Hickory Farms

September 2021 Hickory Farms Newsletter

- Editor, Bill Berg (Farm House Ln)

President's Column

By: Sean Coleman

Breaking news – the Hickory Farms Annual Meeting has been changed to an all Zoom gathering, and the date is now Wednesday, October 20 at 7 pm. The Board has made this change due to the rapid increase in infections in the area. On June 11, there were zero new Covid cases in Fairfax. On July 11, there were 16 new cases. On August 11, there were 125 new cases, and on September 11, there were 205 new cases in Fairfax. Even though Fairfax has the third-highest vaccination rate in the State at 79.3% of the adult population with at least one dose of the vaccine, that still means that 2 in 10 are not fully vaccinated and 27.7% have no vaccination at all. In addition to the changing public health situation, our neighborhood insurance will not cover us should someone sue us claiming they were exposed at the Annual Meeting.

The Board passed a budget for 2022 at the September meeting. This budget requires an $11 increase in dues. Just as you see inflation hitting in other ways, food, gas, travel, and clothing, it also hits the Association. Our Directors and Liability insurance costs will increase up to 25% this coming year. Common area maintenance costs are rising as well. Higher gasoline costs and higher labor costs, and increased labor turnover have struck our common area maintenance vendor this year. These costs and others have increased the cost of maintaining the neighborhood and maintaining the record high property resale values that our neighbors are obtaining when they resell their house.

Most of the Board has agreed to serve again next year. One member, Kathleen Schmidt, has decided to step back from service. Thank you to all that are staying, and thank you to Kathleen for your two years of service to the community.

There is an article in the newsletter about registering for the annual meeting and submitting your votes and proxies should you need to do that. There are two major orders of business that need to be conducted at each annual meeting. First, the annual budget for the Association is affirmed by the homeowners. Second, the election of board members for next year is approved. Both are necessary to provide continuity to the Association. A quorum is 25%, so we need at least 50 individual homeowners (husbands and wives share one vote) to constitute a quorum to conduct business.

Our social committee will set up a Signup Genius registration for the Annual Meeting. After you have registered you will receive the Zoom link to the meeting.

It seems hard to fathom how fast Summer goes by, but it does. Cicadas, lighting bugs, sunburns, and family vacations are once again behind us. That, of course, means that school is back in session, and our neighborhood children are once again gathering at corners here in Hickory Farms waiting for school buses to pick them up. Please drive with them in mind.

Thank you to the neighbors who responded to the Community Survey. You will find the results summarized in an article by Telah Jackson, who ran the survey for the Board.

You may have noticed a new sign-up in the Rabbit Run area to the South of Cotton Farm Road. Bridgette Buchanan, a former neighbor of 13 years, has placed it there as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award. The Board has agreed it can stay there for up to a year. Next time you walk by, take a few minutes, read it, and learn a little more about Wood Turtles.

See you on October 20.

Hickory Farms Halloween Spooktacular!

Birds of Hickory Farms

By: Bob Cosgriff

The 2021 breeding season is over and I’m pleased to report that it was a record-setting year in terms of birds fledged. The table below shows a recap of the last 10 years since we began to submit data to the Virginia Bluebird Society:

HFCA Bluebird Trail — Year to Year Compilation of Fledged Birds by Species
2012 5 13 7 0
2013 22 8 16 0
2014 16 4 4 0
2015 12 0 4 4
2016 8 12 0 0
2017 20 5 0 0
2018 8 0 0 0
2019 12 15 0 0
2020 10 3 0 0
2021 29 16 0* 0
*one box had five TRES eggs which were predated by House Sparrows
EABL = Eastern Bluebird
HOWR = House Wren
TRES = Tree Swallow
CACH = Carolina Chickadee

These data lead to some interesting questions: 1) Why so few Carolina Chickadee nesting attempts? 2) Why so many years without TRES after four years of success? 3) Why the fluctuations in numbers over the years, particularly in House Wrens, but also in bluebirds?

There are no clear-cut answers. Weather may play a part in the Tree Swallow disappearance for five years and possibly for the fluctuations in the other species. We have observed increasing House Sparrow presence, particularly in the upper commons over the years. This could have deterred chickadees and also Tufted Titmouse. Last year was a particularly bad year for predation of bluebirds by House Sparrows. The variations in numbers could also have to do with the numbers of boxes available and locations, as we have experimented with both. At this point, ten seems like the best number of boxes for our trail.

Now that the breeding season is over, the fall migration is the next bird event. The fall migration is longer and more diffuse than the spring migration. Some songbird species begin to move as early as July, but most start south in late August, continuing into September and October. Shorebirds start south in August; however, they migrate mostly along the coast. It is possible to see Killdeer (a type of plover) here. August is the time hummingbirds begin to begin to fatten up for the long flight to Central America. So if you have feeders up, keep them up and increase the proportion of sugar to water (1:3 as opposed the normal 1:4 proportion). Boil the water, add sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved, and remove from heat to cool; do not use food coloring. The solution should be clear. Save excess in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Finally, I encourage you to read the article elsewhere in this newsletter by college-bound Hickory Farms resident, Bridgette Buchanan, who completed a Girl Scout “Gold Award” project focusing on endangered turtles. Part of her project was the creation of a sign which is now posted by the bench in the common area south of Cotton Farm Road near Rabbit Run. Three turtle species have been seen here in Hickory Farms: Woodland (formerly Eastern) Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), Wood Turtle (Clemmys insculpata), and Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). While none of these species is on the U.S. Endangered Species List, each is vulnerable to such factors as habitat destruction, water pollution, and being struck by cars while crossing roads. The Hickory Farms Resource Protection Area (RPA) protects the habitat required by these turtle species as well as their food sources. In our time living here, we have seen only a few Wood Turtles. Northern Virginia in proximity to the Potomac River is the southern edge of their range. They are listed as “threatened” by the Commonwealth of Virginia. As for snapping turtles: one was seen last year and again this year in Rabbit Run south of Cotton Farm Road. Over the years, we have seen several snappers. Don’t worry—if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone! Bridgette also developed a very informative website which you can access by scanning the QR code on the sign. As she heads off to college, we congratulate Bridgette on completing her Gold Award project and for providing an educational sign for Hickory Farms.

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Hickory Farms and the Civil War, Part I

By: Bob Cosgriff

In previous years, I wrote a series of short articles that placed Hickory Farms within the context of the larger history of Virginia from colonial times into the twentieth century. One of the most important periods was that of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Rather than to repeat in their entirety the previous articles, I will summarize key events that occurred in and around Fairfax Court House (as the modern City of Fairfax was then known) and thus, Hickory Farms.

When Fort Sumter was fired upon (12-13 April, 1861), the American Civil War (or more correctly, the War Between the States) officially began. Although several southern states had already seceded by that time, Virginia had not. In May, 1861, a vote was taken at Fairfax Court House on a resolution adopted by the General Assembly to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States by Virginia; in other words, to secede. The vote was 151-6 in favor of secession. The rest of the state followed suit, with the exception of western counties which subsequently became the state of West Virginia. Thus, Virginia, the wealthiest and most populous state in the self-titled Confederate States of America, was in the war, with important consequences for Fairfax County, given its proximity to Washington, DC. Troops of the Confederate Army were sent to Northern Virginia to counter the buildup of Union forces in and around Washington, DC. Union defenses were established in a series of forts in Alexandria and Arlington Counties, but the Confederates controlled points to the west anchored along the Bull Run.

On 1 June, 1861, a Union cavalry detachment marched from Falls Church via what is modern U.S. 29 and Old Lee Highway to Fairfax Court House and in a pre-dawn raid, attacked along modern Main Street passing over Chain Bridge Road (Rt. 123) to a point approximately where the cemetery is located at Judicial Drive. This attack roused the Confederate defenders. The Union detachment now had hostile forces between it and its route of retreat, which occasioned a dash back through the town to eventual safety. In the large scheme of Civil War actions, this was a small one. Total casualties were light: Federals—1 killed, 4 wounded, 1 missing and 3 captured; Confederates—1 killed, at least one wounded (then-Col. Richard Ewell) and 5 captured (although some Union reports mentioned 'heavy' Confederate casualties). The one person killed was Captain John Quincy Marr of the Warrenton Rifles, who was the first Confederate officer killed in the Civil War. A monument to Captain Marr was erected in 1904 at the site of the original Fairfax County Court House, although he was killed a few hundred yards south of the site, near the Legato School in front of the County Judicial Complex. In November, 2020, this monument (an obelisk and two cannon) was removed by vote of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the obelisk subsequently being donated to the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society in Centreville, and the two artillery pieces given to the Manassas National Battlefield Park where field pieces of this type were actually used in the fighting.

In July, 1861, a raw army of approximately 35,000 men marched out of encampments in Alexandria and proceeded by way of Annandale and Fairfax Court House to Centreville. Preliminary skirmishes occurred along the banks of the Bull Run where Route 28 crosses the stream south of Centreville on July 18. The main Union attack led to the First Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run) on July 21 and resulted in a Confeder-ate victory. The routed Union Army retreated through Fairfax Court House using available routes, including Main Street/Little River Turnpike and Braddock Road.

This leads to an interesting fact that I only recently learned about, namely the existence of a preserved Civil War redoubt on what is now the campus of George Mason University. This was built at the northeast cor-ner of Braddock Road and Rt. 123, which intersection was known at the time as Farr’s Crossroads. (Interestingly, it is the second highest natural point in Fairfax County!) Another defensive position was erected at the intersection of Braddock Road and Roberts Road, “above Rabbit Branch” * (Edward Wentzel, Chronology of Fairfax County in the Civil War, Part I, 2015, p. 86). with a second supporting position farther to the east at Braddock and Guinea Road. The purpose of these positions (breastworks, felled trees and obstructions) was to impede Union movement along these roads towards Fairfax Courthouse and Centreville to counter the Confederate buildup along the Bull Run. There was an engagement near the Braddock Road/Guinea Road outpost and “sharp skirmish” occurred at the Roberts Road site (Wentzel, p. 86) as Union forces marched towards Fairfax Court House. Another field fortification was located about ½ mile east of the courthouse on Little River Turnpike “at the top of a steep hill.” (Wentzel, p. 87). Given the location and description, I estimate this to be approximately at Orchard Drive/Main Street just west of the Main Street Center mall. While these hastily-built positions and delaying tactics did not stop the Union advance on 17 July, 1861, they were re-occupied by Confederate forces after the Union retreat. In March, 1862, the Confederates evacuated Northern Virginia to protect Richmond from attack and Union forces occupied Fairfax Court House (and the redoubt) until the end of the war. You can read more information about this relic of the Civil War at
http://bullruncwrt.org/BRCWRT/Newsletters16/Stone_Wall_December_2016-January_2017_issue_10.pdf (pgs. 9-12). Even better, you can visit the redoubt site, which is accessed from the parking lot across from the Eagle Bank Arena. Look for the interpretative sign (with information on both sides) at the western tree line and follow the path leading to the redoubt where there is a second sign giving further details. It is an interesting trip back in time.

Coming next month: Second Manassas and the Battle of Ox Hill (1862), and Mosby’s Raid (1863).

*(Note: Rabbit Branch originates on the GMU campus and crosses under Braddock Road just west of Roberts Road. Rabbit Run originates north of Hickory Farms, flows through our community and George Mason Forest, passes under Braddock Road via a culvert, and merges with Rabbit Branch behind the former Northern Virginia Training Center, where the creek flows into Royal Lake with the name Rabbit Branch.)

2022 Budget Information

Under the Hickory Farms Bylaws and the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, the Board of Directors must approve a budget and set an annual assessment for the forthcoming year. The Hickory Farms Board of Directors reviewed the 2022 budget and concluded a $261 annual assessment was needed. This increase from $250 to $261 is needed to cover the rising costs of operations and contribute to the reserve fund (used for repairs and upgrades of HFCA assets).

The 2022 budget and the increase of the 2022 annual assessment to $261 were approved by the HFCA Board of Directors on September 14, 2022.

For Homeowners: please see Board Approved 2022 Budget below and affirm your agreement to the budget on the Proxy Ballot included in this Newsletter and either mail or scan in the Proxy and e-mail it per instructions on the Proxy Ballot or attend the Annual Meeting via Zoom on Oct 20th at 7pm.

Assessments $51,678.00
Assessments - Late Fees -
Interest -
Advertising $550.00
Legal Fees Recovered -
VPOAA Disclosure Fees $875.00
Total Income $53,103.00
Common Area Maintenance $25,130.00
Common Area Improvement $3,000.00
Common Area Remediation $5,500.00
Insurance - Director's Liability & Surety $2,600.00
Insurance - Commercial Crime Insurance $832.00
Insurance - General Liability $321.00
Legal Fees $2,142.00
Postage $250.00
Neighborhood Watch $184.00
Printing $1,560.00
Social Activities $1,500.00
Tax Preperation $348.00
Taxes & Government Charges/Fees $257.00
Capital Reserve Deposits $7,528.00
Administrative Fees $857.00
Strategic Projects $1,040.00
Bank Charges $54.00
Total Expenses $53,103.00
Net Income or (Loss) $0.00


  1. Reserve fund balance $42,147.00 as of 08/30/2021 (Money Market Account)