There's the plan... well there's a lot more details but as an overview that's what has to get done this week so we, I mean, our robot, can start milking the cows next Tuesday! Even with a short Thanksgiving work week (for everyone else, not us!) we still moved full-speed ahead!
The robot install was finished up with just a few little pieces to complete when they come back before we get started. We have technology all over the place!
The outside feed alleys are almost finished up with tile (the cows plate) being set into the concrete. The equipment guys set the barn cleaner into it's place too.
The electricians kept working all week long getting everything hooked up... it takes awhile to run conduit to all the places in the barn that need electricity. Seriously, what would we do without electricity?
Along with other things Dan & his Grandpa Pete worked on getting lime into the cows beds and then packing it to make a "brisket slope" which helps the cows know where to lay down so their back end is still sticking just off the back side... which hopefully means their "pies" go in the alley and get scraped away! Then comfy sand will get put in this week. Dan also worked on getting the cow brush (their back scratcher) set up, gating plans, and probably about a million other things!
The feed rail on the south side was also installed yesterday... so glad we work with folks who are willing to work Saturdays!
The barn builders were back to put the finishing touches on the robot room as well as the door to the Guest House and the steel on the front porch. Inside things are all painted and we'll move on to tile, trim, and cabinets! The kids & I went to Ikea this week to get the cabinets... now we just need to put them together!
That's all the pictures we have and although Dan's planning to do some more work today my parents & brother are coming into town for Thanksgiving so I'll post this now and you'll just have to see what else happens next week!
The cows are coming....
Well it's countdown time... if you haven't noticed I added a count down timer on the side bar... 14 days to go! Yikes!
That also means that we need help! That's right, getting the cows use to their new home starting December 8th is going to be a big (and very important) job.
The first three days we'll need 3 people in the barn 24/7, which hopefully doesn't include us or Dan's parents as we'll be learning the system from our technicians and continuing to do all the other daily farm chores. Then 2 extra people 24/7 for a few days before just needing 1 extra person 24/7 for the 2nd week.
So.... are you a calm, conscientious, confident cow handler? We'd love to have you join us to see things up close and help us encourage the cows to try out their newest friend, our milking robot! Join us for one 4 hour shift or get in on all the action and sign up for more, I'm sure we could use you! (And hey, there will be free food, your own first edition New Day Dairy travel mug, and an unforgettable EXPERIENCE!)
Getting up close with the cows not your thing? You can still help... before December 8th we need help cleaning up the barn (trash/debris pick up, etc), bringing a meal during the first week or two for us & the extra helpers, sending treats for those helping, watching our kids, helping us move into the Guest House in a few weeks and there's probably more - just ask! We won't be able to do it without you!
Now on to what happened this week.
This week the robot continued to get installed and set-up both mechanically and electronically (on the computer) which means lots of little pieces and details that I don't understand...
The barn continued to get finished up with the final freestalls being put up, lighting installed, the fans electric being hooked up, waterers being set in place, water softener installed, the side curtains getting rolled up (just in time for the foot of snow that fell on Friday!) and probably more!
In the Guest House the stairs went up on Monday much to our kid's delight, check out Facebook for the video! Then the walls got textured. Primer & paint starts on Monday!
Dan also got some more cabinets hung in the office space as well as setting up the two monitors to monitor everything.
And to literally top everything off, we got a foot of snow on Friday! It's beautiful and the kids were excited which helped me to remember the awe and wonder of the first snow, especially when it's a foot! It's not ideal, of course, to be working in and around it but we don't have much choice so we're just continuing on to our goal!
There's a lot to do in the next two weeks but we're working as hard as we can to get it all done! I've been trying to get up more frequent updates on Facebook so check back there too!
Happy Thanksgiving... we have much to be thankful for!
Well our weeks are starting to blend together as we're in the final sprint to get done... cows start getting milked in the barn December 8th and there's still A LOT to do before then. Dan's been working long days... as in 18 hour days most every day this week and his phone rarely stops ringing as he runs back and forth around the barn answering questions for the concrete crew, robot installers, and all the other equipment folks who are getting their jobs done!
I'm sure I'll miss something that's happened this week in my review as I don't even always know what's happened... when we get a chance to talk it's usually been a need-to-know-to-get-the-next-thing-done basis. Not that you'll have any idea but somehow we didn't take a single picture on Wednesday... it's been busy! So here we go...
More and more concrete was poured. Alleyways & crossovers that need to get grooved (so they're not as slippery) are done as well as areas that will need equipment like barn cleaner and scrapers or feed bins. Once again our crew worked Saturday to get it all done! On a side note the robot installers (from the East Coast) were surprised that concrete was delivered on Saturday, but we weren't surprised 'cause it was a really nice mid-November day and I'm SURE we weren't the only ones desperate to pour concrete before the COLD comes!
Next up is all the work the robot installers have done, working long days as well! I won't even be able to tell you all that they got done because really I don't understand it all :) but I know they got things like the wash controller, milk line/pipes, safety gates, other gates, and lots and lots of other things done all related to getting the robot ready to milk the cows in 3 weeks!
And then all the little but not-so-little things that happened in the barn... the electrician and plumbers were around this week working on all their lists, which means we have in-floor heat & a toilet inside! Cold porta-potty be gone! A lot of the freestalls were hung up in the barn making it look even more like a dairy barn! The boot wash grate was dropped in making an even surface as people come in and out.
This is the third dairy barn that Dan's Grandpa Pete has helped install the freestalls as he helped in Dan's parent's barn over 35 years ago when it was built as well as at his original farm. This is the first set of free stalls the kids have helped install and we hope they don't have to install them again for quite awhile! Buddy Boy especially enjoyed helping both Daddy & Papa Pete and although his attention span was short was actually quite capable and helpful at putting the washers & nuts on the bolts!
And to top top off everything else since we're the first in Iowa to install the AMS Galaxy the state of Iowa milk inspectors all came for a tour and pre-inspection on Thursday spending much of the day here.
Inside the Guest House the mudroom/office wall & ceiling panels were finished up and then more and more layers of tape and mud went on the walls and ceiling. The really exciting stuff like stairs, texture, paint and more is on it's way!
Yesterday & today Dan was able to get his office/mudroom area set up with some stairs, cabinets & counter tops from his grandparent's former kitchen and a corner desk. The computer aspect of the robot will be installed Monday and Tuesday. When we stopped by today the kids had fun "helping" using daddy's tools.
I don't think things will be slowing down anytime soon with Thanksgiving and a short work week ahead we only have 2.5 work weeks before the cows are in! Although the week has ended it's also just beginning....
And I'm starting to recruit people to help during start up so if you have experience calmly handling cows let me know and I'll get you in the schedule!
A lot of concrete and drywall... that pretty much sums up this week although there was a lot more than that.
Our concrete crew worked long days trying to beat the falling temps and they were rewarded with popcorn balls on Friday afternoon! We like to bring treats to our crews to keep them going and let them know how much we appreciate their hard work! I wish I had a picture of Miss Muffet handing them out, she was pretty proud!
They got the maternity pen, some crossovers, the pre-fresh stalls, the area around the robot room, the last part of the west alley and the north alleyway all poured. It's a lot of work to get everything just right and then to weld together all the rebar (to hopefully avoid stray voltage).
Our barn builders finished up the east wall and the robot room at the beginning of the week and will be back to put the final finishing touches on things once a lot of other things get finished up!
Dan had the robot's "hood" open a few times this week doing work or showing it off to someone, so of course, I snapped a few pictures! I have NO IDEA what any of that does... someday I'll learn and let you know.
Inside the Guest House the drywall finished going up and taping and mudding started. On Friday they put on tile board panels in Dan's office so we can start installing the computer pieces needed to communicate with the robot! We're putting tile board in the entire mudroom, mud bath and Dan's office so it's easier to clean.
We've continued to have visitors, which we love. Dan's been spending most of his days at the barn so he usually catches them. I forgot to post that Dan's friends from the band, The Elim Arrival, visited after they put on a concert in conjunction with a hayride our church had. This week on Monday one of Dan's college friends stopped by after an appointment in the area. And then Dan's aunt came out with his grandparent's mid-week. And our great neighbor who had been helping us out SO much milking the cows also get a tour this weekend, which was obviously long overdue! I suppose you should visit soon if you want a shout-out on the blog as I probably won't keep noting everyone that stops by!
We also had the boiler for the in-floor heating go in as well as more electric lines & lights as well as the lights for the barn being delivered. And then there's always people like the state dairy inspector, our coop's field rep, our nutritionist, a rep from the company that engineered the barn (EPS Buildings), and more that come by (that's only the ones I remember Dan telling me). There's never a dull day! Dave & Pam got back mid-week so they also came up to see the progress and take some pictures (included above)!
The installers to install our robot and get it up and running arrive Sunday night for an early Monday start planning to work long days getting the robot all ready! The pace just keeps heating up!
This week started with a bang and it didn't let up all week! I have a TON of pictures to share... it was that kind of week. It got more amazing every day!
Monday morning the curtains & team to install them arrived bright & early, installing them in less than 2 days with an amazing team of people! Thankfully the kids & I helped finish calf chores & clean the parlor so Dan could get up to the site to both check in with the curtain team and help get the robot in place!
Unwrapping & setting the robot & boxes in place went fairly quickly & easily and as far as we can tell it looks good after sitting around for a few months. The rest of the week the room around it went up. Late in the week Dan climbed up on top to take some pictures - which are especially neat considering all that the concrete crew did this week!
Almost all the curbs are in now for the stall areas, which means big flat pours will happen this coming week, really making things look real!
Besides the robot room our builders also worked on the east end wall and getting that all closed up and Dan met with the overhead garage door guy to get some of the doors figured out. They also helped set in a few more slats over the manure reception pit area. They even worked Saturday to finish up the robot room and be out of the concrete guys way.... so appreciated! I don't have pictures of that, but you'll see it next week.
And our electricians were back getting lights up in the utility room, calf care room, and milk room. Now we'll have light and people can work into the evening (which happens to be coming earlier, especially with the time change!). And the plumbers were working on getting in the in floor heating up and running so we also have heat!
Drywall went up in the Guest House making it feel more and more real too!
Here's to hopefully our last month of building... our goal is December 1st! The robot installers arrive next week... let's keep going strong and finish this thing! (I think I'm mostly just cheering myself on to the end!)
Growing up a city-girl, after marrying my dairy farmer husband and spending a few years abroad, we came home to expand the family dairy farm and want to share our journey & farm life with you!