Week 14: PIDS & Meetings

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[Editor’s Note: Between car issues, not getting internet, waiting to talk to family before making an announcement – stay tuned – I haven’t posted in a minute. BUT I WROTE POSTS. I PROMISE. They will go live, one per day, until the blog is caught up! Enjoy. 🙂 ]

Week 14 has come and gone, and it’s been a weird one. On one hand, it’s been a stressful week with several evenings spent driving around aimlessly to think things through. On the other hand, it’s been a pretty chill week, with way more “downtime” than usual. I say “downtime”, but we’ve been busy….just in a different way.

Basically, now that PIDS is over, it is time for a whole bunch of meetings for leadership. Some of these meetings don’t involve us, but some of them do – specifically, the meetings regarding our future plans. Leadership takes the time and energy to meet with every steward individually to not only discuss the steward’s future career plans, but to see how Polyface can help, as well as address any issues that might have arisen. It’s a future planning meeting, but also a check-in with the steward to see how things are going. Leadership is also meeting with a whole bunch of other staff during this time, so they’re pretty darn busy. This, combined with the excessive rain stemming from the hurricane, means that we weren’t starting any major projects this week, but everyone was stressed out about their meeting with the Salatins.

Some people were nervous about the meetings, but other people (hi) were just stressed out about deciding what to do next. I don’t make decisions lightly, and typically take a lot of time to ponder and mull over my options before voicing my intentions. Even when I’m pretty sure I know what I want to do (like in this case), I’m always hesitant to give voice to it, at least until I go through ALL of my options and all of my reasoning and identify all of my motivations. This requires time for introspection, and given that we are working on a farm and have very little free time during the day, this meant spending a good chunk of time just driving around late at night when I would normally be sleeping. So I was pretty tired this week.

But nevertheless, we did some pretty awesome things, and I would say it was a great week. Pretty much every week here is a great week. That’s not me exaggerating or putting a positive spin on things, it’s just the way it is.

Monday: Feed Mills and Ammo

Eric had a nice surprise for us on Monday: we were going to tour the feed mill where Polyface orders poultry and pig feed! I’ve mentioned before that part of the educational component of the stewardship involves touring different farm-related enterprises, and this was the next stop on our list.

Sunrise turns locally grown grain into feed for a variety of animals. They only use non-GMO feed, and although they are not certified organic and don’t require their contributing farms to be organic, they do test regularly for pesticide residues in keeping with the ideas behind sustainable agriculture.

In addition to the mill, they have an on-farm store where they sell meat and honey that they produce on their land. Although the mill is the main backbone of their operation, they also run cows, pigs, turkeys, and laying hens. Not only did we get an official tour of the mill, but we got to visit their livestock and see how they have applied concepts of regenerative agriculture to their own operation. Interestingly, they have converted conventional poultry houses into barns and structures to use for farrowing, after adding a LOT of carbonaceous bedding and ventilation. It’s really cool to see something like a conventional poultry house be repurposed for responsible, humane practices.

A lot of us stewards were super interested in the farrowing process, since that is something that Polyface contracts out (primarily to a former apprentice). We spent a good deal of time discussing things with some of the farmers at Sunrise, and it was neat to get different perspectives on farming.

We finished the tour just in time for the effects of the hurricane to reach the Shenandoah Valley – pouring rain. Lucky for us and our desire to remain dry-ish, Eric had also planned on letting us visit a gun store that was located near the feed mill to stock up on ammo and drool over guns we wanted to buy.

Guns are fun, y’all.

After a (very) late lunch, we dashed through the ongoing rain to the egg room to meet up with everyone and hear about the plan for the afternoon. We divided into two teams: one group was going to do inventory work in the freezer and catch chickens at a rental farm to ship off to the USDA processing plant, and the other would snap beans for Sylvia (the chef), load chicken crates onto a trailer for the aforementioned chicken catching, and handle afternoon chores. I volunteered for beans/crates/chores (I like chores, remember?), and had an enjoyable time sitting on a cooler and snapping beans with Lauren, Sarah, and Gabi, swapping stories and getting into a big philosophical discussion. Then I loaded crates, watered broilers, and washed eggs. To my delight, the rain backed off a little bit in time for chores, and although I got wet, I didn’t get drenched.

After dinner, I took a long drive, blasting the radio and considering my future plans. It was a good thing, and I came to a few conclusions about what exactly I wanted, just in time for the meeting I expected to have the next day.

Tuesday: Vegetables, Brooder Prep, Chores with Lydia

Tuesday brought another strange day. First of all, we had received a ton of rain, and morning broiler chores took place in a wet field of awful (again. Somehow, I always seem to be on broiler chores during rainy weeks).

It wasn’t nearly as wet as that one time when I had to deal with rivers of chickens, but the birds were wet and unhappy and difficult to get to move. It’s Week 14 though, and I had a number of strategies at my disposal – far more than I had in the beginning of the summer. I’m proud to say that I moved the whole row of shelters without running over or injuring a single bird (not always easy in the rain when the birds don’t want to move and let themselves get run over by the dolly…). This includes one particular shelter that I had to pull double the distance due to a pool of water. I made the birds walk through the water – which they did not want to do – to get to dry-ish ground. It took time and patience (I did not meet the 3 minute per shelter benchmark today), but it worked, and it didn’t take too long.

It was also super nice that Daniel came out to broilers this morning and helped with feed, while Charlie helped with water (Charlie only had five shelters in his row this week – instead of the usual ten – so he was helping me when he was done). Daniel had come out to decide how many shelters of broilers we would be butchering the next day and, as always, I’m impressed and appreciative of the tendency of all of the leaders to jump in with mundane tasks (like feeding chickens) whenever possible. No task is considered too small or unimportant here, and the attitude is one that I thrive under.

After breakfast, Eric had come up with a great rainy day task for everyone – preserving vegetables! Our garden is overrunning us with squash, zucchini, and beans, so he decided to leverage the team’s labor to cut, blanch, vacuum pack, and freeze countless vegetables for use over the winter. I love cooking and preservation, so I was thrilled with this unusual change of pace. I diced buckets and buckets of summer squash, then took a turn standing over the outdoor propane stove blanching veggies. Being able to do the preservation outside is a game changer – it wasn’t too hot and there was no steamy, stuffy kitchen.

In the afternoon, the sun was out again, and I was glad…but I also had mixed feelings. The original plan had been to have our one-on-one meetings with the Salatins during the rainy afternoon, but since the weather was okay, Daniel would be working on a big cow move instead. The new plan was to have our meeting during chicken processing tomorrow.

Waiting is hard. But also, sunshine is good. Like I said, mixed feelings.

I ended up on a team with Steward Daniel, Gabi, Brandon, Charlie, and Lydia to get chicks out on pasture at a rental farm and prep the brooder (also at a rental farm) for the next batch of chicks. I’ve done this job numerous times and I always like it, although I’m used to doing it at the main Polyface farm, not on the rental farm.

There was a little confusion surrounding which vehicles we were taking, and I leaned the shovels and other brooder prep tool up against an unhitched crate trailer as we were figuring it out. Then I left them there until we were halfway to the rental farm, when I suddenly remembered that we kind of needed those tools.

This is not like me – I don’t normally forget things. In fact, remembering random stuff is my strong suit, so I was pretty mad at myself. I blame lack of sleep. Which is entirely my fault.

Since it was my fault, I took it upon myself to drive back to the main farm to retrieve the tools while the rest of the people caught chicks (a job I really like and was sad to miss). Buuuttt…it worked out, because when I got there, Eric stopped me and asked if I could take the tan truck (a farm truck) and the dump trailer in order to haul a load of sawdust to the off farm brooder.

We normally dump sawdust in our brooder on the main farm, but use bundles purchased from Tractor Supply on the rental farm. Eric thought that we could try dumping sawdust this time (it’s cheaper than the bundles because typically it’s free from various places around town that produce sawdust, like an organ shop and a cabinet store).

The dump trailer is a small trailer – much smaller than the cattle trailer, which I’ve pulled to haul pigs around before. But I have never pulled a trailer by myself, without somebody more experienced sitting in the passenger seat, or at least following behind me in a different truck, ready to jump in if something goes horribly wrong.

Eric’s words were: “Hey Jess! Would you mind taking the dump trailer to Shane’s brooder? You’ve done really well pulling the trailers so far; I’m perfectly comfortable to let you take the dump trailer over there on your own.”

These words were incredibly gratifying. I suck at equipment stuff. I’ve been trying very hard to get better at equipment stuff, and forcing myself to volunteer to drive places. And now I was being entrusted with a trailer and farm truck, by myself, without even another steward along for the ride. I simply nodded and said I could do it, but inside I was jumping up and down like a little kid.

On top of that, when I got to the rental farm, I got to back up the dump trailer to the brooder. It was not a straight shot – I had to back it up between to buildings, then turn it so that it would face the big sliding door of the brooder. It took me several tries, and some hand motions from Shane – the contract farmer at the rental farm – on where to go, but I did it.

By the time all of this was done, the team was pretty much done catching chickens and the boys headed out in the box truck to take the chicks out to pasture. Meanwhile, Lydia, Gabi, and I stayed to prep the brooder.

It was quite an adventure. The rental farm brooder only has one access point for the dump trailer, so we had to dump/shovel the sawdust out of the trailer, then move it across the whole brooder. We were shoveling into the wind, so a decent bit of sawdust was blowing back in our faces. Lydia and I were shoveling out the trailer and laughing as we watched each other get completely covered in dust, stopping periodically to protect our eyes.

Finally though, we managed to get the fresh sawdust spread and the brooder prepped. I drove the truck and trailer back to the farm, and backed it up to the shop per Eric’s instructions. It was kinda cockeyed and crooked, but it was basically where it was supposed to be and I was glad. Then Lydia and I tag teamed broiler chores and egg washing.

That night at dinner, there was a guest at Polyface who specializes in Zig Ziglar leadership seminar stuff, as well as having a farm of his own. He gave us a presentation after dinner about goal setting and leadership, which was aptly timed given the one-on-one meetings that had been rescheduled for tomorrow. It was pretty interesting and after helping with dishes, I drove around some more to synthesize some of what he had recommended into the introspective work I had already done.

Wednesday: Processing Day…with Meetings! And Cows!

Wednesday brought our usual processing day, and I worked on QC and tried to distract Sarah from the upcoming one-on-one meetings by talking energetically about all sorts of icebreaker-ish topics, like “how would you build and your dream house” and “if you could take a two week trip anywhere, where would go” and other similar subjects. I was so busy trying to distract her that I forgot to think about the meeting myself. Although I had spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what I wanted to do after this summer stewardship ends, I had spent approximately zero time thinking about the actual meeting itself. I really didn’t have any expectations for it, except that I figured the Salatins would be great, because they usually are.

When we were about halfway done processing, they let us know that they were ready, and we just trickled into Joel and Teresa’s house to talk when we had a spare minute. I ended up going toward the end, since I naturally waited until the processing and clean up was done to go. As expected, the Salatins were great – we talked for awhile, and they were super wonderful and supportive.

During the afternoon, I worked on the assembly line packaging whole broilers, jumping around between stations. To my delight, Eric asked Oleg and I to head to a rental farm at chore time in order to help Tim, a contract farmer, with a difficult cow move. I love the cows, and am always thrilled to go do cow stuff.

When we got there, Tim wasn’t quite ready, so we ended up helping him set up some temporary fence first. Tim has slightly different techniques than Gabe, and it was really nice to get another perspective and another person’s set of tips on how to make the job easier and more efficient. And – of course – I love actually moving the cows. They were moving across the main road, which is why Tim had requested a couple extra people from Polyface. We needed to move them quickly and without any of the busting through the bluff, since we were blocking traffic to conduct the move.

Everything went super well, and we spent a little extra time helping Tim get everything finished before getting back to Polyface just in time for dinner.

Thursday: Turkey Feeders, Fence, Shop Talk, Pig

Thursday began with our usual shop talk with Buzz and Jonathan, and this week was my turn to experience Welding 101. I’ve observed welding but this was my first chance to actually try it…and it was really hard. But also really, really, really cool. I made a plaque with my initials on it. It looks like a kindergartener did it. But it was awesome.

Given all the meetings and stuff this week, there wasn’t a whole lot going on after the shop talk. We watched Daniel helping his son with sheep stuff – they’re being retrained to electric net this week – and then divided up for some quick, miscellaneous projects before lunch. Isaiah and I ended up going up the mountain to put a loose pig back into it’s paddock, which was surprisingly quick and easy.

After lunch, Steward Daniel and I went on a mission to check and repair electric fence in two different fields. Eric knew of several broken sections and gate handles, and wanted those fixed and the rest checked and fixed if needed. I’ve mentioned before that I really like doing fence work, and I was excited to do this particular task. I also wanted more practice repairing this particular style of fence, since I’ve done it before but never a lot at one time.

It was a great afternoon. We started off working extremely carefully, and checking ourselves against existing gate handles and posts to make sure we were twisting the wire properly. As we got into it though, our confidence increased and we repaired a whole bunch of stuff. It was like a puzzle to figure out what was wrong in different places and to try and leverage as much scrap wire as possible to fix it, instead of using brand new wire.

As we worked, we watched dark, ominous clouds start to roll over the mountains, and we looked at each other, silently agreeing to work as quickly as we could. Lightning and thunder started to flash, and I started running between fence posts. Finally we finished, and I laid onto the ATV’s throttle to get back to the shop, pulling into the (covered) parking area, just as the first drops started to fall, accelerating rapidly into a huge downpour.

Eric had leveraged the rest of the team into starting chores early in anticipation of the weather, so Steward Daniel and I – along with Charlie and Isaiah – started working on building more turkey feeders. We were pretty much left on our own, since we had all worked on this before to some extent (though I had only seen part of the process), and we all spent the next couple of hours laughing, joking, and building a bunch of feeders, start to finish, which was pretty cool. I was once again reminded of how enjoyable it is to work on a team with people I consider friends.

But the work wasn’t done: After dinner, a couple of the guys went off to catch roosters for processing, a couple people did dishes, and Eric asked for volunteers to unload a truck of chicken that was due to arrive back from the processing plant around 8:30. I volunteered for the truck unloading, and spent some time hanging out with Steward Daniel, Isaiah, and Brandon before we all headed down to help. Eric joined us, and we spent about an hour unloading the truck onto pallets and getting things packed away into the freezer. It was pleasantly cool and dry outside, although we could see lightning flashing in the distance as we headed back up to the hunt camp to go to sleep. We’ve been lucking out on missing the brunt of the rain all week, but being able to enjoy the cooler temperatures and frequent thunderstorms.

Friday: I Go to Washington D.C

Friday was another processing day at the farm, but it was my turn to join Grace on a buying club run. All the stewards spend one Friday accompanying Grace. She drives to neighborhood drops 3-4 days per week to deliver food. Customers order online, pre-pay, and then come to the drop point during their time slot to pick up their food. She delivers all over the place, driving up to four hours from the farm to provide food to various neighborhoods.

Buying Club Day is very unusual for us stewards. It is the only time that we don’t do our normal chores. Instead, we dress in nice jeans and a Polyface T-shirt, pack a lunch, and meet Grace down at the truck at 6am. Today, we were driving all the way to Washington D.C. to make two separate drops – a 4 hour trek, one way.

Although I’m not a big fan of driving or being in the car, accompanying Grace was incredibly fun. Grace uses the time to really get to know each of us individually, and we talked non-stop pretty much the entire day. We also stopped to buy coffee – always a treat, especially when I haven’t had boughten coffee since coming to Polyface.

It was also pretty cool to see the customers that make a point to come out to the neighborhood drop and purchased (literally) hundreds of dollars of meat. Each drop point occurs once per month, so some of the orders are pretty sizeable.

Each customer’s order is pre-packed into a cooler and placed in the box truck. Grace and I unloaded all of the coolers and laid them out at the drop point – typically the driveway of a “host” family. Then, as each customer arrives, we let them know which cooler is theirs, and hand them their “extras” – eggs, vegetables, cheese, etc. They unload the meat and other items from our coolers into their own, and leave. Then we pack up all the empty coolers onto the box truck, and go onto the next drop. Today, the first drop was pretty big so the customers had an hour to come get their stuff. The second drop was smaller, so the window was only a half hour.

I enjoyed interfacing the customers. The demographic of folks buying Polyface product in DC was substantially different from the demographic that typically comes out to the farm, and it was pretty cool to see the wide range of people that Polyface reaches and unites as a source of sustainable food. There are people with Bernie stickers and Trump stickers on their cars, people wearing masks and not wearing masks, old people, young people, hipster people, hippie people, business people, and working class people. But all these people care about local food, whether for their personal health, the environment, buying local, or some other reason. In a time of stark division in America, it is nice to see first-hand a semblance of unity and cooperation among ideologically different groups.

After the last drop we had a little extra time, so Grace offered to drive past the Capitol building so I could see D.C. I’ve never been to our nation’s capitol, and I was super excited to see the Capitol Building, Pentagon, and various monuments in person. Although we were working so we weren’t stopping to walk around or do touristy stuff, just getting to see it was pretty neat, and I can now say that I’ve been there, in person, to see where all the ridiculous laws are passed (haha). It was pretty close to where we were for the drop, so it was nice addition to the day’s trip.

We got back and unloaded the truck just in time for dinner, and I was in the middle of a vibrant conversation with Steward Daniel and Gabi when the rain started to fall. There are frequent storms in the valley – especially this week – so at first we didn’t think much of it. We just talked louder to be heard over the sound of rain on the metal roof. When the wind started to blow and we felt a mist of rain on our backs despite being under the covered pavilion, we just shrugged and moved the banana bread that Sylvia had prepared for dessert further toward the center of the structure. No big deal, just another 15-20 minute valley storm.

At least, that’s what we thought until a gust of wind ripped the shade cloth pavilion “wall” out of the ground and blew several stacks of plastic chairs over and onto all the people. And then proceeded to blow stoneware dishes off of the table.

And…just like that we all leapt up to get things packed away. The wind was fierce sending a pelting, pouring rain ripping sideways through the pavilion. We all had different ideas over what to save, which actually worked out really well. Lauren ran to protect the banana bread, while I had visions of glass breaking and cutting Eric’s little kids and rushed to grab all the glasses. Brandon and Isaiah ran the pans of leftover food into the kitchen, and Teresa pulled up a car to get Grandma under cover.

With all of the running around, driving rain, and trips to and from the kitchen, we were all quickly soaked through to the skin. The rain was falling so quickly that it overwhelmed the drain system on the pavilion and a river started winding its way across the floor, creating a flood. I ran around the yard collecting lids and trash that had blown away in the sudden gust, and joined Daniel Salatin, Oleg, Brandon, and Charlie under the Pavilion, watching the crazy storm. Lightning was cracking and thunder was booming. The rest of the team was in the kitchen, getting a start on dishes and staying sheltered from the storm.

I could not stop laughing. We were SHOUTING at each other in an attempt to be heard over the rain, and I asked Daniel if we should check the animals. He said I could check the broilers after the rain let up, and then someone ran up yelling about little Lauryn’s chickens being out – the storm had ripped the lid right off of the shelters, and they had burst out in panic.

As the rain finally started to let up, we followed Daniel and his sons out to catch the chickens. We ended up needing to move the shelters out of pools of standing water. One pool was so deep that it went over the top of my boot when I stepped into it, sending water all over my foot. Then we ran around cornering the (quick, heritage breed) chickens between us and getting them back into the shelters.

It probably sounds terrible, but it was actually really fun. The storm was just so insane, and everyone was so sodden, that the whole thing was kind of hilarious. We all took bets on how much water would be in the rain gauge before dispersing to check the various livestock. Daniel’s kids went to check their individual animals (sheep and ducks), while Oleg and I ran to check on the broilers. Other stewards finished cleaning up the pavilion and the kitchen.

In fact, it was all so much fun that the fun didn’t end with making sure the animals were okay. After Oleg and I were done with broilers, I went back to the kitchen to retrieve my water bottle, and ended up in a lively conversation that lasted all the way through the rest of the dishes, a trip to the walk in fridge to pick up the 8 1/2 gallons of milk that the stewards order every week, and Teresa’s house to get more laundry soap for the hunt camp. In fact, after changing into dry clothes and taking full advantage of the fact that it was my laundry day so I got first crack at the washer and dryer, I ended up hanging out (with Grace) at the boys until after 10pm, coming down off the excitement created by the sudden and crazy storm.

Saturday: Farms Don’t Have Days Off

On Saturday, I took my first day completely off since early June.

I love farm work and I genuinely have enjoyed helping out on my weekends off. But I figured that after PIDS and our plan-the-future meetings, I could use a day to just relax. So I forced myself to not help with chores and to just spend some time relaxing. I had originally planned on going hiking, but when I woke up to a steady rain, I decided to hang out in my pajamas, read, and write instead.

I still need to take another day off to go hiking. Maybe in September.

After making some phone calls back home to family and stopping by the grocery store and seeing that it was after 5pm, I decided to swing by the farm to help wash eggs. It would only be a few minutes of “work,” after all, and I wanted to talk to some of the working stewards about plans for the evening anyway. Jonathan and Hannah (a couple who are both on staff here at Polyface) had invited all of the stewards and apprentices over for a bonfire, and I wanted to check on carpooling and stuff.

So I washed a basket of eggs and worked out the details for the evening. I kept shaking my head over how groggy I felt after not really doing anything all day, but I knew that the rest was probably going to be good for me After all, I had been tired all week; extra sleep was a good choice. I figured I’d come back from the bonfire around 10pm and go straight to bed. If I naturally woke up in time for chores Sunday, I’d help, but I wasn’t planning to set an alarm or anything – this was my weekend well and truly OFF.

You know what they say: “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

I carpooled with a group of other stewards over to Jonathan and Hannah’s house, arriving just as the first drops of rain were falling. They invited us inside to wait it out, and we ended up never making it out to a fire because the rain just kept on going, getting harder and harder. But that’s alright, because we were having a pretty good time – a group of stewards were playing a board game, several people were in the kitchen, and I was drinking coffee (decaf) and hanging out in the living room with Hannah, Gabe, Christina (Gabe’s wife), and their kids. We were all having such a good time that the whole leave-at-ten thing didn’t exactly happen. It was probably about 10:30 when the three boys who were officially working the weekend (Jon, Charlie, and Oleg) decided to head out, and I snagged a ride from them since the group I came with were still in the middle of a board game.

As soon as we left Jonathan and Hannah’s house, Oleg backed his truck into…a river. Well, it was the road, technically, but it looked like a river. There had been so much rain, so quickly, on already saturated ground, that all the roads were flooding really bad. Thankfully, we were in a nice big truck, and driving home was kind of fun instead of potentially dangerous. We all kept exclaiming over how crazy the rain was and pointing at flooded landmarks.

When we were almost back to Polyface, I suggested that we check on the farm and make sure all the animals were okay. After some discussion we decided that everything was probably fine, since the broilers were on top of a hill and the other animals weren’t really at risk, but it would be cool to see how high the river had risen. Oleg crossed the bridge onto farm property and we all oohed and ahhed over the height of the Branch. He drove past Joel’s house and the shop, and we noted that everything looked alright.

But as his truck rounded the bend and shone it’s headlights on the sales building, all we could see was a river of water rushing over the front porch…and into the store.

All four of us jumped out of the truck and splashed through the water to look inside. Just as we’d feared, the entire store was flooded, sitting under about a foot of water…with more rushing in.

Despite having no real idea what to do, we acted quickly. Charlie hopped on an ATV and sped up the hill to get Daniel. Jonathan rushed around the side of the building to shut the ever-open doors to the front porch to stop the onslaught of water. Oleg ran around the back of the building to open an exit door to the processing shed, in hopes that the water would flow through the store and exit, instead of building up inside. And I ran into the office to get things – especially important things, like paperwork and computers – sufficiently off the floor.

Then the three of us stood in the flooded building staring at the water. We had created a path for it, but that seemed like all we could do – there was no stopping it entirely. We looked at each other for a few minutes, then Oleg jumped and yelled at us to get out of the store – it had just occurred to him that the water might reach an electric wire, which would be real bad for anybody standing in the water.

Good on him for thinking of that. Thankfully, no electric shocks were had by anyone.

Shortly thereafter, Daniel showed up. He turned off the power to the sales building and confirmed that there wasn’t a whole lot else we could do. But the whole group of us did walk around the farm in the pouring rain, looking to see where the flood originated. We saw multiple overflowing ponds, and area where the current was too strong and the water too deep to walk across…on an area that was normally dry land. We also rescued an errant, floating rabbit shelter (all the rabbits made a full recovery). Sometime during all of this, Oleg and I both took off our boots, since the water was over the tops of them anyway, and it occurred to me that I was traipsing around a flooded farm at 11:30 at night, barefoot and soaked to the skin.

It was kind of wild.

Once we saw the extent of the flood and confirmed that all the animals were out of danger, there really wasn’t anything we could do. Daniel just shook his head and said we’d deal with it at chores in the morning. He was technically addressing the three boys who were working the weekend but, well, there was no way I was going to see a flood rip through the sales building and not get up to help.

And that is how I found myself, on my weekend “off” getting up at 5:30am after 5 hours of sleep, and dredging muck and flood water out of the sales building, then doing extra laundry because I suddenly had extra sets of mud covered, water soaked, stinky clothes.

When I relayed the story of my “weekend off” to Eric, he laughed and said “well, that’s farming for you.”

Sunday: Market Gardens & A Great Team

After multiple hours of chores that involved flood cleanup, I had a (large) breakfast and got ready for church. It was going to be a big day today – after church, I had organized a tour for the rest of the team at the market garden at Hayou.

Hayou is one of the Polyface rental farms. It’s owned by a couple of former interns who now have a large market garden, as well as a few animals for personal consumption. They rent the rest of the pasture to Polyface for cows and turkeys, and supply vegetables to Polyface customers. Several people on the team are interested in market gardening, and since the Salatins don’t really do that, we had decided to talk to the owners of Hayou.

They went above and beyond anything I had expected when I’d asked if they could show us around. Not only did they show us around, but they had a full presentation for us, complete with handouts and a list of resources for seeds and equipment. It was awesome, and we ended up spending over three hours talking to them, sampling raspberries (SO GOOD), and otherwise enjoying the afternoon.

That being said, I was exhausted when I got home. But it didn’t stop me from attending Daniel Salatin’s weekly movie night, where he and Sheri open their living room and television to a dozen or so young people.

I almost didn’t go. But then I realized how few weekends are left in the summer, and I decided I couldn’t pass it up.

Tired or not, flood or not, I went to bed happy.

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