Nelson Warren uses his beef cows’ manure to his advantage

Who keeps putting up women’s underwear on area utility poles?
April 1, 2022

Story Location:
Rustic Acres Farm
37217 Rustic Acres Lane
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

A few weeks ago, in the comments section of this paper’s Facebook page, Rehoboth farmer Nelson Warren offered manure from his cows to farmers in the area of a proposed development outside Lewes. With prime manure-spreading time quickly approaching, Warren’s comment got me wondering if he is having trouble finding fields on which to dispose of his cow manure because of all the development taking place locally. I called him to find out.

“It was only a joke. I just didn’t think the neighbors would like the smell too much,” said Warren, laughing. “Animal manure is in extremely high demand right now.”

Warren and his brother Nate are the 13th generation of their family to be farming on the land off Holland Glade Road outside Rehoboth. The family herd once had over 200 cows. It’s now down to 50, but it does include cows with connections from two herds near Lewes – Ed Fleming’s and Hopkins Dairy. Warren said they still milk a few to feed the 25 babies, but primarily, the cows are being raised for their meat. Warren wholesales the product at a number of different markets.

He said there are a number of reasons animal manure is in high demand – supply chain issues, and the fact that commercial fertilizer costs double or triple what it did this time last year. He said there’s even a backorder on poultry manure.

The recent spate of avian flu isn’t making things any easier, because it messes up the cleanout schedule for the chicken farmers, said Warren.

The farm has four manure storage areas. Warren said he’s hauled every ton of manure that’s been stockpiled – approximately 200 tons of pen-packed manure. 

Nelson said he used wood chips, straw and junk hay as bedding in the cow barns. It all gets mixed together.

“It’s a cocktail of organic matter,” he said.

When spread out over fields, Nelson said that cocktail acts a bio-stimulant for the crops, which is why worm casings can be found on the top of his fields. Commercial fertilizer sterilizes the fields, he said. 

Between the homestead and fields out in the Harbeson/Milton area, Warren farms more than 200 acres. 

“There’s real value in manure. You can’t look at it as a byproduct to get rid of. It can be used and managed for a better crop,” he said.

Return of women’s underwear

In June 2019, the Cape Gazette published a story about bras that had appeared on a bunch of utility poles along Route 9, from Malfunction Junction to the intersection of Harbeson Road.

I bring this up because I’ve noticed more, but this time it’s mostly underwear. Along the northbound side of Route 1, from Royal Farms in Rehoboth to the fork with Kings Highway in Lewes, there are at least a half-dozen utility poles that have women’s underwear stapled to them. There’s also a cluster of them near Five Points.

It’s possible these “new” ones have been up there since the original story, but I don’t think so. The roads can be pretty slow around here even when it isn’t summertime, and new things stand out.

Basically, I would like to know who is doing it and why. I’d like to know what they’re thinking while they’re attaching it, where the underwear is from and why one utility pole is chosen over another. Some of the underwear on display is nicer than other samples. How does the person decide which utility pole gets the nicer pair? What time of day is this being done? Do they consider themselves an artist with a message – the Banksy of utility pole art?

Shortly after the original story ran, a woman sent me an email saying she knew the person who had put the bras on the poles, the reason why and that she would try to get them to talk with me. I never heard back. I’m hoping this little acknowledgement of someone’s continued efforts spurs answers to these questions.

Joke of the week:

Catherine has emailed a couple of times with jokes from her friend in New Jersey who tapes jokes to the community mailbox for neighbors to enjoy. A recent submission felt spring appropriate:

Q: What do you call a line of rabbits marching backward?

A: A receding hareline.

  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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