The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Science, reason, and truth prevailed over doubt, fear, and lies this year. In this post, I’ll share some pictures and thoughts from 2022 that may bring you some hope and healing for the new year.
Note: All photos by R. Whitescarver unless otherwise noted
Hope in a Small, Flat Rock, and a Young Boy
Even as an old man in the autumn of my years, when I see smooth, open water, I always have the urge to find a small, flat rock to skip across it; especially when there is a child nearby eager to learn the skill. That moment came when my son, Neal, daughter-in-law, Kate, and grandson, Conley, took me with them to Lake Sebago in Maine this fall. Finding that perfect, small, flat rock, flinging it sideways across the water, and seeing the ripples from each skip, creates a lot of joy. It brings out that child creature in all of us, with no inhibition, lots of hope, and vast opportunities.
Hope for Regenerative Farming and a Restored Chesapeake Bay
I have never known a more hardworking, dedicated, farmer than Jeanne Hoffman. This year, she graduated from Virginia Tech’s Master Cattleman program. And, she’s a regenerative farmer, producing wholesome food, clean water, clean air, and wildlife habitat. Regen farming practices are funded by many federal, state, and private programs. These practices are helping to restore our local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
Hope in Community Activism
In January we learned that a sludge-hauling corporation had applied for a permit to build a holding pit in our community to store manufactured food waste from a multi-state area. The community rose up to defeat it in a classic case of environmental activism.
Hope for the Rebirth of America’s Greatest Tree
The demise of the American Chestnut, from an invasive fungus, is regarded as our nation’s greatest natural resource disaster. But through back-cross breeding, dedicated scientists and volunteers working for The American Chestnut Foundation have developed a chestnut hybrid that is resistant to the blight the fungus causes.
Hope in Carbon Farming.
Plants sequester carbon through photosynthesis. When we cut, cure, and bale all those plants to make hay, we are essentially harvesting carbon. We will feed this stored carbon to the cows this winter, and all that carbon will be enhanced by going through the digestive system of the cows. When it comes out of the back end of the cow it will add organic matter to the soil. Hence we never have to fertilize our pastures.
Hope for Ukraine
“I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition,” stated President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on February 27.
Russia’s senseless invasion of Ukraine gave rise to the power of hope. The Ukrainian people will never give up.
Whiskey Creek Angus Protected Forever as a Farm
In a mere nine months, we had the county amend its comprehensive plan for our farm, changing the land’s designation from low-density housing to agriculture, and then secured an organization to hold and protect our conservation easement forever. The journey is chronicled here.
Thwarting the Murderous, Invasive, House Sparrow
House Sparrows, also known as English Sparrows, are not native to North America and aggressively take over the nesting sites for native cavity nesters such as Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and Chickadees. House Sparrows will kill a native bird sitting on its eggs and build their nest right on top of the dead bird. Because House Sparrows are the only cavity nesters that build a dome-shaped nest. Raising the floor of the nesting box prevents the aggressive bird from building the dome.
Stong One-Year Growth for Tree Seedlings
This is the first growing season for the 3,000 native trees we planted in the riparian buffers on the farm. We were blessed with ample rainfall and many trees grew above the five-foot shelters protecting them from voles, rabbits, and deer.
Hope in Students
This is my fourteenth year teaching natural resources management at James Madison University. These students are eager to learn and understand the challenges facing our world and communities. I truly believe they are ready to lead.
Hope for Smarter and Stronger Gun Laws
Robb Elementary (21 killed), Virginia Tech (32), Bridgewater College (2), the University of Virginia (3) . . . the list of school shootings is unending in America. Public schools in most states have active shooter drills for grades K-12; how terrifying for a child!
We must pass sensible gun laws. Do you want a gun? I believe we should require training, a background check, and a permit. Assault weapons should be banned and we must provide improved mental health services, especially for men.
Tribute to My Father
Charles Kyle Whitescarver, Jr. passed away on June 1, at age 97. He was perhaps the greatest Virginia Tech Hokie to ever live. Dad was a World War II vet and had been a cheerleader at Tech, class of ’50 who could do a standing backflip. He was a good, honest, hardworking man and a great father.
Happy holidays from Whiskey Creek Angus! May you find peace and prosperity in 2023.