We're building a house!

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We have been growing sweet potatoes for the past four years, increasing the number of acres we grow each year.  Like many crops, they can be stored after harvest.  And, like many crops, the storage facility needs to be specifc to the crop you are storing. 


This year, after paying someone else a fee to store our sweet potatoes until they went to market, we decided to build our own house.  This gives us greater flexibility in marketing our sweet potatoes.  When they are in someone else's house, they decide when our sweet potatoes are marketed.  They could decide to market them when the price is high or when it is low.  They could decide to market them all at once or a little at a time over the course of a year.  We don't get paid until they go to market.  Some years we have already planted the current year's crop before we received a check for the previous year's sweet potatoes.


This house isn't just for storage - we also cure the sweet potaotes in it.  Sweet potatoes can be sold "green" or straight from the field, or they can be sold "cured".  Most are sold cured. 


Before I get sidetracked I better get back to the house building.  Every house needs a good foundation.  The company that poured our concrete was exceptional.  Good enough that it was worth getting up at 5:30 a.m. to watch them pour concrete.


1st pour.jpg


I'm sorry the photo is so dark but I did take it before sunrise!  I never thought I'd be excited about concrete, but this represents a huge step for our farm.  Also a huge investment.  The cost of the concrete and the labor to pour it is more than my yearly salary!  That doesn't take into account the cost of the building materials and labor, electrical work and other expenses related to putting up the house. 


As one truck was emptied, another was backing in . 


2 trucks.jpg


Then came the coolest part. Seriously, I have poured concrete before.  I took an agriculture class at Virginia Tech and one of our projects was to pour a concrete pad under Lane Stadium.  For those of you who are not Hokie fans, that's our football stadium.  We had to level the concrete by hand. 


This company uses a screed, a tool that is pulled across the surface of concrete that has just been poured to level it out and make it smooth.  I'd never seen one before.  This wasn't just a hand-held piece of equipment - this was a piece of equipment you could probably drive down the highway.   


The screed driver uses a level to determine the elevation the concrete pad needs to be so everything is level.  Watching him remided me of the DOT (Department of Transportation) surveyors I see on the roadside.




is it level.jpg


We have reached the right elevation!  Now it was time to prepare the rest of the floor.  The screed uses vibration to level out the concrete and you could feel the ground shift as he worked. 


screeder 2.jpg


I have no idea how long this would have taken to level by hand - days?  weeks?  years?  Well, probably not weeks or years, but it could seem like that.  Especially if you were the one doing the leveling. 


2 trucks, smooth.jpg


Of course this process requires supervision.   




I wonder what My Little Farmer was thinking.  Why did we get up so early?  Can I drive the screeder?  How do I convince daddy to let me go so I can run through the concrete? 







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