ANS: Day 4

Howdy from Scranton, PA!  It was a long and awesome day!  We woke up early this morning, since the hotel alarm thought we needed to have a dance party at 6:30am.  I definitely wasn't ready to wake up since Corbin kept attacking my neck last night (RANDOM!?  I don't know what his deal was) but all good, because we were able to get the car loaded and down to breakfast as soon as the dining room opened.  We had an awesome waiter and while I thought that the people in the swanky hotel would be anti-kids, they were all actually very kind and even happy to talk to the kids.  I sense another trip to Staunton, Virginia in our future, truly!  Maybe we will find a place to stay there for a month or so if daddy deploys.

We left the hotel in very overcast weather.  We all said a quick prayer that the weather would be clear enough for us to explore the farm and take a million and two pictures.   Even though it poured on the way there, by the time we pulled up it was only sprinkling.
The drive out was spectacular, the Shenandoah Valley is as stunning as the mountains surrounding it!  The farm is nestled in these rolling green patchwork hills.  The kids were completely stoked when we pulled up. 

I have read a few of Joel Salatin's books and we've listened to/watched lots of his speaking engagements.  I had a vision in my head of what Polyface would look like and this was not it.  It was even better!  Pulling up and walking around while busy people waved and smiled was like coming home.  The first thing to greet us as we followed the "Parking" signs was the smell of a smoke house (intoxicating) and a couple cages full of bunnies.  

After we parked, the kids ran after the bunnies (and fed them weeds they picked) and I checked out the greenhouses.  The setup is really quite simple and remarkable.  There are wood planks at the bottom to keep out pests and to add some weight, with chicken wire and then the material over the top of the hoop house to keep the warm air in.  The doors were very sturdy and on casters.  Clearly the plants were started early in the season, as they were big and happy and healthy.
 They had drip irrigation installed, but everything was planted right in the ground.  I like this idea a lot.  It's not new, but I always think of shelves in greenhouses, so it was inspiring to see in action.

 The tomato plants were tied up with string and this greenhouse had basil, too (sounds like delicious summer salads and sauces!) There were also rabbit cages on the side on the wall, so the rabbits drop the manure and the manure can be used as fertilizer.  Ingenious!
We explored the rest of the farm and the country store over the course of the next 90 minutes before the storm rolled in.
A very large chicken and rabbit party.  I believe these are just some of the egg laying chickens and all the meat chickens are up in the pasture in the rolling coops

The colors are so stunning against the stormy backdrop

 We didn't notice the brooder, but a nice worker (farm boy?  I'm not sure what to call him...) pointed it out to us and even got some chicks and poults for the kids to hold. 

Violet was so at-home

babies in the brooder

check out the clouds rolling in!

This was in the country store.  That chicken puzzle next to Violet is all jig-sawed from wood.  Someone has some serious skills!
The store was so spacious and cute and well-organized.  We picked up Joel's new DVD- Pigs n Glens and a coloring book as well as some yummies.  they have a shirt I want, but not in my size, so I'm going to have to stalk the website

Pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken, eggs OH MY!
  I can't link the meat sales because Joel and family only sell locally.  They are big into the local food movement and believe in knowing your food producers.  I bought some meat because we happened to be local to Polyface for today ;) It's in the freezer in our room right now and we plan to surprise Allan with some amazing steaks to grill on our first weekend together in months. (the packing weekend doesn't count!)
 While we were putzing around the store, we had to ask where the piggies were, because the kids were begging.  The lady there was super sweet and directed us to the large map and showed us where we could go to see the pigs.  She also showed me where we could walk to to see the pigs and cows on pasture if we wanted to brave it.  We had a long drive ahead, so I was willing to tucker these little people out, dragging them all over God's green earth!
Note the good little piggies inside the coop on the right?  Note the naughty little pig on the left that my children chased all over that barn.  "Why is that pig not wif hims mommy!?  I will put him wif hims mommy!" 
On the way up the hill to see the animals at pasture, Corbin was not listening and walking places I told him not to walk.  He found a drainage area and sunk in to his shins.  I made him walk up the hill to clean his shoes just a bit.  He was not the least bit happy, but he didn't walk off the path I told him to keep again!

GraceAnne has been on the "I want to be a farmer in these mountains!" kick since Day 2, when we started driving into some mountain terrain.  Today she said, "Is farming hard work?" and we talked about how much hard work it takes to raise animals and plants and make your living off the land.  Then she said, "Do farmers ever get a break?"  I reminded her that when we had our hens it was hard to leave town, because even when we're tired or it's cold, the animals still needed us.  But we also remembered fun things about our hens.  A little further into the walk, we found these farmers' break behind the chicken shed:
A little b-ball between chores is nice

We couldn't make it all the way out to pasture, because once we got to the top of the hill, a boy about GraceAnne's age told us he'd go back down the hill if he were us, since there was a nasty storm coming in.  We thanked him for his advice and turned back.  GraceAnne and Violet were so nervous about the "tornado" he mentioned that they ran down the hill and Violet lost her shoe.  We couldn't find it.  We had great luck with shoes today!
The girls are halfway to New York by now...haha

That busy, fidgety, independent spirited little boy found out WHY momma told him to stay away from the fences today...

 The honeysuckle was in full bloom and the place smelled like heaven anywhere you couldn't smell the smoker. (Which, incidentally, smelled like the feasting table of heaven)  Too bad we don't have that Smell-O-Vision yet...

When we came back down the hill the kids "needed" to see the bunnies again

Our car, loaded down on the farm.  Rolling hills, dark skies, simply breathtaking!
And then, reluctantly, because the skies were growing darker and the time was slipping away and we needed to get to Scranton, we loaded up and drove away.  I have dreamed a long time of visiting this place and I hope I get to come back one day.  It would be so wonderful to do an internship here.  Allan and I have even discussed him doing one when he was unemployed so that we could learn how to do all these things and replicate them.  Like I said in the Day 3 post, our lives look different than we imagined them right now, as we are basically transient for however long he keeps this job, but we know that the earth calls us to itself too strongly to let this go on forever.  Maybe in a few years our "vacation time" will be a basketball hoop behind the chicken house and a pool in the yard (sorry, didn't get a picture...) but until them I'm grateful for places like Polyface that provide us with the awesome food, knowledge and hospitality. 

Tonight we are in another amazing hotel (WHY did I not ever know about the government rates before!?) in Scranton, PA and we ate pastured chicken, heirloom tomatoes, sprouted whole wheat pasta and other local, fresh food for dinner off the hotel menu.  The taste difference truly is remarkable (and the fact that none of our bellies hurt for the first time all week is pretty remarkable, too!) and without places like Polyface Farm, we couldn't have such authentic food experiences.  So-take the time to find your local farmers and encourage them by supporting their business and getting to know them.  Sometimes the food they have is a little more expensive than what you would pick up from your local big-box store, but I guarantee you it is far tastier and if that's not enough motivation, it probably won't give you cancer.  This daughter of a celiac figures that is more than reason enough!  
Thanks for stopping by today! 


Anonymous said...

yesterday laughing... today crying... Love you! Renae

Sheri Salatin said...

Absolutely beautiful post and account of your visit. We are honored. Your pictures are wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing!