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!
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 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!
Things kept moving along this week so quickly that for some reason I'd forgotten to take pictures for some things. So the kids & I ran up this afternoon to take some pictures for you (and really me!).
In the Guest House a lot more of the electrical went in, which really in pictures is just a bunch of wires and little plastic boxes on the wall. I spent time talking things over with the electrician a couple different days to make sure we had it all done right.
Our framers/finishers also popped over for a day to box in the duct work, make a mantel for future electric fireplace, move a wall & door, and put up a stair stringer so the electrician could keep moving. We're so glad everyone is working together so well!
On the barn side of things Dan spent most of everyday at the site between morning & evening milkings, which I expect will become more and more common as all the little things and details are coming together.
On Monday more equipment for the milk handling side of things arrived. The manure storage area was back filled to get that all finished up and Dan moved more fill sand into the barn to prep for concrete arrival.
Dan, the plumber, and the excavator played in the sand mid-week moving and laying plumbing lines underneath the sand and eventually underneath the concrete.
The concrete guys were finally able to get here on Friday and they got some good stuff prepped for concrete to be poured on Monday... things are going to look different fast!
The barn builders got some steel up on the east barn wall and then went to town the rest of the week getting the porch on the front and putting up the steel. It looks great! They even worked Saturday getting things set up for the chimney vents and putting up bird netting on the north side - love them!
Looking forward to concrete getting poured and the electric getting finished up this week so we can be onto drywall and moving in soon!
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!