Northwest Observer / At Home Spring 2023

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Spring 2023 IN
In with the blooms, out with the gloom 6 Chickens in the backyard? Yes! 8 Home trends: What’s HOT, and what’s not ........ 10 Saving Summerfield’s history ................................. 12 Hoe, hoe, hoe, it’s time for spring gardening!... 14 What to do with all that clutter 18 Critter-proof your backyard 25 Index of Advertisers ................................................31 published by pscommunications
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In with the , out with the gloom

Readers share thoughts on spring rituals and how they welcome the new season

Ahhhhhhhh, spring – more hours of daylight, gentle, warm breezes, budding trees and flowers popping up everywhere, all welcome signs of new life after a long, barren winter. It’s also the time of year when people are drawn to such activities as gardening, sprucing up the landscape, freshening up the house or just hanging around outside and soaking up the sunshine.

We recently talked to several of our readers to find out how they usher in the spring season, and here’s what they had to say…

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Photo courtesy of Bobbie Gardner Bobbie Gardner likes to dress up the exterior of her hen house (aka “The Hen Den”) for spring.

Bobbie Gardner said she and her husband, Jay, pick up the pace when spring rolls around. The Stokesdale couple maintains a large vegetable and fruit garden, and it takes a lot of work just to get it started in the spring.

A key to a bountiful garden, Bobbie noted, is good soil preparation.

“We begin preparing the soil early, mixing in decomposed manure, wood ash and eggshells,” she said.

Since the pandemic, the Gardners have focused on being more selfsufficient, so it’s not surprising their soil amendments are organic rather than store-bought.

“We repurpose a great deal,” Bobbie said. “We use a neighbor’s stall debris, clean out our chicken house and grind up eggshells for calcium.”

Each year the couple decides which plants have to go, which ones stay and which new varieties to add.

“Planning is a must, and we decide what and where we are going to be putting more berries or expanding the vegetable garden,” Bobbie said. “This year we are planting native wildflowers and grasses.”

Along with the garden, the Gardner farm features a number of honeybee hives.

“We are beekeepers and have numerous plantings geared toward the wildlife and our bees,” Bobbie said. “I plant hundreds of early-blooming plants and this year we are about three weeks ahead due to the warm weather.”

Bobbie admits she dislikes housework, so spring cleaning isn’t high on her to-do list. Still, she said “airing the house out and cleaning the windows is a priority in the early spring.”

While she’s not into massive cleaning sprees, she does like to change things up and said the interior and exterior of her house, barn and hen house all reflect the current season.

Even so, Smith said she actually does a couple of things in response to the change in seasons.

“I switch out my fall/winter clothes for spring/summer ones and sit outside on the deck more with our dog to get a little tan on my legs so I don’t scare people when I start wearing shorts,” she said.

While Smith said she’s not big into changing home décor based on the season, she enjoys making her grandkids smile, so she put out her Easter decorations a few weeks ahead of schedule this year. She also likes the idea of focusing on the real reason for the Easter season.

“I can celebrate an empty tomb every day,” she said. “‘He is not here; he has risen!’ – Luke 24:6.”

Ashley Callendar of Oak Ridge, the mother of a second grader and a fourth grader, spends most of her time involved in their activities – to the point that she said she barely notices the change in seasons. Even though she does little to prepare for spring, she enjoys the new life it brings and hopes to one day be able to tend a garden of her own.

As an afterthought, Callendar did remember one thing she consistently does each spring.

“I make sure I start my kids’ allergy medicines!” she laughed.

Stokesdale resident Becky Wray relishes the fruits and vegetables that come from her garden, and knows good results require a lot of upfront labor.

One of the most unpleasant spring tasks for Wray and her husband, Jim, is the removal of spiky sweetgum balls that cover their garden space and part of their yard.

“The dreaded gum ball rake-up has to be done before we can do anything else,” Wray said.

“Since my birthday is the last day of winter, the only thing I really do to get ready for spring is get older,” joked Dina Smith, a northwest Greensboro resident.

Each spring, the couple tries to plant something new in their garden. Last year it was Swiss chard, but that wasn’t a big family hit and it will be replaced by okra this season; Wray said she looks forward to trying her hand at continued on page 28

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Backyard chickens produce more than eggs

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NW GUILFORD – Some days, Jared Corry eats as many as six eggs. The convenience of gathering them from his own backyard is a plus, but he raises chickens for other reasons, too.

One afternoon last week, he gently pressed a pale brown egg near the ear of his young daughter, Jo Jo. From inside the shell could be heard the chirping of an unborn chick, one of about 40 biddies Corry is raising at his family’s home in northwestern Guilford County.

“It is amazing; it is a miracle,” said Corry, showing the slight cracking of the eggshell from the movements of the bird inside. “It’s going to be a brand new world for you, little chicky.”

Soaring egg prices in supermarkets have provided an additional incentive for people to raise chickens. But across northwestern Guilford County, several families who own chickens said as much as they like saving money, they’re moti-

vated as much, if not more, by the connection to farm life and activities caring for chickens provides for their children.

A few months after moving to Oak Ridge a decade ago, Cody Kampen said she decided “we’ve got to get chickens” as part of the “homesteading light” lifestyle she and her husband, Andy, wanted to build for their family.

Besides raising their three children, the couple has since been raising a flock of hens and a rooster named Johann Sebastian Bach (as in the “bock, bock, bock” clucking of chickens).

“The chicks are fun to hold,” said Ellie, 9, one of the Kampens’ three children. She has emerged as the egg entrepreneur of the family.

While she and her brother, Simon, 6, and 11-year-old sister, Clara, sell eggs at the end of their driveway to neighbors, Ellie recently distributed a flyer in the neighborhood offering eggs for sale. They go for $5 a dozen.

continued on page 20

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Families also enjoy connection to farming and activities for children, despite caretaking responsibilities for the flock
Above left, a big decorative chicken guards the coop at Pecan Grove Farm in Summerfield. (Center) Ellie Kampen (holding one of her Oak Ridge family’s hens) tends the flock with her sister, Clara, and brother, Simon, who shows off an egg. (Right) Chris Corry holds one of the hens he helps tend on his family’s property in northwestern Guilford County. by Chris Burritt/PS Communications
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White and light-colored subway tile is still popular, especially in kitchen backsplashes, but is finding its decorativeness in the way it’s laid – such as with a herringbone pattern as shown in the picture above – rather than with vivid color and designs that won’t stand the test of time.

Whether you’re planning to build a new custom home, undertake a major remodeling of your existing home or simply update a room or two, you might want to tune in to the latest home trends before you get started, and consider incorporating some of the innovative ideas that are increasingly in demand. To find out what’s in and what’s on its way out, we spoke to some of the home builders in our area and asked what features homebuyers are most often requesting.

Farmhouse, traditional, modern – or a combo?

Over the past few years, the modern farmhouse style has been hugely popular. It marries the coziness of a farmhouse with the sleek, clean lines of contemporary design to create a refreshing take on the rustic country look.

Typically, the modern farmhouse sports a white exterior with black shutters. Large, covered porches, vaulted ceilings, unpainted wood and lots of windows are also distinctive

Home design trends: what’s hot , what’s not carpet, wood, tile & vinyl flooring.

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design elements often found in this style of house.

While homeowners are still requesting the modern farmhouse look, local builders are noticing a slight decline in its popularity.

“There are some buyers still wanting this look, but we’re seeing more people who are going back to a traditional style home with a modern flair,” said Kathy Dumas, who owns R&K Custom Homes along with her husband, Rich. “Front elevations are cleaner and simpler, without shutters or brick quoins on the corners.”

At CJ Builders, owner Casey Johnson said he is also seeing a slight “cooling” in demand for the farmhouse style.

“For a while, 50% of our homes were modern farmhouse, but we’re starting to see buyers leaning more toward a traditional style,” he said.

Although many buyers still want the modern farmhouse, one thing that probably won’t be included in their home design is shiplap, those horizontal boards

that have been covering home walls in the past few years. Made popular by HGTV star Joanna Gaines, shiplap was once considered a must-have by many buyers.

“We have seen a significant drop in requests for shiplap,” confirmed Matt Walraven, who owns Walraven Signature Homes with wife, Danielle.

At Ray Bullins Construction Co., Lisa Bullins, who owns the company along with her husband, Ray, concurred.

“We still use it in some rooms if it makes sense,” Bullins said. “For instance, in a mudroom, where its washability would be warranted.”

Regardless of what style you choose, the most important thing is to make it your own. Bullins likes to mix things up by combining different styles. For instance, she said her company just finished a house with farmhouse elements in the kitchen, while the primary bedroom had more of a boho feel, pulling in features such as rattan and beads.

continued on page 26

Spring 2023 11
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Two members of the town’s Historical Committee have begun interviewing residents to create a collection of oral histories

SUMMERFIELD – Bruce Petersen and Heather Buttonow, members of Summerfield’s Historical Committee, are searching for stories.

They don’t want snippets of conversations from soccer practice or the supermarket checkout line. Instead, they want to hear pull-upa-chair stories from Summerfield’s past. They’re in a bit of a hurry, too.

“We’re trying to save history before it’s gone,” Buttonow said in a recent interview. Added Petersen, the committee’s chair: “We’ve lost a lot of folks with connections to the area.”

Two deaths of longtime Summerfield residents in the past year and a half have reminded Petersen and Buttonow of a stark reality – the opportunity to collect pieces of history disappears when people die.

The author of “Remembering Summerfield: Glimpses of the Past,” lifelong resident and historian Gladys Scarlette, 92, passed away in August 2021. A year later, Harold “Shorty” Wilson died at the age of 87, bringing to an end half a century of story swapping at Wilson’s Grocery at the corner of Carlson Dairy and Pleasant Ridge Roads. The store was operated by continued on page 29

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Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications Summerfield Historical Committee members Heather Buttonow (left) and Bruce Petersen review their interview of 106-year-old Hazel Weeks, one of the first two oral histories that will be posted on the Town of Summerfield’s website (
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Trays of lettuce are among the many vegetables for sale at Summerfield Feed Mill.


field where his great-grandparents grew tobacco. He’s already started his early garden on the same land, setting out potatoes, onions, radishes, beets and some leafy greens. The lettuce “is starting to pop up,” he said in a recent interview.

Early crops such as broccoli and cabbage lack the vibrant colors of summertime tomatoes and yellow squash. But for what they lack in pizazz, they make up for with heartiness and longevity. Peeden is still eating potatoes he planted a year ago and has stored in his garage since last summer.

Donald Hall bought enough potatoes from Summerfield Feed Mill last week to plant a 60-foot row in his garden, along with peas, cabbage and onions. He and his wife, Mika, will enjoy the veg-

etables in the spring and summer as they’re waiting for their tomatoes, beans, corn, cantaloupe and other hot-weather vegetables to come in.

“I try to stagger it so it’s not all coming off the vine at the same time,” said Hall, who learned gardening from his father and grandfather. “I do exactly what they did.”

Planting an early garden requires some tedious preparation, such as clearing out leaves and other debris from the winter – and doing a soil test to ensure your crops have the nutrition they need.

“Prepare vegetable beds by in-

14 Spring 2023
David W., Summerfield Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications

corporating soil amendments, lime and fertilizer,” preferably by the end of March and based on the results of the garden’s soil test, according to a post on the website of the N.C. State Extension program.

Last week, Summerfield’s Kathy Rooney bought a variety of lettuces, Swiss chard and curly mustard for gardens that she and her husband, Doug, are going to plant.

“It gives us a month of fresh greens and protein for dinner every night,” she said.

Once the plants are established, the couple will pour a 10% solution of household ammonia on them “to keep the slug population down,” Rooney said. “The cats keep the rabbits away and I use wireless deer fencing to discourage the larger lettuce predators.”

Frost is generally a risk until

continued on page 30

At right, Summerfield Feed Mill’s Arlene Neal weighs potatoes that Donald Hall planted in his garden. Hall said he learned gardening from his father and grandfather, and does “exactly what they did.”

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Has your home space become more of a storage space?

Let’s face it, if you’re like most people, you’re pretty attached to all your “stuff.” But realistically, after accumulating so much of it over the years, you probably have a whole lot more than you need.

Just take a few minutes to look around.

Did you somehow manage to collect three or four sets of dishes? How about all those duplicate kitchen utensils? Still have

In the words of Shakespeare, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” However, the joys of an uncluttered living space are well worth the effort of sorting through and letting go of all that unused and unneeded “stuff” that surrounds you.

outgrown kids’ clothes in the closet that never got passed on? And what about all those books that you’ll never read a second time? Got some worn out or unused electronics?

If the list of unnecessary items surrounding you goes on and on, it may be time to take a deep breath and ask yourself a few questions (which you must promise to answer honestly). Let’s start with this one: do you find it difficult to relax in your home because of all the clutter?

And here are a few more: are you constantly moving the same items from one location to another without ever using them? Do you spend an unreasonable amount of time cleaning – or just simply find the task of navigating around so much stuff too overwhelming to even start?

If so, a clutter clean-out can bring your home back to an orderly state and make it a more enjoyable place to hang out.

The idea of decluttering can be

daunting for many people because they not only don’t know where to start, but they’re also at a loss when it comes to knowing what to do with the items they’re willing to part with. Family members often aren’t interested in our possessions, and yard sales are time-consuming and usually not worth the effort, at least in terms of the dollars collected for the items sold. Discarding items that still have value can be especially hard. Or maybe you just don’t have time to take them to a place where they can be sorted and prepared for reuse.

With that in mind, we talked to readers and did some research of our own to find out how you can reduce your clutter and even put it to good use. And along with clearing out your living and work space, you may also be able to make a few dollars. Regardless, ridding your home of unwanted and unneeded items can help other people and help the environment by keeping them out of the landfill.

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Start by taking a close look at your closet. Are there clothes still in style, but you’ve only worn them once or twice, and maybe not in a few years? Do some still have the price tags on them? And what about your kids’ clothes – are you holding onto outfits that your child wore as a toddler, but she’s about to finish elementary school?

It’s time to let go and possibly make a few dollars in the process. Selling clothes – and just about anything, for that matter – online has become a popular pastime, and even a side business for some people.

Online sites such as Poshmark, Depop, Mecari and eBay offer a forum for people to buy and sell their new, gently worn or vintage fashions.

Oak Ridge resident Val Kepley has been successful using eBay and Poshmark for years to not only sell her items, but get some incredible bargains as well.

“Lately I’ve been selling a lot of stuff on eBay, but I’ve done well on Poshmark too,” Kepley said. “Once I’ve gotten tired of something

or actually haven’t used it, selling online is a great way to recycle and make a few dollars at the same time.”

If you’re not interested in selling online, donating to a charitable organization not only gets rid of the overflow in your home but helps others as well. While Goodwill is a popular choice, there are a multitude of other nonprofits that accept second-hand clothing and other items and use the proceeds from sales to support specific causes.

For instance, Next Step Ministries’ thrift store in Kernersville helps provide funds to assist victims of domestic violence. Hannah’s Haven thrift store in Greensboro raises money to help women dealing with addiction. And in Summerfield, proceeds from Tabitha’s Closet thrift store help provide housing for women who have been released from prison and are working to turn their lives around.

Wedding gowns

After the wedding is over, many brides have their gowns painstakingly preserved with the idea that a future daughter might one day wear those precious garments. Unfortunately,

very few modern brides are interested in this option; in the meantime, those boxed gowns sit in the closet collecting dust and taking up space because the owners can’t bear to part with them.

One way to reuse these beautiful and delicate dresses is to donate them to NICU Helping Hands’ Angel Gown program.

The program, which started in 2013, provides support for bereaved families who have lost a baby, by providing them with a dainty, custom-made gown for final photos and burial services.

Angel gowns are made by a team of about 180 seamstresses across the nation. According to the organization’s website, “our garments are a gift of love from both a bride and a seamstress to honor not only a precious baby but their family as well.”

Gowns are accepted on an as-needed basis and there is currently a waitlist. For more information and/or to add your name to the waitlist, visit angel-gown-program.

continued on page 22

Spring 2023 19
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The family collects about eight eggs a day, some of which wind up scrambled for breakfast as well as ingredients in baking recipes prepared by the children.

“It has turned up their cooking skills,” Cody said.

As with most chicken-raising families, the birds’ security is a primary concern for the Kampens. Their 10 hens and rooster live in a backyard coop with doors on two sides.

One opens to the fenced area where the chickens roam during the day. It is covered by lightweight bird netting to discourage hawks and possums from attacking the birds.

On the other side of the coop is an enclosure made of heavy wire where the flock gathers at dusk when the risk of predators increases. The birds are closed up in the coop at night.

The rooster also protects the flock, keeping an eye open for hawks when the hens are roaming in the yard and making sure they have entered the enclosure at dusk, according to Andy.

Despite the precautions, the Kam-

pens have lost chickens over the years. They came close to losing another bird a few years ago after a hawk swooped down and nearly decapitated it. An emergency medical procedure saved the hen, but not all have been so lucky. The family maintains a chicken cemetery in the woods behind their house.

“We’ve had a lot of turnover,” Cody said, echoing the experience of other families who’ve lost chickens to a range of predators, including foxes and coyotes.

As he starts his flock, Oak Ridge retiree David Laird is taking precautions as he reconnects to his Mississippi childhood when his family raised chickens.

One afternoon last week, Laird emerged from Summerfield Feed Mill with a water dispenser in one hand and a feed dispenser in the other for his young flock of Jersey Giants, a breed valued for both eggs and meat.

“We’re going to use them for eggs until they stop laying and then probably eat them and start over,” Laird said.

Until the birds’ final days, he said, they’re going to be safe from predators.

“I jokingly say I didn’t build a chicken coop; I built a chicken vault,” he said. “No critters are going to get in there.”

The 8-by-7-foot coop is elevated, with the wire enclosure underneath and extending out front, according to Laird. The wire is secured at the ground by treated lumber set in a trench and covered by dirt.

“I don’t think a mouse can get inside of it,” Laird said.

The flock’s safety isn’t the only concern when raising the birds. For health reasons, people should limit their interactions with chickens.

“Backyard poultry specifically can have salmonella germs in their poop and on their bodies, even when they look healthy and clean,” said Dr. Kathy Benedict, a veterinarian epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who was quoted in a CNN article in January.

The CDC urged parents to prevent their children under the age of 5 from touching the birds, while also supervising the interaction of older children with the animals.

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Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications A hen pecks her way through a “chicken tunnel” at Summerfield’s Pecan Grove Farm.

In Summerfield, predators have been the biggest threat to Joshua and Brandon Daughtry’s flock. The owners of Pecan Grove Farm are raising about 70 hens on about three acres, along with an assortment of animals including Kunekune pigs, rabbits, ducks, two cats and seven dogs.

The chickens are no longer allowed to roam freely in the backyard after some died from being snatched by hawks, taken up in the air and dropped back to earth.

“That made for a pretty gruesome and unfortunate situation,” said Brandon, explaining that construction of a “chicken tunnel” in the yard allows the birds to roam without risk of predators.

Running for about 100 feet, the tunnel is actually located above ground. It consists of wire rolled in the shape of a half-moon secured to the ground. Chickens enter the tunnel from the fenced enclosure, allowing them to wander away from the coop, then turn

around and come back inside.

The chickens produce as many as 50 eggs a day, enough for the Daughtrys to set up a stand at the end of their driveway to sell via social media. Aside from the eggs they eat, they’ve sold some eggs sporadically and given others away in the past.

Nick Robinson, 15, of Summerfield earns $20 a week caring for his family’s dozen hens and a turkey named Tammy. Aside from feeding and watering daily, he hooks up the coop to a tractor once a week and pulls it 10 feet across the yard to provide fresh grass to the chickens.

“We tried free ranging, but they laid eggs all over the property and roosted in the barn,” said Nick’s mother, Janelle.

Nick said tending the flock is a mix between “a chore” and “fun.” Through the experience, he’s learned some lessons – such as generosity.

“We get so many eggs that we give many away,” he said.

want to learn more?

For more info about raising chickens, search online for “backyard chickens” at N.C. Cooperative Extension’s website,

Spring 2023 21
“Don’t kiss or snuggle your backyard poultry; don’t eat or drink around them,” Benedict said.
(Left) As he starts his flock, Oak Ridge’s David Laird buys feed and water dispensers from Summerfield Feed Mill. (Above) Nick Robinson, 15, of Summerfield earns $20 a week tending his family’s chickens. Photos by Chris Burritt/PS Communications


Books, music, games and more

As you’re inspecting your home for clutter, do you notice items like books, CDs, DVDs, video games –and heaven forbid, VHS tapes – are taking up an outrageous amount of space? Unless you just like having your own library, or you read books more than once, it’s a good idea to pass them on once you’ve read them. Same goes for those CDs and DVDs that have been replaced by streaming services.

A new home for these items can be found at Edward McKay Used Books and More, a secondhand store that sells used books, CDs, movies, video games, consumer electronics, board games and more.

Located on Battleground Avenue in Greensboro (with another

location in Winston-Salem), Edward McKay gets its inventory by purchasing from people who want to pass along their stuff. All you have to do is take your items to the store’s front desk and stick around for a bit while the employees cull through it and select what they want to keep, then offer you a price for purchasing them.

In return, you have the choice of cash or store credit. And as for items they don’t want to buy, they’ll either offer them back to you, or place them in their free bin for anyone else who might want them at no charge.

There are some items the store isn’t interested in (sorry, you’ll have to find another way to pass along all those VHS tapes) To find out what’s a go and what’s a no, check out the store’s website at

Anything and everything

For years, Craigslist and eBay were the go-to sites for selling almost anything imaginable. In the last few years, that’s changed as Facebook Marketplace and Facebook groups have made the selling process easier and more convenient.

Anyone with a Facebook account can use these formats without paying a fee. Marketplace connects people both locally and nationally, while Facebook groups are local and allow you to be more selective about who you’re dealing with. Merchandise for sale varies widely, and includes everything from houses and vehicles to dolls and vegetables.

Stokesdale resident Casey Stone has been successful on both Marketplace and Facebook groups, as well as on her personal Facebook page.

“I’ve sold a lot of kids clothes, toys and shoes through the groups,” she said. “I list my higher-priced items, i.e., anything over $100, on Marketplace since there’s a larger audience.”

Overall, Stone has had a good

experience with this selling process. However, she did mention that she would never post another vehicle. Just a couple of weeks ago, she and her husband, Phillip, posted a car for sale and were bombarded with lowball offers and potential scammers.

They finally gave up and checked out a couple of national car dealers.

“We ended up going with Carmax,” she said. “Everything was online. It was so much better. We made the deal online, dropped off our car and they gave us a check.”

Costume jewelry

Ah, yes, about that costume jewelry. Even though it usually goes out of style very quickly, many people have an extensive collection and they’re reluctant to get rid of it. Unfortunately, this type of trendy jewelry doesn’t sell well on the online sites and sometimes it’s hard to even give it away.

Debbie Crews of Kernersville found herself with an abundance of costume jewelry when her mother passed away, and not many options as to what to do with it. Because of its sentimental value, she didn’t want to just throw it away.

“Mom had a lot of costume jewelry. It didn’t have any value except being sentimental to me,” Crews said.

After poking around a little on Facebook, Crews stumbled upon Bree’s Trees, an artist who converts costume jewelry into beautiful works of art. It takes about 10 pounds of jewelry to create these beautiful pieces, and it provides an excellent way to repurpose the jewelry and have something gorgeous and sentimental to decorate your home.

Buy nothing

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get rid of the stuff you don’t want is to post it with one of Facebook’s Buy Nothing groups. These are people who are committed to spend nothing on the things they need or want.

All you do is post the items you want to get rid of, then confirm that people interested in them can have them and you’ll place them out for easy pickup.

Kepley is a big proponent of this group.

“It’s a great way to reduce consumerism and waste, help the environment and help someone else as well,” said Kepley, who has given away clothes, books, light fixtures and even a mattress. “You also don’t have to haul anything away or pay someone else to do it.”

Stone has also considered these groups. She likes the convenience they offer, but uses another service, Pickup Please, which is the pickup service for Vietnam Veterans of America, a nonprofit that supports our American service members.

“If I’m not selling the items, I usually donate to the veterans,” Stone said. “I sign up online at They come to my house and I don’t have to deal with driving anywhere, I just put it in my driveway.”

Parting with your possessions can be a daunting task, especially when you want to do more than just throw things in the trash. We’ve only touched on a few ideas that can help make the process a little more satisfying – and maybe even profitable. Knowing that you’ve found a good place for some of your unused possessions can be a great feeling, so go ahead, dig in and before you know it you’ll be enjoying the comforts of uncluttered space.

22 Spring 2023
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from page 19

will forever be grateful to Phillip, Dawn and the entire staff at A New Dawn Realty for their kindness and professionalism!

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Critter-proofi ng your yard and garden

Electric fences, traps and stinky concoctions are among tips for deterring deer, rabbits and groundhogs

NW GUILFORD – Because the deer came out at night, Summerfield’s Jimmy Beeson never saw them. But the aftermath of their browsing among his 55 azalea bushes was unmistakable.

“They ate all of the buds,” Beeson said.

To stop the destruction, he erected a fence with three strands, two of which are electrified.

“I think I’ve got the deer under control now,” he said.

Across our area, the battle between gardeners and four-legged critters is heating up as spring arrives and tender flower buds and soft lettuce leaves are

continued on page 30

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Jimmy Beeson of Summerfield has worked to fend off deer by electrifying a fence enclosing his azaleas. Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications

“Styles are very much mixed,” Bullins said. “If you like farm style, you don’t have to do it in all the rooms. You can do different things –it just needs to be cohesive.”

More functional space, please!

Always an issue, storage – especially in pantries and closets – has taken on even more importance for buyers. While bigger is better, buyers are also wanting these areas to serve multiple purposes.

More than just a place to store groceries and supplies, today’s pantries have evolved to secondary kitchen status. Room-sized pantries feature cabinets, drawers, countertops and plenty of space and electrical outlets for appliances.

The desire for this type of pantry reflects the open floor plan, which in many cases is part of a pared-down kitchen. Bullins said

Types of Equipment:

Photo courtesy of Walraven Signature Homes

many homebuyers are eliminating upper cabinetry in the kitchen and opting instead for a large pantry that offers additional space.

“Our buyers don’t want that much cabinetry in the kitchen and they are replacing cabinets with lots of drawers,” she noted.

Johnson added that his buyers are requesting bigger pantries with lots of features.

“People want to keep their countertops clean,” he said.

Dumas said homebuyers are also requesting larger pantries and butler pantries as a place to install a wine cooler.

Along with pantries, closets – and especially those in the primary bedroom – are offering more functionally. Although they’re not greatly expanding, they have more features to accommodate homeowners’ belongings and eliminate the need for an overabundance of home furnishings.

“People don’t want to buy a lot of furniture,” Bullins said. “Because of this, we’re making the closets more functional by adding lots of shelving and some drawers.”

When it comes to functionality, buyers are also looking at how well space is being used and the way in which it plays into their lifestyle. A prime example is the formal dining room, which, according to Johnson, seems to be a thing of the past.

“We’re including fewer formal dining rooms and giving the kitchen a bigger eating area,” he said. “In some cases, the dining room is being turned into an office or a second bedroom for the main floor.”

Lighter, softer walls – but bright white, not so much

Neutral colors are still the mainstay for today’s homes. Walls are light and airy with an accent wall of color thrown in here and there for a little punch.

However, “light and airy” doesn’t equate to bright white. In fact, Walraven said he’s using less and less white in his homes. Other builders are seeing the same preferences among their buyers.

Bullins noted that white has turned more toward beige.

“It’s a softer, warmer look,” she said. “But, it’s not a yellow beige, it’s

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more of a brown undertone that pairs well with both browns and grays.”

At R&K Custom Homes, Dumas is seeing a similar trend.

“Walls have gone back to lighter, softer colors,” she said. “Lighter beige and gray are very much in right now.”

With the change in color scheme, more buyers are turning way from white cabinetry and opting instead for light, natural woods.

“Cabinets are trending back to lighter wood tones with smooth finishes such as oak, maple and fir,” Dumas noted, adding that darker color cabinets such as black and charcoal are also a popular choice with R&K’s homebuyers.

One place where white hasn’t lost its luster is with tile. Bright, white subway tile remains popular, especially in kitchen backsplashes.

Even if it’s not white, tile has become more neutral, finding its decorativeness in the way it’s laid rather than with color and designs that won’t stand the test of time.

“The tile’s character is found in how you lay it,” Bullins said. “Herringbone, brick and vertical designs add interest to the neutral tiles.”

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Photo courtesy of R&K Custom Homes Light, natural woods have replaced white as the preferred color for kitchen cabinetry in this home built by R&K Custom Homes.

pickling this southern favorite.

Wray has already made a trip to her local Starbucks for the free coffee grounds the store gives away. She uses these in her flower beds and around her roses to help them flourish. Once pollen production subsides, the Wrays will undertake the spring ritual of pressure washing the exterior of their home to get rid of the unsightly yellow dust.

Wray is actually happy all these tasks are on the horizon, because they signal the arrival of her favorite season.

“I’m looking so forward to spring,” she said. “I’m not a winter person.”

“I love spring,” Oak Ridge resident Barb Engel said. “It is my favorite time of year, as everything colorful starts to bloom and takes the gloom out of winter.”

Engel, a member and a past president of Oak Ridge Garden Club, said she absolutely loves working in and reaping the rewards from her vegetable and flower gardens and is always eager to get going when spring comes calling.

“Some of the first things I do outside is to clean up the weeds in my veggie garden and get the soil ready for early vegetable plants such as lettuce, spinach and broccoli,” she said. “My strawberry plants and asparagus will soon be ready to start producing. As I’ve gotten older, I have really cut back on what I plant in my veggie garden.

“In my flower beds, I will clean up all the leftover leaves, dead plant debris and cut back all the grass plants – like the dried-up pink muhly grass – because these plants will soon be shooting up new growth,” she noted. “Eventually, we will put down new pine straw.”

Once the evening temperatures move to above 55 degrees, Engel takes most of her house plants outside.

Having a passion for decorating, Engel said at one time she changed out her décor on a seasonal basis, but that’s

a thing of the past.

“I mostly just add a few things to my kitchen/family room area, but not very much,” she said. “I’m starting to declutter, and boy do I have a long way to go after 56 years of marriage!”

Stokesdale’s Alison Huber is rather laid-back in how she welcomes spring, and focuses most of her time on just being outside.

“I enjoy planting flowers, including petunias and geraniums, and walking with my neighborhood buddy, Jennifer Williams,” she said. “That’s what I look forward to most with the time change and the warmer weather.”

A resident of Greensboro, Michelle Mendoza likes to freshen up her home for spring and give it a lighter feeling.

“On the inside, I exchange the winter greenery throughout the house with spring branches, florals, etc., change out the winter color scheme for things like throw pillows and linens with spring colors; and on the outside, I pull cushions, etc., out of storage and get things spruced up.”

For Claudia Whitaker, spring means getting a front row seat to the show God puts on in this season of rebirth.

“Everywhere I go, I enjoy all of the beautiful spring flowers in bloom,” the Oak Ridge resident said. “At my house, I love seeing the forsythias, springblooming camellias, daffodils, winter daphnes and hellebores, which include Lenten roses.

“The flowering trees are putting on quite a show, too,” Whitaker added. “Many of the ornamental fruit trees have bloomed, and now the dogwoods are beginning! If you like to garden, plant a tree, bulbs or a bush and it will delight you for years to come. God has blessed our state with much beauty.”

With winter transitioning to spring, Debbie McClure of Summerfield can usually be found outdoors.

“We usually work in the yard, pruning and putting out mulch,” she said. “I have always had a small veggie garden, primarily with tomatoes.

“This year I will work on a perennial flower garden,” she added. “I love being outside and soaking up the sun. I also love bringing flowers into our home, which makes me happy.”

tournament time.

“Time to fill out our brackets!” she said.

Teri Lewis likes to ease into spring and enjoy the journey.

“I walk around the entire yard picking up sticks and making a mental note of small things that need to be fixed, moved or cleaned,” she said. “Then I make an actual list, so the items actually get done. It’s nice to get small chores out of the way before tackling large projects.”

Having a knack for decorating, Jade Weaver loves redoing her home to reflect the seasons, and spring is one of her favorites.

“My annual tradition for ushering in spring is updating my outdoor décor – specifically, the front porch,” said Weaver, who lives in Oak Ridge. “Hanging a bright, colorful floral wreath on the door, adding a ‘springy’ garden flag by the walkway, trading out throw pillows in the rockers for a pop of color, adding a new welcome mat by the door and lastly, placing a few freshly potted flowers on the steps are my go-tos for making my spring fever come to life!”

Stokesdale resident Zandra Slaydon is thrilled when signs of spring start popping up.

“Spring is my favorite season,” she said. “It’s as if new life has been breathed into the trees, bushes and grass.”

Slaydon has taken advantage of the early entry of spring this year to get a jump on her annual spring ritual.

“I’ve already pulled weeds from my flower beds,” she said. “I look forward to late spring, when I can switch out my winter flowers to summer flowers in my flower beds and pots. Then it’s warm enough to hang out on the back deck and grill out with family and friends.

Rachel Foy of Stokesdale loves the change that spring brings.

“I love to see the daffodils pop up,” she said. “It’s just so nice to spend more time outside in the sunshine.”

But there’s another side of spring that Foy enjoys as well – it also means NCAA

“I also enjoy decorating for St. Patrick’s Day and then Easter,” Slaydon added. “My husband and I used to go to North Myrtle Beach each spring for St. Patrick’s Day, but since COVID we haven’t had a chance to go. We’re heading back down this year and I’m really excited!”

28 Spring 2023
Photos courtesy of Jade Weaver Jade Weaver welcomes spring each year by decorating her porches with a fun door wreath and colorful accessories.
SPRING PREP continued from page 7

Wilson and his wife, Geneva, who died in 2016 at age 82.

Over the past year, Petersen and Buttonow have conducted two oral history interviews and are preparing to turn them over to staff at Town Hall to be posted on the Town of Summerfield’s website. Subtitles will accompany the videos for the benefit of people who don’t hear well or may not understand Southern dialect and expressions.

As an example, Petersen recalled talking to Wilson several years ago, and Wilson described farmers who grew “bakey” (pronounced back-ee) in the fields around the store.

“What’s bakey?” Petersen wondered, before he figured out Wilson was referring to tobacco.

In their first interview last year, Petersen and Buttonow talked to Pam Fox, one of Wilson’s daughters, after Wilson’s Grocery had closed (the property recently went under contract to a buyer who has not yet been identified).

With Petersen asking questions and Buttonow operating a voice-recording camera, the

interview took place inside the store. As she talked, Fox showed Petersen and Buttonow photographs on the wall of relatives, and the rear of the building where one of her uncles lived and operated the store before Shorty and Geneva took it over in 1972.

One of Fox’s memories stuck with Petersen.

Weeks shopped in Greensboro, not Summerfield, a reminder that opportunities to purchase essentials in Summerfield were very limited nearly a century ago.

As they’re planning future interviews, Petersen and Buttonow said they want to learn more about Summerfield’s Black community members. Other possible interviews will be with Historical Committee members Mark Brown and Gary Brown (who are unrelated), both of whom have decades of memories about Summerfield.

The interviewers also hope to hear from others willing to share their memories of Summerfield.

The history doesn’t “have to be old,” Petersen said. “We’re interested in more recent times, too.”

This past January Petersen and Buttonow conducted their second interview and enjoyed talking with 106-year-old Hazel Weeks, who lived for many years between Summerfield and Greensboro on property that’s now partly taken by Lake Higgins.

Her interviewers were surprised to learn that

have a story to share about Summerfield?

Contact Historical Committee members Bruce Petersen at or Heather Buttonow at to share your stories about Summerfield.

Spring 2023 29
Many years ago, he said, “they opened the store on Sunday for friends and relatives to stop by and chat after church. Whoever was running the store said ‘go in and get a soda.’ It was the place to hang out.”
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beginning to sprout.

From the vantage point of her backyard in Oak Ridge, Rachel Rees thinks the deer population may be growing.

“I think the deer are even more of a problem with all of the development” that’s destroying their habitat, she said. “If you have a vegetable garden, you’re going to have to fence it.”

A member of the Oak Ridge Garden Club, Rees uses several methods to deter deer, rabbits and a groundhog that she hopes doesn’t come back this year. She sprays repellents in the spring. To irritate the groundhog, Rees threw rose bush clippings and thorns down his hole.

Rees also found that stringing two strands of heavy fishing line – one knee high and the other chest high – around the perimeter of her property helps to keep deer out of her yard.

In the end, she acknowledged that winning the battle is hopeless. So she tends such a wide variety of plants –roses, peonies, phlox and hydrangeas, among them – that she suffers the loss of some to animals and still grows enough to enjoy for herself.

Last summer, Rees gave up planting vegetables due to the wild animals that frequently visited her yard.

“It cost so much to get it going, and I got nothing but frustration out of it,” she said. “I was down to trying to grow tomatoes and peppers near my deck, but I couldn’t even get those.”

In Stokesdale, Wayne Andrews gave up planting a spring garden except for potatoes due to varmints.

“There is such a problem with groundhogs, deer and rabbits that there’s a limit on what you can plant,” he said. “English peas, the deer eat them up. If you don’t use fencing or netting, you’re going to lose out.”

During the summer, Andrews tries to protect his tomatoes with wire cages.

To reduce the groundhog population, he uses a cage trap and disposes of the animals.

He’s also stopped planting summertime vegetables such as watermelons and cantaloupes, a favorite of deer and raccoons.

“Groundhogs will eat anything,” he noted.

“You can put a fence around the garden, but it’s a lot of trouble,” Andrews added. “If you put netting up, a lot of times groundhogs will find a way to get under it. Deer will find a way to get in.”

He also tries to distract deer from browsing in his garden by planting clover, buckwheat and cow peas elsewhere on his property.

“That helps a lot to draw them away,” he said.

In Summerfield, Beeson also uses cages baited with apples to trap groundhogs. He sets out the trap near an old tobacco barn where he parks his tractor. When he sees the varmints in his garden, he sets a trap between the rows.

Beeson said he caught more than a half dozen groundhogs last summer. Otherwise, he said, “they would have eaten everything.”

Bruce Petersen deters deer from his backyard gardens in Summerfield with a concoction recommended by gardening instructor Ellen Ashley, also of Summerfield. He mixes three gallons of water, eight egg yolks and three or four ounces of peppermint oil in a sprayer and applies it to his plants.

“It has a bad odor so it works, as long as you keep spraying,” Petersen said. “If you don’t, the deer will nibble off the new growth.”

for more info...

Search online for the wildlife chapter of the North Carolina Garden Extension Handbook for tips on deterring animals from eating and destroying your garden and lawn.

Raised-bed gardening is a popular option for many backyards. Not only are they space-efficient and allow users to put a garden practically anywhere, they also warm up more quickly in the spring – which provides a longer growing season – and drain better, allowing roots to breathe.


continued from page 15

mid-April, and possibly later, but vegetables such as potatoes, radishes, arugula and peas are usually hardy enough to withstand a final cold snap. Those are some of the vegetables Bruce Petersen has planted in the backyard of his Summerfield home.

“The arugula is showing, and the spinach is showing,” he said. “I’m just starting to see the peas.”

Earlier this year, Petersen started some of his vegetables from seeds, putting them in a sunny spot in his house. Others he’s starting as plants.

While Petersen and his wife, Bonnie, will be enjoying their early vegetables throughout the spring, he won’t harvest potatoes until the summer. He lets them grow until the vines on the ground die.

Safeguarding vegetable plants from deer, groundhogs and other critters is a requirement regardless of the season.

For Peeden, that meant planting his lettuce seeds in a raised bed, partially shielded by his

compost pile and a roll of plastic fencing. He’s confident about his lettuce’s survival odds.

“I don’t think I’ll lose any because I’ve got it hidden,” he said. Just in case, though, he’s prepared to cover the lettuce with plastic fencing.

As spring rolls into summer, Peeden plans to take a casual approach to protecting his tomatoes and other vegetables favored by critters.

“I let them eat what they want and try to keep them out as much as I can,” he said.

Until then, he feels fortunate that some of his early vegetables are less susceptible to varmints. “They won’t eat the beets or the onions or the potatoes,” he said.

want more info?

Visit N.C. Cooperative Extension’s website,, where you’ll find an expansive amount of information on gardening, plant ID, beekeeping, lawn and garden maintenance, pest management and more.

30 Spring 2023
Adobe Stock photo
Spring 2023 31 BUILDERS Disney Custom Homes 3 Greensboro Builders Association ........................... 29 R&K Custom Homes 5 Walraven Signature Homes .............................16-17 BANK Bank of Oak Ridge ............................................... 14 COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Commission........ 15 HOME PRODUCTS & SERVICES Amanzi Marble & Granite 19 BEK Paint Company ............................................. 22 Bob Rents ............................................................. 26 Colfax Lawn Care 8 CSM Flooring 10 Hedgecock Builders Supply 25 Madison Flooring.................................................. 11 Mr. Appliance 18 New Garden Landscaping & Nursery 7 Old School Home Repair 9 Pro-Care Restoration ............................................ 11 Pest Management Systems Inc. 21 Priba Furniture 27 Renewal by Andersen 13 Southern Outdoor Living....................................... 20 Southern Style Concrete & Landscapes 7 INSURANCE Gladwell Insurance Agency 2 REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS Bobbie Maynard – Allen Tate ................................ 12 Christy Locklear – A New Dawn Realty 23 Jan Cox – Keller Williams 23 Kathy King – Carolina Home Base Realty ............. 23 Melissa Shelar – Allen Tate 23 Nicole Gillespie – RE/MAX Realty Consultants 6, 23 Phillip Stone – A New Dawn Realty ....................... 23 Smith Marketing – Allen Tate 32 Tim Atkins – Allen Tate 4 for making this publication possible Join 15,000+ of your neighbors in community conversations

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