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 […]

Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week in the Middle River Watershed – 2016

Two events were held in the Shenandoah Valley for Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.  One on David Surratt’s farm in Fishersville, VA and another on Jeanne Hoffman’s farm in Swoope.  Both venues are in the Middle River watershed. Surratt Farm Event Mr. Surratt and his family excluded their cattle from five tributaries of Long Meadow.  They […]

River Walk at the Farm

In celebration of Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week (June 4 – 12) Jeanne and I are hosting a “River Walk at the Farm” on Sunday, June 12th at 3pm.  Meet at the intersection of Boy Scout Lane and Trimbles Mill Road in Augusta County, Virginia. Space is limited to the first 50 participants.  This event is […]

Brook Trout – Environmental Refugees From the Middle River

Middle River flows through our land.  Brook Trout, Virginia’s state fish, used to thrive in it.  They migrated or died long ago, environmental refugees from the sediment laden waters of the river.  The river is slowly being restored and one day, we will re-introduce this native fish to the waters that flow through our farm. I […]

Swoope Almanac January 2015: Ode to Dexter, a Snow Goose and Virginia Wild Rye

Winter in Swoope.  I walk along the banks of Middle River on our farm in search of treasure. Dexter, our Border Collie usually walks along with me but he passed on and I sure miss him.  Cold air seeps through the opening in my collar; the brown, frozen grass crunches under my feet.  The water […]

Swoope Almanac – Summer 2014: Tomatoes, Bobwhites and Middle River Flowing Like Chocolate Milk

I love the smell of hay…and putting it away for the winter.  It’s a good feeling; knowing all the winter feed for the cows is ready. Jeanne is now in the throws of bush hogging the pastures with her new fifteen foot wide “bat-wing” mower. We mow the pastures to cut the seed heads off […]

Despicable Deer Hunters Go Away

  Let me apologize right up front to all my ethical hunter friends.  Thank you for hunting.  It is a true American tradition and it’s needed to manage wildlife populations.  Hunters also feed the hungry. But today I gnash my teeth and rub myself with ashes because of the scum bags that give hunting a […]

Native Plants Can Be Invasive

I finally found a plant that will take over tall fescue – wingstem, but I’m not sure I like it.  Let me explain. Both plants are invasive, tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is a non-native invasive plant; wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is a native plant that is invasive. What is an invasive plant?  One definition is “any […]

Monsoon Hits Middle River Watershed – Flood Plains and Soil Regulate the Water Cycle

Here in Swoope it’s been raining for three days – we’ve had 10.5 inches of rain. Our Middle River has been out in its flood plain for the third day in a row.   Flood waters have completely covered much of our pasture and our single strand of electric fence that keeps our cattle out […]

How We Live With The River On Our Cattle Farm

This week’s flood prompted this post on how we deal with floodwater from our river with our cattle.  It was an out-of-bank flood event but it didn’t wash our cattle crossing out because we’ve learned to work with the river not against it. Middle River is a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah […]