Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Seven

| 8/13/2014 9:05:00 AM

Hi everyone! This week was a lot of preparation for Polyface Farm’s last ever Field Day (It’s okay to boo. The people who attended Field Day were bummed when Joel made the last Field Day ever announcement.) and a good amount of working with machinery for me. It was a really fun week and I hope you enjoy reading about it! 

Monday, July 14th

bale pile

My morning chore this week was moving the broiler shelters. Those of you who have read my posts before probably remember that my adventures moving broilers has been a recurring theme, but I am happy to report that my shelter moving this week was greatly improved from weeks prior. My hands have gotten more used to this type of work (ie. manual labor) and over the course of the week, my roommate Alicia only helped me with a few shelters. Even though it was a humbling lesson to have learned, I am glad to see the progression of my strength and my patience. After morning chores, I had the chance to work in the gardens to clean them up for our impending Field Day visitors.

The afternoon (and better part of the evening) was spent stacking and moving square bales of hay at one of the properties Polyface manages with Daniel Salatin, Eric, our Apprentice Manager, Jonathan aka. Jak, one of our apprentices and Josh, one of my fellow interns. Doing this has been one of the highlights of my time here, as I got to drive one of our trucks and a gooseneck trailer full of huge bales of hay (I’ve included a picture so you can see what I’m talking about) from about 1pm until dark. Polyface subcontracts the making of these big bales to an operator with the proper machinery, as the baler we have only makes the small bales. After the bales are made and dropped onto the grass, it is our responsibility to gather the bales, stack them, salt them and cover them with tarps to protect them until winter. Since these bales are so large, we need the tractors to lift the bales, stack one on top of another, lift the two stacked bales and place them on the flatbed trailer. Said flatbed trailer driver (Me! And Josh. We had two trucks going.) drives a full load of bales to the massive stack (see photo) where another tractor is there to unload and stack the bales. Generally, it is the driver’s responsibility to get out, climb the stack and salt the bales, but Jonathan was doing that task the day I was there. We needed to bring these bales from one corner of the property to another, which included going through some fairly tricky turns through gates. Before we were unleashed, Daniel taught Josh and I how to make these turns and where I had never driven a trailer before and these turns included some backing up, I was a little nervous, but we ended up doing well. We were able to finish the hay that day, which I’m told is all the hay we will need for Polyface this year. !!!!!!!! After all the hay we’ve been doing, it seems odd that it’s done, but a relief nonetheless. All in all, it was a fun and exciting day, and was wrapped up with a double bacon cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys (a bit of a hay making tradition if you miss dinner because you had to work through it). Big thumbs up.

Tuesday, July 15th

hay bales

Tuesday was a big cleaning and rearranging day here at Polyface. After moving broilers and eating breakfast, my roommate Greer and I set to cleaning out the freezers, washing windows and wiping down shelves in the sales building. This was a bit nostalgic for me, as I had done all that during my two day check out back in December. It’s pretty amazing to think about how much my life has changed since then.

After lunch, we worked on the fence line along the area we bushwhacked last week. On Monday, our Apprentice Manager and some of the other interns had installed posts so all that needed to be done was to install the insulators (plastic pieces that hold the electric wire) and tighten the wire. It was a long fence, so this took three interns and one Apprentice Manager a few hours. In the meantime, we also worked on shoring up some pig fencing that was currently there and I learned how to make a gate on an electric fence. After wrapping up at the pig pasture, I helped my roommate Shalana reinstall some metal roofing panels that had been power washed back on the Racken, the hoop house where the rabbits and some of the laying hens live. The panels were pretty high up and we were having a hard time maneuvering them with one of us on the ladder and one not but Daniel came by with the tractor and lifted us up in the bucket. Things got much easier from there. I’m learning to really really love machinery.

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