Our impossible dream

Last year about this time I wrote about the move of our youngest daughter to a group home and the impact of that on both her and our lives. This past week another ‘miracle’ in her life occurred.

At the urging of her teachers at school and our oldest daughter who is a physical therapist working with children like her sister, we agreed to try a powered wheel chair. It has been kept at school where Liz used it daily in a program that you can think of as drivers education for wheel chair drivers.

This past weekend the chair came home with Liz from school and she used it for the first time in a residential setting. We witnessed our daughter with new found freedom in the home as she maneuvered down a narrow hallway, turned into her room, explored other parts of the house, and in general became a person who didn’t rely on someone to wheel her around! As parents, my wife and I had tears of joy watching the impossible dream happen for Liz!

With June hogs bouncing around $1, the impossible dream for pork producers also appears to be coming true – it looks like the consumer may be willing to pay a high enough price at the meat case and elsewhere to allow us to remain profitable with $6 corn. I know I’ve sensed in producer meetings a feeling that this year will be a good year of recovery, and even of some spending.

There will be some new buildings constructed in the upper Midwest this summer, mostly wean-finish or grow-finish. I still am not aware of any new sow construction to speak of.

This past week I received pictures of one barn that collapsed on Tuesday from snow. On Tuesday I also had a conversation with Mark Wilkerson, production manager for Cargill Pork. As their system adds new facilities, they have begun requiring that all rafter construction be inspected by a professional engineer for correct installation and construction of the rafters and bracing, etc. After this inspection and correction of any errors, etc. the engineer furnishes them a letter testifying to the rafter’s installation meeting the design standard. This letter includes the engineers PE seal.

Mark said the inspection has resulted in identification of construction/installation problems at more sites than they expected. Cost of the inspections runs about $1500 or so, but given that a new 2400 hd finisher may cost upwards of $600,000 for the project, this is a minor expense.

With Mark’s permission, I am using their experiences to suggest that more producers include this inspection in their building process. While it won’t prevent all barn collapses from snow load, it would result in a reduction of the risk of collapse. Having the letter would also make the investigation in the event of collapse and payment of an insurance claim much easier as proof of construction was on-file.

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