Setting Up A New Farm

As you may know, Polyface rents and manages several farms in the area near Polyface.  Polyface animals are kept at the farms and either managed by contract farmers or Polyface staff/employees.  The animals on rental farms are managed the same way as Polyface.   The farms without on-site managers are visited every day to move animals and take care of other needs. Different farms have different animals. Some have cows, pigs, layers, broilers, turkeys or any combination thereof.  Our cows actually rotate between farms according to a master grazing plan. When moving day comes, several haulers come to one farm with their trailers and haul animals to the other farm(s).

Polyface recently had the opportunity to rent a new farm in the city of Staunton. It has been an amazing opportunity to be part of setting up this farm. It is a great example of the portable farm concept and how in a matter of days a farm can be set up to manage using Polyface methods.  In literally less than a week, the farm was set up and ready to receive cows. There is still work to be done (like building the corral), but for now the farm is operational!

To start, we all went over as a team to plan the layout of the water system and electric fencing. Once this was done, we dove in and started setting it all up.  Setting up the water system involved setting up pipe from a water source to fill the cistern, setting up the pump and laying out pipe to take the water to all areas of the farm (to fill cow tanks).

Setting up the fencing involved repairing and replacing existing fencing as necessary and adding new single strand permanent electric fencing to separate the pastures into manageable sections.  We brought over a tractor and post pounder to assist with this task.  These bigger sections can then be separated into paddocks using stakes and single strand electric wire for managed grazing according to the grass needs of the cows.

Here are a few pictures to give you a better idea of the farm set up.


Taking down barbed wire, a lot of which was tangled and fallen to the ground anyway.



Rolling out water pipe to deliver water to cow tanks.



In this case, we are not burying the water line due to the nature of the lease. On some rental farms, we bury the water line.



Running the permanent electric fence wire.



The cows have arrived and are ready to move!



This is a cool shot that shows where the cows have grazed (left side) and where they have not (right side).



The cows are ready for fresh salad bar!


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About Heather Juda

Heather was born in Atlanta, GA, but spent 19 years in Colorado before moving to Virginia. She came to Polyface for the 2012 internship and has stayed on as the first female apprentice. She became interested in the food industry when she was in high school, and over the years sought to eat in a healthier way through community gardening, hunting and supporting local farmers. She had a very blessed and “comfortable” life in Colorado complete with a good IT career and condo, but on a calling from the Lord, she left it all to start a new life in farming at Polyface. She looks forward to seeing what the Lord has planned for the future and hopes to use what she learns at Polyface to provide healthy food for people!

13 Responses to Setting Up A New Farm

  1. Leilani says:

    Love to see Polyface in action! It is a joy and a blessing to see more folks adopting these methods and prospering. Our lives have changed dramatically since we started our journey and many like minded folks here in north florida are doing the same things, starting to not feel like the minority.

  2. aumcchildren says:

    That is so awesome. I’m glad you guys are spreading out. I’m also glad you are very good at showing people how to use your system. I am currently using mob, rotational grazing for sheep on my one acre. I only have 6 but am finding already that I could support a ton more. Around here the normal number of sheep per acre is that is why we started with that. My yard is growing faster than the sheep can eat, so I am going to experiment with small scale silage for my chickens this year. Chickens get free range of the whole acre 😉 Thanks so much for all of you being an inspiration. My hope is to visit the farm in the fall as part of our vacation plans.

  3. Nita Smyth says:

    Hi. I am so intrigued by this! I have always wanted to own a farm and raise endangered species of sheep, but really have no idea how to do it. I am considering moving to western Virginia and would appreciate any help or advise you all might have. Thank you!!! You are amazing!!!

  4. Russell says:

    This is so exciting! I can’t wait to get some cows, my grass is growing way to fast.

  5. Kerry says:

    Thank you for posting about this! While I know it’s hard work, it’s encouraging to see the transformation. Makes it all seem much more achievable!

  6. Laura and Carl Resh says:

    My wife and I have a small cattle farm in north-central Wst Virginia. When we bought the property the fencing was a disaster and the water system was non-existent. In doing our research we found Joel Salatin, read his book “Salad Bar Beef”, and that was all it took. We were convinced his system was the way to go. Now, seven grazing seasons later, our pastures are completely different than when we started. There is still room for improvement, but for anyone out there looking into the Polyface method of raising animals, don’t hesitate. DO IT! And by the way, we’ve managed to aquire a pretty nice group of faithful beef clients that love our product!

  7. We have about 10 acres of pastureland about 15 minute’s drive from PolyFace. I’d love to partner with you to use the land rather than just mow it like I do now. Who can I contact to see if you are interested?

  8. Matt K says:

    Are you using the single strand electric on the perimeter, or is there an additional fence?

  9. Jessica says:

    So neat to “see” it in action. Wish more farmers could see it done this way.
    I am loving all that green grass! (It’s snowing here today.)

  10. Tamara says:

    You job. Like hearing about Polyface Farm spreading its roots. I hope to hear of similar plans popping up all over the country.

  11. The picture quality is very perfect ! Especially the grass looks are so nice and very clean too.

  12. Katie says:

    Love to catch these peeks into real farm operation….hope to visit in person this summer.

  13. David Yeoman says:

    I’m currently trying to purchase a 69 acre farm in Michigan. I’ve never farmed before but after seeing Food Inc. and a number of other documentaries I became passionate about playing my part in fixing the food system at least for my kids and the neighboring community. Not to mention maintaining the air and water quality, giving value to the community. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Good stuff;)