Tag Archives: polyface

5 Lessons in Hay from Joel

this was supposed to go up a few weeks ago…..


5 Lessons in Hay from Joel.



Joel said we would be doing a lot of hay this year on the farm-  It’s been pretty wet so we haven’t made to much but last week the forecast looked good… so…..

Sunday we baled about 1/2 of the ridge field which is right by Daniel and Sheri’s house. It had been cut on Thursday night and was going to be baled up on Monday and Tuesday but the weather changed to show rain for Monday. They tedded it (turned it over so it would dry) Friday and again on Saturday.  Then after church on Sunday Daniel hooked up to the rake and started raking. We joined as they started baling around 3 pm and for the next 3 hot (85) and muggy hours loaded bales. Around eight hundred big, heavy bales total. As we were finishing baling for the day (8 wagons total) Joel said that when they just got to the farm, the whole farm produced the same amount of hay that we had just baled in just a part of one field in that afternoon. Pretty phenomenal.


Couple lessons we learned-


-We make hay while the sun shines. We weren’t happy about it but Sunday the hay was ready and Monday it was going to rain. So we made hay on Sunday. And took it a little easier on Monday.


– Have a lot of wagons and a lot of places to park them under cover. This allowed us to plow through and make a ton of hay straight through without having to stop and unload. Take 5 minutes to switch wagons and then away we went again. We then unloaded starting at 6am Monday morning before the rain hit.

-We were using flat wagons with backs and stacking it. This allowed us to get more hay per wagon and made unloading a breeze. And wagons don’t have to be pretty-they just need to work. Polyface had a pretty motley array…


– Salting down hay. We put down around 50 lbs per wagon. It helps any hay that isn’t 100% dry cure properly. It also helps make it more palatable for the animals. I mean, you like salt on your food too, right?

– You know the old adage? Hay is for horses… Pigs would eat it but don’t know how? Well Polyface pigs do eat hay. See the below picture for proof. A few bales busted in the process and we threw them to the pigs.  They rushed it and fought over it.

Piggies chomping on hay

Yes, dreams do come true …

Jessica Reihl Photography

Big news in my life!! I applied for, and was accepted for, an 2012 internship at Polyface Farms, down in Virginia. It runs from June 1 through the end of September. I’ll be gone, but the farm will still run just as strong as ever. We’ve been working very hard over the last couple of months to train the crew, buy machinery, and implement procedures to make things easier while I’m gone.

Let me tell you the story …

Many of you remember last fall when Joel Salatin, co-owner, of Polyface farms, visited the farm. He’s a pretty big deal in the sustainable ag community, author of several books, subject of several films (“FRESH”  and “Food, Inc.”), and speaks worldwide on food and agricultural issues. A short video of his farm is here.  He’s been one of my heroes (and inspiration to start farming) ever since I read about him in Smithsonian magazine, back in 2000. His farm down in Virginia raises pastured beef, pigs, turkeys, broilers, layers and rabbits on more than 1,200 acres.

Last August, I applied for an internship at Polyface. I was accepted earlier this spring after a rigorous (tougher than Harvard) acceptance process. I’ll be blogging about the experience at my new blog, Michael-kilpatrick.com.

I did this for several reasons.

One of my dreams in life has been to internship there and I realized I’m not getting any younger. As the business grows in the next couple of years it’s not going to get any easier for me to do something like this.

Joel is an incredible innovator, speaker, communicator, and change agent. As one who wishes to change the direction of American agriculture I feel he would have an incredible amount to teach and share.

Polyface is a holistic, very integrated, animal, pasture-based farm. Their marketing channels are different than ours: buying clubs, wholesale, restaurants  and an on-farm store. The past two years or so, we have been looking to integrate much more closely with animals and expand our marketing channels, thus us raising broilers, hens, turkeys and pigs over the last couple of years. There’s nothing better than learning from the best.

Of course, the question everyone’s thinking is: How will the farm run while you’re gone?

We have a great team. I am no longer the only farmer at Kilpatrick Family Farm. I’m completely confident that our amazing team will manage splendidly while I’m gone. My brother Jonathan, has stepped back on board to run the fields, Keith will be making sure our amazing produce gets to market, and the rest of the crew (which we’ve supplemented with a few great hires) will be stepping up to make sure everything else gets done. We’ve got a great crew manning the markets and running the office. I’ve spoken to several grower friends of mine and they have agreed to drop by periodically and glance an experienced eye over things. We’ve invested heavily in some equipment this year to simplify and speed up weed control, harvesting and processing, and spraying. We’ve spent the last 3 months training people, writing things down, and simplifying tasks.

I’ll keep you updated on how the summer goes!!