Polyface Farms: The Rest of the Lunatic Tour Pictures

So the weekend got away from me and I wasn’t able to post the rest of the Polyface Farms Lunatic Tour pictures. But, it’s a great way to start the week so here we go:

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These are two of the hoop houses as you walk up the hill from the house and storefront. The two on the left are empty and the one on the far right is housing pullets

 

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Here is the hoophouse full of pullets

 

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This is a look inside the store where you can purchase all types of shirts, hoodies, books and even apple cider. Of course, meat and eggs are available at the store too

 

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Here’s a closeup of one of the bunnies…what a cutie…and they’re so friendly!

 

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Lest you think that the watering system for the animals in the pens is complicated…here’s a shot of the inside of the bucket with the tubing

 

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Here’s the inside of one of the hoophouses that has been vacated of animals. Again, Polyface has multiple uses for every structure

 

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This is down at the barn closer to the house. My assumption is that these pigs will be moved to the woods when they are larger

 

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I had to include this picture…it shows how friendly the pigs are and how they are well conditioned to being around people

 

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Here’s a wider shot of the barn and the pigs. I love how this picture shows the simplicity of the farm…a gate propped up against the fencing for reinforcement

 

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You won’t find a picture like this at Smithfield

 

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Here is a picture of the farm buildings as we traverse the hill up to see the broilers

 

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Here is a shot of the pastured broilers and their alignment

 

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This picture shows the dolly that is used to help move the broiler pens

 

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Joel speaking to the tour group…if you see yourself, let me know!

 

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This is a shot of the bunny/hen house. These bunnies are suspended above the floor and the hens pick through the litter to keep it sanitized. It is my understanding that these are the breeder rabbits and they need an area that isn’t as unpredictable as outdoors. If the does are with a litter and they feel threatened, they will eat their babies

 

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The hens were enjoying treats off of my boots courtesy of walking through the cow paddock

 

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This is the bounty out of one of the nest boxes in the bunny/hen house

 

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More pictures of the girls hanging out around the eggmobiles

 

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I like this picture…it shows the present and the future. The hens will be where the cows are in about 3 days

 

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My son, Myles, surrounded by hens. He was fascinated by the eggmobile, just like his momma

 

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A close up of two of the girls

 

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Looking from the eggmobile back towards the barn where the piglets were in the earlier pictures

 

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What a view

 

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Back at the barn, the pigs were romping and having a ball

 

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The closing shot of the day

 

We toured Polyface Farms on a Monday and allowed our kindergartener, Myles, to miss school. He went to the school library on Wednesday and brought this book home:

polyface farmsJob well done Joel! Thank you for showing my 5 year old (and his parents) that farming can pay the bills. That you can follow your dream of living off the land and help to heal the land in the process. And that I’m not so crazy for having this dream after all…

If you enjoy this type of discussion as well as learning about gardening, please leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list, become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30, 2012Permalink 3 Comments

Polyface Farms: Oh Yes You Can

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Myself, Joel and my husband Ed

So yesterday my family and I went to Polyface Farms in Swoope, VA. It was a 2.5 hour drive from Chesterfield where we live and we hoped the whole way there that the weather would improve. When we left, the thermometer on the car registered 47 degrees. As we went over Afton Mountain near Charlottesville, the temperature dropped to 35 degrees…that’s not the way we hoped the temperature trend would go. When we pulled into the drive of Polyface Farms, the temperature was 40 degrees. And it was raining. The rain continued for most of the day but it didn’t put a damper on our visit.

We saw Daniel, Joel’s son, when we arrived. He said that his dad would be conducting the 2 hour “Lunatic Tour”. Joel arrived back at the farm about 45 minutes before the tour started. He had been in Florida for a week and was leaving for Michigan the next day. But yet, he still conducted the tour for the roughly 100 folks that showed up on this day of poor weather. That’s dedication. That’s how you can tell that someone is living a life that they are passionate about.

I am still in awe of the Polyface Farms operation. It is so simple and unglamorous, if that’s a word. It is everything that a farm should be. There are animals that are happy to be working, and people that mirror that happiness. How can an animal be happy to work? It’s simple…it’s in their inner being; it’s who they are. A chicken loves to scratch and peck and stretch its legs. A pig loves to root and run and play with other pigs. Beef cattle love to eat grass and chase each other and poop. Lots of poop. The bunnies love to eat grass and feel the grass under their feet. They love for people to feed them grass and that’s what people did. Including my kids.

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I love the simplicity of Polyface Farms. Look at the harepen that these bunnies are housed in. Chicken wire for the sides, sheet metal roofing, slatted floors so that they can eat the grass but not dig out. A bucket on the roof with a piece of rubber tubing provides them fresh water. A piece of wire covered in rubber tubing on the front of the harepen makes it easy to pull their accommodations to fresh grass. Again, so simple!

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And what is the result of this setup? Poop. The bunnies keep the grass mowed and fertilize the area as a result. There are fruit trees growing in this area and they are provided with a readily usable source of nutrients. Have a look for yourself.

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Now people that take issue with these bunnies ending up on someone’s dinner plate should consider Joel’s words (and I’m paraphrasing here): “My animal’s live a wonderful life and have one bad day”. That day, of course, is the day that they are slaughtered and end up as dinner. I think that the bunnies at Polyface Farms live a better life than those that are kept as backyard pets. Most of the backyard bunnies are kept in hutches off the ground and their little feet never touch the ground. There aren’t grass stains on their paws.

Back to the tour: we visited the broilers, the cows, the pigs and the layers in our 2 hour tour. We’ll dig deeper into these operations as the week continues. After the tour, Joel was kind enough to sign my copy of his book You Can Farm. I didn’t have a chance to read what he wrote until we arrived back home. Here it is:

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Oh yes you can. If you are interested in homesteading, check out the Homestead Barn Hop where you can discover people pursuing their dreams of living a simpler life. Click here for Part 2 of the Polyface Tour. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!