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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there really is an Uncle Joel...

It was a cold Sunday in February.  I had just finished presenting at a local food conference.  Hubby was at work, the same place he'd worked for the past 12 years.  He called at 4:30 and said he was coming home. I asked why.  (His shift didn't end until 7.)

He said "I've been laid off."  Those words echoing even after he'd hung up...

What were we going to do?  I was a stay-at-home mom.  His job was our only income and our insurance.  We had two kids under the age of two.

We cried, we prayed, we asked God to help us.  To show us what we do now, because we didn't know.

We had recently watched the movie "Food Inc." and saw a farmer in there that caught our attention.  His name was Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm in Virginia.  I googled him late one night and found that not only was he a farmer, he wrote books.  And I read books.

I ordered, then and there, Pastured Poultry Profits and You Can Farm.  Hubby started reading PPP and I read You Can Farm.  I read all 486 pages in two days.  We devoured these books.  This was what we were to do, we were going to be grass farmers!

What you have to understand is that both Hubby and I were raised on conventional farms.  I've tank mixed chemicals, cultivated summer fallow and fed feedlot calves.  Not only did we read these regenerative agriculture, land healing books...they spoke to our souls!  THIS is how we should farm.  THIS is how we should feed, not only our family, but our community.

We immediately made plans to start.  We planned to increase our vegetable CSA, get laying hens, do pastured broilers.  Hubby, who had never been around livestock of ANY kind, took the poultry head on and read all he could.

We all have those keystone moments in our lives, a moment in time we can point to that life fundamentally changed for us.  Ours is the first weekend in February, 2010.  We have all of Joel Salatin's books, we read them often.  We give them as gifts.  We quote his "Joel-isms" in our daily vernacular.  In fact, we refer to him as "Uncle Joel" because he is such a part of our life.

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting Joel on his visit to ND.  Hubby and I took him to dinner on Saturday night.  It's always risky meeting someone that you admire.  Someone who literally changed your life.  But Mr. Salatin did not disappoint.  Oh no, he encouraged, inspired, entertained.  And judging by our laughter and conversation, just maybe we did the same for him.

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