Family restoring farm around pipeline
NEWPORT, Va. — When Larry Thompson and family bought a 206-acre property in April 2016, they knew the Mountain Valley Pipeline would pass through it.
They were proactive early on in negotiating terms of the pipeline’s right-of-way that would meet their needs once it was installed.
Thompson, a long-time engineering librarian at Virginia Tech, said after buying the land, they immediately started looking for things they wanted to include in the contract with Mountain Valley.
One was being sure the right-of-way was not seeded with K31 fescue, Mountain Valley’s choice. They negotiated to have it sowed in a mix of orchard grass and clover.
The contract calls for Mountain Valley to leave on the farm any timber 8 inches or larger that was cut in clearing the right-of-way so the family could use it.
In addition, the contract addresses possible soil compaction by heavy equipment, allowing the Thompsons to have independent soil compaction tests done.
It requires that the topsoil be set aside separately from the subsoil.
Thompson said they used NRCS fencing standards in negotiating the contract. They included post size and spacing and got the right of way fenced to keep the cattle out of the young pasture while it was being established.
They specified the size of the gates they wanted and were on hand to help the surveyor place gates where they wanted them.
They also stipulated two crossings over the right-of-way be installed to allow heavy equipment and logging trucks more easily reach the timber on the north side of the farm.
With all the preparations underway the family believes it is at least two years away from being able to farm the land.
But, given the way things have gone so far, Thompson said it could be longer than that.
“Everything has taken longer than we thought it would.” he said.
The Thompsons have worked with NRCS to cost share projects to install wells and cattle water systems on the farm, fence cattle out of Sinking Creek, which runs through the farm and control invasive plant species to establish more pasture land.
One of the wells is to be located on the house or south side of the creek near the stream.
Water will be piped to a 1,500-gallon tank located on the construction right-of-way. It will then flow by gravity back to nine watering stations located in the pastures designed for rotational grazing.
The second well on the road or north side of the creek will supply water directly to watering stations there.
The property stretches from Route 42 to the top of Sinking Creek Mountain. Thompson said it has good hayfields, pastures and timber.
“A farm with lots of potential” is how he described it.
He said when he and wife Loreen bought the farm they were thinking of either leasing it to another party but, if their children Josh and Rebecca became interested, they would farm it themselves.
While the land is currently leased to a beef cattle producer, Josh said he and Rebecca are very interested in bringing their operation there in the coming years.
Josh recently received an associates degree in General Studies from New River Community College.
He is now spending much of his time working on the farm and developing his own livestock operation Landis Legacy Farm LLC. His animals are still at the Thompsons’ home in nearby Pembroke.
Josh has about 100 laying hens and raised and sold 150 broilers this summer. He also raises turkeys and hogs.
Josh also bought a band sawmill to mill timber cut on the farm to use as lumber for the house and other building projects.
He said he has spent hundreds of hours taking the old farmhouse apart.
He has stripped the interior down to the original log walls with plans to rebuild the house above the flood plain.
Josh added the sawmill should pay for itself as he saws lumber for the house and the other structures that once stood on the property that he wants to rebuild.
That includes a covered bridge over Sinking Creek that was blown away in March of 2017.
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