Polyface Week 18

Green Grass the and Feathernet

This past week was the best I’ve had in a while. I learned a ton, had many new experiences and really enjoyed the work. Even though I am still very excited to get home, I feel like I’m doing a better job cherishing the season I’m in.

On Tuesday, I learned how to drive a stick shift. They had three different vehicles for us to practice on. The first vehicle I got to try was the farm’s big dump truck. It’s the slowest vehicle and supposedly the easiest. In my opinion, it’s the scariest, most difficult vehicle on the farm. Why? It has no brakes. Yep, that’s right. For whatever reason, the brakes on this big old truck just don’t work anymore. I guess it’s not that big of a deal on a truck that only hauls things in the fields. But still, I really like to be able to stop when I want to. Everything was going really well. I was getting the hang of shifting gears. I was even getting used to timing my rolling, no-brake stop. That’s when Buzz asked me to back the truck into it’s parking spot. I started to slowly back up and all of a sudden the truck quickly lurches backward. I must have pressed the gas a little too hard. Eeeek! Buzz yelled at me to stop as I stomped the clutch and non-existent brakes all the way to the ground. I finally rolled to a stop. Buzz looked at me at told me to get out of the truck and take a look. The back of this massive dump truck was less than an inch from the shed that holds our inventory of Joel’s books. That was way too close for comfort!

“That’s a terribly crooked park job.” Buzz critiqued. “Get back up there and fix it.”

Did I want to get back into that giant truck and try again? Absolutely not! But I climbed up into the seat anyways and gave it another try. I was much straighter the second time and did not almost run over a building, so that’s a success! After I graduated from the dump truck, I drove two other normal sized pickup trucks. They both had wonderfully functional brakes (yay!) and I really enjoyed driving them. Am I a stick shift master? Nope! But I understand the concept and feel much more comfortable operating a manual vehicle…as long as it has brakes 😉

We had the pleasure of touring Creambrook Farm on Tuesday afternoon. Creambrook is a grass-fed dairy farm that runs a raw milk herdshare program. I’ve been enjoying their milk all summer (the interns have a herdshare), so it was fun to see where our milk is coming from. One of my biggest takeaways was that they only milk their cows once a day. Having raised dairy goats in the past, I know how time consuming milking twice a day is. Milking once a day sounds totally doable. Yes, I might be slightly tempted to have dairy animals again in the future…

I spent the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday working with Buzz. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with him much this summer, so it was a blast to be his helper for a few days. Buzz is one of our maintenance/construction/shop guys on the farm. He apprenticed at Polyface back in 1998, so he’s seen Polyface over the years. I learned a ton about construction over the last few days. Our project was preparing the site for a new shed. We measured out where we wanted the building, dug out the top soil and put down a base layer of gravel. Then we built and leveled form boards for the concrete floor and laid rebar. Finally, we built homemade bull floats for leveling the concrete. The cement is coming on Tuesday and we are ready to pour, so that’s exciting!

On Friday, I spent the morning in the woods with Joel, Daniel, Marit and Tim. Joel cut down trees while the rest of us hauled branches to the chipper and stacked firewood on wagons. It was a good workout, and everything went smoothly. During the afternoon, Eric, Adam and I worked on laying water line. It was interesting to see how they use a trencher to lay the pipe. We also spent time digging access points at the valves. It’ helpful to see how Polyface’s water system works as I begin to think about how I want to handle water back home.

This weekend has been relaxing. After sleeping in on Saturday, I went to Charlottesville with Sadie and Mariah. We ate brunch and sat at a coffee shop for a few hours. Then I grabbed a few groceries at Whole Foods and got dinner from Chipotle. I had the cottage all to myself on Saturday night, so I brainstormed some ideas for the future and went to bed early.

I can’t believe it’s September! One month from today, my Polyface internship adventure will be over. I’ve been here for 4 months already. Those months have been filled with learning and growth. I’ve been stretched. I’ve been strengthened. I’ve been changed. We shall see what this final month holds!

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