Inspiring Principles!

Now this is super inspiring!

Scaling up without Selling your Soul

Many successful entrepreneurial start-ups morph into Wall-Streetified empires that lose their distinctives. And in the process, the business chews up and spits out its workers and founders in a mad scramble to dominate something. Does middle ground exist between the calm talking-stick consensus circle of indigenous eastern tribal cultures and the mad scramble frenzy of western capitalism? Or perhaps more to the point in light of recent Wall Street and economic developments, what values are more important than growth? Especially since cancer is growth. At this juncture of our culture’s reality, I would like us to immerse ourselves for a few minutes in an alternative innovative business philosophy.

BACKGROUND OF OUR BUSINESS

I am first and foremost a farmer, but not a very ordinary farmer. In fact, I’m known as a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic. Our family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley now has four generations living on it. I’m second generation, but the day-to-day operations are handled by my son. Polyface Farm is a diversified, grass-based, beyond organic, direct marketing farm.

We produce salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry and eggs, forage based rabbits, and forestry products. Purchased by my mom and dad in 1961, the farm has gone from a worn out, gullied weedpatch that couldn’t even pay a salary to one that employs 10 people with more than a million dollars in sales. And it’s still experiencing exponential growth. Lush pastures supported by ecstatic copulating earthworms testify to the healing.

While many business folks would consider this a tiny business—and it is—it is considered quite a large farm by USDA sales criteria, which calls any farm with sales above $400,000 annually a large farm. Polyface direct markets everything it produces to a customer base that numbers 2,000 families, 25 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets.

For context, please understand that we don’t do anything conventionally. We haven’t bought a bag of chemical fertilizer in half a century, never planted a seed, own no plow or disk or silo—we call those bankruptcy tubes. We practice mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization with the cattle. The Eggmobiles follow them, mimicking egrets on the rhinos’ nose. The laying hens scratch through the dung, eat out the fly larvae, scatter the nutrients into the soil, and give thousands of dollars worth of eggs as a byproduct of pasture sanitation. Pastured broilers in floorless pasture schooners move every day to a fresh paddock salad bar. Pigs aerate compost and finish on acorns in forest glens. It’s all a symbiotic, multi-speciated synergistic relationship-dense production model that yields far more per acre than industrial models. And it’s all aromatically and aesthetically romantic.

As we’ve gone from a single-salary, cute artisanal operation to a multi-family, beyond family, multi-farm business, we’ve struggled to maintain our quality of life and the distinctives that drive sales. And we haven’t always done it well. I’ve seen way too many successful small businesses gobbled up by deep pockets with shallow values. As a result of wanting to stay with the soul of our business story, we’ve developed a list of directives. These would be different for every business, but let’s look at them and at least appreciate that they represent innovative thinking in a western capitalistic business climate. I call these ethics-based contrarian business ideas.

Read more by clicking on these links:

1. NO SALES TARGETS

Setting sales or marketing targets makes a business look at its employees differently, its products differently, and its customers differently. It’s kind of like a church that sets membership goals: the message is no longer as important as getting sign-ups. … Read more

2. NO TRADEMARKS OR PATENTS

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 … Read more

3. CLEARLY DEFINED MARKET BOUNDARY

No difference really exists between an empire and an aspiring empire. A one salary sole proprietorship that aspires to be an empire will have the same attitude as the business that already has an empire. The bigger an outfit becomes, … Read more

4. INCENTIVISED WORK FORCE

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 … Read more

5. NO INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS (IPOs)

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 … Read more

6. NO ADVERTISING

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 … Read more

7. STAY WITHIN THE ECOLOGICAL CARRYING CAPACITY

Numerous people have encouraged Polyface to become the Tyson of pastured poultry. But one of the distinguishing characteristics of an environmentally friendly farm compared to one that doesn’t care about the environment is how it handles the waste stream. In … Read more

8. PEOPLE ANSWER THE PHONE

This may seem nitpicky, but how many of you love talking to a robot? After being on the phone with a robot and starting over the fifth time, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to … Read more

9. STAY SEASONAL

At Polyface, we only raise meat chickens in the summer because that’s when they can be out on pasture. We work in the woods in the winter because that’s when the wood is better, since the sap is down. And … Read more

10. QUALITY MUST ALWAYS GO UP

Finally, as we grow, we must never compromise quality. Plenty of great small business grow up to be ho-hum big businesses. Whatever growth occurs, it can never happen at the expense of quality. With clear conscience, I can honestly say … Read more

 

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Above The Bones – Our Theme Song

Above The Bones – Our Theme Song

Oh let us rise
Above the bones
Let us remember the memories
Filled with compassion
Not scarred by anger
No not blinded by the ashes of the past
My eyes have not seen it all
Yet in my soul I know
No conception
Is hidden there down below

I wanna go home
Take me home
I’ve got to go home
Take me home

We gonna rise yeah
High above the flames
Our hearts open as the endless sky
No more deception
No more shame
Just a reflection of the natural high
Ah, do you remember that melody?
Ah, oh yeah, do you remember that song so free? yeah

I wanna go home
Take me home
I’ve got to go home
Take me home, yeah

Oh let us rise
Above the bones
Let us remember the memories
No more afraid
No more alone
Let our spirits fly so free
In my arms
A little child wrapped tight in prayer
Safe from harm, oh yeah
Ever guided by jah jah fire, oh

I wanna go home
Take me home
I’ve got to go home
Take me home
I wanna go home
So take me home, home, nah nah nah
You take me home, home, ya ya yeah
You take me home nah nah yeah..
[?] oh
You take me

 

 

 

 

Dreaming Future Projects

I am laying the foundation... I am layering the bricks.... When you make the decision towards self sufficiency, one important key is to determine the way the land will provide and sustain.   It is finding a way to generate that which the land can not...

Three Legged

Daily thoughts, contemplations, realizations and awakenings!   My journey of life with words! Informed opinion Manipulated opinion Observing opinions. I am right I am wrong I only see with tinted glasses I deserve I demand The whole world is mine to take I swing right...

So, What Are We Doing?

So, What Are We Doing?

Life gifts many detours and forks happen/happenstance in the road.   Knowing the path to take is often a spaghetti junction where with eyes shut and wide open (at the same time), you traverse and land in most perfect places even if the detour took you off somewhere else for the time being.   Sometimes the detours are the most precious wanderings.

Since I have been a little girl, I dreamed of the under seen nature of gardens.  Not too many people get a glimpse of this space.   It is usually well hidden.   It is a shame really because it is a most beautiful and mystical place.   They say you should stop and smell the roses.  I think you should stop, get on all fours, crawl under the foliage and breath.   It is like the “forts” and caves of natural spaces and it is where you will meet the mythical beings of other ethereal spaces un-noticed or glimpsed upon by most two leggeds.

Our new land is in Masanamca just outside of Vilcabamba.   It called to Jim many years ago after the passing of his late wife Ruchel.   But, they had already secured a lot and the building process was to become a healing process of Jim when Ruchel flew to the other spaces.    At this time, I was also in healing from “wake-up to reality” experience of being in a relationship with a blue blooded psychopath who shook my word insane.   True to my nature though, I set up a camp in a remote valley and just started working and living outdoors.    Jim was building a house.  I was building a landscape.    We didn’t know each other then but our paths were similar in that we were healing from that thing called human suffering.

Many years later, my daughter joined me in Ecuador and played the match maker enlisting other youngens to join the force of Jim and I coming together.   So we did!   Youngens sometimes have spunked wisdom.

But our lifestyles and living situations were on opposite ends of the spectrum.   I had roughed the outdoors for 4 years.   I was also in the process of understanding the sacred lands I inhabited and the dysfunctions of the characters around me.    Like a night in shining armour, Jim gave me options and a key to release myself from the drama of people.  “Come back to the real world” was his offer.  Basically to live in a house and have the luxuries of modern living (electricity, piped water and a fridge and stove).  And, I realized that the little people of the land, the one’s who worked with their own two hands, had to leave the sacred valley.   This is another story, but a deep and profound one too.    So, I graciously accepted Jim’s key and left that space I called Magical Forest.

The Magical Forest started as a barren, dry, useless tract of land.   I did prove otherwise.  And with it came the dark energy that wanted it to end.    I had laboured crazily to transform and bring to life the correlation of man, plant, animal and insect creating together.  Leaving that space was a massive heart ache that went deep into the recesses of my Soul.    But, as I have learned from past experience, “bloom where you are planted” and I did so on Jim’s land.  But, I waited and held patience for the next step.    I longed.  I ached.  I practiced patience.    Jim and I talked a lot about the troubles of the world, the importance of reclaiming our names, Spirits and Souls.   We shared many talks on the “problems” we all face as a race that is no longer connected.    But, talking about the problems doesn’t change things.   You need solutions.  You need little people to take a step towards inner liberation.   You need to see something different.

We, Jim and I, are not rich meaning we don’t have a lot of “means” so important in the world to secure ourselves.   And,  we don’t “work” like the culture we came from for security, safety and slavery need.   But we dedicate ourselves to doing what we love and providing a little income to sustain ourselves.   In other words, we have choices daily and the freedom to either chill or work depending upon the times.  That in itself is work…and real work.   That, in itself, is a blessing beyond and something in my 50 years I am proud to “be” in.    It is freedom.   We started talking about the solutions.    We needed to move and find the pure source water and soils and really get to a point where we were free?   Where? How?

You know when you on the right track when the synchronicities land in your lap. Synchronicities are events connected to one another not by strict cause-and-effect, but by what in classical times were known as sympathies, by the belief that an acausal relationship exists between events on the inside and the outside of ourselves, a crosstalk between mind and matter—which is governed by a certain species of attraction.   Jung believed that synchronicities mirror deep psychological processes, carry messages the way dreams do, and take on meaning and provide guidance to the degree they correspond to emotional states and inner experiences.

We found the property. Actually, the property found us and its’ owner really wanted us to collaborate.   We were helped and assisted to gain title to the property by various peoples.  This is a group effort.  And, we are so grateful for the gifts and allowances that were offered.    We began the process and placed the property in Miss Kaya’s name (the grandchild).   And, we, together and as one plus one equals three are doing it.

What is “it”?  It is creating a space where, as human beings we can exist and enjoy the fruits of our labour.   “It” is working and co-creating with the Nature around us so that we all flourish.  “It” is a teaching site for others to meet their natural selves.  “It” is being fully human. Fully human?

I recently read ALL of Tom Robbins books like a mad women in thirst and hunger.  In “Fierce Invalids From Hot Climates” there is a philosophy in the book about what it means to be human.  It stuck with me, both for the simplicity and profundity it contains.  The idea is that the characters in the book believe that the human race is not all one species, but exists as a continuum between two poles: on one end we find the “Missing Links,” and on the other end we find “real” human beings.   Robbins  heavily weights towards the Missing Links, estimated to be about 95% of the population. While they appear human, Missing Links tend to be easy to manipulate, lack critical thinking, are highly reactive, and have little compassion.  Not surprisingly, they tend to be far less happy than ‘real’ humans.

Human beings, on the other hand, possess six distinct characteristics that allow them to express and experience their full potential.

These are the six qualities that make us fully human: 

1. Humour:  The ability to laugh—to find life funny and entertaining—is key. Robbins’ characters focus a lot on this particular trait, believing it to be possibly the most important of the six. I agree. If you’re not laughing, you’ve missed the point of this existence.

2. Imagination Sadly, we all have the capacity for great imagination and creativity but our goofy society tends to educate it out of us fairly early on. Our human awareness, which also gives us the capacity for abstract thought, is our greatest gift, and yet so few of us ever fully use this trait.

3. Eroticism Other than bonobos and dolphins, we’re the only species on the planet fond of copulating just for copulation’s sake. Sex—the thought, craving, and experience of it—is an essential part of being human.

Of course this characteristic is on a spectrum, like the others. Not everyone is going to have the same intense experience of sexuality, but for it to be there (and cultivated, even) is hugely important. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but is rather a source of power and insight.

4. Spirituality Robbins doesn’t say that we all need religion or dogma, he argues that a sense of spirituality—a belief and faith in something bigger than our existence—is key. Such awareness is also a wonderful effect of our conscious mind, separating us from the animals with whom we share the planet, and allowing us to live without fear, should we choose.

5. Rebelliousness Tell a human being not to do something, and you’re guaranteed they’re going to do it just because it’s forbidden. But our rebelliousness is not something to be trained out of us so that we all fall in line behind each other like good Missing Links. It’s a symptom of self expression and exploration.

6. Beauty Human beings are able to perceive beauty in the way that one may perceive the perfection of the universe. We are beauty because we are a part of it, though are also capable of creating and experiencing beauty in millions of different forms. This idea relates to our individual style and appreciation of beautiful things, so often usurped by the impulse to fit in to cultural norms.

And so, that is what I think we are doing.   We are creating a space where humour, imagination, erotism, Spirituality, rebelliousness and beauty are encouraged, witnessed, practiced and honoured.

I call it Magical Forest Two.   And, I am also off on a tangent of discovery of JRR Tolkien whose very good friend C.S. Lewis was a personal study as a young teenaged.    You will find the spaces of the middle earth, the shire, the elven forests and the 9 rings of man being played out.  Have I lost it?  YOU bet I HAVE NOT!   I got this more than anything else in my entire life.   Call me crazy!    We will have the last laugh!

So, off we go…now with the legal deed in hand….title is ours and we are doing “it”!

Remember The Past To Know Who We Are!

Remember The Past To Know Who We Are!

“….finally, in the end, I think it’s pretty obvious at least to all of all us who’ve traveled in these remote reaches of the planet, to realize that they’re not remote at all. They’re homelands of somebody. They represent branches of the human imagination that go back to the dawn of time. And for all of us, the dreams of these children, like the dreams of our own children, become part of the naked geography of hope.”

The Kogi have come to the area that I live 4 times in the past couple of years.  On each occasion, I’ve had the opportunity to be present and witness the unfolding of their communication and interaction with us “gringos” and “white folk”.  Each occasion afforded me a different angle of perspective.   I do not fully grasp the intensity of experiencing their teachings and presence, but I do know I am left with intrigue and continue to follow the path of understanding.  The Ted Talk I share below talks about the Kogi at the 8:40 mark.

The picture to the left is of a statue I created near the Magical Forest One.   This picture felt like a premonition to me.   He, the statue, no longer exists.  The red man goes to the dust from where he came!

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming Future Projects

I am laying the foundation... I am layering the bricks.... When you make the decision towards self sufficiency, one important key is to determine the way the land will provide and sustain.   It is finding a way to generate that which the land can not...

Three Legged

Daily thoughts, contemplations, realizations and awakenings!   My journey of life with words! Informed opinion Manipulated opinion Observing opinions. I am right I am wrong I only see with tinted glasses I deserve I demand The whole world is mine to take I swing right...