Monthly Archives: January 2014

We’re filling the tanks and on our way!

This brief diary chronicles our first three days of adding manure to the digester. You’ll see that some days were certainly more successful than others but our team valiantly struggled against our most recent cold snap. Start at the bottom and work your way up;I hope to have more updates later this week. I hope to post more updates later this week.

Monday, 27 January 2014
Today was colder than expected and we woke up falling snow. Snowfall wasn’t heavy, but the winds were very stiff. The Townsends brought a pump to the Osha farm and ice cover doesn’t appear to be a problem there. Today, road conditions prevented us from moving manure from either farm.
We’re going to wait until the weather improves on Thursday and try to run through the weekend if necessary. Our first week of operations is already a teaching experience. Planning for successful winter care and feeding is certainly a priority.

Sunday, 26 January 2014
Early this morning – 2 am – the wind rose tremendously and brought the polar vortex screaming back into Central Vermont with a vengeance, dropping temperatures well below zero F. This morning donned bright, windy and cold with 1F at 9 am. We got two loads of manure into the reception pit, and with the hydrolyzer at about 85% full, we moved to open the valve to the larger AD tank. The cold air had frozen the valve closed. We stopped trucking manure for the day  and used a propane heater to get the frost out of the valves and outdoor piping. By the end of the day we were able to pump manure from the hydrolyzer tank to the large AD tank, and we’d worked out some bugs in reception pit pumping and valves. The temperature struggled to rise out of the single digits and wind chill made it feel much colder.

Frozen valves

Frozen valves

The weather is due to warm up tomorrow and we’re hopeful that we can get back on track. We’ll be hiring and excavator and agitator pump so that we can get back into the Osha pit. As the temperatures are forecast to plummet again on Tuesday we’ll have to make tomorrow count!

Saturday, 25 January 2014
At long last, we begin loading VTCAD with dairy manure. After years of planning and months of construction we’d hoped to start yesterday. However, single-digit temperatures prevented us from starting a the tractor needed to agitate and pump manure from the Osha farm pit. The heroic efforts of Charlie Dana, Aaron Townsend, Jason Lambert and the farm crew got the tractor running by late afternoon and they ran it all night to ensure that we’d be able to start today.

Charlie nurses the tractor back to life.

Charlie nurses the tractor back to life.

Then the weather took over. The agitator pump at the Osha pit was overworked in the cold and stopped working; we think the gearbox will need to be replaced. So by 10:30 we had three truckloads added but work came to a halt. Thankfully, VTCAD will be fed from two farms. Work shifted to the college farmstead. Pickett came down and managed to start the excavator that they had used to build our new effluent pond. They managed to use the arm to pry the machine out of the ice. Charlie Dana got the farm tractor and agitator pump started. They broke through the ice on the pit and we started receiving manure from the college pit. By 3 pm we had 12 truckloads and they are still coming. Interestingly, when the pumps go on we think we can hear the sand moving through.. could be ice! We finished the day about 4:30 pm with 20 truckloads of manure, about 80,000 gallons that brought the hydrolyzer to about ¾ full.

Joan, Francois and Mary

Joan, Francois and Mary