From my journal: January 11, 2010 There must be a thousand frozen cow patties on the ground. It has been unusually cold and because of the snow we’ve been feeding a lot of hay to the cows. Since they spend a lot of time where the hay is, it...
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...
"Just because the problem seems unsolvable doesn't give us the right to give up". I can't remember who wrote that but it sticks in my mind. And just like the people trying to find that one blight resistant American Chestnut tree, Bobwhite Quail lovers keep hoping that maybe...
This past week Swoope bore the brunt of the Snowquester, a.k.a. winter storm Saturn. It gave us almost two feet of snow - unwelcome weather for cattle farmers during calving season. A calf born in this weather can perish quickly. We were lucky. The storm left no casualties among our...
Figs and Great Wine For the first time in my life, we harvested figs… which means we either got lucky or the planet is warming. We sliced the figs in half and ate them fresh with a dab of creamy blue cheese while sipping a full-bodied, peppery Cabernet Sauvignon. Pair...
Blackpoll Warblers came to the trees in our yard this week. They’re on their way to the boreal forests of Canada. I don’t know a lot of people that have seen a Blackpoll Warbler and when I mention them I get funny stares – I’m a birder. Blackpoll Warblers are...
This past week we saw for the first time in over a year a very rare and imperiled bird in Virginia: the Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus. The genus name is Latin for butcher and Shrike is a derivative of shriek. The bird doesn’t really have a pretty song, it shrieks. It...
Phenology is the study of the timing of biological events. February 24th was Spring Surge Day in Swoope. That’s the first day of the year I notice the Earth is really on the move. It’s not necessarily the day the first daffodil blooms or the first warm day of spring. ...
Aldo Leopold wrote eloquently about an ancient log he placed on the andirons of his fire in A Sand County Almanac published in 1949. The chapter was “Good Oak”. Below is my lament for a log I placed on the andirons of a fire we had in the summer kitchen...
I just came back from a walk along our part of the river. It’s called Middle River and it’s one of the most polluted rivers in Virginia. Just six miles up the river from here is its source – a spring that just bubbles up out of the ground in...
“If you want to understand the perspective of a dedicated cattle farmer, educated ecologist, and water-quality specialist, this is the book for you!
Turn these pages and feel the frost on your nose in winter, hear quail calling in the spring, taste a homegrown tomato in the summer, and watch Monarch butterflies fuel up on nectar in the fall. . . . truly spectacular stuff!”
George Ohrstrom IIFounder, The Downstream Project
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