Carolina’s extensive system of walkways, bikeways and rural trails – more commonly known as greenways – is a recreational resource unlike any other.

What is a Greenway?

A greenway is a stretch of trail, usually passing through a scenic area – urban and/or rural – that is designated for recreational use and is usually environmentally protected. Old rail lines or disused public paths or even newly designed trails through neighborhoods and public areas provide walkers, bikers and sometimes horseback riders a place where the path is given priority as it crosses through streets and wooded areas and across roads and commercial areas.

The Physical and Mental Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

The tangible benefits of exercise – lower blood pressure, better circulation, weight loss, stronger bones and fewer aching joints, for instance – are very real, and being outdoors adds an element of interest that, for some, makes the experience even more enjoyable. Science, too, has shown that increased activity helps to increase both productivity and creativity. For older individuals, gardening, walking or doing group activities in an outdoor setting have shown to improve dexterity and brain function. And for kids, outdoor activity helps them develop motor skills, live a healthy lifestyle, learn in a less structured environment than a classroom, and appreciate nature

History of North Carolina’s Trail System

The goal of the North Carolina Trails System Act of 1973 was to develop and maintain a trail system – including greenways for hiking and biking trails, paddling routes and off-road vehicle trails – in conjunction with various agencies, environmental groups and citizens’ organizations. A Trails Committee advises on funding a trail system which will eventually have regional routes across the entire state. Maintenance of the six state trails outside the Division of Parks & Recreation is based on regional partnerships between landowners, local agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

  • The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, longest of them all, is a 667-mile long route – which will be about 1,400 when completed – that offers opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding from Nags Head to the very Greenway System of North Carolinawestern edge of the state.
  • The Yadkin River State Trail, or “blueway,” is a 130-mile scenic padding route.
  • The proposed scenic Deep River State Trail will feature hiking and paddling along the Piedmont region’s Deep River.
  • The 116-mile long French Broad River Trail, suitable for both paddlers and rafters, extends from Hot Springs in the north to Rosman in the south.
  • The Fonta Flora State Trail will eventually extend 100 miles from Asheville and around Lake James all the way to the Fonta Flora County park in Burke County.
  • North Carolina’s Wilderness Gateway State Trail is another planned route that will include walking and paddling sections and will connect the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail and South Mountains State Park with Hickory and Valdese.
  • The state’s newest trail, the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail, is still in the development state, but will eventually connect to Chimney Rock State park, Bat Cave, and Florence Nature Preserve.

American Tobacco Trail

The history of this incredible route began in 1904 as the New Hope Railroad was developed with the intention of connecting various sections of the region’s timberlands and agricultural areas where tobacco, cotton, corn and beans were farmed. In the 1920’s, when the American Tobacco company built a new plant in Durham, an extension was built to the facility; the move was so financially rewarding to the railroad that the route came to informally be called the American Tobacco Trail. During the Great Depression use of the railroad diminished, and when, in the ‘80s, Lake Jordan was developed, a section of the route had to be relocated.

Today the 22-mile long trail throughout Chatham, Durham and Wake Counties is a model greenway ideal for biking, horseback riding, and walking. Starting at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the North and extending southward to the New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd. area, in Apex, the asphalt and crushed stone surface provides a very walkable path through forest and other rural areas and wildlife – deer, owls, hawks, turtles and songbirds – is abundant. Horseback riding is allowed along the southern stretch only.

The East Coast Greenway

Greenway System of North CarolinaThe magnificent East Coast Greenway, connecting 15 states and over 950 miles to date stretching all the way from Maine to Florida, is a walking and biking route broken down into 15 stretches, including the scenic North Carolina segment. Here the trail crosses through the Durham and Raleigh metro areas, along the Neuse River Trail and along 70 miles of a beautiful stretch of trail running through boardwalks and marshes. Upon completion, the East Coast Greenway will stretch 3,000 miles in total from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida!

The Capital Area Greenway

Raleigh’s 117-mile greenway system is a network of 30 intertwining trails connecting public parklands in and around the city. In the mid-70’s the official Capital City Greenway masterplan was introduced, and today walkers, bikers, fishermen and picnickers enjoy paths that are mostly paved with concrete, asphalt or crushed granite while certain sections are unpaved and more natural. In some areas boardwalks cross over broad marshy areas, and in one section a bridge has been constructed over the Neuse River. The trail also crosses through Meredith College, the NC State campus, and William B. Umstead State park.

Find out more: Exploring the Unique Greenway System of North Carolina


Why Farmland Investing Might be the Right Financial Move for You

Why Farmland Investing Might be the Right Financial Move for YouA real estate investment – residential, commercial, industrial or farmland – is considered a smart addition to any well-diversified portfolio, but buyers are sometimes wary of investing in real estate, and especially farmland, for a few simple reasons. First, there is the uncertainty involved in dealing with something they may not entirely understand or feel comfortable with. Second, they may lack the necessary capital to purchase and then maintain a property well enough to earn an acceptable rate of return. Third, the demanding process involved in locating, purchasing, and developing an investment property, whether it is for re-sale, rental or other use, is often more time-consuming than expected.

Farmland: A Healthy Long-Term Investment

It’s important to know that in the long run, almost all farmland increases in value, especially as the need for high quality farmed food continues to grow globally, and quality land that’s suitable for agriculture becomes more and more sought after. Historically, too, investments in farmland have proven to earn higher rates of return than other, more traditional types of investments.

The decision as to whether or not an investment in farmland is in line with your financial goals can be made easier by asking yourself a few basic questions.

  • Are you willing and able to make the financial investment required? If so, then finding an experienced lender who is knowledgeable about purchasing farmland and the various loan options – perhaps a government loan through the USDA – is critical. Traditional lenders are not always aware of the various types of loans (loans to purchase, farm operating loans and lines of credit, for instance) that are available to investors in agricultural real estate.
  • An investment in farmland is not a short-term prospect; in order to get the best return on your investment, are you willing to hold on to the land for an extended period of time in order to withstand all the ups and downs of the economy? Should you wish to sell at a certain point, you also need to be prepared for a process that may be significantly more cumbersome than selling shares of stock, for instance. Why Farmland Investing Might be the Right Financial Move for You
  • Should the farmland you’re considering be located in an area that is expected to grow, your investment, while higher initially, might pay off substantially down the road. But in the meantime, you may have to deal with environmental or zoning issues as well as obtaining or maintaining access to utilities and roadways; is this something you are prepared for, potentially?

Tax Deductions and Other Benefits to Investing in Farmland

Investing in farmland is one of the most stable and highest-yielding types of real estate investment. Improvements to farmland – assets – such as crop irrigation, grain storage or the addition of barns or other out-buildings – are often depreciated in value over time, which results in valuable tax deductions. Inflation, too, is less likely to affect the value of a farm in the long run as the need to produce more food for a growing worldwide population steadily increases. Also, agricultural investing doesn’t tend to be as volatile as investing in the stock market – which can either be very successful or very risky, in the short term – when it comes to recession. Finally, farmland is often used for much more than just traditional farming; it may produce income from for timbering, mining for minerals, and ranching, all areas that offer attractive rates of return.

Calculating the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for a Piece of Farmland

Why Farmland Investing Might be the Right Financial Move for YouThe Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is a number – a percentage – which gives the lender and investor an idea of the potential value of the investment. This figure, still very commonly used, is calculated without taking into consideration any debt the investor might incur in purchasing the property.

Annual returns come in two forms – cash returns and changes in market value; the total Internal Rate of Return is the sum of these two numbers.

  • Cash Return, or Annual Yield. Calculated as the cash rental rate divided by the market value of that piece of land in the same year, this number represents rent that the owner will receive from the farmer, which varies somewhat, of course, from year to year due to trade wars, fluctuating interest rates, etc. Pricing on commodity crops such as corn or beans tends to follow the overall economy and is sometimes depressed. However, because commodity prices over time tend to rise, the annual yield of a piece of farmland on average does well.
  • Appreciation in Property Value. The annual increase or decrease of the value of a farm is measured as a percentage change in value. Over the past 50 years, which is the longest time period available from the USDA, we’ve seen that the annual percentage growth for farmland is around a very healthy 5.9%.

The Rich Agricultural Landscape of North Carolina: Ripe for Investment

The sheer variety of crops that are grown in North Carolina – over 80 different commodities – is vast indeed.

  • Along the coastal plain, the largest farms statewide – some up to 15,000 acres! – produce berries, melons, sweet potatoes and some of the state’s leading field crops: soybeans, cotton, tobacco and peanuts.  
  • The Piedmont area specializes in dairy products, turkeys and chickens, tobacco, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruit.
  • North Carolina’s mountain region grows tobacco as well as corn, tomatoes, peaches and apples. Tree farms, too, are an integral part of North Carolina’s mountain farming economy.

As the third most agriculturally diverse state in the country thanks to a broad range of soil types, geography, and climate, North Carolinians are fortunate in that opportunities for farmland investment do exist from the mountains to the coast. Besides the increased demand for NC agricultural products worldwide, the growth of farmers’ markets, restaurants and grocery stores and an increased need for landscaping products in our own state – primarily the thriving financial center of Charlotte and tech hub of Raleigh – create additional demand as population increases. Although the production of certain crops, primarily tobacco, has dropped off, demand for other products such as landscaping plants, organic produce and hemp has successfully filled in that gap. The state’s economy has strong ties to its agriculture output in terms of both jobs and revenue.

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Winter Fun in the Mountains of North Carolina

Winter Fun in the Mountains of North CarolinaLooking for ways to get out and take advantage of our state’s beautiful – but chilly! – mountain weather? North Carolina’s awesome natural resources transform, come winter, into a wonderland of snowy trails, icy waterfalls, incredible lake views, and sunny, perfectly crisp sunrises in the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. It’s the ideal time to explore an area that, for most of us, has always been the perfect warm-weather destination.

Cabin Getaways

Vacation rentals throughout the area run the gamut from remote, rustic one-room cabins to condos to luxury homes with designer kitchens, hot tubs, expansive mountain views and deluxe furnishings. Per diem rates tend to be a bit more reasonable and the number of minimum nights are often relaxed somewhat during this “off” season, although weekend availability is still, at times, harder to come by in certain areas.

Resorts and Spas

  • Asheville’s Biltmore offers special rates on winter stays through the end of March and is currently hosting the must-see “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” display at Antler Hill Village through April 7. The Biltmore’s elegant spa experience includes massage, skin care, aromatherapy services and more, and year-round the resort features carriage rides, trail rides, kayak and bicycle rentals (weather permitting), wine, cheese and chocolate tastings, and hiking opportunities along more than 20 miles of trails.
  • The Omni Grove Park Inn, also in Asheville, hosts its Big Band Dance Weekend in mid-January, a Comedy Classic Package on February 8, and a variety of bed-and-breakfast or getaway packages no matter when you wish to visit. An indoor pool, indoor tennis courts and year-round kids’ programs will entertain all family members when it’s particularly cold outside, while the world-renowned spa offers an extensive menu of treatments and services and Winter Fun in the Mountains of North Carolinaunique “Simply Spa Package” for couples seeking an overnight with focus on wellness and relaxation.  
  • The Highlands’ Old Edwards Inn and Spa features Winter Getaway and Winter All-Inclusive packages that include hiking opportunities, dining on delicious, farm-to-table cuisine, and relaxation in the resort’s Jacuzzis or around any of the property’s several outdoor fireplaces. The area is known for its spectacular waterfalls, trails, gem mining and scenic drives.
  • Guests enjoy Bonfire Nights each Friday and Saturday at Blowing Rock’s Chetola Resort, as well as special wintertime rates, Sunday through Thursday. A range of special events – the WinterFeast restaurant crawl, WinterFashion Show, Chetola Lake Polar Bear Plunge, ice carving competitions and more – are offered as part of Blowing Rock’s late January WinterFest celebration. The resort also features archery and rifle ranges, clay pigeon shooting, an indoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi, games room, and children’s indoor play room.

Get Out and Play

No matter how outdoorsy you may or may not be, there are countless ways to warm up on your North Carolina High Country visit. With an annual snowfall of 60 inches and fairly mild average winter temperatures, the mountains are ideal Winter Fun in the Mountains of North Carolinafor outdoor winter family activities. Six ski areas throughout the state, for instance, offer downhill skiing (including night skiing), snowboarding and tubing.

  • Beech Mountain’s Ski Resort not only provides outstanding trails and slopes, but an outdoor skating rink, tubing, miles of snowshoeing trails and lessons for all age groups and skill levels.
  • Sugar Mountain, the state’s largest ski area, also offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing and outdoor skating as well as hour-long snowshoeing tours ranging from casual to intense levels of activity.
  • Visitors enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more at the Wolf Ridge Ski Resort, just north of Asheville. The resort’s Snow Sports School offers both group and individual instruction.
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain features day and nighttime skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, lessons and “Ski & Stay” packages with several hotels and resorts in the area.
  • Sapphire Valley is the mountains’ southernmost ski area, offering skiing, tubing, snowboarding and a thrilling winter zipline tour.
  • The Cataloochee Ski Area offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, recreational ski racing opportunities and lessons including “Women on Wednesdays,” ladies-only classes.


The Hawksnest Snow Tubing Park, between Boone and Banner Elk, is the East Coast’s largest tubing area with three lifts and over 30 lanes. Snow-making equipment ensures that conditions are perfect for tubing all season long. A two-hour Snowboard Tour features panoramic Blue Ridge Mountain views on four of the area’s multiple zipline cables.

Hendersonville’s Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park, the steepest in North Carolina, as well as Scaly Mountains Outdoor Center, Tube World in Maggie Valley and Newland’s Jonas Ridge Snow Park all offer both day and nighttime tubing.

Cross-Country Skiing

Certain trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway – especially between Linville and Blowing Rock – are a paradise for Nordic skiers. Picture-perfect paths within the Moses Cone Memorial Park and at Price Lake Trail, Roan Mountain Trail, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain and numerous other trails in and around the area are all ideal for cross-country excursions. The dramatic landscapes of Elk Knob State Park are made even more magical in the snow. Mount Michell State Park’s Commissary Ridge Trail, another outstanding area, is only accessible from the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway – a region that, unfortunately, is often also closed when weather deteriorates.

Winter Hikes

Wintertime hiking in the higher elevations of the state offers some of the most incredible viewing of mountains, lakes and waterfalls around.

  • Dry Falls. An especially scenic trail in the area northwest of Highlands, NC leads to a walkway below a waterfall which may or not be entirely frozen over, depending on weather conditions.
  • A Linville Falls hike is spectacular at any time of year, but in the winter the falls are particularly lovely, though trails are steep and can be treacherous under icy conditions.
  • The 4,600-foot Appalachian Max Patch Trail leads to a unique “bald” – a wide open area without one single tree – where over 300 acres of meadow turn into a picturesque, snowy pasture that impresses all who take on the challenge of reaching an area only accessible by snowmobile or other off-road vehicle.

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