The riparian buffers on our farm on Middle River are now fifteen years old. Fifteen years ago, the "River Farm" was basically a cool-season grass pasture with a few scattered mature trees along the banks of the river. Now, in addition to excellent forage for cattle, there are hundreds of...
The Virginia State Water Control Board must deny 401 certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). It should have denied 401 certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Building these fracked gas pipelines through steep, rough terrain and karst geology is fraught with danger. Construction is already causing massive soil...
The emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, is a destructive, non-native insect that kills all species of ash trees. First discovered in Michigan in 2002 it has spread to thirty-three states and is confirmed in all six of the Chesapeake Bay watershed states. They have arrived in Augusta County, Virginia in full...
I watched it devour a whole nest of tent caterpillars. Yellow-billed Cuckoos, we need a lot more of them - they prefer to eat hairy caterpillars like the eastern tent caterpillar that defoliate trees. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus, sometimes called the rain crow, nests and forages in the riparian forests along our...
There are many harbingers of Spring in Swoope; the yellow blooms of daffodils and forsythia, the sounds of spring peepers, and pastures changing from brown to green are only a few. My favorite harbinger of Spring is the arrival of Tree Swallows, Tachycineta bicolor. I start looking for them in late February....
The flames of the fire hold my senses hostage. Staring at the orange flames dancing upward I hear the crackling release of carbon entombed in the hardened cell walls of the log. I feel the heat, a byproduct of the transfer of energy as the log is transformed from a...
Earth awakens from the cold during the month of March in America's legendary Shenandoah Valley. Days lengthen, migrations begin, chloroplasts awaken and absorb the energy from the sun's photons - photosynthesis begins....pastures slowly turn from brown to green. Life's energy is on the move. March. The end of winter and...
As we drove into the pasture with a half-ton bale of hay for the cows I saw a flock of perhaps thirty small birds fly in a tight pattern away from us. The flying flock turned one way, then another, their white bellies exposed as they turned. This is a...
Frozen Water in the Trough A frozen livestock water trough is a nightmare for farmers. Thousands of "frost-free" watering troughs have been installed as an alternative to allowing livestock access to the streams and rivers. Livestock farmers have been excluding livestock from streams and rivers for decades. It's one of...
Over the years they slowly disappeared. And then they were gone. I last saw a Loggerhead Shrike in Swoope in 2014. The Loggerhead Shrike is a "common bird" whose population is in "steep decline". In this post, I will describe the bird, chronicle its population, report efforts to bring the...
“Bobby is a force of nature! And with this compilation of his blog posts, musings, and articles, we gain insight into farming, family, and the forces that shape the Shenandoah Valley he calls home. I enjoyed his humorous yet direct writing style as he shared personal and professional observations on conserving the natural landscapes that, quite literally, feed and nourish us.”
Blog Post Categories
- Atlantic Coast Pipeline
- Cattle Farming
- Chesapeake Bay
- Climate Change
- Herd Health
- Invasive Species
- Nutrient Management
- Quail Habitat
- Riparian Buffers
- Riparian Forest Buffers Ebook
- Soil and Water Conservation
- Soil Erosion
- Stream Fencing
- Student Required Reading
- Swoope Almanac
- Water Pollution
- Watershed restoration