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....
Why does it always seem that the only time I get to blog is late at night when I am so tired I can barely hold my eyes open? Maybe that is when I ramble the best. I was shocked to see I had not made an entry here in three months; shame on me! :o)
It's hard to believe that is January and 2012 already. Wow... time really flies. Tomorrow is Hannah's real 11th birthday although we celebrated it Sunday. I actually took most of a whole day off of farm business, didn't even check my emails. I am awe struck at the idea that the little five pound baby I brought home is now eleven years old. You would think I would be getting used to watching these kids grow up, but instead I would really rather they just slow down a little and let me enjoy them more. I long for a day when we are less busy, less hectic and more organized with more family time. But I know we are doing a good thing with this farm and all this work will pay off. Anyway, back to the kids. We have only had one real snowfall this year, much to the small people's dismay. Hate to disappoint all you folks back home... but we did NOT have a White Christmas. Hannah kept saying it didn't feel like Christmas without snow on the ground... all I could think is "Nope.... no one can call these kids Southerners anymore..." Missing the snow; they did decide to plaster the house with snowflakes.. which I really loved!
Our first calf of the season was born on New Year's Eve... silly guy. Just five hours later and he would have been the first calf of the year, but instead that honor went to the little guy born today. We have also had our first set of lamb twins born. Twin girls. I must admit, I especially love it in the winter when our barn is transformed into a nursery. The heat lamps give off a soft glow and Mommas and babies are fun to watch. It's just so peaceful in there. Of course all newborns have an audience of kids, I love that we have such warm relationships with our cows that they trust us to be there during birth and afterwards. It's awesome!
Mom was here for Thanksgiving. She is so stinkin' awesome! She spent most of her time playing cards with the kids, teaching them all sorts of games. She seemed to almost always have one kid in her lap. The certainly caught the card bug and even still seem to always be playing some card game somewhere; there are stacks of cards all over the floor, remnants of games interrupted by little brothers or chores or in the case of the little guys... just plain ol' forgotten.
Games seem to be the new passion around here.. I love that! And crafts... boy do they enjoy crafts. Little art and craft sets procured at the dollar store have brought much joy around here. Someone pointed out to me that my kids find joy in the simplest of things... and I realized how much I love that about them. They could care less about the latest fashion trends, they don't know much about what's hip or trendy.. they are just happy to have what they have.
We were visited this Christmas by the Christmas Angel... and want to take a moment to thank our angel. You really have no idea how much your gift meant and helped us. We thank you.
OK It's really late now. I will leave you tonight with one of my favorite Christmas pictures... the kids and Santa taken at Bass Pro Shops when Mom was visiting. I call it "Santa needs a potty break". Is it just me or doesn't he look like he's gotta GO!
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year. We are looking forward to 2012, the fresh start it brings and all the excitement this year holds for us.
Much thanks to Rod Adams... friend of Andy's that came out for a farm photo shoot. He snapped some amazing shots of the kids and animals.... we are super thankful. (fyi... anyone interested in his services his email is on our links page) I will try and sprinkle some of the pictures throughout this post. I have also updated the webpage including many of his photos not shown here. Its such fun to have new fall photos to share!
Ashley came home for Thanksgiving! I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to have her home again for a few days. We have all missed her so much. I have come to the realization that, for me, letting go is the most challenging stage of parenting. While its awesome to see the person she is becoming and watching her make her way in the world... its challenging at times and a bit sad.
November was exhausting... Andy finally had his knee surgery so I had to step in and milk the cows. The first day it took me almost six hours! Thank goodness we are just milking once a day now! Mom arrived a couple of days later.. and not a minute too soon. By day three Hannah was helping me milk and we had it down to under four hours and then to three (which is how long it takes Andy). By Thanksgiving Andy was back milking.
Andy's recovery was amazingly fast! His knee is almost the same size as the other one now. Andy was hit by a car about three years ago and had suffered from knee pain ever since. His pain is far reduced now and for that we are all thankful.
Our milk supply is good now... we finally figured out what was wrong.. .and it's CRAZY! There was an electric waterer in the field that was putting 110 volts into the ground. Every time the cows went to drink they were getting zapped...even though we were not using the broken waterer... our water tank was acting like an antennae. We also have a small stray voltage issue in the milking barn that we are sorting out. But it's one volt and minimal. We are back up to 20 gallons of milk a day and most thankful.
Winter is setting in and we are discovering that our barn is not insulated enough... so we are planning some additional work for the next few weekends. Anyone bored? Need an activity? We can put you to work!
I am looking forward to Christmas and the approach of the new year. Spring holds new calves and the return of cream... glorious cream.
Until then we will keep warm and snug... enjoying cuddles in bed with the kids, hot cocoa and look forward to spending more time together. Spring also brings the return of twice a day milking!
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..