Polyface Week 16

Moving Chickens in the Morning

Another week has whisked by. I continue to learn so much in my time here. The amount of responsibility entrusted to the interns has grown immensely over the past week. I know that these last 6 weeks are going to stretch me as more and more responsibility is placed on my shoulders. Here’s a little bit about what’s been going on…

Rest for the Weary

With PIDS season wrapped up, the entire team was utterly exhausted. After chores on Monday morning, we got a much appreciated morning off. All the interns ate breakfast together and then I headed to bed for a 2-hour nap. It felt amazing! The rest of Monday flew by and, before I knew it, evening chores were done. Some of the interns went to the county fair, but I stayed home and had a relaxing conversation with Marit. A little rest goes a long way.

It’s Turkey Time

Tuesday morning was our first turkey processing day. We did around 150 turkeys. Turkey processing is much more difficult and time consuming compared to chickens. The birds are big, the guts are big and the feathers are big. It was difficult to get used to at first. The process is the same, everything is just larger and takes longer.

On Friday we had another chance to hone our turkey processing skills, this time with 160 birds. It went so much smoother and faster the second time! I am excited to see our turkey confidence continue to grow.

Record-Breaking Moment

Wednesday came and we decided to put on our game faces and try to break our processing speed record. We had 492 chickens to do and 9 people on the line. I’m proud to say we crushed it! From first bird dead to last bird dead, we did 23.1 birds per person per hour (our previous record was around 19). We were flying. It helped that we had done turkeys the day before, so chickens felt super easy!

It’s going to be strange going home and not having the equipment and the trained team members to rely on. I’ve gotten used to how efficiently we do things here. I’m going to have to put a bit of thought into how to make things as smooth as possible with a smaller team and less equipment.

My Pig Move Attempt

Friday came and my pig skills were put to the test. Mariah, Brianna (Mariah’s sister) and I were put in charge of moving the pigs. This wasn’t a simple move. They had to be moved out of the paddock, down the road and into a new section. We formulated our plan, moved the water and easily got 20 or so pigs into the new paddock. However, 10 hogs refused to move. It didn’t help that the paddock they were in was quite large and full of thick underbrush. So, I crawled through thickets, yelling “come on pigs!” and attempting to prod the lazy pigs in motion. Needless to say, the pigs have an incredible advantage maneuvering in thick undergrowth. When it became apparent that our small team was not enough man power to motivate the pigs, we had to give-up. Thankfully, Eric went back with reinforcements and was able to get them moved. My takeaways from the experience? Have smaller pig paddocks. If you have large, overgrown pig paddocks, make sure to bring a big enough team to move them.

The County Fair

This year, I couldn’t attend the Wright County Fair back home. I’ve gone every single year since moving to the farm. This year, I really missed attending, seeing the animals, strolling through the 4-H building, watching the cow-sorting and eating fries and a milkshake. So, when the Salatins brought up the Rockingham County Fair, I was ready to get my fair fix. On Friday night, a group of us (Sadie, Tim, Mariah, Brianna and I), headed to the fair. We even stopped at Chipotle on the way (I hadn’t had Chipotle since coming here and I missed it terribly). I enjoyed seeing the animals and taking in the sights and smells of the fair. No, it didn’t measure up to my fair, but it did help scratch my county fair itch.

One Little Pig

I was on the work crew this weekend. On Saturday evening right before dinner, Sadie and I were assigned to feed some of the pigs in the barn. When we arrived, we noticed that one of the little pigs was out of the pen. Time for some pig wrangling! He slipped past me as I dove for him and I landed on my hip. Ouch! But no worries, I was up and after the pig again. As I went to cut him off, I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. Oops! But no time to waste, after the pig I went. I finally dove for him and caught him by the legs. He screamed and squealed like the world was going to end. I hauled him into the pen. After finally getting him put away, I realized my thumb was bleeding. Ick! Then I looked down and noticed that I had ripped a hole in my jeans. Uff-da! Thankfully, the pig was back where he belonged, so I’ll count the whole experience as a win – although I definitely have the war wounds to show for it!

The One Little Pig

Well, that’s all for now! See you in another week!

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