Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7 Year Surprise!

Cute Husband makes the most wonderful anniversary gifts.  Last year it was surprise hike on the AT. 

This year it was chickens, rabbits, cattle and pigs! 

Polyface Farm Field Day!   An event that only occurs once every 3 years and draws about 1,600 people.

Polyface, Inc. is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.  We learned about Polyface from our recent read of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

Without exaggeration, spending the day at Polyface literally changed my life.  

Polyface is run by Joel Salatin, a self-described Christian- libertarian- environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer.   

Warren and I have always been conscious of what we eat, but Salatin's message of healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture was a real epiphany.

This is Joel's son, Daniel speaking about rabbit raising.
The bunnies spend some time in these unique cages in the Rabbit House

Chickens are layered underneath to scratch and peck through the droppings and food scraps, eliminating odor and disease.
Meet a healthy rabbit who will also spend some fattening time in the pasture, grazing on grass, just as a rabbit was built to do.

Meet a healthy chicken who has plenty of room to scratch around and who will also spend some time scratching around eating grass in a pasture.

Adorable right?    These holistically grown rabbits are prized by chefs in the area.  We learned about rabbit raising and I learned that I could raise rabbits, sell rabbits, butcher rabbits and eat rabbits.

 I just don't know if I could slaughter rabbits.. 

I'm sure people get off on pictures with Brad Pitt and Bono, but check us out... posing with Joel Salatin!
If this farm was a Concentrate Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), I would have had to enter the chick house in a biological suit to avoid contaminating the animals. 
Yes, I realize I am the only adult in the chick house....

Turkeys!   Following the path grazed by cattle days before...
Chickens get to do the same thing!

One of Polyface's guiding principles is that plants and animals should be provided a habitat that allows them to express their physiological distinctiveness.

Respecting and honoring the pigness of the pig is a foundation for societal health.

These pigs were chilling in the woods doing what pigs do in the wild.
Rooting, digging and laying in mud.  Not sitting on concrete eating corn.

Looks pretty content, right?
Children were running through the woods petting these 300 lb creatures.  I avoided direct contact after I heard that pigs can fight off a wolf pack and give a bear a pretty good battle.
Cute Husband!  You are so brave!
OH, Wilbur...

This guy was the only one that I had very little trouble thinking of as bacon...
Another Polyface guiding principle is moving livestock and poultry frequently to new "salad bars," which offers landscape healing and nutritional superiority.

Chickens enjoying the landscape...

Joel telling us to go in peace to love and serve the land...
How could you not fall in love with this farm?

Polyface refuses to send food to locations outside a four-hour drive of his farm-- outside the local "foodshed".   Luckily, Birdcouple is within this foodshed and we have the benefit of joining the Polyface buying club. 

The benefit of enjoying high-quality meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, sustainable agriculture. 
Thanks for making me such magical anniversary gift, Warren, my love.


Karen Herb said...

SO JEALOUS YOU WENT TO POLYFACE!!! I've enjoyed their goods at restaurants in VA, but never went to the farm.... and met Joel!!!! I agree the whole thing is life changing!

Happy 7 years.... XXOOXXOO

Kathie Brown said...

I so believe in what he is doing. What a treat to go for a visit! I have raised and eaten rabbit before myself. (Shh! don't tell anyone!)I would be right in that chick house with you. I love chickens! I also love goats. I know how to milk both goats ands cows but all of that is so time consuming and I would rather travel and see more birds, sooo... a simple visit suits me just fine! Looks like you had tons of fun. Happy Anniversary!

BTW, Warren can keep the pigs. I don't like them either. They scare the snot out of me for the same reason you stated!

Rathnashikamani said...

I enjoyed the pics! They're great!