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CB Virtual Diary, Yancey

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Peyton & Myra Yancey, Rockingham County

The Yanceys own 225 acres of gently sloping land that has been in the family for four generations. They noticed that water quality had degraded over the years with direct cattle access to the streams, pond and spring on the property and wanted to protect this legacy for future generations. In late 2010, they started working with NRCS to develop a plan to address these resource concerns.

The Journey Begins

Work began on April 5, 2011, with partners gathering to stake out a forested buffer and confer on project particulars. Planned practices included cross fencing, stream crossings, and an alternative watering system to facilitate better pasture management and rotational grazing. Read more.

The transformation of their land continues ...

May 11, 2012

What a difference a year makes! Like a locomotive leaving the station, the transformation of the Yancey's land started slowly and has built up steam along the way.

“It was hard for me to imagine the change,” says Peyton. “I kept trying to get something started. Then, it all came together in early 2012. Most of the structural improvements are now installed, and I hope to have the trees planted by November.”

Both Peyton and Myra wanted to "give back" to their community by hiring local contractors to install the practices in their conservation plan. They have checked in on the construction during various outings, and Peyton even pitched in to help rebuild the stone wall near the barn.

Though the project costs have been a concern for the retired couple, both are looking to the future and believe that these conservation practices will offer lasting benefits. Peyton is especially pleased with the new rotational grazing system, which will have a total of five watering troughs when completed.

“Cattle used to cross the creek to get to the barn, and it was tough to get them inside,” says Peyton.  “Now, we have an ideal setup for grazing cattle. The fruits of our labor will benefit anyone who works this land in the future.”

“I think the barn is the most amazing transformation,” says Myra. “Water used to pour out of the flexible culverts. Now, the water is being controlled and is feeding into the creek. The area that used to have bare dirt has been reseeded.”

Cows have been off the property since the first of the year, so lush grass has filled in around new and old fence lines that face off like soldiers in a forgotten battle. Those "battle lines" should be redrawn this fall when volunteers remove the old fencing as a community service project. 

“Can you imagine what this place will look like with the old fencing out?” says Phillips.  “The improvement will be exponential. A 10-year old will be able to move the cows.”

“The plan is working, and it is really beautiful here,” says Myra.  “Peyton’s father used to raise Black Angus. It will be nice to see cows here again.”

Check back for updates on their progress in transforming their land.

View and download more "before" photos of the Yancey land. (Photos: Pat Paul & Barbara Bowen)

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