So our back pasture was...well...a bit...well...A LOT...weedy. Pig weed, dill weed, goldenrod. Anything that grows tall and fast in the summer heat--we got it. For a while we fretted, especially around June when things really started taking off. And since we don't own a lawnmower, and the one that we do use is broken more often than not, we were overgrown--past our knees, then hips, then shoulders, then heads. Turns out, however, the problem is sometimes the solution (attention: little golden nugget of permaculture wisdom ahead). Just when we were about to let the weeds get to us--mentally, emotionally--the laying hens rotated into the back pasture. We learned very quickly that without the shade and protection offered by the overgrown foliage, the laying hens would have suffered severe heat and predation. Voila! Let 'em grow we did--realizing that nature is smarter than we are, and if we just watch and listen we can catch up to the connections she already has in mind for us.
But now the temps are cooling and it's time to clear everything anew--to start with a fresh slate for next year's grass growth. Enter the GSU Pasture Clearing Brigade. They descended upon our weedy pasture en masse with good attitudes (only one exception--and we made good fun of him) and work gloves to help with a task that would have taken Elliott and I...well...weeks. Why not use a tractor and do it in five minutes? Why use hand labor? Well, first off Elliott and I are too averse to debt and mechanically challenged to invest in a tractor. Secondly, when you drive repeatedly over pasture with heavy machinery, you inevitably compact the soil, which makes it difficult for roots to sprawl, inhibiting pasture growth and diversity. So we made an event of it--us and 10 new friends from GSU--and cleared over half the overgrowth in a few hours. Many hands make for fast, drastic, yet ecologically sound results. Thanks again, y'all. You're welcome back any time.
So it could be said that for a while we were--well--a bit isolated. Elliott and I, in addition to being aspiring community educators, simply got tired of staring at each other. But with the WWOOFer program, service-learning students, and the farmers' markets combined--things have started to change. Our lives are now filled with fabulous, fearless people we'd like to tell you about...the movement is...moving!
Meet Kyle Huff (far left). A WWOOFer from the St. Louis area, he was with us for a glorious month. Didn't have a problem wrestling pigs or herding turkeys--a can-do sort of guy. He's now entertaining the idea of starting a farm on some family land. Godspeed, Kyle.
Meet our SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) friends. Introduced through Mike Royer, a co-producer (customer) and friend of ours from the Forsyth Farmers' Market, this picture marks the first time we've ever had so many young people in the house at the same time. They're not all farmers, but each in their own way is connected to sustainable living/design. Everybody looks better when they're laughing...
Meet two truly fearless dudes--David and Brian. They hail from a GSU Environmental Biology course, and before coming to our farm had only seen chickens on TV. About 15 minutes after landing in Dover, GA, they were helping us clip the wings of our 450+ laying hens. (Below: Definitely weren't afraid to get dirty...yeah, that's what you think it is. It happens, man. But look at that smile on his face.)
And this is Ian, Jordan, and Preston--also from Environmental Bio at GSU. They helped us whip the garden into shape: mulching paths, weeding, planting, and watering. Aren't they so helpful and cute?
They keep us fresh. They keep us socialized. They are our sanity and our salvation--couldn't do it without 'em--our neighbors, our friends.
Many thanks to the fantastic students from Georgia Southern University that crawled out of their Environmental Biology classroom and into Dover to put in some sweat hours here on the farm. Our mission: Garden Revival. Did we do it? Yes we did! They hand weeded (no chemicals or machinery here) over half the beds, which are now ready for fall planting (greens, broccoli, and carrots--oh my!). Hopefully they'll all become young farmers...or find some to support in their neighborhood.
By the way, I asked them to do their "power stance" for this photo. They really need to work on their power stances...