Abusing the Road in more ways than one

In September, we changed the design on one of our products. Here’s why:

We make and sell one-ton square bale feeders. It is a hassle to build and paint them and then try to figure out how to ship them to Texas, Oklahoma or California. They take up a lot of room which makes it prohibitively expensive to ship.

So I came up with a plan to tear them apart and ship the parts on a pallet. This complicates the construction but theoretically will make shipping much cheaper and easier.

This is our first palletized bale feeder. It takes a couple of hours for the customer to assemble.

 

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But before we built and sold an actual unit, I figured we better make sure the sectionalized pieces would hold up. So…

We built a guinea pig bale feeder and loaded a bale on it. (Note: “Guinea pig” is a term used for a test unit. However, I guess a guy could feed guinea pigs with it and call it a guinea pig bale feeder. I imagine a one-ton bale flaked off the bale feeder would feed a family of guinea pigs for a good 60 or 70 years.

This is a guinea pig north of the border:

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This is a guinea pig south of the border:

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This is a guinea pig far east of the border:

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This picture reminded me of a trip I took to Hong Kong in the 80’s. The first day our group arrived, we were taken to a Chinese version of Roy’s Chuck Wagon. One of the dishes we were fed seemed little strange. It was kind of like chicken but not exactly.

The rest of the week we noticed there were no loose cats in the city. However, there were a lot of them in cages, especially at the open-air food markets. We realized that we had probably initially feasted on Garfield and Felix.

Back to the feeder…

So I wanted to insure our new version of the shippable bale feeder would hold up in rough conditions. I hooked it up and as usual, didn’t buckle up.

I took off as fast as I could and headed for any gutter or bump I could find. It was a crazy high-speed and bouncy ride. By the time it was over, I was almost regretting my stance on seat belts.

The frame held up admirably. The weak links that I feared might bend, didn’t. However, when I tried to extricate the bale with the forklift, it wouldn’t budge. I discovered hay bales are naturally attracted to bale feeders. Once they mate up, they’re just like a couple of teenagers and very hard to separate.

I lifted and tugged. Finally I lifted too much and over the feeder went with the bale still refusing to let go.

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Once I got the bale and feeder separated and the feeder back on it’s feet, I crawled up on top of a grain bin and started working. But the work soon stopped as an unusual dust storm started gathering up steam just to the south of my location.

I have a wonderful neighbor who I’ll call Aaron. Aaron is a glutton for keeping his farm neat and immaculate. He sprays his ditch banks for weed control countless times each summer, whether they need it or not.

I spray my lot at least once every five or ten years, whether it needs it or not.

He runs a scraper over his ditch roads on a regular basis to keep them in a freeway-type condition. When I looked for bumpy roads to give the bale feeder a wild ride, I didn’t even think about heading in Aaron’s direction.

While working on top the bin, in the distance I heard a strange noise but didn’t look up until it got fairly close. When I did look up, all I could see was a wall of dust. I reached for my phone but didn’t get a picture until the unusual sight rounded the corner and the dust was a little less dense.

 

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My neighbor was going over his road once again. But this time I arrived at the conclusion he had finally gone over the edge. He is so fixated on making his ditch road the smoothest in the nation, he cut down one of the trees in his yard and was using it to sweep up and finish the job. He sacrificed a beautiful tree for a smoother ditch rider’s road.

He’s lucky he doesn’t live in California or Seattle. I think they give guys like Aaron 25 years to life if they cut a tree down.

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If I had my plane back, this road is so smooth I could probably take-off and land on it. Steering around the corners might be a little tricky but I’ve had bigger challenges.

Usually I’m the one at the end of the day looking like Pigpen from Charlie Brown. On this particular day, undoubtedly Aaron won the title.

 

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