Families have been mesmerized by Dr. Jan Pol’s ability to care for animals for over a decade through National Geographic’s The Incredible Dr. Pol. Now, he’s returning to his farm roots alongside his son Charles in The Incredible Pol Farm, which premiered January 6th on Nat Geo WILD. With the full series now streaming on Disney+, and new episodes airing on Nat Geo WILD on Saturday nights, I had the honor of speaking with both Charles and Dr. Pol about their exciting new farming venture.
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Alex: Congratulations on the launch of The Incredible Pol Farm. Where did your interest in starting a family farm begin?
Charles Pol: It really started during [the pandemic]. Like a lot of people, I was doing a lot of the shopping at the grocery store for my family, and I saw the empty shelves. It got me thinking about food security, where our food comes from, wanting to get more in touch with it. And then I also had two small children. My wife and I both wanted to raise them with these farm values, having animals and learning how to take care of animals. So that was the inspiration that made us want to start this family farm.
Alex: When planning out your farm, what was important for you to have? Were there specific foods you were looking to grow, or was it more based on interests, like having bees for honey?
Dr. Jan Pol: We always have had horses here, and with horses, you need roughage. You can buy the grain, but you need the roughage. What we have to do is plant hay so that we have enough roughage for all the animals. Then Charles set out what basically is pasture for them. And the other part is then where we cut the hay and make hay for them for the winter. And that’s how we got started.
Charles Pol: And my wife and I, we talked about wanting bees and the different animals that we thought would be a good animal to start with. I ran down with my dad, saying, “What do you think about sheep? What do you think about getting a couple of cows?” He was really supportive.
Alex: I grew up in a semi-rural farming area in the Midwest. I always think of farms as an extension of a home. Did this series feel a little more invasive of your lives than the more work-based series, The Incredible Dr. Pol?
Charles Pol: No, not really. I think my dad can attest to even with the crew from The Incredible Dr. Pol, you get really close with your crew, really tight with them, and they become kind of an extension of friends or family.
Dr. Jan Pol: Family, I would say. Because, you know, we’ve been doing The Incredible Dr. Pol for 12 years. Many producers have been here for almost 10 years. So, yes, it’s a family affair. They know where to go with the cameras so they’re not in the way, and that’s the main thing. Because when you work with animals, especially a large animal, you have to have space. They’ve learned quite a bit through the years, so for us, it’s just fun having the crew around. They’re good people.
Charles Pol: For The Incredible Pol Farm, it was kind of the same thing. We got to know this crew really well over the course of the season, and they were really great. We were happy to have them, happy to see them when they came back. It’s like summer camp. They go away, and they come back, and it’s like, “Great to see you.”
Alex: Charles, you’re also an executive producer on this show. What was your journey like up to this point?
Charles Pol: I started out on feature films working for Sydney Pollack back in the day, and then I moved over and worked for Nickelodeon for about seven years. I co-created The Incredible Dr Pol with two producing partners. Both those guys moved on to their own things. When my wife and I wanted to do this farm, I thought it would make a great series. So I put a sizzle together and pitched it and sold it to Nat Geo on my own, and Nat Geo found a production company that they thought would be good to work with. Because, obviously, being on the show, I can’t do every other thing. I’m on two shows, so they found a production company for us to work with. I really enjoyed working with the executive producers that they paired me up with to help deliver this show.
Alex: The Incredible Pol Farm premiered January 6th, with new episodes airing on Nat Geo WILD on Saturdays, plus all of the episodes already streaming on Disney+. Have you had a lot of fan response to the new show?
Charles Pol: Yeah. I was just looking at our Facebook page to see how things are doing. We had over a thousand comments on the post about people loving and binging the show. I’m glad that people are responding to it and enjoying it. I love our audience for The Incredible Dr Pol that have been there for 24 seasons and supporting us on that. I’m super excited that people love our new adventure. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I couldn’t have done it without [my dad]. He has been invaluable with his knowledge and what he’s helped us do to make this happen.
Dr. Jan Pol: I had farm experience because I was born and raised on a dairy farm in the Netherlands.
Alex: Nat Geo WILD has turned this into a double-programming block, with The Incredible Pol Farm airing after new episodes from Season 24 of The Incredible Dr. Pol. What’s it like to not only be their number one series but to also have so much support that they give your family a whole programming block?
Dr. Jan Pol: Well, to be honest, it’s a little strange, but it’s very nice. And the fan mail that we are getting is unbelievable. We go to church, we are Christian, we treat others like we want to be treated. That comes through here, and this is what the people look for. So, for us, it is a very upbeat show that helps people that sometimes are depressed. [We get letters] where people are so happy about the show because it helped them get over the troubles they had. One that I can tell you very shortly, when I was in practice for 50 years, we had a party. The first lady that comes to the table says, “Thank you. You’re the reason I’m standing here. I had surgery, came across the show, started watching the show, got the positive attitude, and I’m walking again.” And that’s not the last one [like that], but it’s one of many. So, for us, it is just a blessing to make this show. We have fun doing it. Nothing is scripted. What you see is real.
Charles Pol: Yeah. Both shows are very real. With The Incredible Pol Farm, we gave ourselves some challenges to make it difficult. That provided some of the drama, or what have you. But it’s all very real. And to echo my dad’s statement, we’ve met great people from all around the world, and what I found is that the love of animals is truly a unifier. We’ve had people come to the the clinic from China, we’ve met people from Africa, we’ve met people from all walks of life, all religions, all ethnicities, and what unites them is their love of animals. It’s kind of this cool, universal feature of humanity that we have. This love of animals that we share goes across all different types of cultures and different types of people. I enjoy meeting people and meeting our fans because we have this love of animals that bonds us.
Get a dose of happiness with the Pol family in The Incredible Pol Farm. The entire first season is now streaming on Disney+, and new episodes continue to air on Nat Geo WILD. See the upcoming broadcast schedule below.
January 20th – 10/9c
“The New Flock” – The Pols need to break ground for a new outbuilding to house incoming livestock. Charles has dreamt up an outrageous idea of what that structure can be—and it may just be odd enough to work. At the auction, the Pols are hoping to purchase sheep and cows, but the skyrocketing bids threaten their big plans.
“Herd the News” – The bidding is live at the large animal auction! The Pols are working toward their goal of bringing home sheep and cows to their farm. Any animals they win will be delivered to the farm in just three days, so the pressure is on to finish the sheep hut in time—and there is a ton left to do. Meanwhile, Beth and Charles are concerned about the low activity in their beehives.
January 27th – 10/9c
“Barn Again” – This family farm needs a barn! The Pols are ready to tackle their next big project: preserving and carefully taking down a 100-year-old barn. But every piece they remove makes the barn weaker and weaker. There is no room for error if they are going to transport these irreplaceable beams back to the farm and restore it to its former glory.
“Barnstorming” – The Pols have reached the most dangerous stage of disassembling the 100-year-old barn: taking down the irreplaceable beams. If all goes well, they’ll transport the beams back to the farm. Each part of this process must be carefully orchestrated because each one-of-a-kind beam is truly priceless. Meanwhile, Beth tries training Clovis after he runs away from the farm.
February 3rd – 10/9c
“Up Sheep’s Creek” – The Pols’ new livestock aren’t potty trained; their sheep hut isn’t draining properly and has been transformed into a Pee Palace. It’s late fall, and the winter’s deep freeze is just around the corner, so the family needs to get it fixed fast. The Pols also get a new sheep for their farm.
“On Pol-den Pond” – The Pol clan gets to work on creating Beth’s dream garden. To beat the incoming rainstorm, an exhausted Ben works around the clock to finish building the garden’s pond and waterfall. Noticing her brother is near his breaking point, Beth plans a special surprise to lift his spirits.
February 10th – 10/9c
“Winter Is Coming” – The Pols rush to prepare for their farm’s first Michigan winter. The family goes into hyperdrive to fix the pasture fence and finish building the garden hardscape before the first snow falls. Beth is worried about the bees, so she brings in some expert help to hopefully ensure their survival.
“Runaway Flock” – It’s winter on the farm, and the Pols are adding to their flock! The family is bringing in four recently bred merino ewes, which means, with any luck, the farm could be expecting its first lambs come springtime. And as winter fades into spring, the Pols prepare for the new arrivals by building a lambing pen. Meanwhile, Beth checks if her bees survived the winter.
February 17th – 10/9c
“Are Ewe Pregnant?!?” – The Pols are preparing for sheep to give birth, which means figuring out how to catch and shear their four Merino ewes – no small task as this is new territory for everyone except Dr. Pol. Then, while helping his dad on a farm call, Charles has a terrifying accident. The whole family rallies together to care for Charles and take care of the farm.
“The Pol Shebang” – It’s been a year of farming for the Pol family. Even with Charles recovering from his injury, the farm’s showing no signs of slowing down! Beth takes the next step with her bees to grow the colony and harvest honey. Charles and Ben come up with a final fix for the sheep hut’s drainage problem. The whole family comes together to plant the garden and celebrate a successful year on the farm.