Guest post by Benjamin Horevay. Benjamin, who was a Polyface Farms intern, recently helped us on the farm for two weeks.
Having never been to the south, my first exposure has been splendid. I arrived on a beautiful summery day and was greeted at the bus stop by Daniel and David. After navigating through the city traffic, we arrived at the farm. There are animals, of course, and animals mean chores – I was straightway initiated: helping David move and feed broilers, getting fresh hay for the cows, and cleaning the barn after milking was completed.
In the days following, we butchered rabbits and broilers, sharpened knives, went to the fair, cleaned the parlor area, visited Cabela’s, prepped and overseeded the pasture with annual rye grass, planted the fall garden with strawberries, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula, radishes, kale and spinach, which then needed weeding – no insignificant task, mind you; and re-seeded (as some of our original seeds proved stubborn, for which their just rewards are a place in the soil forever in a decomposed form!).
After several days helping David with the “outside” chores, Daniel gave me a crash course on milking. From securing the proper cow, to recording milk weight individually, or hand starting – there are many little details to manage and Daniel does so quickly and easily. I have found it quite enjoyable. You get to know the cows on a more personal level, which is right up my alley!
First, fetch the correct cow, after which she must be thoroughly washed. As the first few squirts of milk have a higher bacterial count, we hand start them, squeezing the milk into a bowl. This milk does not go to waste; the calves will take care of that!
Then, place the claw on the teats and let the milk flow! Meanwhile, get the next cow and begin again. Be sure not to let the machine run too long; once the milk stops flowing the claw needs to be removed.
The Hammond families have been gracious hosts; I have been more than well fed. Anna does a fantastic job in the kitchen, and after much pleading and begging, I finally agreed to help taste test some new-recipe cashew date bars. As I write, I can hear the ice cream machine running… which is, in fact, truly making ice cream, as the recipe is 3 parts cream to 1 part milk. I think I’ll go enjoy some…