Are there words that can describe 2020? Plenty of negative ones come to mind, like “Why can’t you wear a mask?” But I am staying positive and sharing images of hope and healing—and planting more trees.
The presidential election is over. Vaccines to treat the virus are on the way. There’s a vaccine for racism—the Black Lives Matter movement. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been abandoned. Virginia passed the most sweeping environmental laws in its history.
In this post, I list some memorable quotes, share some photos, and reflect on this most unusual year.
Quotes of the Year
“If you have been to Wuhan, China, report immediately to your health care professional.”—Monitors at the Houston International Airport on our arrival from Trinidad, January 19
“Not guilty.”—US Senate, on President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment articles, February 5
“The trail is not land.”—US Forest Service lawyer before the Supreme Court of the United States in the US Forest Service v. Cowpasture River case, February 24
“People don’t make that distinction in real life.” —Justice Elena Kagan, responding to the above statement, February 24
“It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”—President Trump, on the coronavirus, February 27
“I can’t breathe.”—Final words of dozens of people under police restraint and now an international rallying cry for police brutality. It started with Eric Garner in 2014 and this year, they were George Floyd’s final words.
“The well-funded, obstructionist environmental lobby has successfully killed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”—US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, July 5
“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.”—Chief Justice John Roberts, on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, September 19
“Stand back and stand by.” —President Trump, in reference to the Proud Boys militia group while refusing to condemn White supremacy at a presidential debate, September 29
“I’ve been talking about mail-in voting for a long time. It’s—it’s really destroyed our system. It’s a corrupt system. And it makes people corrupt even if they aren’t by nature.”—President Trump, November 5
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”—Christopher Krebs, director of US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, November 13
“America is back.”—President-elect Joe Biden, November 27
Pictures of Hope
I’m old enough to remember when Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old Black girl, was escorted by US marshals to an all-White school during America’s desegregation in 1960. Pictured below is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to be elected to the office, walking with Bridges’s shadow. Thank you, Bria Goeller for this brilliant image.
En Pointe in Black Tutus
Richmond, Virginia, was the capital of the Confederate States of America and hosts Monument Avenue, where five statues of Confederate heroes once stood. Four were removed in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. His murder reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that seeks to remove symbols of hate and racism. One Confederate statue remains, that of Robert E. Lee. Its removal is in legal question. Two 14-year-old ballerinas, Kennedy George and Ava Holloway, made history at the statue on June 5 as the world watched the American reaction to Floyd’s murder and the fate of symbols of hate.
My COVID-19 Pandemic Picture Pick
My father turned 96 this year. His assisted living facility has been in lockdown several times because of the coronavirus pandemic. My brother, Charlie, arranged for the Virginia Tech Hokie bird to visit outside Dad’s window and took this picture. My father served our country during World War II. After the war, he returned to Virginia Tech to finish his degree. He was a cheerleader in 1950 when the school was all-male and all-military.
The Appalachian Trail May Not Be Land But the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Is Dead
We lost the US Forest Service v. Cowpasture River argument in the Supreme Court of the United States because, according to the court and Dominion Energy, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail “is not land.”
We lost that argument, but on July 5 Dominion Energy abandoned the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They still lacked eight permits and, claiming “unforeseen legal challenges,” the bullying, billion-dollar, corporate giant gave up. Our long-awaited miracle had arrived.
Virginia Passed Sweeping Renewable Energy Laws
The Clean Economy Act was passed in March. It sunsets coal-fired power plants by 2030 and puts Virginia on track to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Virginia Passed the Bovine Bill
Big news for water quality. If the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are still in violation of the Clean Water Act in 2025, Virginia’s Bovine Bill goes into effect.
Beginning July 1, 2026, any person who owns 20 or more bovines in the Chesapeake Bay watershed shall install and maintain stream exclusion practices sufficient to exclude all such bovines from perennial streams in the watershed.
—From VA HB1422
Pictures of Healing
This year was a big year for us in farming. We are involved with three farms in Virginia. One along the Middle River, another we call the Swoope Cattle Company Northern Division, and the one we bought in Churchville. We left Hoffman Farms last year in September, moved our herd to the Northern Division farm, and waited for the right farm to buy. A miracle appeared—the former Galen Back farm in Churchville was for sale just 9 miles north of our home.
The new farm in Churchville is along Whiskey Creek, a tributary of the Middle River. Jeanne liked the barns, I liked the soils—it has two of the Shenandoah Valley’s best soils, Bookwood and Shenval. Find your soil here.
These are our heifers enjoying the pastures on our farm along the Middle River and getting a kiss from the Princess of Swoope.
Pictures of Fun
In January we had no idea that our trip to the Caribbean would be our last travel adventure for the year. I had never heard of COVID-19. We flew to the British Virgin Islands, chartered a 44-foot catamaran sailboat, and circumnavigated the island of Tortola in seven days, logging 126 nautical miles. Crew: Jeanne, Bill and Gaye Reid, Margot Taylor, Jane Hruska, Philmore Francis, me.
Trinidad, Port of Spain
After our sailing adventure, we flew to Trinidad. One of the most spectacular birding experiences I have ever had is seeing a roosting site for the Scarlet Ibis in the Caroni Swamp of Trinidad. At dusk, thousands of these birds come to roost for the night.
“If you save your own backyard, then you start to save the world,” wrote the late Winston Nanon, the man who saved the Caroni Swamp and the bird that became the national bird of Trinidad—the Scarlet Ibis.
Our last place to visit was the island of Tobago. Here, we hired a guide to take us to the uninhabited island of Little Tobago. We hiked to the top of the mountain to see the nesting site of the Red-Billed Tropicbird.
When the pandemic is over we will visit family and one day return to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
We flew back to the United States from Trinidad to the international airport in Houston, Texas, on January 19. As we walked through security, the messages on the monitors overhead read, “If you have been to Wuhan, China, report immediately to your health care professional.” Little did we know how serious that message was.
Hope For Us All
In 2021 the pandemic will be over, and Joe Biden will become the president of the United States. Let’s hope that unity can be restored and the flames of racism extinguished, that people get back to work, and that we can once again enjoy the company of our family and friends.
Many thanks to the nurses, doctors, and hospital workers on the front line of the war on the pandemic. Thanks also to the election officials and poll workers who kept our election free from fraud and abuse.
Happy New Year and may it bring you good health, prosperity, and a more sustainable environment.
Thank you for your uplifting words, pictures, and continuing inspiration to us all, Bobby,—sunlight at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks, Bill. There is going to be a lot of healing in 2021.
Thanks Bobby for all you and Jeanne have done to support and promote care for our planet. Whiskey Creek Farm is a beautiful place; glad to know it will be in great hands.
Thanks, Lee. I hope your retirement is going well. You serve our community so well with your leadership and business skill.
This is a great piece. Keep up the good work. I know you will.
Please stay safe and healthy.
Another unbelievably disgusting quote from Donald Trump in 2020, three days after George Floyd’s murder…”It’s a great day for George. He’s smiling down on us now.”
For the healing to really take root we’ve got to reach out to everyone, and not just those who agree with our point of view. Easier said than done, but we can do it.
Thanks for your comment and friendship, Bill. Your leadership helped us defeat the ACP. Great to meet Ona.
Thank you Bobby,
One of my highlights of 2020 was meeting you and dozens of really great people on a cold February night in front of the Supreme Court. It will be a highlight of my life. Hope to see you next summer when not only the ACP but also the MVP has been cast upon the trash heap of bad ideas.
That was indeed a highlight of my life as well. I’ll never forget meeting you that cold night. Thanks for being the first in line and for your leadership.
Good Morning Bobby
Thanks for the poignant wrap-up of 2020.
I sure hope USA and the world comes out of all this a better, more compassionate place.
We need more people like you…
Resilient, upbeat, and caring..
Here’s to a great 2021…
Whisky Creek farm looks splendiferous!
George, you are too kind, my friend. Thanks for your leadership and support.
Again, thank you for all you do and share.
Thanks, John! Same to you and Jules.
So glad you got to the Caribbean before the pandemic. We have trying days ahead, but people like you and the Princess of Swoope — and all of the thoughtful, committed people who surround you — give hope. It will take all of our commitment to begin the healing and all of our courage to stare down untruths and bigotry. To help us all find our best selves as a nation. Bravo.
Cathleen, thanks so much for stopping in and for your kind words. Safe travels.
Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful message. Your words are always inspiring, positive, and informative. Keep up the great work. What you do is changing the world…really!
Best to you and The Princess as we all look forward to 2021.
Cheers, George P
Thanks, George. Good to hear from you. Hope you are well and having fun.
Woah! That bovine Bill! Who’s going to be enforcing it and how far off from being compliant with the CWA is the bay?
Also, I have fond memories of planting trees in your class. Glad to see the tradition continues 🙂
Good to hear from you, Brian. Here’s a little more info on the bill. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
Congratulations on making it this far in the year of great vision 2020. It reminds me of a joke an old family doc told me once. He said you know if you’re born with the birth sack over your head your going to be clairvoyant. But for some of us it seems we must have been born with the birth sack over out butts because we only have 2020 hindsight. Hope you’re grinning at least. What a terrible year and time in history. A deadly one that preys on society through apathy and ignorance as so many comment that they don’t know and don’t give a dam. Meanwhile people connected with “places” keep focus and function even as some change places, like you’ve done by moving from Swoope to Churchville. Any piece of land is lucky to have a caring aware resident, a steward. We all wish you and the Princess good luck moving forward especially as you share good land care even in your retirement. The only addition I would suggest is a pair of working draft horses to support and contribute to your land care in a living way. Please let me know if I can ever help you with that tender stewardship. Warm Salute, Jason Rutledge, Ridgewind Suffolk Farm, Copper Hill, Va.
Nice post! Great work, and isn’t the Blue Water Inn lovely?
This is a tune I wrote about that same trip:
Well done, good read. Keep up the great stewardship!
Bobby, what a wonderful and unique collection of photos and inspirations! Your Dad with the Hokie bird is my favorite of lot.
Thanks for the good cheer and the successes that you created and to which you contributed in 2020. (BTW, I am taking the CBDP riparian buffer course this winter, and I was delighted to see that it kicks off with a video that you made in Swoope.) Keep it up!
With hugs from Rockbridge Baths,
Susan, thank you for your most kind words. That video? Is that the one Michael G. and I made?
Thanks for good uplift, after that Clemson beating. Also being a Hokie ( remembering some sad 1960s games with Frank Beamer & notables) your stories remind of the VPI motto “Ut Prosim” That I May Serve. Thankful that’s exemplary in your family and comrades; focused on creating in our dear Commonwealth “a more perfect union”. Plus, Merry Christmas!
Thanks, John. It was good to see you at the Christians Creek tree planting. Dad wasn’t too happy about the Clemson game. So, you must have been in the Corps. I was the company commander of Squadron F in 1978. In charge of the Skipper. That year was the lowest enrollment of the Corps in its history.
You give us a lot of information we need and somehow have overlooked, Bobby. Your postings are important community points of reference. The new Bovine Law will bring environmental justice – – and probably upheaval – – to Swoope. You are absolutely correct, 2020 will be remembered as a tipping point year.
Michael, yes, upheaval in Swoope on the Bovine Bill. I don’t think most people know about it. But the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Va Agribusiness Council supported the bill.
Just because Trump lost the election and Dominion cancelled the ACP, these are only pyrrhic victories for America. Now it’s time to strengthen conservation and our liberties so we don’t relive the battles and all the ugliness again and again. Dominion has not learned its lessons. Just study its continuing claims and rhetoric about national energy needs. And study the language of political fearmongering that continues within the GOP. How do we address these? Bobby, you and Jeanne set an example for us all! Bless you for your strwardship!
Thanks for your comments, Bruce, and for your kind words. Hope you are staying healthy and cheerful!
Bobby, Thanks for your post and insight into all that matters. So glad to hear about the bovine bill! What a year.
Thanks, Ann. You two were pioneers in the livestock exclusion movement—thanks for your leadership.
Bobby, what a wonderful recap to the year….and it has been one for the history books for sure! it was tough in many ways and we lost some good people but when we think back and focus on what is positive, we can face the new year with anticipation and hope. I do appreciate your continued messages. Stay safe my friend!
Thanks, Al. Good to hear from you!
While out of the direct fight my heart is still in the movement, and invested. I am truly amazed by your ability to forge on through endless adversity and provide a clear message of hope, backed up by stories of actual success. More please!
Thanks for your most kind words, Jeff. It’s good to hear from you. I know you are still moving and shaking.
Hi Bobby, Sending you and yours all the best! Thanks for your good work saving “your backyard”…and beyond!
Thanks, Molly. I enjoy receiving your newsletter. I transplanted our little buddy from Philly to the farm on Whiskey Creek. He’s doing great.
Nice work Bobby and Jeanne – she is the inspiration of your talent! Thanks for supporting us and being a co-plaintiff in our litigation. You both are special people. I’m so glad that Jeanne is feeling better. I’m sure these pictures and memories helped things along. Keep charging! Jon
Thanks so much, Jon, for your very kind words. You are right—she is my inspiration. And thank you for leading the litigation charges. It’s been a tough four years for environmental regulation.
Bobby, I really enjoyed your yearly review. While 2020 was certainly a difficult year, there were periods of time when we could recharge our batteries for a while. I know you and Jeanne will use 2020’s reflections to propel you into 2021 with renewed optimism and energy. I certainly hope our country will try to do the same.
Thanks for stopping in, Joe. Very positive comments. Jeanne and I look forward to improving the waters of Whiskey Creek in 2021.
I truly enjoy reading your inspirational blogs! The pictures are great, and the news is encouraging! Yay 2021! Keep up your good fight for our beautiful planet!