Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Road trip - Polyface Farms!

I read about Polyface Farms in "The Omnivore's Dilemma". Located in southwest Virginia not far from Staunton, the Salatin family farm is renown for its sustainability methods. We traveled 125 miles beyond the furthest lodging of our road trip to visit this place today. It was so worth it! You can read all about the place at www.polyfacefarms.com

The farm is open. We parked in a small lot and wandered around the farm. In the fields, in the henhouses, in the pig barns. No signs said, "Do not enter." No one supervised our walk. It's a completely transparent operation.

First, the rabbits. They are friendly. Their enclosure has wooden slats on the bottom. It sits in the grass. The rabbits eat the grass through the slats and poop out the slats. Each day the enclosure is moved to fresh grass. The rabbit enclosure is between two greenhouse buildings, sheltered from the wind. No need to mow; by the time the rabbit enclosure gets back around to a site already used, the grass has grown back.

The pigs are friendly. They have enough room to move around and enough sun for a warm snooze. There is no odor in the pig barn because downed wood is put through a chipper and the chips are laid down in the barn. There's enough carbon in the wood chips for effective absorption. 

The cows are friendly. They graze on grass within moveable fencing. Every few days they're moved to fresh pasture.

Then an "Eggmobile" is moved into the used field. The hens range over the field, cleaning up after the cows and enriching the soil with their poop. They lay their eggs in the Eggmobile. Art went inside to look around. The hens were friendly!

Closer to the farmhouse, greenhouse-like structures house laying hens, young chickens, and babies. They have plenty of room. We wandered around inside each building.

In the laying boxes.

A bragging hen.

One down, one to go.


Snuggling chicks.

Under the warmer.

The Salatins slaughter the chickens they sell. The area was immaculate.

Other farm stuff. All organic, of course, and sustainably grown

Indoors, after the chickens.

Broccoli under the straw.

We visited the store after our wander and met Joel Salatin's wife.  I asked her if he likes touring around the country giving talks.  She said, "Yes, so far." Very nice lady, friendly, she answered all my other questions, too!

So glad we got to see this place!


Teresa Evangeline said...

It sounds like it was well worth the road time. It is heartening, to know there are folks who have these farms. Have a great vacation!

DJan said...

One day I hope to see Polyface Farms. Thank you for the visit, I learned about the entire idea from Pollan's book. And to find out it works as advertised, that is the best part! Everybody and everything looks so happy!

This has just made my day, Linda. Thank you! :-)

Olga said...

I remember that book. Thank-you so much for sharing your visit. I am tickles that it is "as advertised."

Arkansas Patti said...

I have been a suscriber to Mother Earth News for many years and love seeing people actually walking the talk.
If one didn't have to eat what you raised, I'd have done a smaller version. I get too attached.
Pigs are normally clean animals. It is man is who makes them dirty and smelly by the conditions they force them to live in.
Love this post.

Out on the prairie said...

What an amazing find, i love all of it

Ms Sparrow said...

How nice to see healthy chickens living in humane circumstances. When they show those poor scraggly, dirty chickens packed into cages on factory farms, it makes me sick!

Galen Pearl said...

What a great farm! I used to think it would be great to have what I called a dude farm, modeled after a dude ranch. People could come visit and learn about good farming practices and see where their food comes from. Great for city kids, especially.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

That's really cool. One of those have to see it to believe it type things but it is nice to read that some farms still ensure their animals have at least a quality of life under their care until they are sold for food. Great pictures!

Sally Wessely said...

This was all very interesting. I'm sure the place was fascinating.

Jennifer said...

That's it. I'm going too. I don't care if I have to walk. I am going to get there. One day... Can't wait to chat in person about all these fun photos!

Deere Driver said...

I'm quite jealous of this part of your trip. Glad it was wonderful and all we read about in the book.

My farm is going on the market :( Hubby is transfered back to CT. Just as my business was sustaining itself!

Time for a new adventure I guess.