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The Manure Spreader: Alternative energy

Tim Moffett for Progressive Dairyman Published on 07 August 2017

In the last few decades, there have been huge strides in alternative ways to make power. Trust me, if there is a cheaper way to do anything, a farmer will figure it out first.

A salesman stopped by the farm to tell me about portable solar panels. At first, I thought we were talking about some new type of portable fence panel. There is no way these things were tall enough to keep cows in – maybe rabbits. Unless it’s welded in place or concreted down with 24-inch footers, anything portable is gonna be down at my neighbor’s. If its portable, he thinks it’s his.

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In 1985, I loaned him my best pair of posthole diggers “just for the afternoon”; he still has ’em. I have a buddy who says you don’t need mobile panels for alternative energy, you just need longer extension cords. He went to Ohio State.

Mr. Salesman then tried to sell me on some panels that go on the barn roof. Have you seen my barn? Half the roof is missing. My same neighbor has that too. Storm blew the roof off over his side of the fence. Now he has covered cow working pens.

My friend has wind turbines on his farm. Activists say wind turbines are a bad thing because they kill hundreds of thousands of birds every year. But they never mention the billions of birds every year killed by cats. To keep birds from flying into these things, my friend attached baseball cards to the spokes of these giant windmills and positioned the turbines to where they play a little tune like a giant wind chime, flute or air horn.

If the wind blows up from the south, you can hear some bluegrass mixed with some jazz. If the wind blows in from the north, polka music with Irish bagpipes can be heard. If the wind blows in directly from Washington, D.C. or California, it sounds like a high-pitch whining noise.

So I decided to try my hand at this alternative energy thing and did a few innovative things on the farm. I lined up 70 treadmills end to end with a cow on each. I was able to run my alarm clock and I got rid of that ol’ rooster. That thing has been draining the energy out of me forever. I think his internal clock was broke; he never had a schedule, just crowed whenever he felt like it. With all my extra energy, I was able to enjoy him with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy – in silence.

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I’ve always heard cows need to have more energy in their ration. So I tied little pinwheel fans to the backs of all the cows, which creates about 1 kilowatt of power a day per cow.

But better yet, the bovine gas is cancelled out by the wind power and is reducing the cows’ carbon hoofprint. I’m going to stop my thoughts right here … you can take the rest of your time to think just how brilliant that last sentence is.  end mark

Tim is a Florida dairy farmer and comedian. Visit him at Tim the Dairy Farmer.

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