Passionate Work

turkeys at 13 weeks on pasture

Last week a few workers from the local Gas Company stopped in to check on our propane tank. Safety protocol. Nice of them. Right now we use propane to heat the brooder for our chicks and turkey poults.

Our turkeys on pasture last summer

One of the gas workers recounted a story. Last year he made the same call to a confinement turkey house in West Virginia. In order for him to even step into the turkey confinement house he had to take a shower, next he had to wear a suit, a bio-tech safety suit, a mask, and step in a bucket of bleach in his boots before entering and leaving the house.

Turkey Poults 3 weeks old

The turkeys live in a “black out”. They are never see light. He could not talk, cough, or sneeze once he stepped inside. Nor could he see anything. He was instructed to hold the arm of the guy who managed the confinement houses. If he thought he needed to make a sound, any sound at all, he was told  to squeeze the arm of the manager ahead of time, hold the impulse, and the manager would immediately remove him from the house. Human beings are unfamiliar to the turkeys in  confinement houses. Any sound would frighten them, they would all push to the center in a huddle and suffocate the ones in the middle. That particular turkey house had 4300 birds in it. It could be a disaster.

Daylight inside the brooder

The manager of these 6 confinement houses takes 6 showers a day. Before he enters each turkey “dungeon” he has to shower. His poor skin, it must be so dried out. My heart goes out to him.

Feeding turkeys in September, Sunrise

The nice guy that told me this story seemed to come out of nowhere. I was carrying on, another day on the farm, when they pulled up. He was so eager to share the distinction between our farm and the confinement houses. I was quickly reminded about doing work that feels deadening, that carries no passion. My first job as a teenager was at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Many many years ago, long before many of you were born I’m sure!  I had no connection back then to food, in a healthy way. It took a long time for me to come aboard. I’m fortunate.


Bloomsdale Spinach in the garden (High Mowing Seeds, Heirloom)

I could not do his job. I’m pleased to be in a situation where I chose to do work that feeds my passion for life. A life that allows for instinct, intuition, creativity, education, and beauty everyday. I feel strongly that it is the birthright of each one of us  to do work we love, in a setting that inspires us. What else are we here for?

buttercup wildflower in pastures


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About Grace

Grace and her husband Michael manage Buxton a Polyface satellite farm. Her first passion is to align with radiant health. She knows intimately that when you have your health you can do anything. Next, her passion for vibrant healthy food and beautiful landscapes along with her interest in permaculture influenced Grace's decision to align with the Polyface farming model. With 20 years of experience in the healing arts, she feels growing food and pasture raising animals is one of the greatest healers and a true source of personal empowerment. It's been said, "if you're not living on the edge your taking up too much space." Grace lives joyfully on the "leading edge" surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the appalachian mountains where her and Michael steward 1000 acres with profound appreciation."

16 Responses to Passionate Work

  1. How insane. I use to pick up free manure at a chicken farm as early as 1985 when they were doing this blackout confinement chicken raising. There were signs on all over the place to turn your lights off if you came around at night. Who the heck ever came up with this ?

    • Grace says:

      That’s a great question. Clearly, someone not connected. Isn’t it great we’re moving in a better more satisfying direction with small farms!

      • I remember my Dad when he retired wanted to move back to Arkansas or Missouri a by some cheap land and start a factory farm. This was back in the late 1980s. The real estate people back then were selling this idea. He wanted us kids to help him run it. What a huge mistake that would have been.

  2. Charles says:

    As always; another great blog. I’m starting to look forward to every Wednesday to see what you’ll post. Beautiful pictures accompanied with word of true content. You want to know what the meaning of life is all about? A life filled with purpose and passion. Right now I have a job I loath. However, it provides very well for my family and it’s putting me closer to my goal of ranching/farming. One day at a time and one more step closer to my goal. That’s all you can really ask for when you’re already blessed. Keep up the good work.


    • Grace says:

      Thank you! I know that feeling. Doing work we like is a step in the right direction indeed. But in order for me to get to this place I had to make peace with where I was. It feels like I’m always making peace with my reality. And always intending for improvements. Life is good! You will get there!

  3. Brie Aronson says:

    Thanks for sharing this Grace. You have a great way with words!

  4. Joel Scalzo says:

    I’ve always wanted to have a turkey farm. Thanks for sharing those great photos.

    • Grace says:

      Turkeys are really cool. Not everyone is fond of them but I find them terribly curious and funny. When we first got started we raised 4! We start small! We raised them with our ducks and chickens. It was a hoot watching these 3 together. Lots of laughter! Go for it!

  5. Yikes! I had no idea that they never saw light even…that seems so cruel.

  6. Thanks for sharing that. We farm the way people think everybody does it. If only people knew the truth…understood the immorality behind the average dinner…

    • Grace says:

      We’re in a paradigm shift. Leaning more toward people coming into awareness about these sort of things. The animals are a big part of this shift. We’re all in this together!

  7. Melissa says:

    Grace, I look so forward to your posts on Wednesdays. You express a true love of your life. Such happiness. I am raising turkeys for the first time this year. Everyone said how stupid they are. I don’t find any animal stupid, just different from one another. I just love my turkeys. They sing when I come into the room. We are raising them with our Cornish X Rocks. The turkeys are kind to the chickens and they keep them active. I am so horrified at how some people think animals should be raised. I milked at a factory farm for a year and am still in shock over the “abuse” that is viewed as the “right” way to raise and keep livestock. We owe these animals so much. They give their lives to feed our bodies.

    • Grace says:

      Have a great time with those turks! They will entertain you! They love to strut! I love that dance they do.

  8. Caitlyn M. says:

    Reading through that story, and then seeing your picture of feeding your birds at sunrise, is such a compelling difference… It really makes a person think! On one hand you have a horrible existence for both man and animal, and on the other there is harmony and peace… Just looking at the picture evokes a feeling of calmness. Somehow I don’t think a picture of a turkey confinement house would evoke the same feeling…

    I am SO excited to be raising my own turkeys this year!! I’ve been doing chickens for the last 4–5 years, but this is my first year to try turkeys. 🙂

    • Grace says:

      Are you starting small? I love starting small and then building. Turkeys can be tricky. They like the brooder to be hotter than the chicks and their guts are more sensitive. You should see these differences as you go along. Have fun!

  9. Grace says:

    Welcome! There are no mistakes! Glad you found us.