Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Six

| 8/6/2014 1:35:00 PM

Week Six ended up being one of the more fun and interesting weeks for me here at Polyface. I noticed that was able to better apply the skills I’ve learned without as much supervision and the intern team as a whole has become a very cohesive and capable unit. We are also preparing for Field Day, which is exciting.

Monday, July 7th

This week, I was assigned to Projects for morning chores. Projects is fun, as you basically take care of whatever comes up that needs to be taken care of. This morning, we cleaned out the main barn in preparation for some hay bales we needed to put there, assembled float valves for the watering systems for the pastured turkey nets that are going to put out later this week, and set up a training fence for the piglets (a small strip of electrified wire to train them about the joys of touching a live current with your snout). After breakfast, we had a planning meeting regarding July 19th’s Field Day gathering here at Polyface. I’m really looking forward to Field Day. The vendors and exhibitors that are coming all have products I’m going to need for back home and I’m excited to meet everyone that comes. I’ll be at the registration table first thing in the morning, so make sure to say hi if you’ve been reading these! After the meeting, we demolished two old turkey shade structures, saved what we could of the timbers and brought in the chassis to our shop manager for repair in anticipation of the new shade structures we need to build for the pigs.

The afternoon was spent bringing one of the new Gobbledegos (The turkey shade structures we made last week and the week before.) to one of the pastures here at Polyface, setting up the shade cloth and putting the netting up. We were expecting to have turkeys out there within the next few days and needed to have everything good to go. After this was finished, we set out for evening chores.

beesAfter dinner, we had the opportunity to join Joel Salatin and his brother Art on one of their adventures. Joel had found a tree that had a massive beehive inside it a few weeks ago and had mentioned it to Art. Art is a talented apiarist and wanted to bring the trunk from the field where it was to the farm to get the try and get bees living in a hive. We all put on long sleeves and set out to watch as Joel, fully suited up in protective gear, chainsawed the hive out of the tree. I have to say, what I was concerned might be a complete disaster ended up being one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Art smoked the hive and filled in the ins and outs with beeswax to keep our stinging friends from escaping. Joel then sawed off the section of the tree above the hive and nailed a board to the top of the stump to encapsulate the colony. Chains were then wrapped around the tree and attached to the bucket of the tractor. Once Joel sawed into the bottom of the stump, the remaining piece of the tree was lifted out exposing the hive and lots and lots of honeycomb. We hammered a board to the bottom (Again, encapsulation. Getting stung would have been a buzz kill. Get it? Bad jokes are kind of my thing.) and off the tractor went back towards the farm. Art and Joel noticed there was more honeycomb in the very bottom of the stump and we all clamored to get a taste of wild honey. The weather was beautiful, the stars and fireflies were out and as we were licking honey off our fingers, I said to my roommate Greer, “I guess we’re really living.” and she most certainly agreed.

Tuesday, July 8th

Tuesday morning, our job was to move a herd of cattle from one of the upper fields to the sorting corral, sort out some of the animals to be sent for slaughter and bring the rest of the herd back to the field. This got a bit hairy on the way back as a calf got separated from the herd and subsequently disappeared. I felt terrible that this had happened and we searched and searched but to no avail. The calf turned up a few hours later, so all’s well that ends well, but I still felt really bad.

Most of the rest of the day was spent stacking hay at one of the Polyface managed properties. This particular property has lots and lots of hayfields so we needed all hands on deck. Joel had been baling without the hay wagon attached to the baler, so we took turns driving the truck with the flatbed trailer attached while the others stacked the bales that had been spit out onto the ground by the baler. There were several trips back and forth bringing the hay to Polyface to stack. The bales were nice and light, so stacking wasn’t bad and the day went by quickly.

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