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From the Farm: Solenoid education over the shoulderw

November 1, 2013
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

Steve seems to think that if he leans over my left shoulder while I mess around on the computer, it will help me come up with a column topic. It's not like he is going to learn anything new.

Little does he know that I already have an idea of what I want to write about, and he's just being annoying. Then again, he probably does know he's being irritating.

I absolutely hate it when he looks over my shoulder. It makes me nervous and makes me include all type sof mistaeks.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

I mean "types of mistakes."

See.

I think Steve just likes to be in control and be a problem solver. No, I know he likes to be the solution to any problem. He can be a problem solver, as long as I have a problem to solve.

If, for instance, I am just complaining to him about some really poor customer service I received over the phone, he doesn't really have to come up with a solution. In my head, I know there is nothing to do about the person that was on the other end of the phone line, other than mentally strangling him or her.

Now, if I have a problem in the milking parlor, that I am not so sure how to fix, it's just absolutely awesome if Steve is there to fix it.

In fact, Tuesday morning I was really happy he was in the milking parlor with me and I annoyed him by looking over his right shoulder.

Hey, that's a big thing to be enjoying Steve's company while milking. I am not always happy to be standing side-by-side, milking cows with Steve Hoffman, early in the morning. I mean, sometimes he can be a real pain-in-the-butt. If he knows that I am a little bit testy some mornings, it's like he thinks that gives him all the more right to push my buttons.

And I am not talking about my nice buttons either.

Anyway, Tuesday morning, one of our milking units decided to be a bit testy and malfunction. I kept trying to push a button to get the vacuum to start, but it wanted nothing to do with running properly.

No matter how much I pushed the vacuum button and cursed at it, the darn thing refused to start sucking air. Sucking air is important to a milking unit. If there is no vacuum, the milk doesn't flow from the cow into the milk line and into the bulk tank.

(By the way, did you know a vacuum actually pushes the milk through the hoses? Although, some people believe it's pulled through the hoses. Isn't it all the same? Now that I think about it?)

So, after cussing at the milking unit and finally nicely asking Steve to take a look at it, I learned how to repair the loss of vacuum in a milking unit.

It involves a solenoid. (Steve made sure I spelled that word correctly. He was still leaning over my left shoulder.) After looking for a description of a solenoid, I have deemed it too difficult to explain. Just think of it as a mini-motor.

There are actually two small solenoids on each milking unit. One pulls the entire milking unit off the cow when she is finished giving milk and the other operates the vacuum via a little tiny plunger.

I patiently watched Steve as he removed the solenoid, which is about half the length of a Chapstick and twice as round. Then I watched him put a new solenoid on the milking unit.

"I am going to clean this sucker up because it costs about $200 each," Steve stated.

After removing the solenoid, Steve showed me how it was all "gummed up." I thought it just looked really dirty.

Thankfully, I watched every step of this highly technical task and it was technical. Steve had pliers, a screwdriver and a wrench. He was in fix-it-mode nirvana - tools and a dirty farm woman by his side.

That very evening, when Steve was out partying at George's Fine Steaks without me, another milking unit suffered from Vacuum-Loss Syndrome. When I walked into the parlor all I heard was, "Kerry!"

Garrett explained the conundrum and I, charismatic Kerry, came to the rescue and replaced a solenoid on my own. And I only used a wrench.

Sometimes, it is good to have someone looking over your shoulder.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at kahoffman@newulmtel.net.

 
 

 

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