Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Visit by the Lombardos and our first Social

We had the first of what we hope will be many visits from Valhalla board member Lt. Colonel Tom Lombardo and his wife, Melissa, this weekend. Having made the three hour drive from Fort Leonard Wood where Tom commands the 701st MP Battalion (White Tigers), their initial reaction was similar to ours. "Wow, what a beautiful piece of land. And so quiet."

Even though we have only one hummingbird feeder working, the little guys were active and buzz-bombing each other for a place at the trough. A neighboring cow mooed, protesting the heat from a pond across the fence, and hidden in the foliage of the forest a woodpecker tapped out a Morse message looking for insects.

We made a tour of the property in their Expedition, stopping frequently to check ponds, fields, and streams. Near the large pond, Melissa spotted the abandoned wild turkey nest we had seen weeks before with six fresh eggs in it. "Look for jeep tracks in the grass," we advised, and she found it promptly. All eggs appear to have hatched, and we heard a turkey wings beating in the nearby woodline as we walked down a trail to the second pond.

We discussed the future projects to clean up and expand the ponds and use the accumulated water to service the various livestock we intend to acquire.

Later we were joined by Vern and Joyce Meents and Dianna Marquis. Vern and Dianna are the Rock Chair Realty team who, along with their broker Kenneth Jefferson, screened dozens of properties before we came to Marion County and identified what we were eventually to purchase as a possible candidate.

We had our first "social" at Valhalla, with pita bread, cold cuts, tuna salad, a stupendous five-bean dish that Dianna brought, and topped it with home-made walnut raisin pie.

In many ways the Lombardo's visit was symbolic of what we hope to achieve. A partnership of community and military sharing the goal of assisting Soldiers re-adjust to civilian life in a stress-free, positive work environment.

Now that Tom and Missy have had boots on the ground they are able to suggest the kinds of ideas and innovations that will make Valhalla a stronger place.

From left to right: Vern Meents (Rocking Chair Realty), Melissa and Tom Lombardo, Dianna Marquis (Rocking Chair Realty) and Valhalla Project Founders Gordon and Chris Cucullu.

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