They say politics makes for strange bedfellows — well, so does Mother Nature, especially in the case of Twig and Henrietta, a Jack Russell and turkey hen who have “adopted” each other. Residing right here in Sperryville, they both belong to Eric Kvarnes, master glass blower and owner of the Glassworks Gallery.
Twig is a 14-year-old Jack Russell, who, as Eric says, “can barely hobble around after a serious bout with Lyme disease last year, and mostly hangs out in her bed. She’s maintained a good attitude about it all, but old age is tough. Henrietta is the half-wild turkey hen who adopted me and has been trying to weasel her way into living in the house for months.” Last month, Eric says, she started her annual fall molt — way behind schedule — and about half her feathers dropped out so the new ones could grow in. But this was during that recent cold snap, and she had to stay in the house since she had little feather insulation.
“During that time, she started getting maternal instincts about the nest-like bed Twig was in and starting trying to adopt Twig as her brood. Henrietta wanted to sit on her new ‘baby,’ but Twig, like any self-respecting Jack Russell, wouldn’t stand for that, so they compromised and just snuggle together.”
Hopefully Henrietta and Twig enjoyed a wonderful New Year together.
“Innkeeping certainly has its perks,” said Sandra Cartwright-Brown, who enjoyed a surprise visit to the Conyers House B&B from guests Jerry and Linda Hermann, who were visiting Rappahannock and celebrating Linda’s birthday as well as the anniversary of Jerry’s marriage proposal — 30 years ago.
“It’s always a treat when former guests return and remind me of what was going on when they were first here,” she added. “Jerry and Linda are on our list of favorite guests, and it is such a pleasure when they return.” The Cartwright-Browns opened The Conyers House Inn & Stable (eight miles south of Sperryville) in 1981, making it the first B&B in Rappahannock.
Jerry and Linda have visited Conyers many times since Jerry first proposed in 1983. Last week they gave their children a tour of Conyers and recalled many conversations by the kitchen fire with the late Norman Cartwright-Brown, a jovial raconteur who relished chatting with guests.
The Conyers House has a lively website that includes a video showcasing its bucolic setting and stables, and a special tribute to Norman.
A menagerie of blessed creatures live with Kim McKiernan and her 12-year-old son Aidan in Sperryville, including five dogs, seven doves, two lizards, a hedgehog, four parrots, a pigeon and numerous cats, all spayed and neutered.
All are cared for and loved on their property (including a separate building dubbed the “cat house”) by the McKiernans. Kim, Rappahannock County’s registrar of voters, is a longtime rescuer and rehabilitator of domestic (and some exotic) animals here in Rappahannock — and is one of a number of dedicated foot soldiers who provide shelter and medical care for hurt, abused and homeless creatures in our rural hamlets and surrounding countryside.
Arriving at Kim’s recently, I was greeted by Max, an enormous 160-pound mastiff. Max was the result of a huge and heartbreaking cruelty case in Fauquier County several years ago, in which a breeder of mastiffs and rottweilers was shut down, and both the Middleburg Humane Society and Fauquier SPCA were inundated with rescued dogs. Kim stepped up, as always.
In the kitchen and living room are an assortment of colorful, rambunctious and talkative parrots. (It’s not unusual to be at Kim’s and think guests have arrived and are carrying on a conversation in the hallway.) All of her birds talk, and some even whistle and mimic household sounds like the telephone or microwave — or the backing-up beep of a fire engine, since the Sperryville fire hall is not far away.
Even as a young girl, Kim would bring home birds with broken wings and nurse other small animals back to health. She worked for a veterinarian’s office and trained under a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for years. During her high school and college years, she worked for the Reston Zoo — her favorite job ever. Her best animal friend there was a squirrel monkey named Houdini.
When Kim was in college in North Carolina, she came across a dead opossum; the marsupial’s babies were still alive, and clinging to their mother. She scooped them up and bottle fed them every hour and kept them warm. With a mischievous smile, she recalls arriving in college classrooms (where opossums were neither welcomed nor well thought of) for final exams, opossums in tow, and happily plugging the electrical warmer into a wall socket.
Her cat Trouble was found on Route 231, feral and seriously hurt after being hit by a car. Kim dropped him off at the vet on her way to Charlottesville and later got a call saying the cat had bitten two attendants and needed to be picked up immediately or he’d be put down.
Trouble now cuddles in Aidan’s arms, purring like a diesel; Kim says the cat is a living example of Aidan’s animal-whisperer gifts, and the compassion her son has learned from the animals.