CLERMONT BARN REPLACEMENT ON TRACK FOR 2023 CONSTRUCTION

     The Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources (DHR), owner of Clermont Farm, is managing the project to replace the bank barn which burned in November, 2018.  The project is being funded by state insurance at about $1.6M.  Two one-storey barns, an animal barn and a hay barn, will replace the two-story bank barn.

Former Clermont Bank Barn site, Middle School Ag students on tour in hay wagon 

The new hay barn will be built within the footprint of the former bank barn and the new animal barn will be built to the east on flatter ground, leaving a work and parking courtyard between the two.  This location will integrate with the farm's existing animal fenced alleyway system and its working pen system, and minimize additional use of crop and pasture land. 

Hay barn will be on old barn site, Animal barn will be to east near fence.

As DHR is funding and managing the project on state land, state procurement and design standards are required to be followed.  The national bid for architectural and engineering services was won against significant competition by Main Street Architecture of Berryville, VA.   As of December 20, 2022, they are preparing for an estimate on the next to final plans.  The schedule is to complete plans and construction bidding in late winter and start construction in the late spring of 2023, with completion by the fall.

The animal barn will include basic animal management equipment, feed storage, a vet lab and space for visitors and tours.  The Foundation will also move its staff into handicapped-accessible space in the barn so they do not take up space in the historic (and non-accessible) buildings, as well as moving the farm's extensive historical archives out of commercial storage into conditioned space which staff and researchers can access on site.

The Clermont Foundation's Event Schedule for 2023 will include a public groundbreaking, a tour during construction, and a tour at completion, dates to be announced.  

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CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT AT CLERMONT; TWO RARE SPECIES SEEN

Saturday, December 31, was the 2022 Christmas Bird Count in Clarke County, including Clermont Farm.  Eight local people made up the team which spent about two hours walking east and west along Dog Run across the 360-acre farm.  This was just one of many stops the team, led by Kristin Zaltimet, made during the day.  The team included two Master Naturalists, Kristin and Mary-Keith Ruffner, and the team photographer, Walter Gould.

Clarke County Christmas Bird Count Team, Photo by Walter Gould

Many people don’t realize that the Christmas Bird Count is the oldest (123 years) and largest (North, Central, and South America) citizen science project in the world.

The Audubon Society is the central data broker for the whole project, but it is carried out by local citizens in different countries belonging to a variety of (or no) organizations.  International treaties protecting migrating birds have been based on data from the Christmas Bird Counts.

The two rarest birds identified at Clermont were a Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) and a Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus), both of which the team was very excited about.  The Rusty Blackbird is distinguished by a rusty wash over its fall and winter plumage. It breeds in Canada and Alaska, and winters in the southeastern U.S.   It likes wet woodlands, bogs and riparian habitats as the wooded Dog Run at Clermont

Rusty Blackbird, photo by Walter Gould

The white Tundra Swan is differentiated by a yellow to orange spot in front of its eye.  It breeds on the artic tundra (solitary nests)  and winters on the Pacific (primarily) and Atlantic coasts where it is rare in most areas.  It is monogamous and pairs for life.

Clermont maintains four specially-built boxes for American Kestrels, who use them for breeding in the spring.  Happily there was a Kestrel in the Christmas Count.  We were surprised at the number of Eastern Bluebirds, sixteen, who flocked together and made quite a display.

Eastern Bluebird, photo by Walter Gould

There were twenty-one species identified overall, including Blue Jays, Cardinals, Crows, Cedar Waxwings, a lot of House Finches, Mockingbirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Turkey Vulture, a variety of Sparrows, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and others.