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February 11 2024

Part three at Polyface Farm

Familiarity of evening chores

This is the third part of my stay at Polyface Farm, Virginia, USA.

You can read part one here and part two here.

Part 3

Joel drops me off at the workshop and I join the apprentices for evening chores.

I take some wire snippers to a piece of galvanised tin to remove the corners.

It is satisfying slicing through metal. I wonder to myself what would it be like to work metal for a living. I envisage myself making crafty jewellery designs.

That will need to wait for another day as I join apprentice Grace (her real name) in something more familiar - collecting eggs.

Filling up baskets of eggs surrounded by adoring hens is something I’ve missed and I’m glad of the opportunity to reconnect.

There is a certain joy about reaching into a fresh nest of hay and pulling still-warm eggs out with bare hands. Turning them on your palms, enjoying the texture against your skin.

The baskets are full and the nesting boxes shut for the night. We make our way back to the egg packing room attached to the back of the farm shop.

It’s clean and functional. The chat comes easily and we work together in companionable banter.

It is reassuring to be back handling eggs. My mind is at ease.

The eggs are weighed individually and packed safely into their boxes.

No eggs wasted. Not a single one.

Any deemed cracked, humongous or tiny end up in staff packs.

Beyond repair eggs to the compost pile.

The majority are for the lucky consumers.

When we turn off the lights of the packing shed and walk out the door, deliciousness wafts across the farm yard.

The glow of Joel and Teresa’s house beckons and we make our way over.

Dinner is measured in metres not miles and is testament to the obvious love and care both Joel and Teresa share in their life’s work.

Teresa is an incredible cook and she has some of the most nutrient dense food on the planet to work with.

Conversation is easy and natural and sways between recipes and royal rendezvous’.

Joel’s international notoriety is balanced by a down to earth homeliness.

I am struck with gratitude to share this experience but at the same time astounded by the normality of it all.

Of course I’m sitting down over a plate of home reared beef, potato frittata and cheesy squash casserole with Joel, Teresa and the apprentices Grace and Kabe.

Of course we’re just chatting about the time Joel was invited by King Charles to his home in the United Kingdom.

Joel might very well be the most famous farmer in the world, inspiring others across the globe with his talks, books and on farm stewardships, but at the back of it all, he’s just a regular guy with a regular family.

Brings me back to Nature.

Of course she is incredible, astounding and perhaps we don’t fully understand her either.

Wonderful, amazing, complicated simplicity.

All we have to do is follow her lead. She has it all worked out.


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