When the last batch of chickens were shipped and the barn cleaned, I headed back for Alberta again. I stayed overnight at our Davidson farm and enjoyed visiting with my awesome brother, Graham, and his family. :)
Graham, Emily, and Abigail
The next day I drove to Alberta to look after Dad and Mom's place and to fill in for Erin at the dairy (where I worked too before I moved up here) while they were on their Hawaii vacation. I worked five doubles and then mornings for the remaining three days. 3:45 AM always comes too early. :P :D It was fun to be around the cows again and their personalities. :) Due to a snow storm moving in, I headed out a day earlier than planned.
My other brother and his family were recovering from the flu when I first came through so I visited with them on the way back. I didn't get any pictures though. :( They had just gotten a new ice maker which fascinated the kids and they were also excited since their dad had been teaching them different ways how to start a fire. I think they can probably start one better than me. lol! Jared is the bookworm and his greeting when you walk in the door is always excitedly jumping around asking you to read a book with him. Kaylea was walking this time. My nephews and nieces are growing up so fast. Maybe it seems even more so since I don't get to see them very often. I ended up staying an extra day since I had to sign something for our company at Viterra Monday morning. So, I had church with them, more reading, visiting, and great food. My sister-in-law, Sherra, is a great cook!
Monday afternoon I got back home here and it was time to start getting the barns ready for chicks again. During clean up we ran into problems with the big barn doors at the south end. Due to all the rain this year, the concrete pad heaved with the frost preventing the doors from being able to opened all the way. So, while I was away my neighbour was able to help a carpenter take the doors down, cut 3 1/2" off, fill them with insulation, and get them back up again. That would have been no small feat and it was good to come home to that project successfully completed.
Unfortunately, that issue turned out to be one of the many problems that continuously popped up throughout the rest of the chicken cycle. I started to fill feedlines and the bearing went out of one of the lines. My neighbour helped me the next morning replace the bearing. I had helped him change one at his place before and think I know how to do it now except that it would be very difficult to pull the auger flighting out and get a clamp in by myself. You do NOT want the flighting to slip into the feedline. If that happened...well, you just don't let that happen. lol!
The chicks arrived a little later than usual around 1 PM. They were very active! I checked them around 3 and then again around 5. As soon as I stepped into the barn entry I could hear water running in the boiler room. I opened the door to find water spewing out all over the wall and floor from the hot loop pump. My neighbour came and looked at it and told me what to do until I was able to get a plumber come replace the seal. I stayed up most the night making sure it didn't get worse...not that I could have done anything if it had. haha. Usually listening to water running makes for a peaceful sleep. That works if you are by the ocean not when it is spewing out of a pump. It was still another day or so before the plumber could come but thankfully things held together then.
My fancy waterproof wallpaper. I'm thinking about getting it patented. haha!
This doesn't look like much water from the pic but trust me it was.
The drain water from the boiler room comes up here at the other part barn entry/garage. Due to the all the water/rain issues we had this past spring we had a pump around which has probably been one of the greatest investments on this place. :) I set up the float again so I didn't have to constantly supervise the pump and keep plugging it in every 7 minutes or so, let it pump all the water out, and then unplug it again.
My neighbour helped make a few changes to the the boiler in the boiler shed separate from the barn. I was going to tighten one of the three doors on the boiler which should have been a fairly simple, quick job. However, I didn't realize that you had to hammer it in so my tap-tap didn't help. At least I know how to do it now. :P :D
Next was a battery issue with the Ridgeline truck. I've had issues with the battery a few times and it was at the point where I had to replace it with a new one. We had an extra battery (backup for the generator one) in the barn so I went to work. Pulling the battery out was a little more of an ordeal since I hadn't done it before. I finally got it out, the new battery in, the strap tightened and I go to connect the terminals to the posts to find out the new battery has the posts along the front of the battery instead of the back and there is practically no give to pull the terminals to the front. I ended up playing musical batteries pulling the battery out of the old Ford (the posts were in the "right" position) and putting it in the Ridgeline and the new battery in the Ford. At least by the end of the day I had two trucks running!
Then the boiler needed a new diaphragm. My neighbour helped me replace the old diaphragm with a new one. It is always a relief to me when a problem is corrected and the system working properly again.
Then the CBC Market Place did their "selective journalism" episode on the supermarket chicken and the industry in which the true facts were mostly irrelevant. That deserves a whole post of it's own. :P
Had to get an electrician out because the motor overload on the bin auger wasn't working and some other work had to be done out there.
And don't laugh, I got stuck for the second time in my driveway. :P If you go off to the left too much it is softer and with all the snow it makes for a perfect getting completely stuck experience. :P
On a balmy -35*C morning, the lovely barn alarms wakes me at 4:15 AM. First I checked the boiler and all the temperatures were fine there so I check the barn computer and it is a low temperature alarm which has never gone off before. I spent the next three hours trying to get the temperature to rise and stablize(I switched the inlets to manual and closed them up partially which helped some but not enough) and then called my neighbour around 7 AM. We made an adjustment in the climate controls and solved that problem almost immediately.
The coal bridged for the first time in the bin causing another temperature alarm to go off. It has happened a couple more times but I've caught it pretty quick and it is an easy fix thankfully.
Then I had the water tested and due to the results showing some bacteria, I was advised not to drink the water. I had been drinking it all along and hadn't experienced any adverse effects but for the time being I am buying my drinking water. It's a lot of fun lugging those big blue jugs around when you go grocery shopping. :P I know bacteria can be a serious issue but the testing is getting more thorough and I wonder if they end up detecting more when all along it was there to some degree but not harmful.
Had an issue with raising the feedlines but it seems to have corrected itself. I did buy belts for both the water and feedlines as it doesn't hurt to have replacements on hand just in case.
My neck started killing me which prompted me to find a chiropractor. I slipped on the ice when back in Alberta and have been dealing with the effects since then and it was getting worse. A friend gave a recommendation to one in Canora so I went last week. He was awesome and isn't the type that wants you coming back three times a week the rest of your life. And his rates were reasonable too so I'm happy about that.
So, that pretty much sums up the past eight weeks! Yeah, it was discouraging at times but at least I gained some more experience and have improved the place which hopefully will help things run smoother. And, I think I've said it every time, but I can't believe it is already time to ship chickens again! They go Wednesday night so I need to do some baking for the chicken catchers (cookies and cinnabons!) and print out the schedule.
Have a great week! :D