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Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Eleven

| 9/8/2014 8:42:00 AM

Monday, August 11th


My morning chore this week was to move the broiler shelters. The moving of the shelters went very well aside from that the birds didn’t seem to want to move. The way the Polyface shelters are set up is that one side of the pen is poultry wire and the other side is enclosed. The birds generally like to move towards light, so pulling the shelter from the poultry wire end is generally pretty easy and the birds move along with you. This week, due to the way the shelters are situated, we were pulling from the enclosed end so the birds would need to move towards the darker end, which they don’t usually like to do. The way to remedy this is to have someone else with you on the other side of the structure to help move the birds along. If there is nobody available, you just have to move the shelter very slowly. Fortunately, this wee I was paired with Erik, one of my fellow interns, as I was the mover and he was in charge of feeding and watering the birds after they were moved. I liked having him there, as the moving went along much faster.

The rest of the day was spent stacking wood, doing some work in the freezer trailers Polyface stores their inventory in and setting up a spigot on the water system upgrade Eric, our Apprentice Manager, and Daniel Salatin have been working on.

That evening we interns were invited to meet with the Salatin family, namely Joel, Teresa, Daniel, Sheri, Apprentice Manager Eric and his wife Leanna to discuss our future plans. This is the point where you would let them know if you were interested in applying for the apprenticeship position or if you had any other ideas you would like to run by them. We had had a few days to mull this over prior to the meeting and I took some time the weekend before to sit down and organize my thoughts. I had known shortly into the internship that I most likely would not pursue the apprenticeship for a few reasons. First was that I miss Dan and my family and I wasn’t prepared to be gone for another year. I am also really excited to get home, start working on my own farm and get to full time marketing my own products. I did ask the Salatins, however, if they would be allright with my teaching classes about what I had learned here, to which they were very supportive. The Polyface systems are very simple and can be applied in both rural and urban settings. I’m not sure if people really understand how easy it can be to try a bit of farming and I feel compelled to get the word out.

Tuesday, August 12th

Tuesday was one of the first really rainy days we’ve had during my internship time here at Polyface. After moving the broilers, most of the group was given the morning off while fellow intern Josh and I were able to help with buying club load up. I have written about buying club load up before, but it is really fun and I enjoy doing it. By the time we were finished, the weather had improved and we worked on repairing some of the broiler shelters in anticipation of new chicks. We then got the afternoon off, which I was very excited about and appreciative of. I took that time to find some wifi, submit my blogs to Mother Earth News and buy some new work gloves. I have a sneaking suspicion that my constant poison ivy is coming from contaminated gloves, so it was high time to upgrade.

Wednesday, August 13th

After morning chores, we worked on processing about 165 broilers and 100 turkeys. We did the chickens first because they’re easy and then prepped for the big birds. Turkeys are, as you can imagine, three to four times the size of a broiler and the processing time is about double. It took me a few birds to get used to the new ergonomics of working on these guys, but in the end everyone was doing well.

After lunch, we bagged the birds, weighed and inventoried them and boxed them up for freezing. This sounds simple, and technically it is, but it can get interesting quickly. I was at the end making and labeling boxes, packing birds in them, then shuttling boxes to other interns who were running them to the freezer and replacing the full box with a new one. Where one can only fit two to four birds per box and birds are flying down the line, it was pretty fast paced trying to keep everything organized. I like that this intern group likes to work quickly because we were all able to form a pretty efficient system without too much of a huddle and get everything done by mid afternoon.

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