First I must apologize to my friend for not posting in a couple months! This time of year is hectic with baking, farmers markets, gardening or should I say weeding, taking care of everyone and all the critters. My goal is to post twice a week a least!
Earlier this month my son and I took a trip up to Virginia for our annual BrickFair convention and on the way home I planned a little detour to Swoop nears Staunton to visit Polyface Farms. Polyface is owned by Joel Salatin(famous author and speaker on sustainability) and his family. After reading two of his books, and on my third by the way, I wanted to get a first hand look at all the incredible methods of farming that he practices.
Now my dear Jonathan was not quite as excited as me to visit a farm but he knew he was going to have to make the best of it or sit in the car. We finally found the place, tucked away on the hills of a windy road in the incredibly, gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. Thank goodness for my copilot because GPS does not work there!!! As we pulled into the farm, we drove over a little wooden bridge, around pastures and up to the farm store near the main house. Jonathan and I walked into the little store and met Brie, one of the farms employees. Brie told us that we could walk the farm freely to see all of the buildings and animals except of course the house.
How cool is that! What well-known farmer will just tell ya” yeah go wander around and see what we do here”? First stop the younger rabbits and meat chickens. The first thing you notice when walking around is the amazing grass and wildflowers! Of course I would notice that huh? Here I am picking flowers and weeds and I am supposed to be looking at the animals. Jonathan by now thinks by now I am so weird. 🙂 Ok so I catch up with him by the bunnies where he is petting all the babies in their movable houses. Every animal on the property grazes…nice concept huh? They get a fresh salad bar each day or week, depending on the animal and the grass gets eaten down instead of bushhogging. The meat chickens were near by, kind of ugly not cute like the laying hens. But they grow fast! Did you know it only takes 8 weeks for meat chicken to be ready for butchering? Hmmm….can’t get attached to something you’ve only had for two months. But then again I am not ready for butchering my own chickens.
In the pictures you can see the meat chickens in the low metal houses. Next area of the farm was the baby chick house, they have so much room, lots of fresh air and no smell! The lack of foul odors is one of the first things you notice because the animals are all our grazing in the fresh air, with the exception of the baby chicks and the animals in the Raken House. The Raken House contains both chickens and rabbits. They cohabitate! The rabbits have cages up high, their poop drops below onto the chicken floor, the chickens scratch it into the dirt. The hens lay their eggs happily in their boxes and the roosters do what roosters do. All the critters have so much room and I noticed many hens outside up on the hill by the cows so I believe they swap out some to graze. You would have to check for sure with Polyface because I forgot to ask that question.
Moving on, we visit the pigs. Jonathan loved the pigs and kept taking pictures of them!!! The little pigs had their own area to hang out and eat, sleep, whatever. So stinking cute!!! I don’t know much about pigs…the medium size pigs were separate from the giant pigs. guess they were about ready for butchering. I cannot believe how large they get and they just laid around sleeping or rolling in the dirt.
I totally enjoyed my visit to Polyface and chatted briefly with Brie about the farm and medicinal herbs. she was quite busy so I needed to let her get back to work and us to be on our way home. so if you are ever in Virginia near Staunton, go check out Polyface!