Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cooler Than You?

The Sandman has a superiority complex, as you have all figured out by now.  Of course, he IS superior to everyone else, so we figure it is well-earned.  So, it should be no surprise when he says,

"I, the Sandman, am cooler than you."

What Could Possibly Rival the Sandman for Cool?

We will abstain from even bothering the Sandman for his opinion on this subject.  We already know his response.  Instead, we will focus on something on the farm that is SUPPOSED to be cool (except when it isn't supposed to be). 

We begin with exhibit A.

Exhibit A: Lotsa garlic in the truck barn

This picture comes courtesy of the 2014 growing season with some very nice garlic freshly hung in the rafters.  After we pull the garlic in mid-July, we will let it dry a little on hayracks for a couple of days (unless it rains) and then we hang them in bundles of 25 from the rafters to cure.  After two to three weeks, we start cutting them down so we can include them in CSA shares.

But, that's not actually why I put this picture in this blog post.  I put it here because things are VERY different in this building right now.  If you focus on the right side of the picture, you might see some white panels towards the back of the building.  That, my friends, is what our walk-in cooler looked like right up until this Fall.

Exhibit B(efore)
As I was typing the paragraph prior to this one, I remembered that we took a picture of the walk-in cooler panels soon after we unloaded them a couple of years ago.  These panels were salvaged from a Hy-Vee cooler that was being deconstructed in Ames.  Our friend, Jeff Sage, had a contact who let him know that we could take what we wanted and this is part of what we picked up.

Exhibit B - panels for a walk-in cooler.
I think the scariest thing about this picture (other than the fact that it was taken in 2013) is how clean this building looks at this point.  I just don't recall it ever being quite that empty.  On the other hand, I also know how easy it is to make things look cleaner by carefully selecting the camera angle.  I distinctly remember how much stuff I had to move in order to get this hayrack in far enough so the truck could also get into the building.  What you do NOT see is the pile of stuff just to the left of the trash can.

Perhaps Bryan is as Cool as the Sandman?
I can't tell you how many times we moved things around and started to consider what it would take to put the walk-in cooler up in the following months.  Starting in 2013, "Put Up Walk-in Cooler" was a high priority for major farm projects every season - right up until this year.  It went something like this:

2013 - Wow, we have walk-in cooler panels, we should put them up.
2014 - No, really.  A walk-in cooler would be a very useful thing, we really should put them up.
2015 - Look.  We need this walk-in cooler thing to be a go.  It's going to happen this year. Seriously.
2016 - We're too embarrassed to put this on the list.  We both KNOW it's on the MUST DO list anyway.

We won't bore you with all of the things that happened each season instead of the walk-in cooler construction.  Suffice it to say, the cooler delay wasn't because we were sitting on our hands.  Just, other things always seemed to sneak their way ahead of it.  Honestly, some of it was because neither of us had any experience with this sort of construction.

Enter Bryan Golay...

Would You Like to Build a Walk-in?
It is only mildly tempting to grab the lyrics from a song with a similar title from Frozen and adapt them.  But, I think I'll leave that for someone else. 

After moving to the area, Bryan was looking for some things to do and had some background with growers in other areas.  In specific, he had knowledge of walk-in coolers.
And.. Look what happened!
Yes, that's the same corner that had a hayrack of panels in it during the Spring of 2013.  And, yes, there is garlic hanging to its left.  No - that is not garlic from 2014.  That's 2016 garlic, thank you!  And, yes, it is down now.  Sheeesh.  Tell you about one project that took longer than we wanted and you make assumptions!

Inside the Walk-in 2016
The great thing about this project is that Bryan enjoys doing this sort of work and liked having autonomy for the project.  Rob, on the other hand, had a full schedule just doing the harvest and everything else on the farm.  It was just darned nice to know this project was moving forward without sacrificing anything from our growing season to do it.  After all, the only other option was to wait until everything was harvested in... um... December.  When the temps went below zero...

Welcome to Our Walk-In Warmer
Once the walk-in was done, we were actually at a point in time where we were wanting a place to keep things ABOVE freezing without taking them into the house.  Last year, Rob carried a couple of tons of produce down to our basement.  And, no, the stairs to the basement in our old house are NOT intended for a person to carry that much produce up and down it.  They are sturdy enough, but the stair is an uncomfortable width and the steps tend to get slippery.

The irony of all of this is that we actually run a space heater in this room right now to keep temps above freezing.  In fact, Rob has been working INSIDE the cooler because it is warmer there than most anywhere else on the farm (except the house).  Who knew?

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