Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
However, in honor of tradition, I thought that I would share my mashed potato recipe with you. I know that mashed potatoes really don't need a recipe, but these are not your everyday taters! They are just a little something special. (and easy too, if you find yourself cooking for a big group)
- 5 lbs potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
- 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 3 tsp onion or garlic salt
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
Combine all ingredients. Pour into your slow cooker. Cover. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Hint: These potatoes can be prepared 3-4 days in advance of serving and kept in the refrigerator until ready to warm! (Isn't that awesome?!) :o)
Sheri's tip: I like to peel and slice about 6 cloves of garlic and put them in the water with the potatoes while they are cooking, then I ommit the garlic/onion salt and just add a little more regular salt. I love my potatoes with lots of garlic!
Do you have any family traditions or recipes to share? Please do! I would love some new ideas!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Amazingly, even the largest companies in the world still receive more than 50 percent of their business by word-of-mouth recommendation. That’s quite astounding when you think about $1 million 30-second Super Bowl ads.
At Polyface, we’ve built our customer base on rewarded customers. Whenever we get a new customer, our first question is not: “What would you like to buy?”, but rather: “Where did you hear about us?” We reward our evangelists with free product. Our culture is starved for appreciation. If we would shower our good customers with gratitude, they will hand pick our next patron base, prescreened and motivated.
Word of mouth may not be flash-in-the-pan patron building, but it always gets the best quality customer. Only good customers are good for business; bad customers are a drain. If new customers aren’t coming, I don’t assume advertising is the answer. I assume my product or service aren’t where they ought to be; they aren’t compelling another wave to join us. I assume if we’re in a slump, our marketing offense is probably poor quality and service, not an anemic advertising budget.
By now, some of you may be either livid with these ideas or taking on air in disbelief that somebody this radical would dare address you—especially if you run an ad agency. Not to worry. Only 1-3 percent of businesses are on the lunatic fringe—that’s me. And only 10 percent innovate, so your future is assured serving the 90 percent of businesses who will dismiss me as a lunatic. To those 90 percent, I simply say: thanks for giving me niche and value security.
To be continued...
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
While this may sound like sacrilege and we all know how growing businesses are starved for cash, consider how many have lost the edge of their good qualities after suddenly becoming flush with cash. I’ll be honest that I haven’t figured out how all this looks yet in a capitalistic society, but I know the danger of huge cash infusions.
At Polyface, we’ve been starved for cash more years than not. And yet that is exactly what makes us innovative—we’re hungry. And when we’re hungry, we’re much more creative. When we need some capital, we appeal to our patrons to give us short-term no interest loans and they love to invest in something noble. It’s more satisfying than just writing a check to Nature Conservancy. We helped our little Amish feed mill get up and going with a two-year no-interest loan several years ago. Best investment we ever made. You can’t ask someone else to do something you’re not willing to do yourself, so this established a precedent of caring investment rather than just interest-return investment.
If your product or service is good enough and your mission noble enough and your cause life-changing enough, you can find other ways to raise capital besides an IPO. This slower, more relationally oriented, pay-as-you-go growth is inherently more organic. Growing from the inside out rather than the outside in follows the natural pattern. Plants and animals can’t grow beyond their ecological resource base. When we violate that principle in nature, we get lots of growth and no quality. Chemical-fertilized hybrid corn contains way less protein and 7 fewer enzymes than open pollinated, compost-fertilized varieties. You just get more bushels of junk.
Being satisfied with organic growth keeps us real. If this one principle were used across America’s business landscape, we would probably have fewer corporate scandals. Meteoric rises usually result in meteoric falls, so beware fast cash and the imbalance it usually creates. My dad had a saying for it: “Overrunning your headlights.” He also said to beware of people “born with a big auger.”
To be continued...
Monday, November 10, 2008
We do everything possible to not have employees. I don’t mean we’re against help, or against teams. But I’m a fan of bonuses and commissions. I don’t even believe in child allowances—nobody should get paid for breathing.
Most farms going through a growth phase similar to ours would simply hire minimum wage workers. But we have attempted, and for the most part succeeded, in building in a commission-based package for every position. When our daughter-in-law took over restaurant sales, we put her on a commission. Our delivery driver receives a commission per pound delivered, above a guaranteed floor. Both of those positions, therefore, receive a reward for watching for new customers and taking care of existing ones.
We use independent growers who are on a per piece pay scale. That way they can work hard and or more conscientiously, and earn more. When we hired an apprentice manager, he also took on the tour guide role and we share 50/50 in that income. Yes, he gets a floor salary, but also enjoys building an independent business within this framework. The income earning potential is open ended.
Can you imagine what would happen in America’s public schools if graduates who had been out for, say, ten years, could rate their teachers and the top ten percent received a $50,000 bonus check? And the bottom ten percentile were fired?
I suggest that rather than spend a bunch of money on trendy advertising and catchy PR firms, why not redesign job descriptions to create such an enthusiastic workforce that we wouldn’t need to hire ad agencies or PR firms? We live in a culture that loves minimalism and just-get-by-ism. I think too often we create that spirit by being too timid to innovate our compensation packages so that eager beavers get more than a pat on the back. I have no wage or salary aspirations, and keep my remuneration just a few percentage points above the heavy lifters in our business. What would I do with all that money, anyway? I’d rather go the grave a pauper but loved by my people, than go wealthy and unloved. Perhaps if more CEOs were less materialistic, their workforce would also show more noble values.
To be continued...
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
This idea comes directly from community building and transparency. I have personally invented several concepts and terms: salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobiles, pigaerators. Nothing makes me happier than when people use these words and duplicate the concepts. I hope they become household words.
“But what about competition or copycats?” you ask? I figure that if I can’t stay ahead of the copiers, then I don’t deserve to stay ahead. If you study innovation, the ones who are out in front have already gone through a learning curve. While copiers can shorten the curve or change its trajectory, they still have to go through it. This attitude keeps me lean and learning rather than bureaucratic and superficial. Imagine if everyone had to depend on their own cleverness to stay ahead of the competition. Talk about innovation immersion.
At Polyface, we have a 24/7/365 open door policy. Anyone can come anytime to see anything anywhere. We share our techniques, our models, everything. Is that foolish? By some counts, thousands of farms now copy what we do. Are we scared? No, because every business that copies our model will heal another few acres. We’re much more concerned about healing than competition. A business devoted to healing tends to preserve its patron base. And what a great story.
Yes, we’ve had numerous people misuse or abuse our concepts. But I’ve learned that what goes around comes around. And when a person begins taking credit for someone elses’ achievements, the market will eventually reward the innovator—unless the innovator becomes a graspy, paranoid, close-to-the-chest protectionist who tries to decapitate the competition.
Bottom line: the vulnerability that this notion creates also offers a magnanimous spirit that viscerally manifests Stephen Covey’s plenty vs. scarcity habit in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Most people tend to say they believe in openness but in actuality spend a lot of time protecting their stash.
To be continued...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
To be continued...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Travis (5 yrs) broke his arm on Saturday. He was playing outside next to our brooder, fell and broke both bones on his right forearm - the radius and ulna. Poor guy was in a lot of pain.
We took him to the emergency room and they were able to splint it a little bit. However, it's not completely set right so he is going in for surgery tomorrow morning at UVA in Charlottesville.
Please pray that the doctors will be able to get it set without having to cut it open or put pins in it. They're aiming to just put him to sleep, set the arm, cast it and send him home. That is what we are hoping for too!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The above picture was taken this morning from my deck. For those of you who enjoy our pork, you might like to know that the pigs are in those trees, munching on those yummy acorns. Polyface land, consisting of about 550 acres, goes just over the top of the mountain. It's about 4 miles or so to the top.
On another note, today is our last day for butchering broilers for the year. We're really looking forward to the break. We'll start processing broilers again in May.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
- Cows are herbivores
- Cow and bull an have horns
- Cows have 4 stomachs
- A heifer is a cow who has not had a calf yet, once she gives birth she becomes a cow
- Cows have no top teeth, only bottom teeth
- When a rabbit gives birth, it is called kindling
- Rabbits are herbivores
- A rooster is not needed for hens to lay eggs
- A young laying hen, before she is old enough to lay eggs, is called a pullet
- Chicken are omnivores
- A baby turkey is called a poult
- Turkeys are omnivores
Leave a comment and tell me which ones you found the most interesting. Which ones did you already know?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
However, because Tuesdays are bit on the crazy side (or at least a little more crazy than normal), I don't usually get around to fixing a very nice meal those nights. It's usually a left-overs or grab what you can find kind of meal. But this Tuesday, I had some chicken that needed to be used up, so I had Daniel breast it out for me and decided to try a new recipe. (One of these days I'll take photos of each step on how to cut-up a chicken and post it on here for you.)
I don't know if you have had the opportunity to check out the Pioneer Woman Cooking site, but she has some awesome recipes. I was perusing it the other day and saw her recipe for the chicken/bacon sandwich thing and was inspired. In case you haven't gotten around to looking at it, here's how you make it:
You will need:
- Polyface chicken breasts (1 per person)
- Polyface Country cured bacon (don't soak it this time if you normally do)
- lemon-pepper seasoning
- cheese, sliced (I used colby, cause that's what I had)
- Put the chicken breasts between to pieces of plastic wrap and pound with either a meat mallet or a rolling pen until the breast is equal in thickness all the way around. Just don't pound it too thin. I think mine with just a little thicker than a 1/4 inch.
- Cut the bacon strips in half and fry them until they are chewy - don't crisp them. Set them aside and drain your pan, reserving about 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings in the pan
- Liberally sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the lemon-pepper. And place in your frying pan on med to med-low heat. Let fry for about 4 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and layer the pieces of bacon on top of each breast. I used about 4 slices per breast, but my broiler was really small.
- Next lay cheese slices all the way across the top of the bacon. Put the lid on the pan and let it continue to cook until all of the cheese is melted. This took just about 3-4 minutes for me.
- Serve it and enjoy!
The Pioneer Woman says to serve it with a bun, but I didn't have any, so we ate it plain. Next time, when it's not a Tuesday I want to make mashed potatoes or twice-baked potatoes to go with it. We just ate it straight and I served it with some of my home-canned peaches. It was fantastic.
What do you think?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
They learn and do everything that we do. The slogan for this experience is "Spend a summer with us and leave years ahead" and it's true. Mostly we focus on the broilers with this group. They learn everything from staring the chicks, to building the pens, to processing the finished broiler and marketing to the customer. However, they do learn snatches of cow moves, pig operation, turkeys, rabbits, gardening and everything else that goes on around here.
For food: We provide meat out of the Polyface supply for their meals and once per week (usually it's been Saturday evenings) we grill out with everyone together. Right now they are taking turns one night per week eating dinner with the Salatin families - either at Joel & Teresa's or at Daniel & Sheri's, depending on where the apprentices and Matt are that evening).
This year we have 4 guys and 2 girls. This is the first year that we have been able to have girls - mostly do to lack of adequate housing in the past. This year we were able to secure an apartment in Middlebrook (about 5 minutes away) for the girls to stay in. The guys stay in a mobile-classroom-turned-bunkhouse which we all call "the Roost", complete with a small kitchen, bathroom and bunk beds.
Now to introduce the girls:
(Picture - Cutting up broilers - Katrina on the left, Amanda on the right)
Amanda Henderson is from Detroit area, Michigan. Before she came here, she was in the peace corps for 2 1/2 years working on a rural well drilling project in Bolivia. She came to us looking for a career change. When I asked her what her favorite job is here at the farm, she said that she loves it all. She likes the different variety of jobs that Polyface has to offer.
Katrina Fowler comes from Dallas, Texas. She just graduated from NYU with a degree in Nutrition. She loves to bake and read for fun. And the only job that she doesn't like here at the farm is cleaning the broiler totes after processing. :o)
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Get out your blender and let's make some eggnog!
You will need:
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 3 wonderful Polyface eggs (I use medium or large, depends on what is in plenty)
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup sugar (or honey or maple syrup or fresh fruit, we've used them all)
Pour all of this into your blender and mix. We like to add a couple of ice cubes at the end and then crush them in the blender to get it really cold and creamy. Then drink up and make another batch, because if you are like we are, one just won't be enough!
Some other options are to add a banana, or yogurt, or strawberries. Sometimes, I'll add a little nutmeg or cinnamon - just depends on the mood for the day. We love to mix and match things. Oh, and for those of you who are wondering...no, I didn't leave anything out - I don't cook the eggs before I use them. If I were using eggs from the grocery store, you couldn't pay me enough to drink them raw, but the wonderful eggs from Polyface are great! We've been making this eggnog for years and never had any problems.
So, what do you think? Yummy?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Once Matt and Amanda Young get here and are settled in, I hope to introduce you to them and let you know about their venture here.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Today we will introduce you to the Salatin families: