Monday, September 30, 2013

In the Weeds

As a kid, I absolutely hated pulling weeds. And my mom loved to assign this mind-numbing chore. She would send me pull a few puny and hard to find blades of errant grass...from her neat little flower beds. It just seemed neurotic. And highly unsatisfying.

So it may sound crazy - even to myself - to admit that I had fun pulling weeds for several hours recently at Brown Chicken Brown Cow Farm. But it's true!

Last winter, Brian and Nichole Stewart decided to begin living out their dreams as homesteaders. The young family, including two little girls under four, moved from an apartment in Norfolk to a fixer upper home on an eight acre plot in Suffolk.  The Stewarts raise Icelandic sheep, chickens of various breeds, ducks, turkeys, and guinea hens. They also own one companion goat and young jersey heifer. Brian has a full-time job supporting the Navy, but he also works tirelessly on the farm on weeknights. Nichole runs the farm full time, caring for her two girls and all of those animals!

As most farmers will tell you, they sometimes need a little help.  This hardworking family was no exception, and the Tidewater Crop Mob and some of the family friends from the Tri-Neighborhood Community Garden of Norfolk were happy to help.

This was one of their fields overrun with weeds that we (about 30 volunteers ) were to tackle.

But first, Nichole introduced us to the animals...

Luna, the young cow, was a favorite.




After the tour, the volunteers got to work pulling weeds.   
Nichole asked us to focus on the night shade (Bella Donna), dog fennel, and pokeweed. The animals were allergic to one of these (I can't remember which) and simply would not eat the other two.
Some of the weeds came up relatively easily, but most did not. And these mobbers were not here to play. With their various axes and shovels, they were showin' the weeds who was boss! 
 "You can do it - put your back into it!"
At any Crop Mob event, it's very hard to avoid the butts in the air shots





The children (other than Ava), were amazing helpers!

This is Nichole and Bryan's two and a half year old.

And this is their youngest. I imagine these kids must be some of the happiest around.



 The Stewarts were incredible hosts. Brian was looking for an excuse for a party  - so he cooked a whole pig! Nichole and the volunteers brought sides, drinks, and beer.

 I met such cool and interesting people at the farm that day. I left feeling so inspired! It was a gorgeous day, and the Stewarts were so appreciative.
Looking forward to the Crop Mob to returning to Brown Chicken Brown Cow Farm! Join the Tidewater Crop Mob and follow the Brown Chicken Brown Cow blog at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

mGardening (Mobile Gardening?)

In this post I would like to invite you to a hot new gardening trend that I'd like to call mGardening (Mobile Gardening) and my personal interpretation of it.

Brace yourself for some amazing technology.

If you read my last post, you know that I have been racking my brain to get Ava more interested in gardening. Well, last weekend I helped her set up a little garden on wheels - I just thought that mGardening might appeal to her.

One of our neighbors had given us two Earthboxes a while back - these are great little boxes for container gardening complete with casters. Up until this day, I couldn't really think of a use for them, but then an idea hit me - wouldn't it be fun for Ava to push her own little garden around?

We planted some watermelon seedlings  - at least they could get their start in this box.

I'm a total sucker for cutsey kid's gardening stuff.

slow your roll, ok, Ava?
Ava liked the idea that she could shuttle this garden between our back deck and the community garden. With some help, she was even able to take it to a neighbor's backyard to show off.

Before you chalk me up to just a mom with a blog (which is pretty much the truth), let me convince you that Ava and I are on the bleeding edge of gardening trends here. I mean, just look at what crazy-cool gardeners are doing around the world...
 Grow it like you...stole it???  from the Wal-Mart parking lot???
o.k., so this just got weird - what the hell IS that?
So, the gardening that Ava and I do is extremely conventional after all - boring really - but I will continue to be inspired by people claiming their food independence in creative and eccentric ways!
Please feel free to share your favorite examples of extreme gardening!