The next few days were downtime for me. I had planned on hanging out by my buddy Brent who lives in Iowa. Him and his wife came up to visit me in Alaska about a month ago and since I was passing through Iowa on this trip, I made sure to stop and see them on the way East.
On Sunday (18AUG), Brent, a few of his buddies and I went for a ride around North Eastern Iowa. We rode up to Balltown which is a small town along the Mississippi River and has an interesting restaurant at the top of the hill overlooking the river valley.
It just so happened that the couple of days I was spending in Iowa coincided with Brent’s big family reunion. So after lunch we rode to the gathering to spend some time there with his family. I got to check out some more farm life in Iowa and also met a lot of interesting and very hospitable people.
Another awesome experience was that I got to see an automated/robotic dairy farm. These farms are entirely automated and use a robotic machine to milk all the dairy cows. It’s amazing to see in person. The cows line up by themselves to walk into the milking machine. Once inside the gated machine area, a robotic arm scans the cows udders with a laser to determine their exact location and then cleans them with a spinning scrubby brush. After that, the robotic arm attaches milking tubes to the cows udders and it proceeds to milk the cow! A computer system identifies each cow by a sensor around it’s neck and determines if and how much the cow should be milked. If the cow has been milked too many times that day, it kicks the cow out of the milking machine. If not, the cow gets treat/snack and is milked. The cows are literally lining up and pushing each other out of the way to get in. It’s pretty funny to see. The whole processes takes less than 5 minutes and each cow gives on average 10 gallons of milk per day (i think). After the cow is milked, the machine cleans the udders again with a disinfectant and the gate opens, allowing the cow out. Really awesome. Lots of pics:
After taking a tour of the automated/robotic dairy farm, we hung out at the family reunion a bit more and then went back to Brent’s house for another great home cooked meal. Thanks Lynn!
On Monday (19AUG), we mostly hung around the farm house. I ran some errands and worked on the bike a bit to include an oil change, overall inspection and clean/adjust/lube the chain. It was an easy, slow day with nothing else planned which was nice for a change.. just relax and get some much needed downtime. 😉 I also didn’t put a single mile on the bike today.. my butt thanked me.
Brent and Lynn, thanks for your amazing hospitality these couple of days! It was great to get off the bike and hang out with you and the kids. Thanks!