Well, honestly, we'll probably stop counting the weeks pretty soon. Today marks 3 weeks since the cows moved into their new home - 3 very INTENSE weeks! We knew it was coming... we'd been told. But living through it is another matter!
I've been told that in disaster response there is 3 days of immediate, intense relief efforts, 3 weeks of continued relief efforts, 3 months of recovery efforts, and then 3 years of rebuilding. And I think in a lot of major changes, such as starting a new robotic dairy barn, this holds true as well.
3 days of ADRENALINE
3 weeks of INTENSITY
and we're moving on to
3 months of ADJUSTMENT and finally
3 years to NORMALCY!
On December 9th the cows literally followed Dan into the barn - if you haven't seen the movie, check it out! We had a great big crew of family, friends, & neighbors assembled who used their vehicles & bodies as fences to guide the cows into their new home!
And then the fun started... we got the first cow, Meramet, into the robot box. Dan's mom, Pam bought her great-great-great-great-great-great (you get the idea) grandma when she was in 5th grade and her cow family line has stayed in the family ever since. Dan's grandpa milked Meramet's ancestors and now he would be the first to milk her in the new barn!
But wait... it didn't read her leg band which gives out a radio frequency telling the robot who she is (important in robotic milking!). We'd done practice runs but now the time had come and it wasn't working... disappointment and scrambles abounded. We had to get it fixed because we sure weren't taking them back down to the old barn!
Thankfully we had great tech support from AMS Galaxy on the ground who had dealt with this before. After switching about everything imaginable on and off we found the problem... the well. If the well pump breaker was turned on the robot couldn't read which cow had just come in. So now we had a new problem because water's kind of important for drinking and cleaning and all sorts of other things.
Eventually we figured out it only needed to be off for the cow's first 10 seconds in the milking box to be read. So until we got it fixed a week and a half later (yes, a week and a half of phone calls, fix-it attempts, and parts ordered) we and all of our amazing help ran back and forth turning on and off the well pump breaker switch.
In the end Meramet didn't get to be the first cow milked, the importance of nostalgia slipped away so we could finally just get started!
Since then 3 weeks have flown by with Dan rarely leaving the barn (he has a bed in the upstairs walk-in closet), Christmas celebrated a bit differently than we imagined, support & help from wonderful family, friends, and neighbors, and cows that are starting to adjust. They say it takes humans 30 days to form a new habit and cows are no different. Eventually they should almost all decide to go get milked by themselves but for now each day a few more figure out they don't have to wait for Dan to come get them to get milked, they can just go!
There are more stories I could tell - how once we finally got everything figured out and were ready to milk a cow, Dan's Grandpa Pete leaned in to start getting the cow ready to be milked and with the bill of his hat hit the button that kicked her out of the milking box; how we've had lots friends & family stop by to check it out; how in the midst of frustration Dan erased the feed pushers route; how my mom showed up just in time for me to get violently sick for a day; how one of our little Jersey's was able to jump in (and then out) of the robot arm area in between the milking boxes; how we've had 3 heifers born in the new barn; how Secret Santas brought us treats & goodies; and how even though these last 3 weeks have been intense, we've had fun, been blessed, and are so thankful that after years of planning, preparing, and building we're actually milking cows!
Happy New Year!
It's every dairy farmer's dream
To have a child join their team.
One day though you looked up - 3 boys gone
Many thought you'd just move on.
But through the unknowing years of an empty nest
You still worked hard and gave it your best.
Before deciding the cows would be sold
“please tell us” you were told.
But then off to Turkey we flew
When we'd return, we gave not a clue.
You persevered through 2009 -
The job you did was quite fine!
Some farms have a great big crew
But you kept going – with only two!
You visited and as we sat on the Iskele drinking tea
you shared how you started your dairy journey with me.
Dad had said, “I think I'd like to milk the cows.”
“Me, too,” I thought “But exactly when & how?”
Then came a diagnosis of cancer
And we had more of an answer.
So back to the farm we came
But things would not look quite the same.
Plans for a new barn were laid.
And Mom would no longer be a milkmaid.
As the way for a new barn was paved.
Your blessing you readily gave.
Even though things look a bit different now,
We're glad the new barn is housing your cows.
As we look back over the past 5 years
All the hard work, laughter, fun & tears,
We're thankful for your support along the way
It helped us make it through those tough days.
Today we're working side by side on the same team
And together we'll work towards even more dreams!
Dan & Lynn
To Start or Not to Start?
That was the question we had to answer mid-morning this morning. Thankfully when the time came our team was in agreement... WAIT.
We were SUPPOSE to start today. The cows were SUPPOSE to make their journey up the hill. We were SUPPOSE to be working through the night getting the cows use to their new barn and way of getting milked.
But instead we'll sleep for one more night :)
As Monday dawned the barn was buzzing with activity, each crew with it's own "last minute" list to get done and most of it did get done. But a few key parts hadn't arrived and been installed like planned and we had a few minor things (some step ladders, self closing doors, the right light bulbs, and more) that we needed to check to pass the State of Iowa milk producers inspections.
We knew our 8am Tuesday cow parade was postponed but for how long? Mid-morning we had to decide and even though we may have been able to push and start sometime today, we determined it was better to wait and start fresh in the morning sticking with our original plan just a day late which gave us time to finish a few other things too.
In the end, this is best and we're thankful for the extra day.
Tomorrow is a new day... and we're praying it'll be a good one!
It's Here. The Time Has Come.
Is the barn done? Not completely...
Are we ready? As ready as we can be...
As as I sometimes say over and over when playing with the kids... "Ready or Not, Here I Come!"
There's still some little things we'll keep working on and pieces to fit into the puzzle but the very necessary ones are in and we're working on the final touches and details!
The Guest House isn't ready like I'd hoped but I sometimes you just have to move on because honestly there's too much else to do anyway. Which is why this week you get to look through a bunch of pictures without any commentary.... Enjoy!
Included in pictures: concrete being grooved, manure handling equipment being installed, gates hung up, same cabinets, tile, & light fixtures being hung, feed pusher, feed mixer, robot lines, sand in the stalls, some overhead doors installed, walls & roof on the reception pit, treats made & travel mugs arrived, entering information into the computer, transponders on the cows, hand prints in the cement, and more! And in case you didn't notice... they're in no particular order :)
PS... Still want to get in on the action? We'll feed you and give you a 1st edition New Day Dairy travel mug for helping us get the cows use to their new home or bringing a meal for all to enjoy!
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!