Open Discussion

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

Grace is still having pesky computer troubles, so this week I thought we could just chat. You always hear from us, so this time, it’s our turn to hear from you. I’ll post some questions in the comment section and you feel free to chime in on anything that interests you.


Sit down, put up your feet for a moment and let’s have us a little visit.

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.

71 Responses to Open Discussion

  1. Sheri Salatin says:

    What are you up to this week?

    • WarPony says:

      I’m bemoaning the fact that my does are drying up. They are mixed meat/dairy breed goats and were wonderful starter goats while i learned a few things and figured out what i want but the thought of no more milk until October is breaking my heart. No more fresh goat cheese? NOOOO! I have two of them for sale and I am looking at a lovely dairy doe to replace them with. One that milks longer than 6 months before drying up. 🙂

      Since my ‘maters don’t seem to want to fruit for me I may go buy a bushel from a local veggie stand and can some up. I have the urge to use my pressure cooker something fierce.

    • Jen Perdew says:

      Trying to get my car fixed – not a fun proposition and it seems to be dragging on and on…
      Oh, and I’m planning on buying my first sewing machine. I’ve been doing some research trying to figure out which machine I should get. Any advice?

      • WarPony says:

        I have a mid-level Bernina and I love it. It’s simple to work with but seems to hold up well and does a pretty good job sewing through some of the heavier stuff I have to sew through.

        My mother swears by her Singer machine, it’s only about 20 years old and was top of the line when she bought it. It runs like a tank.

      • I think that as long as you have one that works, it doesn’t really matter what brand of machine. I have a Baby Lock that I got when I was 12 that is still working beautifully. I don’t think this was supposed to be a “top” brand. Just get something that is simple to operate and perhaps easy to find parts for. Check with your local sewing machine shops and see what they would recommend.

        Kristen (Thursday chick) just bought a 1970 Singer from a church friend. It seems to be a real workhorse of a machine and it’s simple to operate.

        • Pam says:

          I’m rapidly learning about VICFA’s Action Alert for 2VAC5-114, Health Requirements Governing the Admission of Agricultural Animals, Companion Animals, and Other Animals of Birds into Virginia. How does this impact our ability to purchase farm friendly food? How does this impact Polyface? What can we do to support our farmers in Virginia in preparation for the dialogue and vote at the 9 August meeting? Will Polyface be sending out a notice to their buying club members to encourage them to write to the members of the committee that will be voting on the regulation? Thanks!

          • Tylee says:

            Sheri, I’m trying to convince the husband to get into rabbit farming. We currently raise sheep, cattle, goats and free range hens for the eggs. I figure rabbits would be a great addition!
            Does your husband still sell breeding rabbits? and how do I make contact?

          • Tylee, Daniel does still have breeding stock, but at this time there is over a 2 year waiting list for it. You might want to find another source. You can call – 540-885-3590 if you want to be put on the waiting list. Dan Solberg is keeping them at this time.

    • Brenda says:

      Picking & canning marion berries, making foods for my meal plans, working on my website, spending time with my kids. Busy times!

    • Alison says:

      Hi Sheri,
      I spent today on the Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia listening to Joel talking about Polyface and all the work you guys are doing there. He is such an inspiration and a wonderful raconteur. I work as part of the Biological Farmers of Australia media/pr team and I’ll be writing an article or two for our magazines about all that Joel had to say, and the lessons I leart today about diversity and collaborative farming. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to hear him speak – we need more Joel’s in the world!
      Cheers, Alison 🙂

    • Annie says:

      Getting ready to teach canning classes the next two weekends! I put up 6 quarts of pickles this morning just to make sure I had my groove back! 🙂

  2. Sheri Salatin says:

    What are you reading right now?

    • Sheryl Lebman says:

      Crime and Punishment. Followed by Wuthering Heights. It is time for teachers to get ready for back to school.

    • WarPony says:

      Growing At The Speed Of Life by Graham Kerr (aka “The Galloping Gourmet”). I just started it, but so far it is quite delightful. He is fun to read and it has a lot of good info as well.

      • Never read this one. Is it something that you would recommend for our book club pick?

        • WarPony says:

          I’m not far enough in to it yet to know if I would recommend it for the book club but I would certainly suggest you check it out and see what you think. So far he is very much into supporting local growers and growing your own and cutting down on the distances our foods travel before they hit our plate. All things which I support very very strongly.

    • Jen Perdew says:

      Currently, I’m reading “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” by John Taylor Gatto and “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp. Next on the list is “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven” – picking it up from the library this week.

    • Merryrose says:

      Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World … my sister saw it at the library and checked it out for me because she said it seemed right up my alley . I’ve just been fascinated by all things Appalachia for a long while and so far it is a really interesting read. And a history of moonshining has to be pretty cool. 😉

    • Pam says:

      I just finished Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. It is excellent and very timely lesson in history for today. I’m starting “Who Made God?” (it is the counter argument to Stephen Dawkin’s) as a part of my Apologetic reading and am working back through “Family Friendly Farms” by Joel in order to pull out salient portions for a presentation that I’m working on at the moment to support the work that you are doing there.

      • Richard Boutall says:

        Reading The Farming Ladder by George Henderson. (Very old book) I have read it before and in our family it was known as our families farming bible but I recently read Joel’s “You Can Farm” and I wanted to compare the two as I noticed some similarities, particularly with the pastured poultry. I lent “You Can Farm” to my father and he and I agree that it ranks as highly in our opinion as “The Farming Ladder” for the different times/systems of agriculture they were written. I suspect that it may be possible that Joel has read this but if not I would bet it would be a book he and indeed all at Polyface may enjoy =)

    • Brenda says:

      The Paleo Solution. 🙂 We’re on the GAPS Diet and I want to see how Paleo compares, just for fun. 🙂

    • Annie says:

      Carol Deppe’s book on breeding vegetables. The exact title is escaping me for the moment…
      My husband and I are very interested in growing vegetables for seed production and our mentors recommended this book. It is great, full of knowledge, common sense and humor!

  3. Sheri Salatin says:

    Do you like to read fiction? Why or why not? Who is your favorite fiction author?

    • Sheryl Lebman says:

      I love fiction. I think it is easier for authors to capture the truth when they are less concerned about getting all the facts.

      • Sheri Salatin says:

        I must admit that I’m a fiction fiend myself, Sheryl. 🙂 Do you have a favorite genre?

        • Sheryl Lebman says:

          I mix the classics/ literary fiction with mysteries– nothing to violent, though. I really love authors who can mix humor with insights into the human condition. There aren’t many of them, though.

    • Jen Perdew says:

      Lately, I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction, with the exception of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”

    • Annie says:

      Love fiction! You can go anywhere in any time period! I have lots of favorites, but I always read Jan Karon’s “Mitford” series every winter along with a Louis L’Amour western or two (or eight!). One of our CSA customers works at the library and she knows when I’m done with farm-work for the fall because I come in and check out an armload of books!

  4. Sheri Salatin says:

    If you could choose, what would be your dream job?

    • Sheryl Lebman says:

      Teaching. But without testing. I understand the need for accountability, but I am now in the weird situation of having seniors who have passed our state tests, and now feel college/ life ready, and stop far short of what they could do.

      • Sheri Salatin says:

        Is this because teachers only teach to the test? Why do you think this is?

        • Sheryl Lebman says:

          I think we teach the test because everyone’s jobs depend on them. And I understand that there are groups that are underserved, as I teach in an African American school, and that we need to raise standards. I just would prefer to see teaching raised to a competitive profession, rather than education become a multiple choice test.

          • Annie says:

            As a public school teacher (science) for 5 years, I don’t think the problems are all centered around teaching to the test. It is also too many students for over-worked, underpaid teachers. Add to that students who come from a myriad of backgrounds, learning styles, home lives, etc.

    • WarPony says:

      I have several but right now the one I think I would love the most would be working at one of those places like Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village or Colonial Williamsburg. I’d like to be one of those women who dresses in period correct garb and does all the things I do around here anyway, but get to share the skill and info with people and school children. Give them a glimps of the skills that we are losing and maybe, just maybe, spark in interest in doing things for ourselves rather than just buying everything from the store.

      Or I’d like to be a private investigator, either one, lol.

      • Both of those jobs sound like fun, don’t they?
        Are you good with details? I would imagine that private investigating would require lots of very close attention to details.

        • WarPony says:

          Yes, I do pretty good with details, but I’m not sure I am sneaky enough to really excel at it… It sure sounds interesting, though. 🙂

    • Pam says:

      Building out a multi-faceted customizable model that teaches step-by-step local sustainable agriculture to farmers in a way that allows them to rapidly comprehend and implement the methodology so that they save money and realize the fruits of their labor fairly rapidly. Essentially, create community-specific Polyface type farms across the USA that are functional within the next 5-7 years so that we can take down Goliath. 😉

    • Brenda says:

      A naturopathic doctor & Attachment therapist, all in one–I just want to get all of the adopted kiddos with sad hearts (and messed up guts) HEALED! We have adopted 2 and have a sibling group of 3 foster kids in our home right now, so we’re doing what we can in our home. 🙂

  5. Sheri Salatin says:

    What does your family do for entertainment?

    • Pam says:

      Play on the Farm! We have obstacle driving courses in the arena, set-up frisbee golf courses (mark trees and try to hit them from across the field), etc.

    • Annie says:

      We go to the local swimming hole or to visit Grandma’s house. My kids are young so that’s a HUGE treat!

  6. Sheri Salatin says:

    What one food do you absolutely hate?

    • Pam says:

      Liver. I need help in this area as I know the nutrients are wonderful but I can’t stomach cooking it due to the smell. I am very open to recipes that can help resolve this issue.

      • Sheryl Lebman says:

        I agree. But my aunt makes the best liver dumpling soup. (She won’t give me the recipe, so I can’t share.) You would never know what was in it. (It is a Czech dish, so you could probably find something like it.)

  7. Sheri Salatin says:

    What would you like to ask us? (all topics are open)

    • Brenda says:

      What does your daily schedule look like on the farm? We’re running a small farm, homeschooling, running a website, raising 7 kiddos, cooking REAL food, and trying to figure out the schedule and how to make it all work and do everything successfully. We want “The Farmer” my husband to be HERE full time and not working a day job. So, how do you fit it all in? 🙂

  8. Cindy says:

    Here in Minnesota it’s time to plant the last crops in the vegetable garden, things which will do well in the cooler end of summer. We’re gearing up for canning, and looking forward to a very nice honey harvest this year.

    Do you keep bees at Polyface?

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      We do. Actually, Joel’s brother Art has honey bees. He has several hives and though he doesn’t have much honey to sell, we do get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. 🙂

      • WarPony says:

        Bees are next on my list. I think part of the problem with my garden not producing well is the fact that we have lost a lot of our pollinators. We have a friend from out blackpowder club who keeps bees and has offered to teach me about them. I just want a couple hives and no plans to sell, but that is my project for next year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

  9. Hello Polyface ladies. I read about Polyface in Michael Pollan’s book, and of course am impressed wtih the work you folks are doing. I live in Beit Shemesh, Israel, which is a suburb midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. My friends and I are interested in many of the same things as you folks are, although we have much less experience actually working land – we are experimenting with gardening, creating groups to buy local chickens, etc.
    I really enjoyed your recommendation of Made From Scratch, and saw a lot of myself in it – a few years ago, I asked myself what I could make at home, motivated primarily by wanting to save money. I learned to make yogurt and jam, got a bread machine, failed at making tofu, and got together a group of like-minded women who are in fairly traditional marriages and family roles, and who see spiritual significance in cultivating home life. We quilt, sew, complain a bit, and share struggles and victories.
    So, what I am up to this week is recuperating from sinusitis, sending off my two oldest kids to California to visit my parents, taking care of my husband and two younger kids, and reading Made from Scratch, Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, and studying the books of Deuteronomy, Samuel and Ecclesiastes.
    Looking forward to hearing from others!
    Rachel Hershberg

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      We’re honored that you would choose to read our blog, Rachel. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Sheryl Lebman says:

      We do a lot of canning here, mostly from pick your own farms. I wanted my girls to know where food came from. We are in Texas, so there wasn’t a lot to can this year due to the drought– another lesson for them.

    • Michelle says:

      Hey Rachel! I’m the Michelle intern Sheri was referring to. She told me about you at dinner tonight and I just had to say hi. My mom was born and raised in Beersheva, but I have family all over. It’s so exciting to hear that you’re trying to do all this over there. I may be going to Israel this coming fall once my internship is over to visit some family with my mom, and if I do I’d love to meet you! Blessings to you and your family.

  10. And thank God, I have my dream job, which is teaching Bible and philosophy to Jewish women!

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      That is awesome!! 🙂 One of our intern gals, Michelle is Israeli. Kristen hosted Michelle on her “Intern-view” blog post last Thursday.

  11. Cindy says:

    Rachel, your quilts are beautiful! My eldest son spent a year in eretz Yisrael before going to university.

    Sheri, I can’t find the regular Polyface Farm website. Is it down at the moment?

  12. Marci says:

    I have been making cheese, canning beans, canning bean and ham soup, putting up squash and peppers…. 🙂 Life on the farm is a blessing, but lots of work as well.

  13. Richard Boutall says:

    Questions? I have millions! However, most I can hopefully read about or find out if I ever get the chance to visit your wonderful farm. One question that I did wonder about, I have heard that you once tried pheasants at Polyface but it didn’t work. Did you ever try or do you have any Guinea Fowl or Geese there? We used to keep them on our farm in the UK and they made excellent meals as well as being wonderful guards (they let you know when you have visitors).

    • We have a couple of geese here now. They are strictly used as guard geese. We have yet to find an “easy” way to process water fowl, which is why we don’t have any. They just don’t pay and everything has to pull its weight.

  14. Hi Sheri,

    Was wondering what you could share with us about the abattoir y’all use? We’ve sent both beef & hogs in now and the pricing is brutal – makes it very difficult to get decent margins. We’re in south-central Virginia and have to drive several hours, as there are no local USDA inspected facilities I am aware of. So we’re looking for options and hoping y’all can help point us in the right direction. Thanks for your time!

  15. dee hakala says:

    I just wanted you all to know I watched the clip “Food Inc.” and then watched it again! THEN ONE MORE TIME! Joel made a transformed believer out of me! I will be to visit, in mean time I did find through your wonderful links the local sustainable farm and JOINED immediately! WOW! Is really all i can say. Oh yes…. and THANK YOU JOEL FOR MAKING SUCH SENSE AND BLASTING OFF THE SCREEN WITH YOUR MESSAGE! BRAVO POLYFACE!!!

  16. Cherokee says:

    I have just taken over a delinquent farm on the West Virginia/Virginia border…All the fields are in really horrible shape, so I’m looking into ways to improve the native grasses. A lot of the farmers in this region use poultry litter for fertilizer, I was wondering what you know about this stuff and have you ever used it there on Polyface? I’m wondering where all the hormones and the like goes…it is composted, but I don’t see how that could eradicate all the bad stuff. Your farm is a really big inspiration to me!!

  17. Michael says:

    Hi- I’m big fan of you guys and appreciate the fact that Joel loves to share his knowledge with others. My question is this- three years ago my wife and I bought 30 acres of (neglected) farmland in the South Carolina mountains and we are in the process of restoring the land back to a healthy state. Originally I was going to lime and fertilize it but I want to try Joel’s suggestion of managed grazing. Of the 30 acres, I have two pastures roughly 7 acres each and I want to know how much space a single cow would need using a mobile paddock system to graze on a cycle, and if I even have enough pasture to try it. If not, would goats serve the same purpose and provide the same results?