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  • Stories of the Stable Cleaner

    Stories of the Stable Cleaner

    It's the holiday season, so I thought I'd share a little lighter story about my family's adventures on our dairy farm in Central Ontario.


    Walking to the barn on the first cold snow covered morning here in Ontario I thought to myself, ‘Man, I sure don’t miss that darn stable cleaner.’ Just over a year ago, we moved to a new farm with a full liquid manure storage pit. And by the time we left the old farm, I was sure the whole chain on the old stable cleaner must have been brand new.


    During the winter, we would check the weather at night, and if it was going to be really cold, we stuffed some old feed bags in the chute holes to keep the corner from freezing. We'd also set the alarm a little earlier in the morning, so we had time to loosen the chain and say a little prayer before we started her up.


    An empty 5-gallon pail used to sit right below the button. Someone needed to sit there while it was running so they could shut it off quick if the chain snapped in the cold weather. Nothing is worse than fixing the stable cleaner in the below freezing temperatures.


    One thing is certain if you had somewhere important to be you knew it would break—pop off the end, chain snap, get caught in the corner, etc.


    Wedding, party, dinner out, church, hockey game, or appointment you knew one of two things would happen: either a cow would calf, or the stable cleaner would break—sometimes both.


    But it did make for some good laughs and gave us a few good rules to live by, such as:

    1. crocs-1483215_640Do not climb the stable cleaner chute in Crocs. Those things are slippery you will surely fall!

    2. Never assume that the manure at the bottom of the chute is frozen—no matter how cold it has been. It almost never is, and you may end up knee deep!

    3. If you toss a wrench to your husband while he is working at the top of the chute, make sure he is looking.

    4. Don’t stand too close to the end of the chute while it’s running. And by too close I mean within six feet—maybe even more. There is always splatter.

    5. If you need to be somewhere, make sure you have extra paddles and links on hand.

    6. Not enough straw, also not too much straw.

    7. Rain can be your enemy. Finding the gutter flooded the morning after a heavy rainfall is a real bummer.

    8. Fresh, clean barn clothes are always a bad omen.

    Although I don’t miss that thing one bit, we sure had some good laughs.


    On the dairy farms today so many things are automated. In a way, it takes a little bit away from the one-on-one time we used to have. As a small family farm, we spend countless hours together in the barn, and a lot of it was spent cleaning the gutter.


    It gave us time to talk about school, friends, teachers, and dreams. I am thankful for all that time we spent with the stable cleaner.


    Do you have your own stable cleaner stories? Feel free to share them with me on Facebook or Twitter


    I'd love to hear them. 




    Shannon McFaddon - Quality Milk Specialist

    Who better to have as customer support than a dairy farmer? Shannon has been in the dairy business for 18 years. She holds a certificate in Dairy Production and Management from the PennState College of Agricultural Sciences. Together with her husband and children, she operates a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario along with her work at Dairy Quality Inc. She’s an avid advocate of the Dairy Health Check and has made the device part of their routine for over 3 years.

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