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.
Very interesting and thoughtful blog, Bobby.. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes, Ridge
Happy Holidays, Ridge. Thanks for posting your comment.
That is a lot to be proud of. Congratulations to you and Jeanne (and Val) for all of these accomplishments. Master Cattleman!
Gwen, thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read the post. See you soon!
You are far, far, from an old man, Bobby. You help us all find the positives in life. I am so proud of you and Jeanne and am amazed at the energy and complete commitment you have to making farming life better for VA. Master Cattlemen degree too — yay Jeanne!!! You may even make a birder out of me.
Sarah, thanks for writing your gracious comment. Give me a call and we’ll talk binos. 540-280-7134.
Bob, your work is so beneficial and unique given a general attitude of industrial mindset in so many quarters. Thanks for being so real in your teaching and living the demonstration you profess. You’ve always walked the talk my friend. I commend you and your family sir.
I thought I might mention a documentary that was made by a fellow that has known me and my work for a while. It’s basically about our approach to restorative forestry and several apprentices that have went on to practice restorative forestry in their own communities. It can be found at:
http://www.somehowhopeful.com Thanks for sharing if you watch it and deem it worthy sir.
Thank you, Jason, for all the conservation that you do. Great video of leading by example.
Bravo! For all your conservation! You are Indeed Stewards of the Land!
Well done, as always. We license cars and drivers; we need the same for gun owners. Keep up the great work protecting the environment.
Thanks Bobby for some positives, hope and encouragement.
During my work on 2 degrees at VPI (now just Va. Tech) I often was
inspired by stories about outstanding graduates or hearing them
in person (like the VT engineers helping our Space efforts).
Sad to learn about your dad’s passing; glad there’s celebration for his
many accomplishments and Old Hokie spirit.
For 2022 (days remaining)- reminder that Dec. 5 (Monday) is World Soil Day.
So much of USA prosperity and life depends upon good stewardship
of the soils and land– that you so well communicate about.
You do great word-smithing! John Reeves Rockingham Co.
John, thanks so much for your kind words and Old Hokie spirit. Yes, World Soil Day . . . soil is the largest terrestrial carbon sink!
Bobby – Happy holidays to you and Jeanne and Val, of course. This is an especially excellent blog, in a long list of excellent blogs from you over the years. We share your hopes in that they can help guide the way to the healing we so desperately need, both as a community and as a nation. Our condolences to you and your family in the loss of your father – a really good man.
Joe and Liz, what a kind and thoughtful message. Thank you.Happy Holidays to you and the whole family.
Hi Bobby, Velcom Jul! Thanks for a great report card. Congratulations to Jeanne on her accomplishments and to you both in finally acquiring permanent conservative status for the farm. It is beautiful what you and your cattle management do for grass and soil!
And thanks for photographs that add meaning. It looks like each generation has added about six inches in height as the photo of you, your dad and your son shows us. And lovely that you had a chance to teach a grandson how to skip rocks. A time-honored tradition! I am especially thankful that you are teaching some of your skills to younger people at JMU. That may be most truly your legacy to all of us and the land we love. Anne
Anne, you are so sweet. Thank you so much for your kind words. I wish I had had you as a student! So glad you keep in touch. Jeanne and wish you a joyful holiday season.
You are doing such great work! It’s wonderful to see if things regenerate.