June 2010, Roger and I traveled to Europe to visit several dairy farms. In Switzerland we stayed with Suzanne and Jureg Marschall-Dummermuth, who have had a LELY for two years. Suzanne's father, who is 80 years old, told us in his life he milked cows by hand, in a pipeline, in a parlor, and with the robot. "You know," he said with a big grin, "I like the robot best of all!" We could see how the cows responded to 24 hour milking, comparing milk lactations. We could also see how it improved family life as both of them were able to go with us to see neighboring farms while cows were being milked at home.
Well, we have been planning to upgrade the 1960's pipeline system for a few years. After seeing LELY robots in barns, we knew that a herringbone parlor was outdated 20th century technology; I told Roger if we were going to invest big money, we might as well get the most modern technology available. Financial considerations were the limiting factor, and we spent the winter looking at various ways to pay for it. I've also told Roger over the years I am an untapped potential revenue source, I help at home but could get a paying job...
I have also spent 24 years doing ag outreach. This year, we are building a corn maze on our farm that will teach people how modern agriculture technologies feed a hungry world. I will be doing ag education right here on the farm. Our customers will be learning about some very new, very exciting technologies as they visit the farm.
When we met LELY rep, Eric Inbody (in late June 2010), we joked about calling our robot "Johann" in honor of the Weiss pioneer who settled our farm in 1853, five generations ago. Looking at the 1890 ag census, and realizing how successful Johann Leonhard Weiss was as a farmer, I think he would be very excited to see this Johann in action!
Tomorrow morning the work starts in earnest. We are digging a new well, will begin excavating the barnyard to lay footings for the robot barn, and meet with the banker to sign loan papers. I will update as I can, or you can also read about our progress at weisscentennialfarm.com , the blog we use to share our farm's story with family, friends, and the world.
I hope your week is warm and successful. Easter blessings to you, your family, and friends. Jesus is risen!