Join us as we have a candid conversation with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms as we discuss the homestead tsunami sweeping the world.
We fondly refer to Joel as the grandfather of the homesteading community. With decades of experience in the farming and homesteading world, he brings incredible insight to this discussion of the current state of homesteading. Joel’s upcoming book, Homestead Tsunami, serves as a source of inspiration and aspiration for those who desire to articulate a solid “why” behind their decision to live a homesteading lifestyle. No matter where you are on the homesteading spectrum, may you find encouragement that this way of life is worth it.
In this episode, we cover:
- Why are so many people flocking toward homesteading right now?
- Rejecting fear-based motivations and moving forward in faith
- A picture of homesteading in Israel
- How homesteading is like building an ark
- Raising hard-working children of integrity in our current culture
- The power of disconnecting from manmade things and connecting to God’s creation
- Exploring what is behind the urban vs. rural mindset
- How to ignite meaningful change in our current climate
E13: Why Homesteading? A Candid Chat About the Homestead Tsunami | Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms – Homesteaders of America
Joel Salatin calls himself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. Others who like him call him the most famous farmer in the world, the high priest of the pasture, and the most eclectic thinker from Virginia since Thomas Jefferson. Those who don’t like him call him a bio-terrorist, Typhoid Mary, charlatan, and starvation advocate.
With 12 published books and a thriving multi-generational family farm, he draws on a lifetime of food, farming, and fantasy to entertain and inspire audiences around the world. He’s as comfortable moving cows in a pasture as addressing CEOs at a Wall Street business conference.
Often receiving standing ovations, he prefers the word performance rather than presentation to describe his lectures. His favorite activity?–Q&A. “I love the interaction,” he says.
He co-owns, with his family, Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia. Featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and award-winning documentary Food Inc., the farm services more than 5,000 families, 50 restaurants, 10 retail outlets, and a farmers’ market with salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, and forestry products. When he’s not on the road speaking, he’s at home on the farm, keeping the calluses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails, mentoring young people, inspiring visitors, and promoting local, regenerative food and farming systems.
Salatin is the editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer, granddaddy catalyst for the grass farming movement. He writes the Pitchfork Pulpit column for Mother Earth News, as well as numerous guest articles for ACRES USA and other publications. A frequent guest on radio programs and podcasts targeting preppers, homesteaders, and foodies, Salatin’s practical, can-do solutions tied to passionate soliloquies for sustainability offer everyone food for thought and plans for action.
- About Joel’s upcoming book: Homestead Tsunami
- Polyface Micro by Joel Salatin
- The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
- Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms | Website | Instagram | Facebook
Homesteaders of America | Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest
Join us at the Homesteaders of America Conference in October 2023!
Why Homesteading? A Candid Chat About the Homestead Tsunami Transcript
Amy Fewell Welcome to the Homesteaders of America Podcast, where we encourage simple living, hard work, natural healthcare, real food, and building an agrarian society. If you’re pioneering your way through modern noise and conveniences, and you’re an advocate for living a more sustainable and quiet life, this podcast is for you. Welcome to this week’s podcast. I’m your host, Amy Fewell, and I’m the founder of the Homesteaders of America organization and annual events. If you’re not familiar with us, we are a resource for homesteading education and online support. And we even host a couple of in-person events each year with our biggest annual event happening right outside the nation’s capital here in Virginia every October. Check us out online at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. Follow us on all of our social media platforms and subscribe to our newsletter so that you can be the first to know about all things HOA (that’s short for Homesteaders of America). Don’t forget that we have an online membership that gives you access to thousands—yes, literally thousands—of hours worth of information and videos. It also gets you discount codes, an HOA decal sticker when you sign up, and access to event tickets before anyone else. All right. Let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Amy Fewell Hey, Joel. Welcome to the Homesteaders of America podcast. How have you been doing?
Joel Salatin I’ve been doing great. Grass is growing. It’s all green. And we’re about, whatever, two weeks earlier than normal for spring. And turned the first batch of cows out yesterday. Quit feeding hay on them. Not everybody, but on one batch. So yeah, life’s good.
Amy Fewell That’s good. It’s always good when springtime comes and it’s getting warm outside and cows can eat grass. We only have one cow compared to your—what?—hundreds or thousands that you have. But we’re happy, too, for our one cow.
Joel Salatin Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
Amy Fewell All right. Well, today we are talking about a couple of different things. I always ask you whenever we interview, just because, believe it or not, there are people who don’t know who Joel Salatin is. So why don’t you give us a quick rundown on who you are and what you do.
Joel Salatin All right. So my self-acclaimed handle is Christian, libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist, lunatic farmer. Our family owns Polyface Farm in Virginia, Shenandoah Valley. We’ve been here since 1961. So I’m second generation. And day-to-day operations are handled by our son, Daniel. He runs the farm so I can run around. And basically our first 20 years here were basically a glorified homestead. Mom and Dad worked in town to pay the mortgage for the farm. So I grew up milking cows and running chickens and having a big garden, canning, and fruit trees, all the stuff that you do on a homestead. And then in September 24, 1982, came back to the farm full-time, and we developed now a commercial, full-time living on the farm, and it’s done very well. We have beef, pork, chicken—both eggs and meat—turkeys, rabbits, lamb and forestry products that we direct market to some 10,000 families, some commercial institutions, and we ship nationwide.
Amy Fewell That’s it in a nutshell, huh?
Joel Salatin Yep. I didn’t mention… You know, some people say now your educational and informational branch is as important and big as the farm. But that’s what we do in the production phase. But yes, we do have a full cadre of seminars, and we do gatherings here. Last year we built the Lunatic Learning Center. And so we have a pretty active informational… and that component as well. And I’ve written a few books.
Amy Fewell Yes, you’ve written quite a few books, which is some of what I’d like to talk to you about today. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the new book that you’re working on, what the inspiration was behind it, and what people can expect in that book. And from there, I think we’ll have a really fun conversation. I was telling the guy that helps us with the podcast earlier that this would probably not be your typical homestead podcast because Joel and I can get into some various different topics. Some of them might be controversial, so go ahead and tell us about the new book.
Joel Salatin Aw, no controversy, Amy. There’s no controversy with us. So yeah, so actually, today I’m hoping to finish the final revision, so I’m that close to the final revisions. But the title is Homestead Tsunami: Good for the Country, Critters, and Kids. And it’s the why. It has developed out of a speech that I did last year for Rory Feek’s Homestead Festival in Tennessee. And he asked me… And at that time, the speech title, I think, was Homesteading: Hottest Trend in the U.S. or something like that. I kind of condensed it and came down to the Homestead Tsunami idea as this progressed through the season. Last year, Amy, we had an unending parade of RV’s here at the farm of people from California, New York, Michigan—all blue states, of course—that just paraded through here. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just every day there was one, two, three, it seemed like, and their stories were all the same. We’re bailing out. We’re done. We’re heading to the country, and we’re going to start homesteading. And I mean, I get chill bumps. I mean, I’ve never seen anything like this. And it struck me at one point: this is a tsunami. I mean, this is crazy. Two years ago, I wrote Polyface Micro, which is basically a how-to for livestock on a homestead. It’s everything that we’ve done at large scale pushed back to something under 25 acres, even down to one chapter is how to have chickens and rabbits in a Manhattan apartment in New York City, okay? So it’s really scaled down. The how-to. But I found out that people are really looking for a why. So I wrote this book for three people. Three people. The first one is the urban family that’s on the fence. They’re teetering. Man, they’re frustrated with what they see in the city. They’re concerned about where the economy, where crime, where things are going. Say, “Man, we probably should just should just exit this. But we’re scared. I mean, how do you live without pizza delivery?” You know, those kinds of things. And they’re teetering. And they need encouragement to just make the decision and jump off the cliff and go. To leave Ur of the Chaldees and head to the land of Canaan, all right? Okay. So that’s the first one. The second one is the people who are—a lot of times well-meaning family and friends—who are telling them they’re crazy. What? You can’t. There’s nothing to do. There’s nothing to do. There’s no place to go. You can’t even get pizza delivery. I mean, you’re crazy. The cows are going to… Whatever. Okay. It’s nuts. So, well-intentioned, but they don’t understand. And the third group of people are the people that I’ve just learned exist. I didn’t actually know that this existed so much, but I’m really hearing this a lot. People that about two or three years ago made the jump. They had all these fantasies: “Oh, we’re going to have this, that, and the other. And we’re two years into it. The cow’s got mastitis, the cucumber’s got powdery mildew, and half of my green beans are rotten in the basement because the jars didn’t seal. And man, this is a bummer.” And they need a pick-me-up. They need to discover their first love. They need to be encouraged. Here’s why. Stay with it. Because it’s worth it. So those are kind of the three people I’m writing this book to. There’s nothing how-to in it. Nothing how-to. It’s all inspirational. A lot of it is how do you want to live? How do you want your kids to grow up? You know, it’s aspirational and inspirational. It’s the why of homesteading.
Amy Fewell So why do you think a lot of people are turning to homesteading right now? Writing this book and just having the experiences that you’ve had… And we’re seeing this. I mean, you know, with HOA. I mean, we sold out. We sold out of tickets at the end of February.
Joel Salatin Unbelievable. Yeah, unbelievable. And I think you need to do two of them back to back.
Amy Fewell I agree.
Joel Salatin But anyway, here we are. So why is this? Well, look, Amy, if you want to make a list of things that you’re concerned about in our culture, it’s a pretty specific list now. I mean, you’ve got urban crime. You’ve got urban crime. You’ve got empty store shelves for food. You’ve got Biden telling us that people are going to starve. There’s food shortages. There are supply chain issues, the economy, I mean, inflation, the price of eggs, avian influenza, processing plants with airplanes flying into them and exploding them. There’s just… And I’m not tinfoil hat. Okay, let’s not get too far off the path.
Amy Fewell Sure.
Joel Salatin I mean, the war in Ukraine, sabre-rattling in Taiwan. I mean, anyone who’s thinking right now, you just look at the whole situation, and I don’t know about you… I mean, I’m older than you are, but I just feel like… Have you ever disturbed a beehive? You find you find a beehive somewhere and you get too close, and all of a sudden, all those wasps… You know, a wasp nest on the back porch, and they’re all just kind of sitting there, just doing nothing. And you get too close, you bump them with a broom handle and suddenly they’re all bzzz, you see everybody. I think that’s the way a lot of us feel about the world right now. We feel like this beehive is not stable and secure. And you can’t just assume that if I put money in the bank, it’s going to be there five years from now or a similar amount of money. And I didn’t even mention digital currency, tracking, the pervasive personal and financial tracking that’s going on. It’s like you can’t hide anywhere, you can’t go anywhere. And then you have artificial intelligence and deep state databases. All right. I could go on. But the point is that thinking people are looking at all of this. Not the least of which was stimulated by the whole COVID outbreak and how fast we saw the lockdowns and the societal upheaval of that whole thing. And not to be partisan and take sides, but just the fact that it happened. And really on our farm, here we were… I mean, I don’t go to the grocery store, but I remember going one time. Theresa said… I mean she at least goes and buys Kleenex and toilet paper, right? She said, “You need to see this.” And so one day, we were with her. I said, “Okay, I’ll stop in.” We went in there, and I mean empty store shelves. I mean, I had never seen that in my lifetime. Never seen it. And so it has created an intuitive desire in people that there’s this kind of primal idea in all of us that if the wheels fall off, I don’t want to be in the city.
Amy Fewell Mm hmm.
Joel Salatin I want to be somewhere where I can shoot a deer, get some firewood, make a little shelter and survive. And that’s not fear. That is simply wisdom that moves us to a place of more stability and security. We create that for ourselves. So I think this phenomenon is as much, yes, there is fear running away from something. But you and I know, ultimately, you don’t have staying power if you’re running away from something in fear. You have to embrace something in faith. And so this book is about what are we embracing in faith? We hear enough negative on the news anyway. All right. So I’m happy to… I talk about the teen suicide rate, you know, and things like that. But that’s in passing. By far and away, the bigger part is how do we raise kids that shake hands and look you in the eye and who are affirmed and know who they are? How do we create beacons of hope and help when society is hopeless and helpless? It’s about that.
Amy Fewell Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, that’s one thing we talk about a lot is with the world and how much it can consume you right now with everything that’s on the news and that’s on the Internet. You know, every teenager in the world has social media to some extent somehow. Or if they don’t have it… Like I always laugh when people are like, “My kids don’t have a phone.” Okay, but their friend has a phone. And when they get with their friend, they’re on their friend’s phone. They see the same stuff that everyone else is seeing. And so we’ve had that talk, like you cannot be shaken by what’s going on. And I’m very vocal with my faith on podcasts and YouTube and everything else. And what are you consumed by? And whatever you’re consumed by, you’re going to end up living that out. You’re going to end up living that out in fear. You’re going to end up making unwise decisions or not being able to think clearly. And so we’ve kind of pulled that into our homesteading lifestyle, too. Like let’s celebrate this life. Let’s make homestead disciples. Guys, there’s a better way to do this. And so people have caught on. And like you said, especially since 2020, you know, we saw tens of thousands of people come into the HOA community in 2020. But then I would say probably even more than that in the last year, because of all of the stuff that’s been going on. People are… They’re like, “This is unstable. Everything is unstable.” And it’s not just in America. It’s everywhere. We have so many people in Australia and Europe that email us and ask for suggestions. And then you were just in Israel. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and how it’s kind of different over there?
Joel Salatin Yeah, well, it’s really different. So where I was was on the “West Bank”, which is actually Judea and Samaria. So the phrase “West Bank” is used by the anti-Israel people to make it sound like Israel is someplace they shouldn’t be. But if you ask the average person, “Do you think Israelites should be in Judea and Samaria?” Everybody would say, “Of course, of course. I mean that’s where Abraham made his covenant.” Everybody would say that. And so it’s a direct attack on Israel to even use the term “West Bank”, so I have sworn off of using the term “West Bank”, and I’m using the terms “Judea and Samaria”. So, I mean, that’s where 80% of the Bible happened is in Judea and Samaria. I mean, you’ve got everything from Hebron to Bethlehem. Ephrata all the way up to Gerizim. You’ve got Mount Gerizim when they marched into the land. All right. So here’s what happened: from the Oslo Accords in 1995, the Oslo Accords took that land. There was so much worldwide outrage at the 1967 Six-Day War that Israel just… I got to tell you this story from it. So this guy, his uncle was a tank operator in the 1967 Six-Day War. And remember, that was a war… So to back up, 1948, the United Nations says, “Israel should have a homeland.” So here’s a completely abandoned place. There’s nobody there. Haven’t been there for years. I mean, there are some people around, but it’s not a country. It’s not a nation. Nobody claims it. So they drew this boundary line and said, “Here’s a homeland for Israel.” So Israel occupies. Well in 1967, the five surrounding nations, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, they all get together, Jordan. They all get together and conspire and say, “Let’s wipe the Jews off the earth.” And so they launched an attack in 1967, the Six-Day War. Israel beat them back. It was absolutely miraculous. So I’m talking to this this guy. He’s got an uncle. He a tank operator in the Six-Day War. So he’s got a tank. He’s supposed to defend Jerusalem. So he’s there with his tank, and here over the hill from Jordan come these 30 Jordanian tanks. And he calls his commander, he says, “Hey, I got 30 Jordanian tanks coming down.” I need to retreat. And the commander says, “No, you can’t retreat. You have to hold Jerusalem.” So he heads toward these 30 Jordanian tanks and suddenly all the Jordanian tanks empty out. Everybody jumps out with their arms up. They surrender. And he calls back to his commander and says, “Hey, you got to send somebody up here. I’ve got all these P.O.W.s here. I’m only a three-man crew. I can’t handle all these P.O.W.s.” So they send somebody up to gather them all up. After the six days, these P.O.W.s are being released, and so they do kind of debriefing as they leave. And every one of them said, “Why did you do that? What was going on?” And they did this independently, not in a group, not in a concert. So individual exit interviews from the P.O.W. camp. All right? And every single one of them said, “We came over that hill, we saw a hundred Israeli tanks, and we just surrendered.” But there was only one. Is that not cool?
Amy Fewell That’s amazing. Yeah.
Joel Salatin We’re talking about Elijah and Gehazi. Remember when they were scared and Elijah said, “Open his eyes so he can see. And he saw that whole legion of angels all around.” And I mean, it’s cool. God’s still here. He’s still on his throne.
Amy Fewell Oh, yeah.
Joel Salatin And he has not given up on the Abrahamic Covenant. So what happened was they were so successful that they took that land. They took Judea and Samaria, which are the historical birthright of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. Those were the three tribes that occupied those areas. Israel got a hold of it, but the world sentiment was so against Israel that they just felt like they couldn’t actually do much with it. So finally, the Oslo Accords in 1995 carved out individual places for the Arabs, for the Israelis, and for both. And so the entire region now of Judea and Samaria is a hodgepodge of intermingled territories called A, B, and C. A is for Arabs only. B is for both, and C is for Israeli citizens only. So these “Israeli settlements”, these are actually Israelis trying to occupy their designated C zones so they don’t get overrun by the Arabs who are supposed to be in the A zones. And so the farmers I was with… That brings us to when I was just there a couple weeks ago. So what’s going on there is that there are these massive thousands and thousands of acres of land that nobody is on. They’re C areas, they’re designated for Israel, and the Arabs are trying to encroach on them. They’re building houses. The U.S. Is sending aid. They’re building thousands of houses. They don’t even have anybody in them. Nobody even lives there. And so they’re encroaching. So I got to meet with about ten farmers. They are Zionists. I mean, they are going into these areas where nobody is there and establishing farms as beachheads of occupation in these areas. And so, you know, occupation is the first foundation of whatever ownership, right? So that’s what they’re doing. And they’re moving their sheep around. I met one guy that had cows; everybody else had sheep. And they’re moving them around. But it’s a tragically… It’s the most devastated land I’ve ever seen in my life. It is just rocks and no trees. I mean, the idea that Absalom got hung up in a tree, you know, there’s no trees where that battle took place. And it’s just rocks. It’s difficult. But these farmers are dedicated. They’re committed. And I think I was able to encourage them and give them some ideas to try to do their grazing better. They don’t do any controlled grazing. They really don’t have any fences because the Arabs come in and rip up the fences. So it’s a war. It’s a real war going on. And I felt, as a Christian and I was there, I realized… One of my biggest takeaways from the visit was the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Shintos, the pagans, whatever, they’re a diversion. The ultimate showdown is between Hagar and Sarah.
Amy Fewell Right. Yeah.
Joel Salatin Ultimate showdown is between Hagar and Sarah, the Son of Promise and the Son of Impatience. Ishmael, the Son of Impatience. And Isaac, the Son of Promise. That’s the ultimate showdown. It’s occurring right now on the ground in front of our eyes.
Amy Fewell Mm hmm. Yeah. I noticed you had posted a blog post a little bit about your trip there, and I made the mistake of going into the comments and just, wow, the amount of people that are like, “Joel, we liked you, but now we don’t like you for talking about this,” is insane. And so, you know, it’s funny because we have a Christian school. I run a Christian school at our church. And so we’ve been talking about how Israel is a nation. It’s not necessarily just a country. Israel was always a nation group. So we think about tribes which is exactly what it talks about. So American children, when you say tribes, they think Indian tribes like here in America. That’s the closest thing that you can get to. And so we were reading in Romans about how different nations and how he would be the father of different nations and didn’t just mean the Israelites, but it would mean the Gentiles as well. And so I was talking about this to a homesteading family the other day, and her child goes, “Oh, you mean like homesteaders?” And I’m like, “What?” And she goes like, “Homesteaders. We’re like a nation group, if you think about it.” And I’m like, “Yeah. Kind of like that. We are kind of like a nation group.” And it’s funny because my friend, Corinne, she was sitting in on one of your talks in Israel, and so she had sent me a picture and she was so excited that you were there. And there were only a couple of people there when you had given your talk when she was there. And her and I have been talking for the last couple of years and how in Israel, a lot of the leaders in Israel think that homesteads and farms will become places of refuge for persecuted Jews and Christians. And it’s funny because I’ve had that talk a lot with a lot of people in America about homesteads and farms being a place where people can just come if they need food, if they need refuge, if they need help. A few years ago I was like, oh, America, it’s going to be a while before America gets to that point, right? And now we’re just sitting here watching this. And so I think your book, Homestead Tsunami, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence. I think it’s prophetic. I mean, I really do think that… And, as you know, in the homesteading community, we have all kinds of beliefs. Right? But we did a survey, and I was not shocked to see that 90% of the homesteaders that filled out that survey are of some denomination in the Christian faith. So it ranges anywhere from non-denominational to Protestant to Catholic, you know, all of that. But 90% of them were Christian. And the rest, there were some Jewish, there were some… There were all different kinds, like small percentages. And to kind of see this, to see the ultimate goal in this survey of people, when people started homesteading, one of the questions was, “What caused you to start homesteading?” And then “What’s changed now?” So if you’ve been homesteading for quite a few years, why are you continuing to homestead? And so a lot of people answered that they started homesteading because they wanted better food, okay? Which, great. That’s why we started homesteading. We wanted better food for our health, better health. We wanted to get into herbalism, all of those things. It was just a better way to live. Well, now it’s switched. Those people, we asked the same question why they continue to homestead, and then the newer people that have come in the last year, we asked that question, “What started you to get into homesteading?” And now it’s the culture, and the economy, and the government, and the way that the world is. And we feel convicted and compelled to have a homestead for ourselves, but also at the end of the day, to help other people. And it just reminds me of this talk that I’ve been having with multiple people over the years about homesteading and how the purpose in homesteading has changed. It’s no longer just I’m homesteading because I want to be healthy and grow my own food and know where my food came from. That was great and it’s still great to do that. Now it’s shifted to there’s something bigger here and my family doesn’t want to be a part of that. We want to be a part of something different.
Joel Salatin Yeah, it’s shifted to building an ark.
Amy Fewell Mm hmm. Yeah.
Joel Salatin That’s what it’s shifted to. That’s where it’s going. And when folks make fun of you or say, “Oh, you know, this is… You’re putting your family through… What are you going to make your kids pull weeds in the green beans?” I think the encouragement is, “Look, we’re building an ark and we’re going to the ark. If you want to come with us, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s fine, too.” But we’re not going to get pulled off of our ark to argue with somebody that doesn’t even know it’s raining.
Amy Fewell Right. Yeah. Yep.
Joel Salatin And it’s not prideful and it’s not selfish and it’s not greedy to stay on mission. Yeah, that’s how you get things done. So, yeah, the ark is a good… And I use that in the book. I talk about building an ark. But yeah, there’s so many reasons. And I talk about the difference of self-worth in children when they’re doing something that’s needful and purposeful versus just playing. I really drill down on screen time. I think screen time is devastating to our young people. And so in the book, I talk about the sense of purpose and self-worth when you’ve done something visceral and physical that the family needs, that the homestead needs, and you get to the end of the day and your value, the way you view yourself, is a result of accomplishment.
Amy Fewell Right.
Joel Salatin And what we’ve got today is we’ve got a whole world full of teenagers that have never accomplished anything. They’ve gone to school, they’ve gotten grades, maybe they played basketball, but as far as honest-to-goodness personal mastery of anything important to life, they haven’t accomplished… They haven’t even baked a cake. Many of them haven’t even run the vacuum cleaner. I mean, when our daughter went to… And this is going back, you know, 15 years… She’s in a suite with three other girls, there’s four of them, you know, two bedrooms and two girls. And there’s four girls together. She was the only one who knew how to run a vacuum cleaner. She was the only one who knew the trash pickup is on Tuesday. We got to take the trash down to the curb. She was the only one. I mean, it just went on and on and on. It was unbelievable. And, of course, I’m sure she’s the only student that went with more pint jars of canned meat. They’re looking at this, those other girls. I remember when we’re unpacking the car, we’re taking these boxes of canned chicken and stuff. “What is that? What is that?” So it was pretty wild. We were pretty proud of her.
Amy Fewell That’s awesome, though. I mean, yeah, it’s the truth, though. I meet a lot of families who… I can’t tell you how many moms—even some homestead moms—like, this is the thing, where they’ll say, “Well, I don’t have any help around the house because my kids don’t help.” Well, make them help. It’s not hard. Even my generation has grown up in this culture of “you don’t make them do anything. It’s going to teach them to rebel against you. There’s too many rules.” And I beg to differ. When we set hard rules in our house that are followed and they have to be followed, we get a much better child out of that and one who then expects rules elsewhere. And so homesteading has definitely taught our oldest child that. So we have a broad range of kids. We have a almost 14 year-old and then we have an eight-month-old and then we have an almost-four-year-old in between that. And so it’s funny because with our 13-year-old, we weren’t homesteading until he was probably five or so maybe. Like, we were all-out homesteading. And we definitely didn’t have what we have now. And so he just didn’t get his hands dirty a lot in that sense. But he did. He was an outdoors little boy and so he was outside all the time. But it’s interesting to see our current three-year-old and giving him chores even at such a young age, and how excited he is about that, and how he would choose going outside and doing that over screen time any day. So it’s just… Yeah, I agree. I mean, even us, we have to try to cut down on screen time, even as a business owner. I mean, you probably don’t get this because you have other people doing it, but we’re over here talking about homesteading, but we’re on a computer 60% of the time trying to make a business work. And so even adults succumb to those things.
Joel Salatin No, I spend a lot of time on screen, too. I mean, just organizing what conferences, presentations, all of the different things that I do. You know, it’s a lot. But the sanctuary is outside where the birds are singing and the grass is green and the grasshoppers are hopping. I mean, that’s the place of sanctuary and actual anchoring, personal anchoring.
Amy Fewell Yeah. And it’s one of the things… A lot of people… Well, the other day, my husband and I were talking. So when he wants an outlet, he goes and he works on his cars. And I’m like, “That’s boring.” But that’s his outlet. He’s a car guy or a machine guy. He loves doing that stuff. And so I was sitting there and I’m like, “Well, I don’t have an outlet.” I was getting a little bit huffy, puffy, right? Like, “I’ve always got the kids and the house and all that.” He goes, “Well, that’s because it’s not springtime yet.” He said, “Gardening is your outlet.” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s true.” And so that’s something I’m trying to teach my kids, too. Some of my greatest ideas and some of my greatest moments happen when I’m in the garden just weeding or pruning plants or just out there with no sound in my ear. I hear a lot of people say, “Well, I’ll listen to a podcast when I’m outside in the garden,” or whatnot. And I think one of my favorite things is just being still, being in the garden and just not hearing anything except what’s around me. Even if the kids are around me, there’s just clarity. I feel like there’s so much more clarity. And one of the things I think about is like a lot of people have seasonal depression or anxiety, right? And we say it’s because of lack of vitamin D, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. But I also think for me, just having been in the garden, is when we’re outside more, we’re not attached to this screen—normally, even if you’re not a homesteader—you’re looking at what’s around you. You’re doing stuff that’s around you. Even if it’s at the park with your kids, you have time to just have mental clarity. And it’s not this the whole time. And so I think one of the other things that we had on our survey was just overall general mental health and calmness and peace in your life. And a lot of people chose that. They can choose to detach from society, whether it’s eating good food or even if it’s just a back porch, like you said, it can be anybody, but it gives them that time to be outside and just be clear of mind and have peace of some kind. And I’m looking forward to spring for that reason.
Joel Salatin Yeah, yeah, exactly. One of the points that I make here in the book… Look, I don’t think cities are evil. Okay? Trust me, this book is not going to make the cities empty out. I have no illusions about that. Okay. But I do want to minister to the tribe that’s seeking. So that’s the point. But I make the point that in the city, one of the hardest human things in the city, spiritual things, is we’re completely surrounded by everything that humans did. The roads, the traffic lights, the cars, the honking, the… You can’t even see the stars at night due to light pollution. And so your whole life is surrounded by humanness, by what humans have done. And this gives you… It has the tendency, I think, to give people a jaundiced view of our importance in the cosmos. Okay? In the system. Whereas out in the homestead, you’re surrounded by things that humans didn’t do: the deer, the groundhog, the tomato, the magic of a seed sprouting. You’re surrounded by the majesty and awe of things that supersede the human capacity. And that’s a powerful thing to be reminded of every day that I’m not the center of the universe. There’s something way bigger than me, and I have the privilege of viscerally participating in it. That’s a profoundly humbling and stabilizing thing. And much of the divide we see in our country right now, as you know, is urban/rural. I’ve never seen the… When you look at the voting records—blue, red—there is no question that we are in an incredibly partisan divide between urban and rural. And I think a lot of it is that rural people, we understand there are seasons, stuff out of our control. We get to step in and out of this majestic creation that’s so bigger than us. And in the urban, basically all we see is ourselves. And that’s a handicap. I mean, it’s a spiritual, mental handicap.
Amy Fewell Right. Yeah. And there are. So I know, I can hear it now, somebody in the urban neighborhood is going to be like, “What? I’m not like that.” And there are people that aren’t like… I saw there’s a place in Chicago or something where they’re literally taking this land in cities and they’re turning it into gardens and community gardens. So, guys, we are not talking about that. We know there are urban people who are the same way. But you mentioned urban versus rural. And I remember… Not to hate on Biden or anything, but I’d say this whether it was Trump, too, just FYI. One thing that a lot of rural people understand is that it’s not Democrat versus Republican anymore. You know what I mean? So we’ll get that out there first. But I remember when Biden first won his presidency, one of the things that he said and I wrote it down, and I don’t know where it is right now, so I’ll paraphrase, and I even posted it on Facebook, and he said, “We have to get the rural people on board with the urban culture and mindset,” and how we need to bring more cities into rural areas because there are so many people and we need to urbanize rural areas. And I just sat there thinking, “What’s wrong with rural areas? What’s the issue with rural areas? We’re the backbone of America.” And so you’re right, it is a constant rural versus urban mindset. And we even go… We’ll drive through our town, which isn’t very huge. I mean, it’s huge now more than it used to be. And just look at the houses on top of houses on top of houses. And I’m like, “I’ve got to get out of here. I can’t even imagine living in a house like this anymore.” I mean, if we had to, we would, but we don’t have to. And praise the Lord for that because I think that I might lose my mind after living rural for forever. Even our last house, it was a half an acre, but the houses were kind of far away from each other. But even that was too much for me to be just right next to somebody. And somebody is always in your face and you’re always having to worry about what somebody’s doing, and there’s just no peace of mind there at all. And obviously, living out in the open is not sustainable for everybody. I get that. But being a homesteader and just getting your hands in the dirt and cultivating something of life, no matter how small it is or how big it is, there’s just an incredible satisfaction from that. And I think it stems back to Genesis. Being in the garden and being created to be stewards of the earth and being created to work. And suddenly we have these generations of nobody working and nobody doing anything. And I mean, do you know how hard it is to find people that want to work and actually work well? It’s very difficult. Even from an administrative standpoint, it’s very difficult. And no surprise, we have now this culture that is just depressed and following everything blindly. And they have all of these issues because there’s no outlet. The original outlet is… That’s not good enough for them. I can’t tell you how many people I hear, “Well, why would you do that? You’re not a farmer.” And I’m like, “Well, what? Define farmer.” That definition has gone… That’s changed now, too, even from when I grew up. It’s astounding to see that there are still so many people that are so against homesteading and so against ultimately creating a new system alongside the broken system is what’s happening. But to see so many people now coming into this lifestyle, I couldn’t have imagined, especially when we started HOA seven years ago. So this is the seventh conference we’ll have. I just couldn’t have imagined that there would be so many people. I mean, Joel, I’m pretty sure we could pack out a stadium of 20,000 or more people if we had that amount of space.
Joel Salatin Oh wow.
Amy Fewell So it’s changing.
Joel Salatin We should do that.
Amy Fewell I know. I know. But I have so many things to do. But there are a lot of other events popping up all over. And we have talked about doing more events maybe in different locations. We tried the smaller events, which are awesome, but we just feel an urgency. I think Mark and I definitely feel an urgency to bring people together and network people. And so I’m not sure. We’ll see. We’ll see what’s on the horizon for HOA, and where we go and what we do.
Joel Salatin Well, yeah, sure. Well, the fact is that we haven’t gotten where we are overnight. We’ve been now decades, losing a homestead rural craft from how to plant a seed to a home butchery. We’ve been losing that for a long, long time. And so we didn’t get here overnight and we won’t get out of here overnight. And now of course, one of the tricks is—for us, people like you and me—is to stay welcoming and at a level so that newbies… Because newbies are coming in every day. I mean, there are people every day who hear about this and suddenly they discover this and they’re brand new. And you and I, we’ve been doing this a long time. We say, “Go gut the chicken.” We don’t even have to think about it. We just go gut the chicken, right? But there are thousands of people coming to this every year that just are intimidated, ignorant, scared, don’t know. And we need to make sure that we don’t run ahead of them, that we take them by the hand and lead them into this… I like the term parallel universe. I think that’s what we’re doing. I think many of us who are coming to this are realizing that the culture is gone. If anybody has read Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option… His first big blockbuster was Crunchy Cons. Back, you know, crunchy conservatives. It was like the environmental conservatives back in the day. And now he’s written this Benedict Option. And the basic thesis is there comes a time when you have to give up on a top down strategy. In other words, we’re not going to solve this by changing the president. We’re not going to solve it by changing your congressman. What we’re going to do is we’re going to make enclaves of stable, secure, resilient oases. Imagine a U.S. map with little cookies on it or pepperonis or whatever. And what we’re trying to do is make places scattered around the country where there is resiliency, there is community, and there is morality and openness to share ideas. You’re not going to be censored. You’re not going to be accused of evil intent because you didn’t say the right word or didn’t recognize the right political jargon. And many of us are craving that. And so that’s what this is starting to develop because the homestead movement is also a community building movement. And so, where’s the best place to have your homestead? Probably within a mile of three other homesteads where one guy’s a mechanic, one guy’s a plumber, one guy’s know chainsaw, and one guy’s a woodworker, you know? Or gals. I’m not trying to be sexist here. The point is that we’re starting to realize that if you are proximate, if you are geographically proximate to people who know how to grow things, fix things, and build things, that’s worth more than a 401k.
Amy Fewell Right? Oh, yeah. Because there’s no guaranteeing that’ll be around once you’ve got to use it.
Joel Salatin None whatsoever. So where do you stash your cash? In fact, a chapter I just finished revising before you and I got on here is another reason for the why is economic investment. Who trusts Wall Street? Where do you put your money? Well, you put it in real stuff that has intrinsic value like land, animals, plants, and soil, and your own mastery. Maybe you know how to fix engines. Maybe you know how to… Those are all barter-able, tradeable things. The more we can disentangle from the system right now, the happier we’ll be.
Amy Fewell Yeah. So here’s funny, and then I’ll let you go. Because you were talking about being uncensored, so everybody and their brother that homesteads nowadays, they’re always saying, “Oh, you got to get TikTok. Do you know what I mean when I say TikTok? This TikTok app?
Joel Salatin I’ve heard of it.
Amy Fewell Yeah. So for years, I’ve not gotten TikTok. And so last week, I got TikTok for HOA. I’m like, this is great. I can post. So what I do is we take little clips of these podcasts and we post videos of them, so it’ll entice people to come listen to the podcast. I posted two videos on TikTok, supposedly the most uncensored app in the planet, right?
Joel Salatin Uh-huh.
Amy Fewell My HOA account got banned in two days. And everybody is just like, “How? TikTok doesn’t ban anybody.” I’m like, “Well, I have the proof.” And they won’t even let me get on it. And so apparently, homesteading is very, very controversial to TikTok. So we’re doing something. We’re making a bigger change, I think, than we realize.
Joel Salatin Wow. I can’t believe it. I mean, did you say something—whatever—racial or sexual or…?
Amy Fewell No, I posted the podcast about starting seeds, which I guess that can be super controversial. And then I posted a podcast clip of… Oh, what was the other one? Maybe it was milk cow. Raising a milk cow. And that was apparently also very controversial, I guess. So they didn’t like that very much, and they banned our account. And they won’t even let us back on it. Period. I can’t even appeal it.
Joel Salatin Wow. That’s unbelievable. Well, it just shows how dysfunctional everything’s gotten, doesn’t it?
Amy Fewell I know, right? It does. All right, Joel, well, I’ve had you for an hour, so I will let you go. But this was a fun conversation. I always like our conversations because we just talk about anything and everything.
Joel Salatin Yes.
Amy Fewell So anything for us before we sign off?
Joel Salatin No, just if people want to know what I’m doing, we’ve got our website, PolyfaceFarms.com. DI don’t have a personal website. I have no personal social media. But I run everything through the farm website, Polyface. Just Google in P-O-L-Y and it’ll probably pop up. And there’s a pretty comprehensive website. And I think there’s going to be another women’s HOA retreat at Polyface.
Amy Fewell We’re talking about it. We are talking about it.
Joel Salatin So it’s not firmed up yet. I just heard Daniel talking about it and I… We’ll talk about the one last year. Last year, you had one and I wasn’t here, but I heard good things about it and everybody left with a smile on their face. You’re doing great work, Amy, and thank you.
Amy Fewell Well, thank you, Joel. Thank you for encouraging us to get stuff done and being the grandfather of the homesteading community, we like to call you.
Joel Salatin Okay.
Amy Fewell All right. Have a good one. Thanks for joining me.
Amy Fewell Hey, thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s Homesteaders of America episode. We really enjoyed having you here. We welcome questions and you can find the transcript and all the show notes below or on our Homesteaders of America blog post that we have up for this podcast episode. Don’t forget to join us online with a membership or just to read blog posts and find out more information about our events at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. We also have a YouTube channel and follow us on all of our social media accounts to find out more about homesteading during this time in American history. All right, have a great day and happy homesteading.