Saturday, November 20, 2010


Howdy Joel,

Hope everything is going ok on the farm. I've thought about how hot
we've been here, and then figured you have been in the same boat.

I have several friends who have encouraged me to start a blog about
the experience of recording the audio book, and the conviction I've
had about the issues within the book.

For the blog, I would like to include our correspondence by email.
However, I wanted to have your permission first. Obviously, I would
take out things like your email address, and where you go to church,
your phone number.

What would you think of including that information? If you believe
that's not the best thing, I will just summarize the entries.

Please answer only as you have time, I know you're busy.


-- end of message --

Hi Theresa--

It's fine with me. Nothing inflammatory or litigious in there? I have no idea
what our email correspondence has been. I barely keep up with it on a
daily basis, let alone keep a record of anything. You are amazing.



a contract

July 24th

Hi Joel,

Hope your discovery seminars went without government incident!

We took the jump drive to the post office this morning. We included
pictures from our visit, and of me in our "studio" (which is really
the back bedroom). Interestingly, they stated it should arrive on
Monday. I sent it certified mail.

If there are any problems/concerns/questions with the receipt, PLEASE
let me know. Advise your computer literate person who burns the cds of
the same thing. I'm available to help in any way possible.

We're headed up to Huron Ohio for vacation with some folks from church
for a couple of days. If something urgent occurs with the audio book
(which I don't think it will, I have two backup copies here), you can
call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

I'm interested to hear how this all turns out, so keep me posted, as
your time allows. I know you're busy!

I am thinking of doing a blog talking about all of this, several
friends have encouraged me to do as such..... just an fyi.

And, if needed, here you go:

Dear Joel Salatin,
Do whatever you wish with the audio book recording. Sell it at the
store, put it up on your website, market it to libraries, do what you
think is best.


In an official capacity,

Theresa Lyons


July 21st

Hi Theresa--

I think this introduction is endearing, transparent, and just what I would expect for this book.
What a wonderful addition. Yes, please put it on. It's perfect.

Waiting with baited breath, I remain--

Gratefully yours,


Getting to be a bit creative

From July 20th

Howdy Joel,
I just finished recording the last chapter. That being said, I wanted
to run something by you, and then I'm headed to the post office to
send you the jump drive.

I have been thinking about this book, and how in the world this all
came together. I have written a "note from the audio book presenter",
I am considering including at the beginning of the audio book. Now,
this is certainly not standard practice for the reader to say ANYTHING
about the book-- they are just the voice.

Anyway, read what I have below, and tell me if you think it's
appropriate to include. If you don't believe so, I will certainly not
be hurt... I'll just let my friends read it regardless!

Let me know, and I'll record it if so. If not, I'll just finish the
edits and ship it off to you. 43 Pure Meadows Lane Swoope, VA 24479
is the address I should use, correct?

--end of email--

A personal note from the audio book presenter:

In late 2009, my husband Vince was wandering the aisles at our local
public library, when he saw an audio book titled In Defense of Food,
by Michael Pollan. He picked it up and thought, “I like food.”

Since we both worked mind-numbing jobs at the time, we listened to
that book, then found The Omnivore's Dilemma, also by Michael Pollan.
Through this book, we were astounded at the different types of of food
systems, and became fascinated by Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms.

When I (Theresa), looked into borrowing one of Joel's books as an
audio book from the library, we couldn't find any. So, I chose the
most interesting looking one (as a non-farmer), called Everything I
Want to Do is Illegal.

We read the chapters to each other in the month of March, 2010, and
were simultaneously enraged by the issues presented, and charmed by
the book. One day, I thought, “You know, my degree is in
broadcasting. I wonder if they just need someone to read it into an
audio book. This stuff is pretty important, and should be easily
accessible.” So, I emailed Chelsea Green Publishing, expecting to get
a canned response that they only use “Insert name of large audio book
producer here” to read their books, but thanks for your offer.

Instead, the next day, I received a message that they had forwarded my
email to the author.

Shocked again the day after that, I received an email from Joel
Salatin himself! How in the world did this happen, I thought!

From April through June, we exchanged emails about the possibility of
the audio book being voiced. I've never read an audio book, and
didn't even own a microphone. I bought a wonderful microphone, had it
delivered straight to my door, and started learning the ins and outs
of recording audio books at home.

At the end of June, we took some vacation time to visit Polyface
Farms, and meet the Salatin family.

The first thing I noticed is they laugh, a lot. Their sense of humor
is wonderful, and certainly needed as you'll hear in this book. I also
immediately found out that I had been pronouncing the names of their
towns incorrectly. For example, Staunton is pronounced Staan ton..
Swoope in pronounced Swope.

We attended church with Joel and Teresa. After that, we went to
Chipotle to eat lunch together. I was STARTLED by how different the
meat tasted (they supply the pork for that particular location). I
had stopped eating pork recently because of what I'll call loosely
“the weird taste.”

Later that day, Vince and I went to a local restaurant named Zynadoa,
which also features their food. As foodies, we were shocked by how
good the food was. When we complimented Chef Michael Lund after
dinner about the fact that the peas actually tasted like something, he
said “It helps that they were just picked yesterday.” This restaurant
knows how to DO local!

The next day, we visited the farm. Do you know what fresh air smells
like! This is not your typical farm. This farm takes care of the
animals, and the plants, and the people. I must say that I was
stunned by their hospitality – It really felt like we could sit down
and discuss whatever was on our minds.

This audio book is the result of all those strange events. When we
were sitting at Chipotle, I thought, “How in the world did I get here”
yet again!

One note about your listening experience with this audio book. I read
the book the way that I feel. I sound nothing like Joel. If you want
to hear what he sounds like, you can find quite a few clips of him,
and his distinctive voice, on the internet. But, you should know that
for some chapters here, I am just
downright angry. Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed, sometimes, I don't get
it because I'm not a farmer.

Lastly, I think something should be noted here. As we were sitting in
Joel's office, stacked high with books, we were talking about some of
the big words in the book. At that point, Teresa (his wife), openly
stated that Joel has been known to simply “make up” some of those big
words. You may want to keep that in mind as you are “reading”!

Theresa Lyons, July, 2010

And now... An unabridged production of, Everything I Want to Do is
Illegal, written by Joel Salatin. Read by Theresa Lyons.

July 13th

Hi Theresa and Vince--

Believe me, the pleasure was all ours. Our only regret was that we
seemed to have lots of pulls on our time that day, but you all seemed
to take everything in stride. That's big of you.

Wonderful news on the project. That's great. The jump drive will be
fine and we'll get a techno-literate friend to get it duplicated. This will
be a tremendous tool in our arsenal.

Thank you again and we'll trust that your computer hangs in there.

Best regards,

Joel Salatin

Told you!

From July 11th

Joel and Teresa,

There are no words to express our thanks to both of you for your
hospitality, words of encouragement, and outright good time! So,
simply said, thank you.

We've been telling lots of stories to our friends about our visit who
are quite frankly, fascinated. It's been a great tool to get the word
out about both food, and how big God really is!

When we were sitting at Chipotle together, I wondered “how in the
world did I get here?” I consider all of this an honor to just be
used to further a message that needs to be spread.

Regardless, I wanted to give you an update. I only have 6 chapters
left to record and edit. If my laptop can just hold out that long
without completely breaking down, I will be so relieved! After
visiting the farm, and you all, and the store, I felt a greater sense
of urgency. I realized that the faster I can record, and with quality,
the greater possibility there is that more folks will hear this
message. I didn't really think about when you get more people in and
out of your store, according to the season.

I'm going to strive to have this done by mid August. I'd rather have
it done sooner, so we'll see. When I send it to you, I'll send it on a
jump drive, via US Mail, with delivery receipt. I have a general
mistrust of the US Mail Service, and then I remembered your section on
incompetent postal workers. I think we're on the same page. I'll type
you an email forewarning you of the delivery as well.

One additional note. What you said about resting on Sundays made me
think. Our fellowship seems to go to the extreme edge of the law--
we're not under the law at all, so we don't need to adhere to resting
on one day. One of the many health problems I have (which I am now
going to a holistic doctor now for), is with stress, my immune system,
and my adrenal system. You made me take to heart why we don't make it
a point to rest. The excuses didn't get us far. We are now going to
make an effort to rest on Sundays. So, thanks for speaking up!

Theresa and Vince


Once home, we set to work on using up and enjoying Polyface's food to the fullest.

We roasted the chicken with herbs soon after we were home. Once you taste locally grown, free range chicken, you can't go back. You'll realize how tough the meat is that you've been eating, and how, over time, the texture, composition, and color of your food has changed with industry.

Polyface eggs. You crack them, and it's like a completely new color of yellow has hit your eyes! I put some Polyface eggs next to some store bought ones, and the color and texture contrast is astounding.

We used the ground beef for burgers for dinner with some special friends (Nathan and Sarah Friend), the sausage for spaghetti and meatballs, and just had rabbit stew the other day.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I can do to further people's awareness of what they're eating. I know that I can't change people's choices. I do want to present them with information, and then let them make their own decision.

I keep thinking, though, about Joel's last words to us as we left. He said “We'll send you something”. I don't know if that means a Christmas card, I don't know if that means, money, or if it means steak!
More than anything, Teresa and Joel sent us home with encouragement, information about our food system, and welcome hearts I have never experienced before.

I would like to read more audio books. I have a place to do it from home! I just don't have any material or customers!

I would like to further the local food movement. I hope I have done so by voicing this audio book and making it more accessible to others. I'm not sure how to proceed from here.

Several folks have asked about where/when they can purchase the audio book. I'm going to write Joel an email, and check on his progress. I think he leaves for Australia and New Zealand soon for the Regenerative Agriculture Workshop Series, so I don't know when I'll hear. Once I write to him, I'll post the letter here, as well as the response with additional information.

Don't think that this blog ends now. Things changed a lot with one simple idea, and one simple email I sent a few months ago. Hang in there!

The last day

The last day

It was monday morning, time to pack up and head back for Ohio. This was a very sad parting. We left, wishing that there was some way that we could pay off all of our debt, and do this ourselves. On our way out of town, we went back to Polyface to visit the on farm store.

We spotted Teresa on the way in, putting out a fire about a group of folks who had ordered Joel's books, but not gotten them. They were in the process of renovating the farm store, so the order probably got lost when their lines were down.

Let's see... we bought a chicken, one rabbit, two pounds of ground beef, two pounds of Italian sausage, and a dozen eggs. Vince and I also bought two fun shirts they have available at their store. One says “Support your local lunatic farmer”, and the other says “Everything I want to do is illegal”.

While we were in the store, they were putting together food for their co-op. They have some really hard workers with their interns and staff, trying to get everything right for their customers.

While we were there, we met Joel's mother. She was cross stitching, so I went to the car and showed her my cross stitch. We talked for awhile, and it was good to meet her and get to know her.

We snapped some pictures with Teresa, and when we were headed out, Joel pulled up with someone he was helping with some hay. We took a quick picture, and headed back to Columbus.


Did you know that turkeys chirp?

Did you know that geese (not Canadian) are good watchers for chickens and turkeys? They will alert people or others of any predators, and look after the flock as if they are their own.

We walked through hills of green. I brought a hat, and was just wearing shorts and a tshirt. It was sweltering anyway. At least for this girl who sits in an air conditioned office most of the year.

After seeing the little chickens, the big chickens, and turkeys, we took out a blanket and had our sandwich lunch under a tree on the Polyface front yard. It's certainly a different experience, knowing that the turkey you may take home and eat tomorrow, is watching you eat your lunch. If you go to a conventional farm, the poultry will run away from you because they think it's their time to die. Here, a person means food and care.

I have never seen happy pigs before. They were laying in the shade, up a hill, looking happy to be a pig.

We also saw their huge garden, and Daniel's rabbit house.

I couldn't make it up the hill to see the cows, I felt so hot I was going to pass out. I went back to the house to get some shade, and Teresa invited me to cool my feet off in the small pool they have in the front yard. I took up her offer gratefully, and socialized with her and one of her college friends for some time before Vince re appeared.

Joel had been on the phone most of the time after we met, about a new book deal. While we were trying to beat the heat, we got to know their house guests, and I introduced their youngest to Pixel Puzzles. Another addict was born that day!

Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel. We took a slight detour up to the Blue Ridge Moutains, but I was so carsick that it wasn't really fun for me. Beautiful, but not fun.

We accidentally took a three hour nap (go ahead and laugh at us techie-city-folk), and woke up in time to make dinner, and go back to sleep again.

If there is one thing I can say over and over again about the Polyface, it's about the grass. The different colors of grass are everywhere, and they complete the whole picture of how Polyface works.

The big day

The big day to visit the farm, and present Joel with my work (so far), had finally arrived!

He had given us specific directions as to where to park, and how to approach the house properly at the time we arrived.

I was thinking...
“What if he doesn't like it?”
“What if the copy we brought doesn't work?”
(We had brought a copy on cd, jump drive, and on the laptop).
What if he's really a jerk?

We walked into the house, astonished at it's beauty and age. I've never been in a house that old before. The woodwork was done by hand, the hearth is a historic marker, and it depends on as little energy as possible.

We were welcomed into the sitting room, and I felt privileged to be sitting in the same place as Michael Pollen, and many others who have gone through a journey to discover their food.

We gave him the cd to play (I was shocked that he had an Imac), and it didn't work. We brought the jump drive, and it worked! He listened to it for a bit, and said “Well, if the point of this meeting is to give you the go ahead to continue, go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. Once completed, we'll bring in someone to make copies to sell at our store, and we can probably put it up on our website for people to listen.”

I was glad, but also astonished at the same time. These folks had to have a lot of trust in us to let us into their home, wander around the farm, and be let into their lives this much.

When we teased him about the Imac, he said “I got this laptop so that I could write whenever I was on trips. I don't really know how to do anything else with it.” His book collection does really show his colors. It was a testament that him and Teresa, and his family, spend a lot of time thinking about who they are, and why they do what they do.

Their houseguests were downstairs, so we began our tour around the farm. Everyone is welcome there. They really do want people to come see where their food comes from. I believe this is a direct contrast to so many “farms” where you are not allowed to see the animals, for various reasons. These can be found and exposed more deeply in “The Omnivore's Dilemma” by Pollen, or “Everything I want to do is illegal” by Salatin.


We called Zynodoa at 5, as it was a Sunday, knowing they were open until 8 p.m.

The greeter answered, and when we asked for a reservation, she put us on hold for a moment (which was odd). She had checked with the chef (!), and he would take us right at 8. I protested because I thought they closed at 8 (they were closed monday, so this was our last chance to go since we left tuesday morning), but she said that he stated he would take us.

At this point in the story, I would like to point out that no one had any idea who we were or why we were there. They only knew that we had called, and just wanted to have dinner. They went far out of their way to accommodate us.

We took the 8 p.m. Slot, and edited until it was time to leave. We left around 7:15, since Staunton (pronounced STAN- TON) was about half an hour away.

We arrived to find a cute little town, a college town at that, SWAMPED with bicyclists. There was a large group ride that day, which had shut down the whole town. We found free parking in a nearby garage, and prepared ourselves for another part of the adventure.

We actually arrived at 7:45. I felt bad enough that they were taking us after closing time, the least we could do is be prompt or early. While we were waiting to be seated (they were SWAMPED), we read articles outside the door about Chef Mike Lund. He is highly esteemed as a chef, and has worked in several highly competitive restaurants.

We were seated right in front of the window, the opposite direction from the street. Our view was the whole restaurant, looking back into the kitchen. The ambiance there is casual and relaxed, and I flt like I could just chill out for a bit.

The waitress who greeted us (no fancy dress for them, just black), started by apologizing. They had been overwhelmed by all of the bikers in town, and only had a few dishes left to serve (none of which were Joel's). We were bummed, but we figured that we would buy some of his food and take it home to cook it ourselves anyway.

I ordered salmon and Vince ordered pork tenderloin. One of the things that fascinated me the most about the restaurant is their focus on local food from the valley. They have a chalkboard up that shows all of the ingredients they source, and the farm the ingredient is from.

Now, bear in mind that we are FOODIES. That means we are very difficult to impress with food.

The brought us freshly warmed bread with honey butter. Bear in mind that I don't eat dairy. If dairy would have tasted like this my whole life, it may have been harder to quit. There was a VERY noticeable difference between the fresh milk used for this butter, and what I was used to back in Columbus.

Our salad then arrived, and I have to say that they understand how to structure a salad. It was a perfect balance between the fresh greens, vinaigrette, fruit, and nuts on the salad.

Now, what I thought would be the best part of our meal arrived: The entrees. I absolutely could not believe how different, and fresh, the food tasted. The salmon had peas in it, and I didn't know that peas could actually taste like something! My sister in law law (not a typo, her name is Laura Lyons) had been complaining about peas the other day. I texted her because I was shocked at how good all of this tasted.

Perfect portions meant that I was stuffed! We had chatted with our waitress about where we were from, and why we were there. She had read most of Salatin's books as well. As a daring moment, I asked if we could meet the chef and thank him for our wonderful meal. I know that a lot of chefs are jerks (perhaps it's part of the restaurant environment), but I wanted to meet him anyway. The waitress edified him on the way out, saying that he is both humble and hard working.

Out came the youngest looking gentlemen I had not expected. I believe he is still a few years younger than us, and has had significant time cooking for big names. Turns out that he's from Toledo, so he knew all about The Ohio State University, High Street, and Ohio, in general. We told him about Joel, and he praised Joel for a “Meat and Beer” night they had just done together a few weeks ago.

To end the conversation, he offered us some desert. I declined, but he told Vince, “I would like to bring you something special.” A few minutes pass by, and out he walks with a piece of chocolate cake. He puts it in front of us and says “This is a cake that I make for my mother for her birthday every year. I hope you enjoy it!”.

Vince says that it was, and let me quote him, “Spectacular”. It was a chocolate torte.

He told us to stop by if we ever come through the area again, and there will be a completely different menu.

This was the first example of a restaurant I have seen that uses local food, touts it, and makes it absolutely outstanding. This showed me that it can be done!

We went back to the hotel, barely able to move we were so full!

Chip oat lay

I cannot express to you how excited I was! Chipotle is one of the few “fast food” places I can actually eat!

If I could guess, they took us to the following Chipotle:
1615 Reservoir St. Harrisonburg, VA 22801

On the way in, we discussed franchising (I thought Chipotle was a franchise), and cell phones. He has a cell phone, but hadn't checked it in several weeks because they don't have service where they live. But they do get cell service near Chipotle!

We walked in together, and there were signs posted indicating that they serve pork from Polyface Farms. Joel introduced himself to the burrito server as “Joel Salatin from Polyface farms, good to meet you.” Everyone smiled on the way through the line, and by the time we got to the end of the line, the manager had come out to greet him. He really wanted to comp all of the food, and Joel flat out refused. In the end, he comped some chips and guac, but Joel really wanted to pay for the rest. He made it clear to us and to the manager that he doesn't visit places trying to get free food.

I've debated about how much of the following conversation to share. As much as I believe that faith is a deeply personal thing, I believe there is also a place for sharing it with others for both your own benefit and theirs. I won't share much about Teresa and Joel's story, but I will say that they were high school sweethearts, and came to know Christ several years ago. Their faith is part of the reason why they try to be good stewards of animals, and the land. Vince and I then shared about when God became personal to us, through Christ, and some of the incredible circumstances surrounding how God has provided for us. It was a great time of personal sharing, uplifting each other, and learning about other people's perspectives. I knew at that time, if nothing else came from this, we were brought together to encourage each other in our faith, and to continue good work throughout our lives.

I couldn't believe we were sitting at Chipotle, with a famous farmer and his wife, talking about God.

They dropped us off back at the hotel, and I continued editing the audio book with my laptop, until dinnertime.

We had taken to heart Joe's suggestion to try a local restaurant called Zynodoa, which serves his food. We had searched their website, and agreed to call them around 5 to make reservations. Their site said “Reservations suggested but not required.”


Well, the first thing to be noted, which was different than any other church experience I've had, is that their church has an Israeli flag hanging in the sanctuary. When asking Joel about this later, he said that they believe, and this is a paraphrase “God is not done with Israel. We believe that God still has a plan for Israel. We don't know exactly what it is.”

It seemed like a normal non denominational church. A big open room with a few screens that displayed the music verses, and lots of chairs. People were friendly, greeting us and Joel and Teresa on the way in. There was singing beforehand, and Joel sings REALLY loudly, reminding me of my Uncle Joe. This fact is neither here nor there, but I didn't know a single song that was sung. I didn't feel judged at all for not singing along.

At the beginning of the service, they ask if there are any guests, so I introduced us to the congregation.

The preacher that week was the youth pastor, and it was the first time he preached the Sunday service. He was excited to be able to preach in shorts and sandals. I would say it was about an hour long.

Teresa had some catching up to do, so Vince and I stood with Joel in the back of the church while she socialized. We talked a little more about our faith backgrounds.

Once we were back in the car, Joel apologized. He said that they would like to have us back to their house for lunch, but they have houseguests and a really busy schedule, so they wondered if they could take us to Chipotle for lunch. The particular Chipotle they wanted to take us to is one that serves Polyface pork, so they were anxious for us to try some of their food (without spending an arm and a leg at a nice restaurant).


Sunday morning there was a lot of pacing. Since we didn't know how long their church service was (and he never answered as to appropriate attire), I left in a long skirt, high collared shirt and dress shoes, with Vince in nice pants and a nice shirt. I also packed a sandwich, and KIND bar, and some trail mix in my purse, just in case. Go to for information on these awesome snack bars! My biggest fear was that they would invite us to lunch back at their house, and I would have to pass on everything. For example:
"Would you like some milk we got from the cow this morning?"

"Oh, well, then how about some freshly baked bread from last night"

"How about some pastured eggs from our chickens?"

Regardless, at 9:15, we were ready. We walked to the lobby at the front of the hotel, and waited outside. Writing this in late fall is VERY funny because it's about 35 degrees outside now. It was HOT. During the day it was getting up to 95 degrees F. I also wasn't sure if this church had air conditioning!

For those of you who are Salatin nerds, I have some information for you. He drives a Subaru. I can't tell you what the model was, but it was a four door. Teresa and Joel picked us up, and if I could read lips from outside a car, I swear I saw Joel say to Teresa “Well, they are real! Here they are!”.

I was so happy to meet both of them, and the first thing I noted about them is that they laugh. A lot. If you read “Everything I want to do is illegal”, this might surprise you. They have been through, and continue to go through, a serious amount of hardship just to bring folks clean food, raised well, that tastes wonderful!

They were courteous, asking us about our trip (Teresa, his wife, gets car sick too). He said that he was really glad to hear me talking. Teresa had, and rightfully so, brought up the idea that I may be a mumbler. He was relieved to know that the person recording the book knew how to speak well.

They had to take a different route to church (their house was about 25 minutes from the hotel), so Teresa directed Joel. We then had a discussion about GPS systems, and he said that he's never used one. He does a lot of traveling to do speeches, especially in the little Subaru, and said he would just prefer the old fashioned way.

This is when our education about the Shenandoah Valley began. The highway we followed was a very old route, followed by Native Americans. Evidently, this valley is very bountiful, with lots of different food sources, so it was well traveled.


Well, here we were on our adventure to meet some people that we've never met, or talked to on the phone, about an audio book that I was in the process of voicing.

Something to keep in mind here is that because of my health problems, we had to pack almost every piece of food we ate. This takes some serious organization, because we're also foodies. No blah food here!

The drive was about six and a half hours, down route 33, through West Virginia, and into Virginia. The alignment was really off in our only reliable car, so I was sick and feeling nauseous most of the time. Which sucked. Once we got back from the trip we took money out of savings to get it fixed.

I have NEVER seen a place so beautiful. His farm is right between two mountain ranges, in the Shenandoah valley. If you go to his website, you'll see a picture that won't do the area justice in any way.

We arrived on Saturday night, and after eating dinner, hopped into the car to do a test run to the farm. The last thing we wanted to do is drive there on Monday morning, find out that our GPS really couldn't find it, and be driving around ANGRY (sans cell phone service). It was a relief to drive from country road to country road (with country music on the radio), and just breathe. We found the farm, then drove back to the hotel.

All from June 25th

June 25th

Hi Teresa--

If you will let us know where you
are staying in Staunton, we'd be glad to just stop by and pick you up around
9:30 or a little after.  That might be the easiest thing.  We have room for you,
and if we don't you can just follow us.

Our unlisted home number is  xxx-xxx-xxxx

Have a wonderful and safe trip.



-- new message --

Hi Joel,
We are staying at:
Days Inn Staunton-Mint Springs
Address 372 White Hill Road
Staunton , VA 24401

See you shortly after 930 on Sunday!


-- new message --

great.  have a safe and happy trip.

will call you if any problems.

wandering questions

If you'll notice, I make sure that Joel knows that Vince will be there. Us big-idea people (Joel and I) can often have spouses who can be suspicious. Just wanted to make sure everyone was in the clear!

At this point, I'm also excited to find out just what kind of church this dude goes to. His views are ALL OVER the board!

-- Beginning of message --

June 24th
Hi Joel,
Vince (my husband, who I think I've mentioned before) and I will plan
on being at your place around 8 or 830 Monday morning. We'll wander
around the farm after that to check it out!

I've actually never been camping in my life or else I would take you
up on a place to pitch the tent!

Thank you for the invitation to attend your church on Sunday morning.
Should we meet you there around 945? Just let us know where is
appropriate to meet, as well as the dress that is appropriate. I tried
to find a website but was unable to do so. We also go to a non denom
church, so this should be fine! I like seeing how God works in
different ways that are beyond my perspective!

Also, here is my contact information in case something happens. My
cell phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. We should be bringing the laptop in
case you can't access the files that I've recorded, but I don't have
any idea if we'll have internet access at our hotel to receive any
emails you send. We'll leave Saturday morning, and will probably
arrive around 5pm.

Look forward to meeting you!


Good info!

Hi Teresa--

I have a 10 a.m. radio show Monday so I'll be free before then or after 10:45.
I think I'd prefer to see you earlier, unless that's too confining for you.

I don't have any accommodation suggestions.  I assume you're not camping.
If you were, you could certainly stay here.  Otherwise, Staunton has all sorts
of places.

Hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a favorite around here.  Several very
scenic and enjoyable vistas and geographic points of interest.

Churches:  Daniel and Sheri go to (******) in Staunton.  Teresa and I go to
(******) in Weyers Cave--would be glad
to take you with us.  Not sure what your tastes are.  We're a nondenom group
of believers.  That's all.  But the area has everything from Catholic to Lutheran
to Episcopal to Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, etc.

Local restaurants:  Zynodoa (but that will eat up $60 of your $150 allowance).
Generally, restaurants that serve our stuff are pricey--good, but pricey.

If you like museum/living history stuff, the American Frontier Culture Museum
is quite a place, and I don't think very expensive.  It's in Staunton and a very
neat place.  I'm sure you could google it and see all about it.  Plan on half a
day there if you go.

Our farm store is open Saturday's 9-4 so somebody is around all day.  Not sure
what we'll be doing.  Sunday we rest, except for doing chores.  Sunday evening
a college friend and family come (7 of them in all) to spend several days with us,
so our accommodations are pretty taken during that time.

Look forward to meeting you and catching up.  Pleasant travels.

Best regards,

Joel Salatin

-- end of message --

Please note that I have taken out the names of their churches, to protect their own privacy. They did not ask for me to do this, I just wanted to respect their choices. If you really want to know, you can figure out how to get a hold of me.

working a job and being independent

At this point, it should be noted that the reason I have no more time off left now, is because of going on this trip. I'm not bitter... mostly... because it changed the way I think about things. But I am bitter because I like taking it slower around the Holidays.. Anyway...

As you read this post, you'll see some of the stuff I had to try to figure out about our trip. You see, Joel's farm is... well, in the middle of nowhere. And mapquest can't find it, so I couldn't find anything touristy around it because I couldn't find the point where the farm is in the first place!

June 22, 2010

Hi Joel,
Firmer plans at this point. We will arrive Saturday or Sunday, and
plan on coming by on Monday. Any suggestions on where to stay? We're
trying to pull off this whole trip on $150, so we can priceline a room
if nothing else.

Do you have any suggestions about what time we should come by on Monday?

We'll have time to do a few other cheaper things, is there
canoeing/kayaking/hiking around your location you could suggest?  If
we arrive on saturday, are there any cool churches around we can visit
on Sunday?  Are there any local restaurants that haven't been bullied
out of serving your food that we can check out?

I'm sad to say I only have 7 chapters edited and ready to go at this
point, but I'll happily hand those over to you when we meet. If I
could just have  A WEEK without computer problems, I'd be much
further!  I'm going to keep working in the meantime.

(Sorry for all of the questions)


plans to go meet the author!

June 8, 2010

Hi Teresa--

That's an excellent time for us.  I'm home and the calendar is fairly open.
I'd say come on out Monday or Tuesday.  I'm looking forward to meeting you
and receiving the disk.  Sorry to hear about the employment travails.

Just let us know your plans as they firm up.

Many thanks.

Joel Salatin

Monday, November 1, 2010

a word about saving audio files

Dear reader,
If you're like me, you're just trying to get to know how file storage works. We started by trying to save all of the audio from this project to one laptop. Which promptly crashed. Then, we bought a two gig jump drive.

Well, here's the kicker. Audacity never saves in mp3 format, only in their own format. Which I thought wouldn't be a big deal. It was, and I had to convert every single file from their own format to mp3. If you search around enough, you'll find a tool online to help you convert them. Just take a general warning, this will take time. Don't forget to label the mp3 files with a different name than the original file, so your computer doesn't freak out on you and say that you already have a file by that name.

About three quarters of the way into the book, we had to go buy a 4 gig jump drive and save everything there. We still saved copies onto cd's (which Joel's computer ultimately couldn't read), and on the hard drive, but that was what we ended up providing to him.


(from June 5th)

Hi Joel,
I wanted to give you an update. First of all, after lots of computer
problems, I've made it through recording chapter 8. I hope to get more
done this weekend :-)

Unfortunately, I didn't get the job I had hoped to. In addition, it
looks like the company my husband and I work for will be closing our
site (employs about 800 people), and moving the jobs elsewhere. I have
no date on this of course, but being laid off and getting severance
pay for awhile may be a good thing.

Regardless, we've put in for vacation time June 26-30th. The drive
from our place to yours is about six and a half hours, so we'll need
almost a full day to drive comfortably. Do you have any suggestions on
which days of those we should aim to be there?

It would be sweet if I could finish the book before then (for each
chapter I have to read it, then edit it, then convert the file and all
kinds of fun techie stuff), so I can just hand it to you, but it's
pretty unlikely I'll have THAT much work done by then.

No need to hurry on that response... obviously there's a good amount
of time between now and the end of June.
-- end of message --

Joel's response:

(from June 8th)
Hi Teresa--

That's an excellent time for us. I'm home and the calendar is fairly open.
I'd say come on out Monday or Tuesday. I'm looking forward to meeting you
and receiving the disk. Sorry to hear about the employment travails.

Just let us know your plans as they firm up.

Many thanks.

Joel Salatin
Polyface Farm

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A lot of trial and error

A lot of trial and error occurred during this time. I had to nix several cuts due to Audacity issues (I was using the old version), or straight out anger at the copy. Sometimes you just can't get a proper rhythm.

One of the things I realized at this point is that life gets in the way. Meaning, I had to record a cut, then go back and edit it, and then save it. Trying to remember where I was in the book was just getting too difficult. This is where I'll sanction to write on your copy. If you don't take notes you won't remember!

Here's my next note to Joel (dated May 16, 2010)

Hi Joel,
I'm about a quarter of the way done with recording... I'm home sick
with a sinus infection so I'm taking care of all of the editing since
I can't do much. So, that's my update :-)

On a non-recording note, my workplace has had some big integrity
failures over the past 6 weeks, and my husband I are now seeking
alternate employment. It's most likely that I'll get a job for an
agency that my church runs, as an office manager. It's at a place
called Urban Concern, which is based off of Harlem childrens zone in
NYC. Most of the kids there have one parent, and are afraid that
before they are 21 years old they will be dead because of drug related
activity. So, I may be switching from a mind numbing job to one where
I actually get to serve other people!

That being said, if that's the case, we will take a week off before
starting new job(s). During that week, we hoped to visit Polyface. If
I could guess, I would say it would be the week of June 1st-5th or the
week of the 6th-12th.

Will you be around any of those times for us to come visit? As far as
I'm concerned, we can just come there and walk ourselves around the
place.. I know you're running a farm and a business, and have your own
speaking engagements. But, I wanted to see if there were any times in
there that would be good or bad.

Keep on doing what you're doing!


-- End of my message, beginning of Joel's message --

Hi Theresa--

Yes, I'll be here during those times. I'm pretty close to home in the middle of the
summer just because the work load is heavy. July is also when we do our seminarHi Theresa--

Yes, I'll be here during those times. I'm pretty close to home in the middle of the
summer just because the work load is heavy. July is also when we do our seminars.

So yes, please come by. As your schedule formalizes, give us a heads up so we
know what you're planning. I'd love to see you.



So yes, please come by. As your schedule formalizes, give us a heads up so we
know what you're planning. I'd love to see you.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A quick note, including thank yous!

Well, if you've ever put your mouth to a microphone, you know about popping. Popping p's, s's that sound like snakes, etc. I started recording, and realized that with how INCREDIBLE the microphone is, you were going to be able to hear every single noise I make!

Well, where do I get a damper. I asked a couple of folks at work how much this costs, and where I can buy one. Doug Hare, and Quikson D both suggested that I use panty hose pressed into a loop. Did it work? Yes. Did it work well? Not really. Did I still have to sit there and take every single popped noise out of the recording. Yes.

Would I have bought the damper if I had more money... probably. Ah well. Vince drew me a melancholy award for all of my hard work on the book.

Pictures of the home made damper, melancholy award, and other fun pictures will be posted here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Starting the read

At this point the book changed our lives in a couple of different ways.
1. The way that we interacted with what we ate.

I would challenge you to read this book. Pay close attention to the chapter "Million Mile Chicken". Just to TRY to bring you some meat from an animal that lived close to you (think about the gas used for transport, refrigeration, it really does add up quickly), the farmer has to fight, argue, fill out paperwork, spend time that could have been used doing more productive things than negotiating with buyers, etc. You may begin to question the label "Fresh" on the product you buy at the grocery store.

2. I moved to making any spare time that I had into reading time. After getting the book and the microphone in the mail, I started recording. Here are some lessons learned:
- Make sure that the version of Audacity you are using is the most current version. I realized, after recording the first two chapters several times, and each time when attempting to save the whole program shutting down, I found that I didn't have the most updated version. This created a lot of anger and frustration with the whole project. About three weeks were wasted here, with lots of technical intervention from Vince. I don't have much patience for details once I start to get frustrated!

In the meantime, I got a response from Joel!
--- Beginning of message ---

from Joel Salatin
to Theresa Lyons
date Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM
subject Re: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal

Apr 21

Hi Theresa--

Oh, of course read it with gusto--great drama and verve.

This sounds great. I'm in no rush--just go at your pace and let me know
how you get along.

Many thanks.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


As an audio book presenter, you may spend time trying to figure out how to present the author's work in their own likeness. Go ahead, Google Joel Salatin, you'll understand then how many things we have in common physically.

I set out online to try to hear his voice. Not necessarily to imitate it, but to at least familiarize myself with the way he talks. My Mom and Dad would always tell me "Make sure you don't put the emphasis on the wrong sill-laab-bull."

I figured my best bet would be to ask him how he would like this book read. It's a VERY different genre than what I was used to hearing as an audio book, so I figured ANY guidance would be good!

--- Beginning of email ---

Theresa Lyons
to Joel Salatin
date Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 8:52 AM
subject Re: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal

Hi Joel,
I just wanted to write a follow up email. Certain things have fallen
through, and other things have turned out positively! I've ordered
your book from Amazon so I can return the library copy and not mark it
up. I've also purchased a microphone online, and recording software is
easy to come by. Both of those should come in the mail this week.

My goal is to have the book read in 3 months. If there's a reason you
would like it to be done sooner, simply communicate that to me, and
I'll ramp up my time working on it. (Also, see Proverbs 16:9, because
God knows about schedules more than I do).

My question for you is, do you have any comments on how you would like
for me to read the book? Like "with gusto", or "just read it
straight", or "whatever". I've never heard you talk before, except
for an excerpt in "Food Inc.", so I'm going to listen to whatever I
can find on youtube to get an idea about what your voice sounds like.
I'm sure this request about how to read the book may sound weird, but
as my dad says "Don't put the accent on the wrong se labble".

Thanks for your input, and I'm excited to do this! I've already talked
to several folks about this, who are interested in hearing the
information, which makes it even better.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

space and equipment

Two more topics to digress on for this post!

Space: I am lucky, no I am blessed, to have a very strange neighbor. The house next to ours is the house where his parents lived, and he grew up. He actually lives across the street from us, and owns the house next to us. I haven't been in the house next door, but evidently, it's the same as it was when his parents died. This means that the house is quiet, except for when Fred sets off fireworks. He likes to do this, but I like him anyway because we're the same temperment.

Anyway, it was MOSTLY quiet in a our back bedroom, since that's the room furthest from the road and closest to the "no one lives here" house. Sometimes, Fred's friend Jason, uses the that driveway to move stuff around with big machines, but generally not until after he starts drinking (around 9am).

Well, back to the space. I decided on the back bedroom as the place to record, knowing that was the best option. In general the quieter, the better. You can't do anything about ghetto-copters (learned that too).

Something else you never think about is the fact that the microphone needs to be close to your mouth, and the laptop. Close but not too close, the water to drink close but not close enough to spill all over yourself, the book and the laptop.

Eventually, I'll add a picture of the set up to this page.

Now let's think about equipment. I'm used to recording in VERY expensive sound studios, where all you do is saunter up to the microphone to speak.

I asked some friends if they had a microphone to spare, but no one did. We saved up some money, and I bought this wonderful microphone:

I think the best part about it is that it's multi use. It has a switch for multi or single directional, so it's good for podcasting or single reading.

In addition, the price was VERY reasonable--- only $80.00 on Amazon.

Next, I needed a copy of the book that wasn't the library's. That was pretty cheap too $15.00.

Finally, the laptop. We have two of them, A Dell Inspiron that I use that we've had to replace the hard drive twice on (Runs Linux only because of it's unreliability), and Vince has a HP TX 1300.

Finally, software is what I needed. I found a version of Audacity online, and downloaded it onto my computer.

You'll hear more about troubleshooting all of the problems on another post. Suffice it to say, that's all we needed!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, I hope the last post was helpful as to defining the details involved with voicing an audio book. Let's move along!

Moving along (Star Wars reference) , lets look at time:

- Time
Let's see here. My husband and I both work full time jobs, with a 35 minute drive each way. In addition, we attend about 3 bible studies a week. And we have our own business. This made figuring out when to record . . . challenging. I thought about using a studio, but after looking through how expensive it was to rent time, I decided I'd rather record in my pj's, when I wanted to.

This ended up being time consuming. Firstly, I wanted to record only when I had enough time to get into a groove. Stopping in the middle of a chapter changed the tone and rhythm of the read, and led to general frustration. My personality shows that I'm a senguine (easily distracted), so when I tried to read and then come back to it after doing a chore, I had completely lost my concentration.

The lesson here- Make sure you have at least an hour to read. The phone should be in the other room, don't try cooking dinner while you read, and bring some water or tea in with you to avoid getting up and down.

Total time to read the whole book- April 15th- July 20th.

Did I mention that we have no working television? That helps!

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to begin

Dear reader,
Working in the broadcasting field is like this. You show up to a studio where someone has already bought all of the equipment. As stated earlier, you just play the "dumb voice". Here were some preliminary things I needed to figure out:

- Space

- Equipment

- Time

- Help
I'll start this post with Help. Typically, when an audio book is read, there are several parts to play. Editor, producer, director, script writer, and vocal talent. I asked Vince if he would be willing to edit the audio book as we go. He pointed out that if he made ANY noise in the room while I was recording, I would have his head. He was right. In addition, he pointed out that, like most things, we do things differently. What I would think is important to edit out he may keep in, causing greater conflict. Without knowing it, I became editor, producer, director, script writer, and vocal talent.

You may think that none of these things are actually needed. Trust me, they are! I wasn't about to go out and find people to do that, but I knew I needed to mark up the book for proper reading. In addition, translation was needed. It's actually difficult to translate a book from reading into listening.Also, Joel Salatin is REALLY smart. If you read one of his books, or browse his bookshelf, you realize that most of his life is well thought out. Just in the section before chapter one, I had to figure out how to pronounce the following words, having never spoken to the author:

Names: Jeff Ishee, Nathan Vergin, Matt Rales, Robin Leist, Talleyrand, Stuyvesant, Milo Minderbender.

Online dictionaries, with pronounciation tools, will become your friend. I just kept a window open on my laptop for the following website:

It has a nifty tool that will read the word for you out loud.

I'll cover the next three in my next post.

Still startled!

At this point, I'm still shocked that he even responded to my email. If you read his books, you wonder if you can even get internet service out where he lives. A visit to the farm clarified this. He only has internet by satellite use. He's only allowed to download a certain number of bytes per month.

Evidently, on a saturday morning, we were both online at the same time:

-- beginning of message --

date Sat, Apr 10, 2010 at 8:42 AM
subject Re: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal

Hi Theresa--

Thank you for the insightful email. One of my other books, HOLY COWS AND HOG HEAVEN,
was read by a fan and I have the CD but have not pursued it. Your offer makes me want to go
ahead and pursue this. I have a couple of gals here who would be happy to pursue some leads.

I'd say if you're willing to do this, we'll pursue the duplication and marketing, evening if it's just
on our website, which gets thousands of hits. Meanwhile, the right avenue will show up and
it will be just fine.

You're extremely generous and kind to offer and initiate the process. Let us know how things
progress. I think all we need is a CD, and we'll find out about duplication.

I can't imagine working at a job that is so brainless you could actually listen to audio tapes
and do your work. But what a wonderful opportunity you have to turn it into something positive.

Do come and visit. Many thanks and best regards,

Joel Salatin
Polyface Farm

-- end of message --

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

before going any further

Before going any further, you should know some of the things that this farmer wants to do that are illegal. I'd strongly encourage everyone to read Omnivore's Dilemma by Pollan, and then Everything I want to do is illegal by Salatin:

On farm processing. He would like to slaughter his own chickens, hogs and pigs on his own farm.

He would like to sell his neighbors jams, jellies, cider, etc, at his on farm store.

On his own property, he would like to build a 900 square foot house.

Those things are illegal.

You'd be surprised at how the other half lives....We thought this was outrageous. Especially consider that we believe that the way most animals are raised is disgusting, and we would like to have the ability to buy direct from a farmer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What shall I do?

I can burn a cd just as well as the next geek. However, I have NO experience with selling, marketing or creating audio books. Like a good broadcaster, I figure that I'm just the dumb voice (sarcasm is present there).

At this point in the story, I'm not sure what to do! It's true that I feel very passionate about Joel's book, and standing up for food in general. I am a very time poor person though, so I just wrote... well... what I felt:

-- beginning of message --

from Theresa Lyons
date Sat, Apr 10, 2010 at 8:20 AM
subject Re: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal
Apr 10

Hi Joel,
My husband and I are big fans of audiobooks from the library. This is
because we do mindless work at our jobs, and having something actually
stimulating going on in your head makes the days a lot better!

We found "The omnivore's dilemma" as a book on CD, watched "Food
Inc.", and heard of "Everything I want to do..." , and went to the
library to see if we could get it as an audio book.

We couldn't, so we just got the book, which my husband and I are
reading out loud to each other. We just finished the million mile
chicken chapter while we were waiting at the doctors office.

My proposal is, I can voice the book and it can be turned into an
audio book. This is just a voluntary thing to make the book more
accessible. The question is, do you think that would make your book
more accessible to folks that you wish to reach? I can say that
several folks my age (Hubby and I are 32), who work tech jobs all day
just listen to audio books.

I know absolutely nothing about publishing an audio book, let alone
selling. I assumed the right place to start would be your
distributor/publisher I found on the back cover. I can say that, a
couple of years ago, someone directed me to this site:

There, folks can turn printed work into audio work for those who wish
to listen. It appears that your book doesn't qualify under "public
domain", but what it qualifies as is really something that a
publisher, or someone in that industry would have to analyze. I don't
know anything about whatever "contract" you have with the publisher...
legal rights... etc.

Let me know your thoughts. Even if this doesn't work out that you're
interested in doing the audio thing (I'm surprised no one has
approached you about voicing them yourself), I must say that I have
enjoyed your literary crass, intelligence, and desire to inform people
about what they're actually eating. My husband and I hope to come see
Polyface in action sometime this year.

Theresa Lyons

Ps. Before I sent this, I sent an email to my public library system,
asking them how a book, or audio book would become available at their
library once generated. They have awesome people working there who are
very helpful, so I'll probably hear back monday or tuesday.

-- end of message --

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Well, at this point, I wasn't sure what to expect. As a broadcasting major who worked for commercial radio, I knew it was hard to get a gig where you weren't overworked, underpaid, and unhappy! I figured I'd just wait and see what happened.

The next day, I checked my email before going to work. I found the following in my Inbox (again, certain information has been deleted to protect privacy):

Date Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 1:53 PM
subject Everything I Want to Do is Illegal

Hi Theresa--

Chelsea Green Publishing forwarded me your kind email about doing an audio of my book Everything I Want to Do is Illegal.
No, it has not been done. I don't know much about this.

What is your proposal? Would you want to sell it too?

Best regards,

Joel Salatin
Polyface Farm

-- end of message --

I'm sorry, is this REALLY happening?


The response I expected looked something like this:

"Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your email. However, we use 'insert name of large audio book publishing house here' to do all of our audio books. We wish you well!

Chelsea Green publishing"

Instead, I received the following email:

date Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM
subject Regarding your query: audio book

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for writing! We will pass your offer along to Joel Salatin.


-- end of message --

I'm sorry, did she say I'm passing this information on to the author???? NO WAY! I NEVER thought I'd talk to him!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moving along

I hadn't really mentioned this to Vince, but found the publisher on the inside cover of the book. I contacted Chelsea Green Publishing via their website. I sent the following email to them, on a "whim"---

(certain details have been omitted to protect my own and others privacy)

From: Theresa
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 07:01:49 -0400
Subject: CGP FORM: audio book

Good morning,
I recently picked up "Everything I want to do is illegal" from my local library. I haven't seen an audio book, and wanted to volunteer my time and talent. I have a broadcasting degree and worked in commercial radio for quite some time. If you need a reader to read this book to make this more accessible, please let me know!
Columbus Ohio

First light

Well, this takes us then to early April 2010. We still hadn't finished reading the book, until one day I thought "Well, I wonder if 'Everything I want to do is illegal' just needs to be read as an audio book" I do have a broadcasting degree...."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the next step

So, we decided we should see if Joel Salatin had any books available from our library. He did, but I don't really care about Salad Bar Beef because I'm not a farmer. We found a book called "Everything I want to do is illegal". That sounded funny, so we looked for an audiobook. None of his books had audio books. Because of this, we checked out the book, and started reading it to each other in the month of March.

We were charmed by the book, and irritated by the issues presented.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

and the saga begins

Let me begin by telling you a little bit about us.

In late 2009, while my husband Vince was wandering around the Whetstone library, he saw a book called "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. The first time he saw it, he thought "Looks like a diet book, no thanks."

Since we have mind numbing jobs, we listen to audio books a lot to keep our minds active. He came back a few weeks later and it was still sitting here, so he picked it up.

We both listened to it and liked it, so sought out other books by the same author.

Thanks when we happened upon "Omnivore's Dilemma" by the same author. That book changed our lives.

In that book, Pollan explores local food systems, and contacts a guy named Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia. Trying to find out what's so different about local, grass fed beef, he asks Joel to send some Tbone steaks to him at his home in New York. Joel refuses. Pollan goes to Polyface instead, and experiences farm life, and the system that Polyface uses.

This is all documented in "Omnivore's Dilemma", and we were fascinated by the events described.