Bulls, Carbon and Catalpa – Swoope Almanac June 2017

June in Swoope, Virginia – The Headwaters of the Shenandoah River June is the beginning of the farm year for our cow/calf operation in America’s legendary Shenandoah Valley. It’s when the bulls go in with our three herds of cows.  June is also when we make all the hay to feed the cows for the […]

America’s Largest Conservation Program on Hold

America’s Most Successful and Largest Conservation Program on HOLD. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – America’s most successful and largest conservation program on private, “working” lands is on hold, except for CREP (but not in Virginia, I’ll explain later).  Earlier this month USDA instructed its county offices to process only those applications dated prior to […]

Cattle Destroy Streams

The downstream and upstream pictures in this post were published by the Bay Journal in William Funk’s article “Virginia Faulted for Handling of Cattle Pollution in Shenandoah“. Cattle Destroy Streams and the Aquatic Ecosystem. Livestock that have access to streams and rivers pollute the water with their manure and urine.  But perhaps even worse, when […]

Invasive Species Spotlight – House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is perhaps the most adaptable and prolific bird species on the planet.  Often called English Sparrow, its scientific name Passer domesticus, is Latin for small, active bird belonging to the house.  It is native to Europe and has spread to all corners of the world.  Its adaptation follows human civilization.  Where there are […]

Calving Season: Swoope Almanac – March 2017

Calving Season Begins March 1st Green grass emerges from its brown, dormant cloak of winter. Northern Harriers glide and teeter, close to the ground in search of anything that moves. In the vast grasslands of Swoope, Virginia, the headwaters of the Shenandoah River it’s voles they hunt. American Plum pushes forth its white blooms, and […]

Trees Remove E. Coli Pollution From Streams

This blog post was modified to become an oped piece for the Bay Journal News Service.  They distributed it on March 7, 2017.  USA Today published it on March 17th as “Want a cleaner river? Keep cow pies out, plant trees”. E. Coli Cut By One Third One of the most polluted rivers in Virginia flows […]

Shandong Tranlin Will Rob American Soil of Carbon

Shandong Tranlin, a Chinese company, wants to buy crop residues to make paper products. Farmers may be selling the most important ingredient for soil health to Shandong Tranlin. Shandong Tranlin, a multi-national, Chinese company, operates as Vastly in the US.  They are building a $2 billion paper making plant in Chesterfield County, Virginia that will […]

Holy Cross Abbey’s Sustainability Journey

Want To Know What Sustainability Is? The Cistercian monks of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia are on a journey to maintain the monastery, their way of life and a 1,200-acre farm on the Shenandoah River.  Saving Place Saving Grace is a documentary about a community on a path to sustainability.  You can stream the 57-minute […]

Sipping Africa, Mandela and the Reality of Trump – Swoope Almanac 11/16

Journal entry 11/15/16: Sipping Africa Charlottesville, VA: We ordered a bottle of Bayten, Sauvignon Blanc. It’s from the Constantia wine region in South Africa, the oldest wine region in the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s Cape Town’s wine region, at the Southern tip of the African continent. I raised my glass and gently swirled the soft golden […]

Montpelier Design Congress

I could hardly see daylight through the massive trunks of trees. Tulip poplars, white oaks, and hickories nourished from deep, rich soil towered over me as I walked in the Landmark Forest at Montpelier. This is old growth forest. As I walk and smell the damp, humus filled woodland I breathe in the history, culture, […]