The farm started with the building on Ravine right at the bottom of the valley. In the early 90’s, we started moving the cows to new barns farther up the hill. The main reasons for doing this were overcrowding, poor ventilation, and we wanted sand bedding which was more comfortable and sanitary for the cows.
In the old barn we had a manure storage structure and we pumped the manure in and out. If we used sand in that barn, it would have plugged up the outlets and the abrasiveness would ruin the pumps. We also received many complaints about smell from our neighbors when we hauled manure because we hauled for a month three times a year. The manure had a very strong odor from fermenting in the storage tank.
The other main reason for moving the cows up the hill was we were concerned if the storage tank broke or leaked it could run into Twin Lakes. The new barn was sloped so any runoff would stay on our property and not run towards the lake. We are able to handle the sand in the manure because we load it with a skid loader into a V-shaped spreader and haul it 3-4 days per week.
In 2015 we built a 3.5 million gallon concrete retaining pond to catch any remaining runoff water from our feed storage area and wash water from cleaning the milking parlor and equipment.
We purchased over 1300 yards of concrete for this project from Peterman Concrete and Waanders Concrete with contractors from Allegan, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. It was designed and overseen by a NRCS certified engineer.
We pump this water on our hay fields in the summer.