Every city or county has that one thing they are famous for. Their claim to fame that puts them on the world map. For some it is a world-famous sports team, others it is a historical location, still some gain fame from the presence of rare exotic animals.
For Island County, it is our mussels.
No, not the Emerald Cup kind of muscles we didn’t make a typo, we mean our Penn Cove mussels.
The History of Penn Cove Mussels
You may not know this, but Island county is home to the oldest and largest mussel farm in the United States (and maybe the world). Penn Cove Mussels, Inc. began culturing mussels in 1975 with the desire to harness the cove’s naturally nutrient-rich water to harvest bigger and better mussels than the ones currently available. The results were incredible! Penn Cove mussels grow at a remarkable rate, enabling the mussels to reach harvest size within one year. This rapid growth rate causes Penn Cove mussels to have a firmer texture, sweeter flavor, and a thinner shell with more meat. As you can imagine, it makes them quite a crowd-pleaser.
Whidbey Island’s proximity to Seattle and the Sea-Tac Airport mean these wonderful shellfish don’t have to be a local secret. Instead, these mussels are quickly air-shipped all over the world for others to experience and enjoy. Mussels harvested in the morning are on the lunch plates of Seattle seafood lovers by that afternoon and dinner entrees in Houston by the evening.
Celebrated with a Festival
35 years our Penn Cove Mussels have been celebrated with a festival. The original celebrations consisted of a community chowder contest that has morphed over the years into 3 days’ worth of activities and fun. The most recent events have attracted more than 6,000 mussels enthusiasts from far and wide. This event alone significantly helps the local merchants recover from the slow winter months.
Musselfest festivities typically kick off on a Friday with the “Mussel Mingle.” This is a time where people gather at the Coupeville Recreational Hall to enjoy food, drink, and music. The next two days are packed full of mussel cooking demonstrations from incredible Seattle chefs, the massive mussel chowder competition involving 16 different local restaurants, the mussel eating competition, tours of Penn Cove Shellfish, Inc., a mountain bike event (“Mussels in the Kettles”) and more!
Musselfest is a massive community affair that requires all hands on deck to pull off. Dozens of volunteers from all over Coupeville donate their time, finances, and resources to make this festival work. For the past few years, Windermere Whidbey agents have volunteered their time at the Waterfront Beer Garden where they serve up some great local ale while listening to amazing local musicians.
Unfortunately, like most events, the Penn Cove Musselfest was canceled due to Covid this past year, but the long-standing love for the festival carried on with the traditional T-Shirt and posters for all of the collectors. Past posters can be purchased here while supplies last.
The 2022 Musselfest is anticipated to take place March 4th, 5th, and 6th pending the state of Covid and guidance from the state and county. Click here to check the status.
Horses have been a prominent animal throughout history, dedicated to their human’s side. Many would go as far as to suggest that horses, just as dogs, cats, and other pets can be man’s best friend. Like other pets, horses can contribute to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of their humans so much so that there have been people that contribute overcoming their mental illnesses to using a technique called Equine Horse Therapy. Likewise, many children have found companionship in their horses and have grown to learn valuable life lessons from them.
While we as humans receive so much from these amazing animals, it is equally important that we pay attention to their health, wellbeing, and happiness as well.
If you are new to the equestrian lifestyle here are a couple of tips to keeping them happy:
1) Consistent Exercise:
Horses, just like us need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. A daily workout helps to reduce your horse’s stress and allows them to release pent-up energy. While it might not look like the typical gym workout, working out with your horse by training can be beneficial for both you and your horse.
2) Keep Vaccinations Current:
Like humans, horses also need vaccinations and it is important that they stay current, or like humans, they can get sick. Having the proper vaccination in a timely manner helps you keep your horse healthy, fit, and happy.
If your horse gets sick, it will take a lot of energy for it to fully recover. Keeping your horse on a vaccinations routine not only will help prevent your horse from getting sick but will also help your horse to recover against the more serious diseases more easily.
To ensure you are providing your horse the best care and keeping regular on its vaccinations, you can ask your vet for a list of vaccines he/she suggests you give to your horse and which ones are most important for your horse to have. If you don’t currently have a vet, click here for a list of ones in our area.
3) Your Horse Needs a Safe and Comfortable Environment:
Here’s one that lies near and dear to our hearts. As real estate agents, we know just how much we as humans want our homes to keep us safe and comfortable. Similarly, your horse not only deserves but needs housing that not only keeps him safe from things like storms and prey but also makes him comfortable. If your horse lives in a barn, provide them a stall and protection. If they live outdoors, they need some way to get out of the sun. Often a run-in shed, or shady trees can give them protection from the elements they need. Additionally, you will need to provide them with a dry walking area, grass, rubber mats, and hoof care.
Not all properties are created equally. When looking at properties, it is important to make sure it is sufficient for your horse and easy for them to maneuver and permitted for horse use. If you need help determining whether or not a property is viable for your equestrian needs reach out to our equestrian advisors here.
4) Good Nutrition:
We know that when we eat junk food, we feel, well like junk. Similarly, your horse requires a diet that can fuel the energy they need to stay fit and healthy. The digestive system of your horse is designed to process large amounts of fibrous foods regularly.
To keep the horse’s digestive health and increase their energy level, you should include grass, hay, and grains in their regular diet along with a lot of fresh CLEAN water. Including traditional mineral blocks into their routine will help your horse maintain an optimal diet. Check out these great places on Whidbey to purchase food for your horse.
5) Your Horse Needs a Dentist Too!
Have you ever been petting your horse when he decides to give you a big lick across your face?! We have too. That’s how we know it is of the utmost importance for your horse to have a dentist too. You should anticipate a checkup about once a year. Like humans, horse teeth grow. However, unlike humans, horse teeth continue to grow and could potentially become damaged by opposing teeth if not properly taken care of. Because their teeth continue to grow it is important for them to be filed regularly to ensure the horse is comfortable when he eats. Could you imagine trying to eat if your teeth hurt you?
Without regular dental check-ups, your horse could develop problems that could lead to more serious problems like colic and choke.
6) Their Hooves:
It is important to take care of your horse’s hooves, by cleaning them and trimming them regularly. Like humans, every horse is different. The growth at which your horses’ hooves grow may be vastly different from that of another’s. However, it is often common for hooves to grow in between 4 to 8 weeks. You can begin trimming them after that.
7) Visit Your Horse Regularly:
The bond between you and your horse should be very strong like the friendship between you and a best friend. You will develop this bond over time by spending adequate time with them. You should expect to visit your horse daily if possible.
But also, like humans, your horse needs equestrian friends too. So get out and make friends with similar interests as both you and your horse.
At the end of the day…
In this amazing shot by Willie Shaw at Team Shaw Photography, you can see the actual harbor of Oak Harbor, the marina, Maylor Point with its iconic white radar dome, the spit to Polnell Point, and the snow-covered Cascade Mountains. Phenomenal views like this one can be seen while driving all over Whidbey Island. Winter makes these vistas even more stunning by providing clear air and snow-capped mountains in every direction. This is just one of the reasons a drive down the length of Whidbey is designated as an official scenic byway called the “Whidbey Scenic Isle Way”.
After purchasing 15.1 acres in 2008 conservationist Scott Price and his family decided to develop their home elsewhere. After doing so they journeyed down a long road of determining what to do with the property before concluding a sanctuary where art and nature entangle as one. After years of dedicated time and development, they unveiled The Price Sculpture Forest to visitors on October 23, 2020.
the community’s solution to the Prices issue was to clear cut the forest to create clear views of Penn Cove and Mount Baker then subdivide it for residential development. Price’s inner conscious could not allow that to happen. Price had other plans. Price wanted to conserve the property and protect it for years to come. While it would be a challenging road ahead Price rolled up his sleeves and got to work. After reaching out to the Whidbey Camano Land Trust who reached out to the US Navy to aid in preserving the property a creative plan had begun to make Price’s dreams a reality. Price purchased two smaller adjacent parcels bringing the total property to 16.3 acres.
The Price Sculpture Forest. A place where visitors are welcomed to the property to experience a magical place where nature and art entangle as one. As you walk down the trails you encounter art exhibits, many of which play on the existing natural habitat. A prime example is Nature’s Keystone by Anthony Heinz May who used a fallen tree and cut up bits of one end into square blocks designing the fallen tree to look like a living masterpiece exploding right out of nature. Turn another corner and come face-to-face with Tyrannosaurus Rex a driftwood masterpiece by Joe Treat that might catch you off guard.
Feel in awe as you walk beneath the Flying Fish by Daniella Rubinovitz and wonder how they got the incredible piece of work up there.
The best part of the journey is that the park is still growing. You might find yourself lucky enough to meet an artist on your trip like we did.
Visitors and residents alike find continued joy from Prices’ selfless act as they return to the sanctuary to be close to nature and enjoy the local art exhibits. This is just one of the many gems that make Whidbey Island such a unique and wonderful place to live. If you enjoy this you might also enjoy visiting the Earth Sanctuary between Freeland and Langley.
Treading toward the pinhole of light at the end of the dark tunnel, you hear the creak of an old metal door as it’s caught by a slight breeze. Your steadiness escapes you as you break into a firm sprint until your eyes see the safety of the trees and vista. It’s hard to keep your imagination at bay when visiting Fort Ebey’s eerie bunkers. Built in 1942 as part of the coastal defense system for World War II, Fort Ebey was home to a state-of-the-art battery with two 6-inch guns. When its usefulness ran out, the property was purchased by the state who chose to keep elements of the old battery when opening up the park, making it possible for thousands to explore and enjoy these thrilling bunkers every year.