Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pickled Pastured People

As we are starting this pastured poultry adventure, I had been doing a lot of reading on the subject.  I have read and am really impressed with the Polyface, Inc. model.

Hubby and I would love to go and see this model in action, but right now that just is not going to happen.

Polyface, Inc. is in Swoops, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.

As I researched on the web for pastured poultry and organic farming models, I found a farm not too far from Toccoa.

They have a beautiful website with lots of pictures and slick videos.  I was impressed to say the least!  They do pastured chickens, turkeys, hogs, sheep and cattle.  They also have a diary with a cheese making facilities.  They had really done a good job and had learned what worked and what didn't.

As we started putting our chickens on pasture, Hubby and I were not seeing eye-to-eye on how to build and move our chickens.  We also were curious as to how to handle our hot summer weather.  With Polyface, Inc., their summers are warm but the Shenandoah Valley it not as hot as what we have.

Well, as I read the blog of the farm close to us, I read that they had made the trip to Swoops, Virginia and had "looked" around the Polyface farm.  The blog told that they were able to watch and see how Polyface did their everyday chores.

This gave me an idea!

Why don't I email this farm and ask if we could come and "look" around their operation to get a feel for what they were getting to work?

I noticed that they had farm tours.  I looked to see about doing one of these.  They charged for them and you had to reserve a spot.  All the ones that we could do were filled.  The next one available was on a date that we had something already scheduled and this was the last tour they were doing.  They are not doing any tours next year.

They also had farm dinners.  I looked into those and soon realized they were way off the budget!

So I sent an email explaining what I have just described above.  I noted that we did not want a tour but just to see the operation in its day to day activities.  I also let them know that we did not want to stay very long.

Well I got a response....

The response said that because this farm was their home, they did not like people coming and "looking" around.

I was perplexed.

Now what really caught me off guard was the fact that these people talked all through their website and blog that they wanted an "open" operation.  But the email said that they didn't want people to "look" around.

I was really perplexed.

I started realizing that they wanted to "charge" for their ideas.  The only way they wanted to allow you on their property was to charge you admission.  I started to see them as an amusement park not a farm.

I was really, really perplexed.

I grew up in a commerical greenhouse that my parents started in the 1970s.  I can remember people coming on Saturdays and Sundays, on holidays and any time in between just to look at their operation and get new ideas or learn new tricks.  My parents never turned down fellow growers!

Now I was just plain upset.

These people didn't want to share what they knew with others.

They are just like the rest of corporate American; hiding behind locked doors to corner the market.

Are they afraid of competition?

Are they afraid of people using their model to make a profit too?

I don't know.

Maybe I am reading too much into this email.

Maybe it is just their way.

Maybe they are just what my Daddy called "quar" people.

Maybe they don't like to have people around.

Now we are looking for another farm that we can come and "look" around to get ideas and see what they are doing that is working so that we can improve our model.

I just hope I remember this and never turn down someone who wants to learn how to better themselves and their farm.

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