Wow! What an amazing week!
For chores, I was one of the “Broiler Managers.” I cared for 1 row (12 shelters) of broiler chickens. It was easy to get into the rhythm of it. Dolly under shelter. Remove feeder. Pace out 12 feet. Place feeder. Pull shelter. Dolly out. Repeat. Then water and feed all shelters.
Monday morning rolled around, and the entire team was on a mission to prepare for the Temple Grandin event on Wednesday. I helped set up enough hay bales to seat 300 people and did a variety of odd jobs to ensure the farm was ready to welcome our guests. That evening I volunteered to finish catching the remaining hens in the Feathernet (don’t know what the Feathernet is? You can read more in this post). Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been catching and processing the Feathernet hens because they are getting too old to be productive layers. Tim, DJ and I headed towards the Feathernet at 9:10 on Monday night. There is one very important thing to remember when catching chickens – it needs to be dark. At night, chickens go to sleep making them much easier to catch. Folks, 9:10 was NOT dark enough. As we started to move towards the chickens, we realized they were still awake and not fond of being caught. It took us a little longer than planned, but after crawling through manure, sneaking up on/diving for chickens and wrestling full crates onto the trailer, we had all 129 birds ready to be processed in the morning.
We normally process on Wednesdays, but with the Temple Grandin event, we decided to process on Tuesday this week. I got to gut chickens again (super happy about that!) and I am proud to say that I am getting much smoother. My evisceration frustrations from a couple of weeks ago have melted away and now I’m starting to work on speed and efficiency. I can’t wait to get more practice in!
Wednesday was the big day! Polyface hosted an event with Temple Grandin. Temple has done amazing work designing humane animal slaughter and handling facilities. She is not only respected by the livestock community but is also an inspiring speaker and educator on autism. Temple’s autism helps her see cattle handling design flaws that most people miss. She’s passionate about seeing other autistic people live to their full potential and use their unique gifts and talents.
For the event, Joel and Temple led a 3-hour tour around the farm talking about the different animals and how we manage livestock on the farm. During the first part of the morning, I helped Lydia (our chef) chop cantaloupe for the upcoming lunch. Then I was able to follow along on the tour for a bit. What an amazing experience! Joel has a wealth of experience and Temple is so knowledgeable. It was fun to hear them bouncing thoughts and ideas off one another. Around noon, all the interns rushed back ahead of the guests to help serve lunch. After lunch, Temple held a question and answer style session. While the morning tour focused on animals and agriculture, the afternoon session centered around autism. Again, I was thoroughly impressed by Temple’s depth of knowledge and her passion for her work. At the end of the day, I helped in the store and did chores. Since we didn’t eat together that night, I was back in the cottage by 6:30 and was grateful for an early bedtime.
Thursday was a more relaxing day. The big project I helped with was moving the Feathernet. Now that all the old laying hens are gone, we had to put the new pullets into the Feathernet. To do so, we pulled the Feathernet to where the pullets were in their shelters (remember the pullet shelters I cared for during week 2?). Then we set up the electric netting around the Feathernet and the shelters. One by one we lifted the shelters to release the pullets and hauled the shelters to another field.
On Friday we processed more chickens. I helped with quality control. Then I got to do cut-ups (Daniel and the apprentices know how much I love this task)! We completed evening chores at super speed, so Eric recruited all the available interns to help herd a few stubborn pigs across a creek and into a new wooded paddock. As we piled into the back of Eric’s truck, the sky began to darken, and it became apparent that a storm was on the way. The group of interns maneuvered through the woods in search of the pigs. After a few failed attempts, we managed to herd about half of them to the new paddock. The thunder was pounding, and the rain had started to pour down, so we piled back in the truck and made our way to dinner. Although we were soaked and muddy, we were all smiling – what an adventure! After dinner, most of us interns and the apprentices decided to head into town for ice-cream. Marit and I shared a pint of refreshing coconut ice-cream – yum!
I’m working this weekend, so on Saturday, I was out at chores at 6:00am. For breakfast I made myself 5 eggs, a couple pieces of sausage and a small bowl of oatmeal (we burn a lot of calories every day! Ha!). Then it was time to get ready for the Saturday morning tour. Marit and I hauled coolers of ice water and helped direct parking. Then Daniel, Marit, Emma and I headed to one of the rental farms to work on making hay. Emma tedded (fluffing up the hay to help it dry faster) in one field while Marit stacked large square bales onto the flat bed trailer and I drove the truck. Then Daniel taught me how to mow hay. Wow! It was so fun. Thankfully, Daniel is a very patient teacher. I couldn’t stop smiling as a drove along, trying to make straight lines and raise and lower the mower at the right times. Then we rushed back to the farm for dinner. The weekend workers get to eat with Joel and Missy on Saturdays. Unfortunately, we hustled through dinner in about 15 minutes because we (most of the interns, the apprentices and Daniel and his family) were heading to the movie theater to see Aladdin. It was fun to relax and laugh together.
Now I’m enjoying the time off on Sunday, sipping my large hot chocolate and writing. Then I’m planning on catching a quick nap before chores (yay!). Today is also Daniel’s birthday, so we’ll be celebrating this evening.
This week has been full, but so good. Last week I mentioned that I was having a hard couple of days. Thankfully, this week was much smoother. I’m learning how to love home and love being here at the same time. This week I felt at peace knowing I’m right where God wants me in this season. I also did my best to stay hydrated, get sleep, spend time in God’s Word every day and jot down a few of the big things I do each day in my journal. These little goals helped me settle in more and made for a much more pleasant week.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. See you next week!