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Polyface Farms Photo Series

March 15, 2008

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These photos are from the inaugural free tour of Polyface Farms on March 14, 2008 in Swoope, Virginia. There were about 40 people on the tour. Joel Salatin, the well-respected farmer himself, pulled two flat wagons behind his tractor, and we sat on hay bales. The weather was beautiful; it was 68 degrees, sunny and breezy. I met some really nice people and bought some food from the store at the end of the tour.

Everyone on the tour was impressed by the smells. My family had a horse when I was a teenager, and we didn’t know how to manage her waste. We were often overwhelmed by the smell of ammonia, especially in her stall. Joel, on the other hand, is an expert at managing his animals’ waste. Even when we were right beside the barn full of cow manure, the smell was pleasant (thanks to the pigs). Isn’t that hard to believe? I wish blogs were scratch-n-sniff so that I could share what I smelled on the farm.

In the cow’s pasture, I learned about amazing earthworm castings and managing animals’ grazing patterns to take advantage of growth cycles. From the photos, you will be able to tell where the border fences are because you can compare the color of the grass and distinguish which farm is working with nature and which isn’t.

He said they’ve never used commercial fertilizer and they’ve never limed. They don’t participate in any government cost-shares and they build their own (flexible) infrastructure with lumber from the property itself (saving tens of thousands of dollars). He does business with other farmers, buying baby pigs from within Augusta County and baby chicks from Pennsylvania, and buying kelp from as far away as Iceland and Norway. The farm’s sawmill is from New York. So, although he does believe in sustainability, he is not an isolationist.

Without further ado, I’ll post some photos and come back to the topic later when I have more time to really concentrate. It is interesting, though, that Joel told me he introduced Congressman Ron Paul at the Farm Food Voices second annual National Small Farm Lobby Day and Legislative Reception on March 5, 2008 in Washington DC. You can read a little more about it on Lew Rockwell’s blog and you can see the chocolate bust at Sweet Liberty.

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Joel Salatin with the saw mill at Polyface

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the saw mill at Polyface

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Joel Salatin with tractor at Polyface

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cedar planks at Polyface

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cedar planks at Polyface

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Joel Salatin with cows at Polyface

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cows at Polyface in Swoope

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pigs in the pigaerator at Polyface

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pigs in the pigaerator at Polyface

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Joel Salatin in front of the pigaerator at Polyface

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hens at Polyface

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Polyface Hen

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baby chicks at Polyface

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  1. March 16, 2008 6:16 pm

    Wow! What a great post. A photo tour of Polyface Farms, Joel introducing RP at the Farm Food Voices and a chocolate bust. What could top all that?

  2. March 17, 2008 2:29 pm

    Kick arse, great pics. I started a compost heap in my backyard and put all my food refuse in it. I heard you can buy get some worms to put in there too, but I ain’t researched it too tough yet.

    I was cruising my bike through my new neighborhood and found a organic farm. You can buy a membership and get all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies. I think they might even deliver. They is real close so I could just roll over there and pick up my vittles.

    I moved to distilled water after reading the AP investigation on pharmaceuticals in our water supply. I recommend others do the same if you want to avoid government/Big Pharma sponsored illness and/or immunity to anti-biotics.

  3. March 17, 2008 3:26 pm

    You can go to any place that sells worms for fishing bait and get them very cheaply. If you look specifically for composting worms, they charge you a lot more. Or, you can just wait and worms should come to your pile. They have to mine. I didn’t add any, but we have a healthy population in there now.

  4. March 17, 2008 7:07 pm

    Great photos…I want to live out there!!!!! 🙂

  5. March 18, 2008 9:09 pm

    Thanks Lisa! I was glad to be there since Joel’s enthusiastic attitude is so contagious! Thanks for the tip about earthworms.

    JP, what wonderful news of discovering an organic farm nearby! My parents have their own well, so I grew up on well water. As long as you don’t use pesticides on your own property, drinking from a well seems like a good alternative. Maybe country folks could make a buck selling city folks water. LOL!

    Thanks, CG. At least come for a visit! I’ll show you around.

  6. Rick Toone permalink
    March 20, 2008 10:09 pm

    “…I wish blogs were scratch-n-sniff…”

    (picks self up off floor & wipes tears from eyes)


  7. March 21, 2008 9:50 am

    I especially wish the photos of the cedar boards and the pigerator were scratch-n-sniff. You would be amazed! The smells were so warm and comforting.

  8. Rick Toone permalink
    March 21, 2008 2:39 pm

    Oh, I believe you.

    Cedar is lovely. Can’t speak toward pigs…but my dog *loves* pigs.

    I was just thinking the “scratch-n-sniff” implications around the blog-o-sphere are both profound and possibly disturbing. In an amusing way.


  9. March 22, 2008 5:15 pm

    Watching the pigs play was a lot of fun because they were acting just like dogs. Their oinks even sounded like happy barking. I didn’t think about all of the disturbing implications of smells on blogs, I was just thinking about this group of photos. I’m glad I amused you! 😉

  10. March 25, 2008 9:35 am

    Hi – I found your blog by way of – well actually I don’t remember now. Anyway, thanks for posting great pics of Joel and his farm. We have been farming following his method for over 12 years now. He has made a profound difference in our lives and how we view our farm and family. I had the opportunity to attend a week- long symposium at his farm and several others in 1999. It was during a drought season and you could tell that his farm was being managed differently than his neighbors. Thank you for conveying that in your pictures! Incidentally, one of the other farms we toured (ran by another well known author, who shall remain nameless) was not clean, the animals were not moved frequently, and when we got out of our vehicles, the stench hit us like a ton of bricks. Interesting, since this man had only been at this farm for two years, and he had already made it toxic for his livestock. But, he has a loyal following in the homesteading, small- holding readership, because he touts “day-ranging” as opposed to what he calls “confinement” at Joels. We always tell our customers that “fresh range” is more important than the Disneyfied term “free range.” Thanks again

  11. March 25, 2008 10:01 am

    Thanks for commenting, Nita! It’s nice to meet you and learn a little about your farm and family. 🙂

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