Contour Farming: One of the Simplest & Most Effective BMPs

In our quest to profit from the land and feed a hungry planet with annual crops such as corn and soybeans, we have abandoned one of the most powerful conservation practices known to science – contour farming. Used since ancient times to slow the flow of water across the land to make it soak into […]

Contour Farming: One of the Simplest and Most Effective BMPs

In our quest to profit from the land and feed a hungry planet with annual crops such as corn and soybeans, we have abandoned one of the most powerful conservation practices known to science – contour farming. Used since ancient times to slow the flow of water across the land to make it soak into […]

Soil Saturated With Phosphorus? – Don’t Apply Anymore Manure

Maryland: The newly elected republican governor, Larry Hogan repealed the Maryland  Department of Agriculture’s “Phosphorus Management Tool”.  Read my rant here. This trashes decades of phosphorus research and will further pollute the streams in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. It basically allows farmers to continue applying poultry manure to fields already saturated with phosphorus.  The […]

Soil Saturated With Phosphorus? – Don’t Apply Anymore Manure

Maryland: The newly elected republican governor, Larry Hogan repealed the Maryland  Department of Agriculture’s “Phosphorus Management Tool”.  Read my rant here. This trashes decades of phosphorus research and will further pollute the streams in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. It basically allows farmers to continue applying poultry manure to fields already saturated with phosphorus.  The […]

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 […]

American Sycamore – Fortress of the Stream Bank

One of eastern North America’s greatest native trees is the American Sycamore, Platanus occidentals.  Perhaps the most endearing feature of this legendary tree is its bark, especially in winter when the white bark, mottled with green and brown is fully exposed. These trees often exceed a hundred feet in height and stand guard along streams like […]

Harpers Ferry – a History Steeped in Irony

I’m standing in the middle of the footbridge across the Potomac River at Harper’s Ferry looking downstream.   Beneath me flows the nation’s river that at this point in its journey, drained six million acres of land. Just downstream to my right the waters from another two million acres join the Potomac – it’s the Shenandoah […]

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 […]

In The Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Agriculture is Half Way in Doing Their Part to Restore the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation asked me to write several articles about farmers doing their part to improve the soil and water resources on their farms.  These articles are designed to showcase how and why, these farmers installed Best Management Practices such as “stream-side fencing” to exclude livestock from streams. The article on this post is […]

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 […]