Friday, July 30, 2010

Whitmore Farm goes 100% wind renewable as of August 1st, 2010

We're happy to announce that as of August 1st, 2010, Whitmore Farm will be receiving all of our electricity from a renewable wind energy source off of the Chesapeake from clean currents green energy solutions.

Surprisingly, our rate will be equal to or lower than our current rate from Allegheny Power!

Next year we hope to add solar panels to our farm op and try and be a zero energy input operation. Despite the tax credits and such available from the government, installing a solar system is still a ten year investment in return on your money.

We are excited to be no longer depending on non-renewable resources like coal energy, especially in light of highly destructive practices like 'mountain-top removal' in our own back yard, West Virginia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Native American deciduous magnolias and other American gems...

When we bought our property, we were surprised at the lack of diversity in the tree population with many species over-represented and some common trees completely absent.

This VERY sad little ragtag collection of plants represents our future collection of uncommon, decidious American magnolia.

I managed to find a small grower of three magnolia varieties I've had trouble finding at local nurseries - Magnolia tripetala, Magnolia macrophylla, and Magnolia acuminata (the cucumber magnolia).

The first two species are well known for their huge leaves and typical white, magnolia-type flowers. The latter, for its cucumber-like fruit and large size.

In addition, we have been adding other American species such as the Franklinia, Vernal Witchhazel, Winterhazel, Ilex opaca, white and burr oak, native viburnum, Asimia (paw paw), Metasequoia, Birch, Tulip poplar, Beech, American persimmon, Sassafras, Catalpa, and Taxodium to name a few.

We also added 3 Princeton elms to flank the main house. 'Princeton' is a true, 100% American elm that was reproduced from a tree found in Princeton, N.J., with innate resistance to Dutch Elm disease.

We look forward to being able to reintroduce American chestnut trees back onto the property as they become available through the work of the American Chestnut Foundation, an organization working to create a blight resistant American elm, by crossing it with the more resistant Asian chestnut tree.

Chestnuts were once the predominate tree in our neck of the woods and our timberframe house is made of huge chestnut logs harvested on the property by Benjamin Whitmore in the mid-18th Century.

In addition, the fruit was a valuable source of food for both the people and livestock alike.

The Franklinia alatamaha tree has an interesting history. It was first described Philadelphia botanists John and William Bartram growing along the Alatamaha River in modern-day Georgia in October 1765.

William Bartram collected Franklinia seeds during this extended trip to the South from 1773 through 1776. Right from the beginning, the tree was noted to have an extremely limited distribution.

"We never saw it grow in any other place, nor have I ever since seen it growing wild, in all my travels, from Pennsylvania to Point Coupe, on the banks of the Mississippi, which must be allowed a very singular and unaccountable circumstance; at this place there are two or 3 acres (12,000 m2) of ground where it grows plentifully." W. Bartram 1791.

The tree was last verified in the wild in 1803, and all current stock was derived from these original seed collections in the 1770's. It falls into the tea family and has been noted to be somewhat hard to establish.

More to come!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meat Goat Performance Testing

I recently delivered 3 goats to the Western Maryland Pasture-based Meat Goat Performance Test in Keedysville, Maryland.

Susan Schoenian, the University of Maryland's resident sheep and goat guru and a host of other researchers, breeders, volunteers, and students have created a wonderful test with the help of a SARE grant.

The Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test is sponsored by University of Maryland Extension and is conducted at the Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville, MD.

The purpose of the test is to measure performance of various goats on a pasture-only diet, something that is near and dear to our hearts here at Whitmore Farm.

As you may already know, all of our animals are raised on pasture for environmental, humanitarian, and pro human-health reasons. In addition, we are very interested in reintroducing better performance into our heritage-American breed of goat, the myotonic or Tennessee fainting goat.

For too long, the myotonic goat has been bred primarily as a pet animal, and we hope to restore and improve on its qualities as a 'meat' goat.

So you can see how this performance test would provide an excellent forum for us to test our animals and see how we're doing on our breeding program.

For those of you interested in following the performance test, please feel free to check in with Susan Schoenian's blog and follow the progress of our little goatlings as they compete with goats from all around the country...go TEAM WHITMORE!

We are listed on the spreadsheets under OZKUM and I have 3 goats entered.

At the end of the test, the best animals are put up for auction as stud animals and go on to happily create many more goatlings! lol