Here we are mid February 2013 and the barn that was supposed to be built in November is still just a slab of concrete. Remember our grand opening celebration that was scheduled on December 8th? Obviously it has not happened.
To add insult to injury we discovered that what little work was done... was sabotaged by the contractor. I wish I had known what footings were when they were pouring that cement pad... because there are NONE there. We kept asking about the lack of floor drains in the cement and the contractor kept saying "Trust Me... I have been in construction for 15 years." He spoke of some magic roto-rooter device that would create floor drains after the building was placed on the slab... little did we know he was full of it. The picture above shows the cement pad and where we have begun to have the concrete cut for footings.
After missing yet another deadline of Christmas for construction completion, another long line of more excuses from Mr. Allen, and with the end of January fast approaching we decided to fire this contractor and requested a refund. We had discovered that the cement pad would require thousands of extra dollars to repair and bring to code. We learned that Mr. Allen had not paid the cement contractor, and the electrics that were done on the house were all wrong. We needed to basically start over.
Since then we have had nothing more than empty promises to refund the money paid Mr. Allen. We contacted the authorities and a Deputy came out to take a report, and things were beginning to feel pretty glum. Then yesterday my phone rang. It was Tonya Ward from Energy Rescue, a local non-profit. She is a dear friend and we had spoken about our situation a week or so ago. Tonya offered to orchestrate a giant fundraising and volunteer effort to raise the barn! Needless to say, I was blown away and brought to tears.
Tonya got right to work! She contacted news stations and Fox 42 was the first to jump at the opportunity to broadcast our story. For those that remember.... this is the same station that aired the story about the tornado that took the barn two years ago. In fact, they sent the same reporter, Curt Casper. I believe the story will air after American Idol tomorrow night (2/13).
Right now, we do know that the barn kit will be here Saturday. We need help with cement work, we need a septic tank, water needs to be run to the barn and electricity, materials for the inside of the barn and general man hours to get everything completed. We have been granted until the end of Feb to get off the Elmwood farm so timing is crucial... there is much to be done and little time.. and no funds left.
Tonya is working hard to secure financial and material donations and volunteers to help us get this creamery completed. Andy and I borrowed $10,000 from a friend last week and this will cover the cost of the new building I ordered. We are operating under the assumption that there will not be a refund in the foreseeable future but if there is we will use all funds to the rest of the project.
It is our sincere hope that his coverage will encourage Mr. Allen to refund Lowell the money he was paid.... nearly all of it since what little work was done is going to require significant expense to correct.
I will share more info as I have it....
I received a phone call today from a fellow dairy farmer near Lincoln. She told me about a Bill that was just introduced by Senator Rand Paul of KY. He proposes an amendment that would disarm the FDA and end the persecution of raw dairy farmers across the country. It also seeks to stop the FDA's rules about what vitamin and supplements and how they are currently disallowed from stating or advertising the health benefits of the herbs, vitamins, or remedy. Lastly it puts additional language in the Federal Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act that will help protect farmers and supplement manufacturers from federal criminal prosecution by the FDA.
If this bill passes it can help end the tyranny of the FDA! It could be voted on as early as today so please don't delay!
Please contact both your US Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “YES” to Senator Paul’s amendment to S. 3187.
Also, ask your Senators to vote “NO” on Senator Durbin’s amendment to S. 3187 which would greatly restrict access to dietary supplements and was submitted to water down Senator Paul’s amendment.
Please email or call (both is best) today !
You can find out how to contact your United States Senators by clicking here.
Below is a video of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, introducing this legislation.
Fall is here and boy am I crashing. The summer was long and hot.. too hot and too wet. Weeds overtook our pastures because the heat along with last year's flood sucked the life out of the ground. We now have an operational tractor thanks to good friends who like working on engines and lots of dents on my Tahoe. We decided I could drive a dented up vehicle and Andy could drive a tractor. Seemed like a fair swap.
Here is his new toy. It also now has a loader with a bucket and grapple useful for moving bales of hay around all winter.
It's officially an antique... but it runs smooth and gets the job done. It can pull the mower from the little tractor and Andy has already knocked down the weeds in the pastures. This will be a huge help to us this year and next and help us keep atop of pasture management.
Hay has gone through the roof and we are having to feed it already with the pastures so poor in nutrition. So, we had to raise our milk prices by $1 per half gallon. A very tough choice... two weeks of upset tummy and fried nerves for me in the decision... but really there was no decision. It was do it, or not be here to provide milk all winter. Our customers have been so supportive and understanding. A few have dropped out but for the most part were immediately replaced by new folks waiting for milk. I never fail to be amazed by how good God is and how He cares for us. In reality winter is a really scary thought for me. We have fifteen cows calving between Christmas and March. We will have to be on top of things, watching these mamas closely to keep those new babies safe and warm. It's gonna be a wild ride!
Andy has been busy! He is making amazing progress on clearing junk and debris from the "once a hay barn" reckage. Tonight he was working on clearing out our basement so our junk can go down here. We need to clear the area so we can demo the area and hopefully construction can begin soon. I am really hoping we get a barn with doors that keep chickens out! The old barn was open and a favorite roosting spot for about 20 chickens... POOP CENTRAL. All of Andy's tools were in there and the work benches were a constant source of needed cleanup.
I got the chance last month to dabble in event planning again. The Nebraska Food Coop was in need of a fundraiser and I wanted to see the movie Farmageddon.. so an idea was born. :-) I threw out the idea to try to get a screening planned and to serve a dinner or something with foods from farmers in the coop and try to raise funds. It worked out better than I could ever have imagined. I got the opportunity to work with and get to know some amazing women as we planned and orchestrated the event. We screened the movie at Aksarben Cinema in Omaha. We charged $15 per person. We had tons of amazing foods donated and the Top Chef team at the culinary school in Omaha wowed everyone! The food was just out of site! Gorgeous and delicious.
The movie really broke my heart. I knew what it was going to be about... but to watch what other farmers and families have been put through was just gut wrenching. What a wake up call! I hope everyone here has an opportunity to see this film. As a nation... it's time for us to stand up and say NO MORE! There are things we can all do. Check out our Activism page I just created. There are links there to petitions, a House Bill being introduced, and a grassroots Ballot Initiative with ways we can all get involved.
We had a little media blitz last month. First the barn segments on the news. Then two magazine article interviews, one about Farmageddon and one about raw milk laws. I was invited to be a guest on The Morning Blend.. and Omaha morning program. They have a Village Pointe Farmers Market segment every other week and I got the be the farmer that week. Here is a link to the segment on The Morning Blend . I found the experience scary and confusing. No one warned me there would be no cameras. I had this internal dialogue of "where are the cameras" followed by "look I'm on TV" and "crap.. pay attention!". If invited again, I would be more relaxed and able to function a bit better. It was just unnerving on the first go.. but exciting and fun too!
I was on the radio a couple of weeks ago! I was invited to be a guest on Talk Back Omaha! I very much enjoyed the experience. Here is a link to the podcast if you would like to listen to the segment: Talk Back Omaha Podcast
Other things going on family related: Ashley has her first day of college today! She was able to get a full ride scholarship to SCC in Lincoln. She is taking her classes at the downtown location. She has also signed her lease on her new apartment and is moving out this weekend. Big changes.
Hannah and Jamie are growing too fast. Too fast! Two pre-adolescent girls in one house is interesting... and loud. They seem to fight a lot more lately.. and the DRAMA is off the hook! Jamie is in the "project" stage.. spends her days cutting up little pieces of paper and whatever she can find and creating stuff. Today the boys found a butterfly and Jamie saved it... fed it a pear and nursed it back to health. The picture here was taken by Jamie of her butterfly. Pretty cool shot I thought! Hannah and Jamie have both been such fun all summer at the farmers markets. Now, if we could get them to give the same attention to helping clean the house life would be almost perfect! LOL
The boys are just busy busy busy. Alexander loves helping with barn demo.. his job is to hold the magnet stick and pick up the nails. The hard part is getting him to keep his shoes on while doing it! Michael is talking more now.. a relief. He is suddenly using sentences and even relaying events and stories. He told me the other day about a dream he had. A bad bear was biting him outside. Poor little guy. :-( He woke up crying. At least Mama was right there laying next to him and he settled down pretty quickly... but he talked about that dream all day.
It seems like I am always working on this blog late at night... when the house is quiet. it's 11:30 now... I better hit the sheets... our day starts early around here. My next project is to work on an online store for the off season. We are planning on making monthly drops (maybe more often too) to the spots were we have been all summer at market. I am hoping to create an online store where folks can pre-order what they want and I can drop it off. Wish me luck! It's quite an undertaking.... but a needed project.
Nite nite... Don't let the bed bugs bite!
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..