A lot of things have happened in the past couple of months since I pretty much stopped writing. My son has come and gone. Jake is no longer with us. But life goes on and I seem to stay busy.
Yesterday we took a road trip down to Staunton with a double purpose. We are starting to think about a new dog, knowing full well there will never be another dog like Jake. Last week on a whim I called the breeder where we got Jake in 1998, one of 10 dogs in an OOPS! litter which resulted from a champion golden retriever meeting up by chance with a champion black lab. It was an interesting conversation. First of all she told me that one of Jake’s littermates had died just the previous week. Second, she said another oops! dog of about 2 years had been returned to her because the 4-year-old in his house had become allergic.
Despite the fact that my husband has declared we will never again own a dog that sheds, we stopped by Deja Vu Kennel in Bealeton to see Riley. Unfortunately Riley turned out to be a bigger problem than just an allergen. He was the one who snarled viciously at us as we approached. He was no Jake replacement, that was for sure.
Yesterday afternoon, however, we stopped by Old Mill Kennel in Staunton to see golden doodle puppies, a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. If done right, they don’t shed and they combine the temperament of the golden with the intelligence of the poodle. The puppies were indeed adorable and already spoken for. I think I am coming around to the idea of a dog with messy hair who has to be groomed a few times a year.
The real reason for our trip was to take tour of Polyface Farm, the source of most of our protein these days. Ever since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we have purchased our beef, chicken, and eggs from Polyface, knowing the story but not having seen it firsthand.
Today’s tour leader turned out the to Joel Salatin himself, the guy who totally revolutionized farming so as to create an environment which improved the land over time while providing us with much of our food. We all piled onto hay wagons, which took us to see broiler chickens, pigs, turkeys, and beef cattle, all living contentedly off the land. There was no smell, no noise, and a bunch of happy animals mostly munching on fresh grass.
I may not agree with Joel’s politics (Libertarian) or religion (fundamentalist something graduate of Bob Jones U), but everything he said about farming today made infinite sense. He raises thousands of animals every year and needs a vet about once every other year. He uses no antibiotics and no artificial hormones. He simply relies on nature to support the natural relationship between grass, chickens, poop, bugs, cows, etc., emphasizing how outputs become inputs in this cycle of life.
I came home more committed than ever to Polyface products. Oh, and by the way, this big guy Michael is the night patrol who keeps the farm free of predators.