Ted’s Last Stand Farm and Gardens is a sustainable small farm located near Charlottesville, Virginia, owned and operated by Michael Levatino and Audrey Blecha. Specializing in growing the finest, freshest, seasonal cut flowers in the area, specialty vegetables and herbs are also available.
Ted’s Last Stand is the name Audrey created for their small farm in rural Virginia. For when she and her husband arrive at their newly purchased farm, to their delight the previous owners had left their chickens — one white rooster, and one white hen. Audrey immediately named them Ted and Bev. Bev would fly up into the large holly tree at night, and Ted would settle in on the front porch. Sadly their ideal life was cut short by Ted’s untimely demise. Three weeks after Audrey’s arrival she found a scattered trail of feathers heading in the direction of the woods. To memorialize Ted, the farm and business is named Ted’s Last Stand.
The story of Ted is one of many stories interwoven in Levantio’s newly published book Woman-Powered Farm as she advises readers to “Start small and don’t overwhelm yourself.” As Audrey says, “Living and operating a farm is only as romantic or as hard as you want to make it (most of the time). We started with just our two chickens, Ted and Bev. It took us months just to get a dog. Then we adopted another. Soon we started building our vegetable garden and fenced it in using our own cut cedar trees as posts and borders for raised beds and the side of a packing crate for a gate. After hatching a clutch of eggs, we built a coop and grew our chicken population to eleven. The grass became so tall in the field; we finally bought a used tractor. A freshly cut field begs for some animals to graze it, so we started with two male donkeys. The next year we added a farm pond. After a couple of more dogs showed up and we adopted four cats, we decided the donkeys could use some friends that actually produced something. We settled on llamas for their regal appearance and their warm fleeces. Our garden kept expanding and other animals came and went. “Nevertheless, over time what started as a hobby became a viable farm. The farm business sustains itself at a profit, both financially and ecologically.
Recognizing there was a steep learning curve for the work she now does, Levatino – a retired high school English teacher — decided to write a book on farming — just for women. It contains step by step instructions on everything from using a chain saw to choosing the right truck. For, as Audrey says, “Women are very creative as farmers, and we have to be, because we’re not as strong as men, and we know that. For example, there are tractors that are easy to hitch, because the hardest part of a tractor is attaching implements like your plow and your blade and things like that. There’s a shovel that I use called Her Shovel. This shovel has a wider foot base, so you can put both feet on there and really use your lower body strength.”
Audrey’s book, called Woman-Powered Farm, tells readers how to avoid injuries, offers instructions on sharpening tools and fixing flat tires, and provides a recipe for compost tea – a liquid fertilizer made with bat guano and molasses. She shares experiences of running a farm and offers invaluable advice on how to get started, whether you have hundreds of acres or a simple lot for an urban community garden. Filled with personal anecdotes and stories from other women farmers, from old hands to brand new ones, from agricultural icons like Temple Grandin, to her own sister, this book is a reassuring and inspirational guide: tips for keeping your mind, body and spirit healthy while undertaking the demanding nature of farm work.
About the Author – Audrey Levatino has been farming for thirteen years. For the last eight she has been growing specialty cut flowers and selling them at local farmers’ markets, florists, restaurants, and for weddings. She and her husband, Michael, are the authors of The Joy of Hobby Farming. They care for crops and a menagerie of animals on their 23-acre farm, Ted’s Last Stand, near Gordonsville, Virginia. To acquire further details, link to Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Powered-Farm-Self-Sufficient-Lifestyle-Homes… or Ted’s Last Stand, www.TedsLastStand.com.
Book Details – Paperback, With Flaps, published May 2015, ISBN 978-1-58157-241-4, and Sales Territory: Worldwide