Sunday, December 26, 2010

It just wouldn’t be a holiday without something breaking

The feeder belt broke this morning. We have two feeders in the barn, a main feeder and a back feeder. This is how a feeder works – the feed goes from the mixer into a series of elevators that moves the feed to the center of the barn. Then the feed drops on a conveyor belt, which moves the feed through the entire barn so the cattle can eat it out of a manger. (Manger! We’re still hitting the Christmas theme!)

All the complexity of it is why people don’t build feeders anymore. We have feeders like this because they were state of the art in the early 1970s when the barn was built. When people build barns now, they design them so they can just drive a mixer wagon through the middle of the barn and dump it on the cement floor.

The belt broke on only the back feeder. Since the main feeder still worked, it wasn’t a disaster – just less cows could eat at one time. To fix it, we have to call an agricultural supply store that will probably have one in stock. But they’re not open on Sundays.

Even before that, Kris noticed that the cable you pull to direct the feed to the different feeders had snapped. It was old and rusty. He temporarily used a vise grips as the handle.

The first thing broke on Christmas Day. After every milking, they scrape manure out of the barn alleys into manure pits. The manure scraper is a huge tire cut in half with a frame on it that attaches to the tractor. The mounting bolt pulled through the frame. The tire was sagging away from the frame, and now that it’s been used for two days like that, it’s pulling apart. The frame is rusty from – guess what! – being covered in manure all the time.

Since, like everyone else, we and the employees are doing Christmas-y things, we’re trying to limp into next week until anyone has time to fix anything.

That’s something that’s not an easy fix - people. We have great employees and are always thankful for them, this time of the year and always! So, back to the real world this week … after a few more Christmas parties.

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