Last weekend we joined the Lunatic Tour at Polyface Farm. It was a quintessential autumn day with the Blue Ridge Mountains as our backdrop. Daniel Salatin led the tour, answering questions patiently and explaining animal and pasture management clearly within the context of Polyface's goals and environs. Poyface's open door policy displays its stacks of waterers, shelves of batteries, rolls of wire and piles of gravel to visiting eyes. Farming does not resemble soft edged photos in magazine spreads but at Polyface it is orderly and functional.
Because we have never intended the scale of Lilac Hill Farm to be as large as Polyface, I have not read Joel's how-to style of books as a business plan but a source of ideas. Like Polyface we are starting on rocky ground without much fertility and hoping to grow meat in a sustainable manner. We utilize eggmobiles, poultry tractors and rotational grazing. With the side yard so close to the fields the layers are behind netting,not free ranging after the beef. I have not raised pigs since I found out just how fast they can run and my beef mob is a mob of three. Unlike the home farm at Polface we breed our cow, ewes, doe, and poultry to provide replacement stock.Our greatest detour from the Salatin model is our focus on grassfed lamb instead of beef. Fortunately , according to Daniel, sheep work well within the model with adjustments for fencing.
Refining our plans for Lilac Hill Farm was a natural way to pass the time as we returned from Virginia. Mapping out paddocks, with an eye towards facilitating daily rotations on our hard summer ground and integrating the poultry, sheep and beef to better manage pasture, pests and manure were the focus of our conversation. Now that we have started farmsteading, our discussions have more substance, framed by the constraints, chosen for and imposed by LHF.