Health & safety

West Virginia is wild and wonderful (as the signs proclaim) so please enjoy the outdoors around you. However, proceed with caution.

Trails and land

Our trails are fairly rough. When you go out, wear good sneakers or boots. You may want to bring or borrow a walking stick (near the front door) for stability and for poking around rocks and holes.

Most trails are marked with pink ribbons tied around the trees. These are good guideposts, but you should still pay attention to avoid getting lost.

Getting lost in the woods is a real thing that can happen! Make sure to leave well before dark, and don’t let it get dark on you. There are site maps on the little table in the living room. A good way of gauging where you are is using gravity – uphill/downhill can guide you to Tuscarora Pike (the main road) relative to where you are. When walking, make regular note of landmarks (pastures, pond, roads, etc.). If you’re heading out solo near dark, please do let one of your fellow residents know. Bring a cellphone just in case you need to call for assistance – but beware that cell service is spotty, too.

The front orchard has an electric fence to keep the horses from wandering. You may cross over the fence, but it can give you a healthy zap if you’re not careful. The best method is to carefully step on the wires with your foot (your shoes will insulate you from the electricity), holding them to the ground, and then step over. Don’t touch or hold the wiring with your hands.

Insects, animals, reptiles…

Ticks can be a real problem, as they can carry Lyme’s disease and other viruses which can cause major health issues if you are bitten and not treated fairly soon. Study the tick information sheet posted near the front door. Use insect repellant before you go out, and do a thorough TICK CHECK every time you return to the house. Partner with a friend to check each other. Don’t be shy if you think you see a tick on a fellow resident, especially around the neck where it’s hard to check oneself. If you have been bitten, try to save the tick so it can be tested, and contact staff to help you.

Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects are common. They won’t bother you unless they’ve been disturbed. Let us know if you find a bee or wasp nest around the house so we can remove it. Keep clear of the honeybee hives near the white sheds next to the road. Please let us know if you’re allergic to bee stings.

Snakes are rare, but do exist here in both nonpoisonous and poisonous varieties (including copperheads and rattlesnakes). If you find one, keep a safe distance. You may find them sunning themselves, or resting under rocks. Be observant, and never put your hands where you can’t see them. Use a stick to poke around rock piles instead of your hands.

Horses, goats, and chickens live on the property, along with two dogs. They are generally calm and friendly, but can be startled easily, especially by quick movements and large groups. If you want to get to be friends, approach them slowly, one or two people at a time, and let them get used to you being there. Always stay in front of the horses – you don’t want to be kicked. They like eating apples from your hand, but watch their teeth.

Plants

If you’re unsure what poison ivy looks like, refer to the poison ivy info sheet near the door. If you think you might have come in contact with it, use the TECNU wash located in the first aid kit in the pantry on the first floor by the laundry.

Many local plants produce tasty-looking berries and other fruit, but can be poisonous. Never taste or eat a plant unless you’re absolutely certain what it is.

Water

The water supply in the house is from a well, and high in minerals. It’s fine for washing, bathing, and cooking, but we recommend using the dispenser on the kitchen counter for drinking water – it comes from a local spring and has been treated. Never drink from the creek or the pond. We have one of the cleanest water sources in the state, but you never know what’s upstream from you.

Fire

Never leave a flame unattended – whether it’s a fire in the firepit or fireplace, or a candle or incense in your room. We have no fire hydrants, and the nearest fire department is at least 15 minutes away. Even in humid weather, fires can easily catch and spread!

You are welcome to use the fire pit – but don’t leave fires unattended! Please use the kindling and logs next to the house. Use the garden hose and/or sand (in bucket) to put out the fire fully before you leave the firepit area. There is a fire extinguisher near the firepit for emergency use.

Please ask if you have any questions. Be safe and have fun!