The road to Polyface
Polyface Polyface is, it seems, is in the middle of nowhere. Tightly gripping my phone, I drove the last 10 miles from the highway. Granted, the country is beautiful. Rolling hills, covered in either waving grasses and black angus, hay on the ground or being baled, or hardwoods spread off to each side. The very narrow black ribbon of road in front of me darts and dances between or over the hills. Grasses line each side, spilling out into the road. You’ll round a bend, find yourself in a neighbors barnyard, with chickens running about, a tractor parked barely off the road. Then through the woods, along a steep sidehill, and down to the creek that separates the farm from the road.
One of the things you’ll notice right away about Polyface is there is a LOT of activity going on. Crews showing up from other farms to process chickens, customers picking up orders, Richard coming to pickup another box truck of product for the buying clubs or restaurants, film crews, celebrities (sorry, sworn to secrecy….) contractors showing up to do work (they’re building a new pond), the neighbor showing up to cut hay, deliveries, visitors…..
One of Joel's Lunatic Tours
Yes, the visitors… I’ve probably had my picture taken more in the last 3 days than in the last year. 🙂 I’ve met people from a number of states so far, customers as well as people just interested in how the farm runs. Joel and Daniel made it clear that part of the reason we’re here is for the visitors and that we are on display, modeling to the world how safe, clean, environmentally responsible food is produced.
We start chores at 5:45, pretty much walking everywhere we go. Walking. I think all of us have a new appreciation for how to walk, FAST. I thought I walked fast, as on our farm, I usually have to slow down for people, but here, I’m lagging. Joel likes to say that he farmed for 10 years without a four-wheeler and that we should learn to use our legs too. 🙂 I definitely see the point. When the situation requires, we’ll jump into the truck or take one of the four-wheelers, say to collect the eggs, but most of the time, fast walking will get us there cheaper and faster than a machine.
Breakfast is at 7:30, most of the time the first one off will throw eggs and sausage onto the griddle, we’ll inhale that as well as copious amounts of apple juice and raw milk, before getting back out to start the morning. Then back in for lunch, where if we haven’t crock-potted something, it’s usually hotdogs or sandwiches. Chores start at 4 or 5 which involves feeding and watering up to 40 pens of broilers again, collecting, sorting and packing the eggs and closing everything up for the night. Then it’s on to dinner. Brie, the farm chef, has proved herself very capable and has turned out amazing food. All made from scratch, from on-farm meats, eggs and vegetables. Then we collapse, usually grabbing a shower and going to bed.
The intern team has been a joy to work with. Daniel says they are getting better and better at picking the right ones, and it is true. Eight of the nicest, friendliest, funniest, most trusting people from places such as Oregon, Ohio, Connecticut, Australia, and Colorado are here with me and we’re fast becoming friends. I’m incredibly privileged to be working with the cream of the crop, as the acceptance rate here is more stringent than Harvard and Yale. And yes, we have a Yale graduate interning here this year…..