I rounded up two of my own turkeys to join me for the tour – Krissy and Sara
We drove via bus (yay carpooling!) through the mountains to Polyface
Where we were greeted by Mr. Salatin himself…and a herd of cows!
The landscape there was incredible, and just breathing in the air and grassy smells lifted my spirits for the whole day
Joel told us about grass.
Last night at 5pm, this field looked as plentiful and overgrown as the one above it. The herbivores were hungry! He explained how cows are great at mobing (to protect them from predators) and mowing (eating grass down to its prime state to re-grow).
Joel moved the thin wire keeping the cattle to a specified plot of land (aka paddock) and made a noise that sounded like a turkey call. The cows ran after him and into the neighboring tall grass – it was amazing! The began munching immediately and spread out into the field.
We piled onto a massive hay wagon to continue to tour to see the chickens, turkeys and pigs. Polyface utilizes multispeciation to orchestrate symbiotic relationships between the sun, earth, grass and animals. I highly recommend reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma for more information on this – it’s fascinating. Also, Joel has a new book coming out in just a few days [and had just been interviewed for TIME magazine the day before!]
And headed across the land to another beautiful field. Joel calls farming “The Ballet Of The Pasture”
Here we saw chickens grazing under shelters.
What has always impressed me so much about Polyface Farm is its simplicity. Joel makes it seem to simple – he uses his brain to gently control the natural course of nature – cows, chickens, rest and sun to replenish. The entire farm is portable and made from very simple materials. This is especially important when considering the investment it takes to get a young farmer going in the industry as it is today. It takes half a million dollars to open a Tyson chicken coop. Joel said he had an intern who was given thousands of acres of land if he would just do something with it. The infrastructure used on Polyface are so simple, it means young people can get into farming with a minimal investment – and do it as nature intended at the same time.
Here is he demonstrating how easy the chicken shelters are to move 10 feet to fresh grass. One person asked what to look for or ask a farmer when you get to know them. He said to look for grass. If you see dirt, they aren’t moving their chickens enough. These chickens also had no odor – a sign they were being moved frequently.
The ballet of the pasture continued with the turkeys, who were quite different than the chickens. They had a huge wooden [mobile] cart that they use for shelter and very basic electric netting that keeps out every predator you can imagine.
Glad I wore my boots – things were about to get dirty
Hanging out with the pigs
They tried to eat him!
And then we saw the eggmobile
Joel shared that a group of eggs were sent to a lab to be tested a year ago.
Polyface eggs came back as having over 1000 µg of folic acid
FDA eggs came back as having 47 µg of folic acid
The RDA is 400 µg. Let that sink in for a minute. This is why nature knows best.
One chick-a-dee tried to peck my toes off!
Perhaps he was telling me to buy his book – that’s him!
I was thrilled to be able to say hi to Joel and shared my KERF business card with him. Today was such a great experience.
After our tour, we sat down to a boxed lunch featuring Polyface eggs – in the form of egg salad! I was thrilled to find my box labeled with “no raw onion” and also thrilled for a cup of hot apple cider!
Although I kind of wanted to eat this salad I sat next to. If it’s good enough for a cow’s salad bar, it’s good enough for me!