What a week! The last 7 days have been something else. The days ran together even more than normal, so you’re going to get a smattering of thoughts today.
The heat has come. Prior to this week, we’ve had absolutely beautiful 70-80 degree weather. This week we hit 90. Wow. Talk about sweat. Thankfully it gets cool in the evening, so our cottage stays airy with the windows open and fans running at night. Plus, the muggy heat in the morning/early afternoon turned into cooling thunderstorms by evening. I love when the rain comes and douses everything in a cool blanket. This week was just the beginning of the heat, so we shall see what next week holds.
Joel loves his chainsaw. I had the pleasure of witnessing Joel take down a few trees this week. He was in his element. I had never seen large trees cut down before, so it was a totally new experience. What a treat!
This week, Daniel and Eric took some time to talk one-on-one with each of the interns. It gave us space to share our thoughts/concerns/questions and gave them a structured time to discuss our work over the past couple months. I really appreciated sitting down and hearing what they had to say. It was very encouraging, and I left feeling inspired to continue pouring myself into the work and people here at Polyface.
I hadn’t gutted chickens for a few weeks, so I made sure to get down to the kill floor early and claim my spot at the evisceration table. I forgot how much I love the gutting station. For those who are interested, here are a few more details on how we gut chickens at Polyface. To start, you cut the oil gland off the tail of the chicken. The oil gland can taint the flavor of the meat – ick. Then you make a slit in the skin where the neck meets the breast. Using your fingers, peel back the crop and find and separate the wind pipe and esophagus from the neck. Then make a slit right above the vent (while the bird is on his back). Pull the bird open and separate the fat from gizzard by running your fingers against the top of the cavity. Then reach in and scoop out all the guts. Roll the heart and liver into your left hand and use your right hand to pinch off the gall bladder. The heart and liver go into a pot filled with cool water. The guts go into a bucket to be composted. That’s it!
I also had the privilege of working on cut-ups a couple of times this week. The thing that stood out to me was how important the knife is. We use curved knives (called Daniel Salatins). I prefer the smaller design compared to the larger knives. Keeping the knife sharp is extremely vital. Working with a dull knife makes cutting up a whole lot harder. Now I just need to hone my knife sharpening skills.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to hop on the zero-turn mower for the first time. As I settled into the seat, Eric gave me a few instructions and said, “it’s sort of like you’re in the middle of a video game. It’s fun!” Boy, was he right! That thing was a bit of a struggle to get used to, but it was a blast. I only mowed for a few minutes, but hopefully I get a chance to tool around again in the future.
Fun fact: I don’t fall asleep during movies. There’s been the extremely rare occasion (like when I was at a sleep-over birthday party as a teen and we didn’t start a movie until midnight), but, as a general rule, I get so sucked into stories that I have to stay awake until the movie is done. On Friday night, a group of us gathered at Daniel’s house to watch a movie. I was exhausted and debated on going. However, as I mentioned, I’m a sucker for a good story and decided to head over and watch. I tried to keep my eyes open, but they kept dragging closed until I finally drifted off to sleep. I woke as the credits rolled and everyone got up to leave. Guess I needed to get some rest.
So sleep I did. On Saturday, I slept in until 8:30. Boy did that feel good. Then I had the pleasure of visiting with friends from Minnesota. They were on a family road trip and decided to swing by, visit the farm and take the Lunatic Tour. It was so fun to see someone from home, get the local news and hear updates about the farm (Sylvia is one of the people helping to take care of my horses while I’m away). Minnesota and life there feels extremely far away, so it was fun to get a glimpse of it again. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the cottage, baking chicken, sitting by the pool and running to town to pick up pizza for a group of us hungry interns.
Now Sunday has rolled around and I’m back in my predictable coffee shop spot getting “me time” as Hunter (another intern) would call it.
One last random thought – I have the opportunity and ability (I might even go so far as to say responsibility) to make a difference. How can I encourage my fellow interns? How can I be a blessing to the leadership here? How can I better serve our customers? How can I take better care of the livestock under my care? How can I steward this beautiful land? Coming here has put me into new territory. I’m used to working for myself. I’m used to being the leader. At home, I’m the one in charge. Here, I’m the intern. My primary mission is to serve Polyface and the leadership team. But no matter what situation you’re in – whether you’re a leader in the spotlight or working quietly behind the scenes – you can make a difference in the world around you. A simple smile, a positive attitude, hard-working diligence, a listening ear and a servant’s heart – these things make a huge difference in the lives of others. I don’t want to underestimate the influence I can have if I open my eyes and heart. How are you impacting the world around you?