Thursday, February 13, 2014

Shopping for a Valentine's present, sort of.....

Bruce has had this little Owatonna skid loader for years, it has replaced his back in cleaning many hog and cattle buildings. It was used to clear snow on the pond so the nieces and nephews could go ice skating, and then fell through the ice. It has cleaned my horse barn, mixed my compost pile, hauled landscaping material around the yard for me and became my best friend while doing the big patio project last fall.

To show his gratitude, Bruce has replaced nearly every part on it that was possible and even bought it a new bucket. But there comes a time in every machines life where it has to step aside and let the new guy take over. The only trouble was finding another small skid loader in this farming world of bigger, better and badder. While Bruce was on the farm show tour with his 4 buddies, he talked to a young man who works for an implement dealer at Emmetsburg, IA. Colin told Bruce they were getting in a Gehl skid loader for a guy who also needed a smaller version and he would call so we could come and look at it.

Colin called yesterday that the skid loader was in, so armed with measurements and Gehl literature with all the bells and whistles circled, we took off this morning to check it out. It was sunny and 37 degrees, the cruising was good and directions couldn't be easier, take Hwy 3 east to Hwy 4, hang a left and go north and it will take us right to their business. 

Colin escorted us to their very busy shop where the bright, shiny, no manure has touched, Gehl sat. Bruce kicked the tires.....

....checked out the chassis.....

....and learned that the hardest part would be fitting his 6+ ft frame into that small cage!

"I'm not sure what is the easiest way to get in."

"This is worse than trying to limbo!"

"I made it, just don't know if I will ever get out again."
Colin trying to give a short course on the joysticks and pedals.

The second hardest will be getting out of the skid loader.

Wait till he tries this with all his winter gear and 5 buckle overshoes!!

After measuring height and width and assuring himself that the skid loader would fit in all our buildings, we went to the main office and sat down to deal in earnest. We came out triumphant, got them to throw in the $100 horn free if we bought the package! Life is good!

Colin told us to drive a mile east of their shop to where the Poet Bio-Refinery is making ethanol from corn stover, that is what's left on the fields after combining corn. On the drive up there, we saw several piles of big square bales of corn stover sitting on the edges of fields guessed it was to run the plant. We were right. Colin said that the piles we would see at the plant will run it for 60 days, it's hard to believe that they can get enough to run it for an entire year.

Everywhere we looked there are huge stacks of big round and big square bales. This is an over view of the bales with the plant in the background.

Big rounds....

Big squares covered, just think how much time that would take?

More big squares, just the acres it takes for storage is mind boggling. We weren't the only sightseers, we thought we would not get back to the road for the traffic jam.

People don't realize how many business' a plant like this has an effect on. Colin told us they have never been busier, next week they will start servicing 17 telehandlers for the plant, those are the large machines that handle the bales. He said all the hotels and restaurants are full around town.


Bruce decided to drive home a different way and took Hwy 18 west, heading out of town we looked for someplace to eat. Right across from each other was a DQ and an A n' W, with dueling $5.00 lunch specials. Where else would you be able to have a burger, fries or onion rings and a big, frosty mug of A n' W root beer for that price? God Bless America!

We headed on west with full bellies and drove into '40 miles of bad road', the wind had whipped up, blowing loose snow across the road and freezing, making it a treacherous trip home.

You have to love IA winters to live here. And you have to hope the others on the road are as careful as you, we made it home safely.

Zoe was keeping watch on the house....

"Did you bring me anything?"

When I checked the coop, I found these beautiful eggs waiting, why in the world would anyone buy sweatshop eggs when you can grow you own?

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