Three generations on Fawn View Farm: “We tried to get creative from the very beginning”

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

This summer, for the third year, Abigail “Abby” Stewart, 10, will give her cows baths, cut their hair into mohawks and lead them around a ring, for judging. She’ll lift up the cows’ heads and hold back the flap of loose skin, called dewlap, under their necks at the Harford County Farm Fair, the Maryland State Fair and Pennsylvania’s Mason Dixon Fair with 4-H, a national youth development organization.

“It’s kind of like a beauty pageant for cows,” Abby’s mother, Mary Stewart, explained. “There’s a heck of a lot of parents that, when they go in the ring, they want [the cow] to look amazing” and will pay for a professional to prep and show the animals, she said.


But in the Stewart clan that job belongs to the kids. ”They’ll never learn if they don’t do it now,” Mary Stewart said. “So sometimes that’s really painful to watch, because it’s not always beautiful.”

Her husband, Greg Stewart, agreed.


“It leads to a lot of stress — a lot of tired, short tempers,” said Greg Stewart, the father of Abby and her four siblings.

The Stewarts are at the helm of Fawn View Farm in Pylesville. Both grew up on family farms; Fawn View Manor Farms, run by Mary’s parents, is across Onion Road from their own.

Greg Stewart carries youngest daughter Taylor, 5, off the hay wagon at their family farm the Fawn View Farm in Pylesville.
March 30, 2023.

The couple, who married in 2011, live in Pennsylvania but tend to what now totals around 1,000 acres of land, most of it rented from nearby farmers, in Harford County. Their latest venture, The Cow Crossing — where they sell ice cream, milkshakes and cheeses from a trailer stationed on the side of Onion Road — came to fruition last spring, a burst of innovation sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

In everything they do, their five children — Abby, Bradley, Zachary, Thomas and Taylor, ages 4 to 10 — are along for the ride. “It’s a great place for the kids,” Greg said of the farm.

Some of the family’s most pivotal responsibilities are dictated not by the parents’ schedule, but by a greater force: the weather. Planting typically falls between April and May, depending on factors like rainfall and temperature. “You have a window to plant,” Greg said. “You don’t get it done, it’s not like you get another chance at it.”

Abby Stewart, 10, is helped by her grandfather Jim Archer to get a cow to cross the road at her family's farm, the Fawn View Farm, in Pylesville.
March 30, 2023.

The family harvests crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum and grass hay. Most of the corn and soybeans end up as livestock feed for chickens on the Eastern Shore; the sorghum primarily becomes bird feed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and the wheat goes to flour mills while the hay goes to horses and construction sites. The Stewarts sell their harvested crops through brokers, who aggregate a larger supply from multiple farms.

“We tried to get creative from the very beginning, to diversify into unique and different things” like adding activities beyond farming and, on the crop side, planting and harvesting sorghum, which isn’t so “mainstream,” Mary said. “It’s a different world, being your own business person.”

Mary, second left, and Greg Stewart and their children Thomas, 5, from left, Taylor, 4, Bradley, 8, Zachary, 8, Axel the dog, and Abby, 10, operate the Fawn View Farm and The Cow Crossing dairy products brand in Pylesville.
March 30, 2023.

Some years, it’s proven more difficult to stay financially afloat. Crops fluctuate in demand and expenses can rival the family’s gains.


“If we just did corn and beans, we would never have made it,” said Greg, who sometimes works on the farm from 4 a.m. to long after sunset.

The pair first met in middle school, on the school bus. They started dating after high school and both left home for college.

Mary graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in public relations and Greg from University of Delaware with a bachelor’s in agricultural engineering. Mary went on to work in sales at a wireless technology company and Greg worked in soil conservation and for a fertilizer company.

But after Mary became pregnant with twins, she made a difficult choice — to leave her corporate job and give the farm life a go for her own family. “That was drastic for me,” she said of the change.

To supplement their farming, the Stewarts host school field trips and events, like birthday parties, at Fawn View Farm. They also lived there, until 2019, when they moved into a Pennsylvania farmhouse that’s been in Mary’s family for four generations. “I always had wanted my whole life to fix it up,” she said.

A year later, the pandemic presented new challenges on the farm. In particular, the hiatus on in-person schooling, Greg explained, put an end to large farm tours and diminished demand for milk. “So that’s when she started making cheese,” he said of Mary’s solution.


The family cares for 50 cows in Pennsylvania, all of which are “spoiled rotten,” according to Mary — but especially the seven Brown Swiss cattle, which she said are like “puppy dogs.” The family also has chickens, “for fun,” Mary said, along with cats and a German Shepherd, named Axel, who dropped a dead mouse at our feet as we talked about The Cow Crossing.

Twins Bradley, left, and Zachary Stewart, 8, and brother Thomas, 5, show off cheese made with milk from their parents' Fawn View Farm dairy cows.
March 30, 2023.

The Stewarts didn’t want their dairy cows’ abilities to go to waste — so Mary opened The Cow Crossing in April 2022. On her first day in business, hundreds of locals queued up for a taste.

“They want to go out and do something different and fun,” she said of her customers.

Situated adjacent to the road, the milkshake trailer also serves seven varieties of cheeses. It faces west, so Mary can catch the sunsets when she’s stationed inside. She hopes to add boozy shakes to the menu in time for summer.

Abby’s favorite menu item is the chocolate ice cream (or the seasonal peppermint milkshake, which Mary makes at Christmas time). The ice cream is better than any that can be bought in a store, according to Abby, and the cows are special, too. “They’re really friendly, and usually really nice,” she said.

At home in Pennsylvania, Mary takes some of the cows, including one named Shenanigan and another named Jolene, on walks.


“As you grow up as a farm kid, you don’t appreciate it, necessarily, because you watch all of your friends go and do all the fun stuff or not have the amount of chores,” Greg recalled of his own upbringing. “But when you get older… you look back and you’re like, that work ethic I learned is really more valuable than anything else I could have been doing.”

Mary’s parents, Jim and Janet Archer, raised her and her two sisters at Fawn View Manor Farms.

“The life is not perfect, it has some bumps and bruises, and things that aren’t easy and things that aren’t pretty, and then there’s good things,” Jim Archer, 78, said.

On May 27, the Stewarts will host “Festival on the Farm” — an event that usually draws thousands of people to Fawn View Farm, according to the couple who have been hosting the event for five years (for two years during the coronavirus pandemic, they had to cancel the festival). In the past, they’ve collaborated with Mason-Dixon Country, which promotes tourism and local businesses in the area, but this year, they’re organizing it on their own and planning to include over 50 vendors.

“My focus is going to be on [agricultural] education, and connecting the community to active farming,” Mary said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

But at the end of March, on a rainy Thursday, it was just the Stewarts on the farm. The earth felt mushy underfoot and the kids, encouraged by a neighbor, took turns testing out a blow dart gun. When one blew hard enough into the tube to hit the makeshift target with a satisfying thud, everyone cheered.


Jim Archer watched as his grandkids played. “Farm life is good for them,” he said.

Mary Stewart and her family operate the Fawn View Farm in Pylesville. She also started The Cow Crossing dairy products brand for her cheese and ice cream.
March 30, 2023.

Chocolate & Cheese Trail

Harford County recently unveiled its Chocolate and Cheese Trail. The perfect blend of sweet and savory, the trail showcases the best of local artisan cheese producers and chocolate shops.

“What gets me so excited is working with other small businesses,” said Mary Stewart, who was approached several months ago about adding Fawn View Farm to the trail. “This is my home, I love to share it with people that are appreciative and grateful and interested and curious.”

If you’re in search of chocolate and cheese, these are the nine spots you shouldn’t miss:

Bomboy’s Home Made Candy, Inc


Broom’s Bloom Dairy

Daily Crisis Farm

Falling Branch Brewery

Fawn View Farm

Keyes Creamery

Log Cabin Chocolates


Martha’s Farm Market

Wockenfuss Candies