After months of planning, building, and anxious mooing, our shiny new barn is finally complete. I’m sure the Dairy Man would love to take a moment to bask, but he’s already moved on to other projects.
But, back to the beauteous barn. As you know, Dairy Man decided to expand one of our barns this spring in order to grow our herd and give the current bovines a little more room to spread out.
Here’s where we started: two pretty white barns on a grassy hill (our parlor is on the far left).
In order to build an expansion, we had to first raise up the ground. This required sand. Lots and lots of sand.
I quite enjoyed the sand. Unfortunately the Dairy Man shot down my idea to turn the area into a beach volleyball court complete with tiki torches and frozen daiquiri bar. Apparently making space for more cows trumps my desire for summer beach parties.
After the sand was laid and the ground was even, the posts went up.
These random sticks pointing in the air were like a dairy farm version of Stonehenge. Without the burial mounds and Druid undertones.
Then it was time for rafters and a roof made out of steel.
Once the outside structure was complete, it was time to trick out our barn. Or “pimp my barn.” We’re still waiting to hear from MTV about the TV rights.
A few notable elements inside the barn:
Grooved concrete floor.
A grooved floor helps give the ladies traction as they roam around the barn. Without grooves, the floor would be a skating rink of slippery cow poo. Delightful. DM told me to take a good look at the floor, because it will never, EVER be this clean again. (Also, these are the wrong shoes to check out barn construction. In case you were wondering.)
Big fans and sprinklers.
Cows hate to be hot and bothered. In order to keep the ladies cool, the new barn has huge fans and a sprinkler system. Thanks to several weeks of 90-degree weather in July, the fans and sprinklers have been getting a serious workout.
The new barn has two large blue water troughs. In the summer, the cows spend a lot of around them, an area I’ve dubbed the “water cooler,” to catch up on the latest gossip.
Freestalls to give the ladies their space.
All of our barns are freestall barns. This means that the cows are free to roam around and have access to comfy sand beds/stalls. The stalls are spaced four feet apart to give even the biggest-boned bovine plenty of personal space
So. Those are the thrilling aspects that make up a barn. DM is so proud that I can recognize the glory of grooved concrete.
I was lucky enough to be in the barn when DM released the girls into it for the first time. I’m not a cow whisperer, but I could tell the cows were excited. I suspect they had been conversing longingly about the cozy new sand beds and waterfront views of the pond.
This event also finally gave me the chance to test an age-old dairy theory: that cows are just as excited about going into a new barn as they are about going into pasture. I’ll admit I was skeptical. I’ve witnessed our dry cows (pregnant ladies) go into pasture for the first time in the spring multiple times. It’s one of my favorite parts about living on a dairy. Why? Because it’s like a very rotund and jubilant running of the bulls. For a few minutes, the ladies forget they are mature mother cows and leap, frolic, and roll in the pasture like calves.
Would cows really be as excited about freestalls as they are about fresh pasture grass?
My camera and I were ready to find out. DM opened the gate between the old barn and new barn and after a few tentative steps, we had a stampede on our hands!
Ok, maybe “stampede” is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was joyful.
I even caught one of the girls rolling in the new sand bed like a wet puppy at a beach. Not a typical look for a 1,500 lb. animal.
In a matter of minutes, every single cow was packed into the new barn. Except for this loner. She was soaking in the sudden privacy in the old barn.
The bovine ladies are loving it. And yes, new barns are just as exciting as green pastures.
For more adventures from an urbanite learning to live the life of a modern farm wife, visit ModernFarmWife.com.