20 weeks. Let me say that again, 20 weeks. That seems like so much longer than 19 weeks and it's all gone really fast! We've made a what seems like a reasonable goal to be milking in the new barn by December 1st (and hopefully moving into the apartment before that!). Turns out that's the date I was praying we'd be milking by LAST YEAR... apparently I forgot to add in which year we wanted it to happen to my prayers! But we've learned a lot (like patience!) and in the end will have a better barn and be more prepared.
The progress wasn't as dramatic this week but I'm sure just as important. Plus realistically it's going to be pretty hard to beat last week's dramatic change! Dan got to the site a few times to see the progress and have a meeting. He's doing a great job hanging out with the kids while I do calf chores each morning and night although he is getting a little antsy being around home all the time. We go back on Tuesday to find out what's next in his recovery.
The steel roof went on the south side on Friday which is good since there's rain in the forecast for this week. That way they can work under cover if it's too rainy to be outside. Here's the pictures... remember you can click them to make them bigger and hover to get captions!
We had some four-legged visitors this week who were anxious to see their new diggs! That's right, Tuesday night the "low" cows decided they just couldn't wait to check out their new barn and spent the night camping out in front of the barn on the sand piles. It could be that the alfalfa we made into hay this week was tempting too, since Dan's dad, Dave, said they tromped around all over in that field too!
When Wednesday morning arrived there were only 2 cows still out that Dave had to help get back to their group, the rest had already made their way back into their pasture. Who knows how long they'd been sneaking out at night only to come back just before needing to get milked in the morning! Now their fence is fixed so they can't make late night excursions.
It so happened that our building crew wasn't able to come on Wednesday so no one really noticed that we'd had visitors the night before. When I stopped by for a quick picture on Wednesday late afternoon I didn't even notice all the cow pies strewn about since I just stepped out of the car for a quick picture. It wasn't until Thursday that we all realized how many had visited based on the number of cow pies! But if you look closely at the picture I took on Wednesday you can see all the pies! Soon cows, soon... we're working hard to get it done!
Thanks for joining us on this journey... until next week!
Things kept chugging along this week, which is what we want. It's hard to believe it's almost August!
Dan headed up on the roof to talk with the building contractor on Wednesday and took the opportunity to show us all what you can see from the top. Here's the views from roof...
A few other things got done as well. The legs that the bulk tank will sit on were poured which means hopefully the bulk tank (where the milk is store after the cows are milked before it gets picked up) will arrive in about 2 weeks and then we can start finishing off the milk house and guest house!
We also got another cow waterer. The kids and I brought Dan a picnic breakfast this morning and got to watch the action up close! And we met with our contractor for inside the guest house space to figure out more details there... it's all coming together!
I couldn't help making this image big... it makes it look even more real with steel on! Most of the long sides won't have steel because they'll have curtains to allow better air flow and ventilation but the ends will and it looks so good!
We also had visitors this week! Dan's cousin from Colorado came through with a friend to see Dan's grandparents and they all paid us a visit, along with Dan's other grandparents too! It's always fun to have visitors - we want to have lots of people visit over the coming years! So start making your plans now!
Prayers would be especially appreciated this week as things are going to be looking a little different for a few weeks. To make a long story short Dan is having surgery to reattach a tendon in his ankle on Tuesday morning, which means he'll be immobile for awhile. We know long-term this is the best option as it will only become harder to do the longer we wait and problems in your feet transfer to your knees and then back and we don't want that! We're so thankful we were able to get scheduled for surgery fast and that all of our family has been so supportive. I'll be helping at the farm more and doing daily check-ins (if not more) at the building site. Thankfully we have a little lull at the moment of BIG things happening and Dan should be back on his feet and healed up for the end of building and getting things up and running.
Until next time (when you get to see all 31 days of Dan's Ice Cream Month!)...
I think we're close to being halfway through building... hoping to be done by November! We made some significant progress this week as now the south side roof matches the north side roof. Even though they're not finished with the roof, it's big enough to be over the area where the robot will sit, which means next week they're moving on to putting insulation & steel on the area of the roof they've put up. That way we can start working on getting the robot area ready! Here are photos throughout the week.
Another HUGE move forward this week was getting our milking robot! She arrived on Tuesday and is now all tucked in until her permanent home is ready in a few weeks. By the way, she doesn't have a name yet, and people are asking, so we're taking suggestions before we decide. Ideas???
Dan had lots of meetings this week too! We had a visit by some guys from Galaxy USA, our milking robot company - including the guy who will be helping us at "start-up" - the intensive beginning when the cows (and us!) are learning what to do in this new milking system. Do you know how to interact with cows and want to help us get started that first week? Let us know and we'll let you know how you can help!
Dan also met with a dairy nutritionist (that's right, cows need to eat the right stuff & have special nutritionists!), a guy about the bed area that the cows will sleep on, made a visit to our county FSA (the USDA Farm Service Agency) to get a few details ironed out on our cropping acres, and the manure equipment dealer stopped by to do some things for the manure system! Plus we had some new calves and some sick cows at the current farm. It was a busy week to say the least!
Remember to vote for us on the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers' Facebook page! Head to our Facebook page and it's the top pinned post. Click on the picture to open it up and then LIKE it. And we'd love for you to share it too! We're the only obvious dairy farmers (or livestock farmers at all) entered so far. Thanks!
Here are some pictures to show how the progress on the barn is coming. While Dan's cousin was visiting he noted that we'd made a lot of progress since the end of April, when we had our "Groundbreaking Ceremony". It was encouraging to hear since no matter what you're working on it almost always seems to go slower than you want it to (although fast to those further from the project/situation/child)!
And on a very bright note, less than 2 weeks after our little setback we're further ahead than we were when it all came tumbling down. There are different pieces built as they are still waiting for a few important unique items to arrive that were destroyed in the wind. But our little setback was truly just that, little.
Our last utility arrive this week... phone, and more importantly these days, internet!
The manure storage area continued to progress by starting to build up the ramp that will go down into the pit to scoop it out a few times a year.
The foundation wall in the milk house/guest house was also redone along with setting foam into the floor area. The radiant floor heating tubes and then concrete slab should go in this week!
One of the last things to happen on Friday afternoon was prepping an area for our AMS (automatic milking system) or milking robot to arrive this week! Eventually it'll go in the barn, but since it's not quite ready, for now we prepped a raised area to set it on when it arrives.
And we had visitors on Friday! Dan's cousin Jared and his family were visiting for Independence Day and came to see the progress. I suppose boys will be boys and they decided to climb up the barn... I'm guessing it's not the first thing they decided to climb together!
Did you know July is Ice Cream Month? Dan does and he's making sure to eat ice cream everyday this month! And he's tweeting about it too! You can join him at #31daysoficecream. Here's a sneak peak at what he's had so far....
How do you eat your ice cream?
I was hoping that I could say this week that I thought we might be halfway through our project but unfortunately we had some setbacks. If you're following us at all you probably saw that on Monday morning a storm blew through the area (over 2,000 people saw our post on Facebook - which is record so far!). Straight line winds around 80 mph toppled over what had already been built of the barn. It was disheartening to say the least.
But, it could have been so much worse and we're so thankful for so many things...
- no one got hurt
- we were only a week & a half into building the barn (the walls at least)
- we had insurance, and very helpful and good agents/company!
- clean up went quickly
- great support network and encouragement (thanks for all the comments!)
- hard working, patient construction crew
- we were building again the next day!
- another shipment of material was already suppose to arrive later in the week, bringing needed materials to rebuild
It was a good week to remember our theme verse from Lamentations 3:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Though we had a minor setback, God is still with us and each new day He gives us is a gift. And He is faithful through it all, working out good, even when it's hard to see. Now on to some pictures of the damage.
By Tuesday the walls were going up again and by Thursday we had a good re-start.
The concrete crew kept on working this week too, getting forms off the manure storage wall and having a minor setback in the milk house & guest house area. But hopefully they got it all fixed and now we just keep on rolling and doing what we can each day.
On a side note, it's interesting that since we began this project weekends have become more like real weekends. It use to seem that weekends were busier than the week because Dan still had the same amount of work to do milking, feeding, etc the cows but since it was everyone else's weekend, we crammed a bunch of other stuff in there too. Now that we're building and the crews have the weekend off, it makes it seem like a real weekend because we're not concerned about what's happening at the building site and checking in all day.
Unfortunately rain days are frustrating. Friday was a rain day so not much work got done and then even though Saturday was a beautiful working day, obviously no one showed up because it was the weekend. There are chances of rain all week long this week, so we'll see where it develops and how much work we get done.
More materials arrived for the guest house & milk house area, so now we're really ready for this to go up, but it can only happen as fast as our crews can work and as long as the rain stays away. Our milking robot is scheduled to arrive this week, even though we're not quite ready :) And we're also getting phone & internet dug to our place!
The kids and I did have some dairy fun this week as it was the county fair. We headed to the dairy show, where they both got to help show a cow and get a ribbon & milkshake! I'm sure it won't be our last dairy show! They both had a blast! And we had a visit from my brother & his buddy, who were driving through. They just launched their Kickstarter campaign for a great new game, Luminosity, they designed! Check it out!
Until next week!
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!