The Boytim Bunch

The Boytim Bunch

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The way it should be done.. by the man they call "The Lunatic Farmer"

And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be satisfied. — Deut 11:15
After a long stay in Pennsylvania we finally started home. The highlight of the trip home was the "Lunatic Farm Tour" that it pleased the Lord to put us on :)
 I say this because the tour was for sure, absolutely, sold out... but we called anyway and explained we were from Texas and kinda knew Joel (we met him at the Food Conference in San Antonio after all!) and lo and behold - Brie got us a spot on the tour :)
I have a thing for churches with steeples - Katie took this picture for me.

I always love to see cows crossing the road in front of a car... this however was a mean looking bull.. in front of our car.. but he moved pretty quickly.
we arrived at Polyface and found these cute little creatures all over the place - forage based rabbits! What a novel concept - animals eating what they are supposed to!
and LOVING it!
There were a lot of these structures. Right now they are full of beautiful plants.  
from my understanding - at times these houses are the home to rabbits and chickens. In the really cold winter months the rabbits move into the cages and the chickens occupy the space beneath. The chickens scratch the rabbit poop into the soil and create a wonderful rich compost that is then planted later... amazing - no toxic runoff, no nasty smell - and wonderful veggies to boot!
this one even had a heating stove!
There were a number of them on the property - I would guess so with the amount of chickens they have to house during the winter.
ah yes - the beginning of our tour...
130 people showed up in the rain to attend this
Joel was not our driver - he is always all smiles!
Pastured pork. Joel explained how keeping the pigs in this 2 strand hot wire makes the entire thing totally portable. They rotate pastures not based on time but based on when the pigs run out  of feed. They have a certain amount of feed they put into feeders and have figured out the ratio of time to feed. When the feed runs out, the pigs move. The pastures here were lush and there was no smell. The animals were helping the environment and actually "working" - using their piggy noses to make better soil and getting to eat at the same time. 


now the chicken tractors - these tractors have broilers in them

they are 3/4 enclosed because of the harsh winter here. They weigh about 200 pounds and are moved daily with a hand truck contraption that Joel built. It takes 1 minute to move each tractor (he showed us). It takes 1 hour to move all their birds

all us lunatics out in the rain listening to Joel

the Chicken Mobile - these are the laying hens. They are totally free range and are moved just a bit every day to keep their pasture nice a green. (Sadly chickens are a bit dense and will not range far from their home - or maybe they are smart and know not to get too far away - either way, they have to moved just a bit ever so often so they don't turn the grass into a muddy mess). These chickens are happily cleaning up after the cows that were here a while before them. They love to mix the cowpies into the soil while looking for fly larvae. Helps mix the cowpies into the soil and, after a bit of a rest - it is a variable salad bar for the cows again. With no hard dried up cowpies to mess with.

a chicken being allowed to show her chickeness

I wish some cows would have come up but they were down in the trees out of the rain.. nice that they have a place to get out of the rain huh... but these are a few pictures of where they usually reside.
and Joel's brother runs a few hives with the cows.
 This is what you do when you don't have mono farming practices! Your pigs are helping the land, your cows can be raised with bees, your chicken field does not stink and is not a health hazard and your rabbits and chickens work in sync to provide you with meat and vegetables!


this is not a place where you have to worry about your kids playing - they can build forts and play in the fields with the animals.. because the animals are not sick.

the packaged product - now this...I would eat and gladly support. Did you see how nice those animals looked.. if you could have smelled the fields - you would have smelled glorious rain and grass.

and so many folks lining up to purchase it! Did my heart good to see this. His freezers were almost empty by the end of the tour. And I have to say - Joel did not try and sell his product at all. This was not a sells tour. This was a total information tour and a "please go do this yourself" tour. Everyone knew that and just wanted to support a local lunatic farmer.

Tour of an Amish Farm (Caution - pictures of crude Animal Husbandry)

We took a tour of a small Amish Farm. We really enjoyed the buggy ride out and visiting with the owner of the farm,
This was on our ride out

 A beautiful apple orchard
They have gotten a LOT of rain so everything is so green! 

interesting placement for a pillar don't you think?

Our tour guides house ( just so you know, our tour guide said it was fine to take any pictures we wanted. From what I understand - Amish believe it is vain to POSE for pictures but they do not mind you taking pictures of them - as long as they are not posing.)

 and barn and grandson 

then we wandered into this little building. It was full of fermenting corn, soy meal and some left overs from making apple cider. This was the cows feed. The man told us that they have so many cows they cannot raise enough feed for them so they have to have stuff trucked the tune of TONS of feed (corn and soy) trucked in. When he was telling me this I was wondering where in the world all these cows were - we certainly did not see any in the fields. I was still pretty naive - I still have the misguided belief that cows get to graze and get some grain as a supplement...
this was a dietary analysis of what the cows are fed.

 then we stepped into this room. I was surprised (and I think everyone else was too) at the smell. I wish the camera had smellavision - it smelled chokingly bad. This was the milking room - odd I thought to have a milking room with no cows and no way for cows to get in. The farmer explained that they used to have to milk the cows into pails and them come pump it into this tank. Now they use the hoses you see laying across the top of the tank and just attach it to the cow. "OK" I thought - they bring the cows up to the back door and milk them. Still why all the smell?
If you look to the right of the picture you see a doorway we are about to go through - this was the source of the smell.....
(BTW - this particular farmer provides milk to a very well known butter maker)

I literally turned on my camera seconds after the farmer said "Some people believe that these cows would rather be outside eating grass. They really just like it right here inside out of the sun and rain".
These poor cows were literally chained up and NEVER leave the concrete square that is their doom. It was starting to dawn on me that these cows spend their entire lives chained in this box with a small scratching post hanging above them so they can scratch their backs with the little bit of movement their chains allow. They stand here and eat corn and soy (TONS of it) all day and are fed antibiotics because they are so sick. A majority of these cows were laying down in their own feces.

this poor cow had some real issues with her udder

the corn and soy feed is put in a feeding trough sort of area cut out of the concrete in front of them and they just sit here and eat it all day

and this is where they poop. This place, this building was so disgusting it turned my stomach, and I have a pretty tough stomach.

these cows laying around in their own feces, eating GMO corn and soy, being fed a continual stream of antibiotics - how can any think that their milk (or any of their milk products)  is in any way nourishing? Call me extreme -but I say the milk is downright dangerous. No wonder they have to severely high heat pasteurize this stuff! With all the poop and mastitis pus that gets in there! I cannot imagine that anyone can say that this is caring for God's creation in any way, shape or form. Just the waste from this place is a tremendous hazard.
Shortly after this we went to look at some calves. The farmer explained to us that in the birthing process the cows can't actually birth their babies but the babies have to be pulled out. WHAT! You are saying that all of a sudden, after thousands of years, mama cows cannot have babies without us humans PULLING them out! And of course mama was not with the baby - she was chained up in her prison on the concrete slab.
I have to ask - if the cows really are better off on that slab - why don't you see that on any of the cartons of milk.. you know, the cow with the diarrhea down her udder on her two foot chain. Why do you always see cows in green pastures under blue skies? We really need to get our heads out of the sand and start looking at the reality here - we are supporting this, we are agreeing to this, we are, by continuing to buy these products, condoning this kind of treatment of God's creations. I don't know about you but honestly, as far as we are concerned... we will do without these products before we will support this kind of treatment and before we will put this kind of merchandise in our bodies.
Sadly the organic standard is not any better - it is the same kind of treatment - the cows are just fed organic grain. Organic cows standing in their own organic poop.
The horses were even sad looking - they were in very small cages and spent the entire time laying their ears back and looking mean.

the farmers granddaughter jumping - they have had this trampoline since their kids were little

the farmers son cutting hay - he was also spraying something or other on the fields with this machine. The farmer talked about him having to use a 4 horse team. We saw lots of 4 horse teams. Will explained to me later that used to, they could plow with a 2 horse team but that they have compacted the soil so much with their chemicals and over use that they have to use more horses to plow now. What used to be  2 horse field is a 4 or 6 horse field now.
Bella on our trip back