I picked up a new bulk tank brush in town last week. You know, one with a long handle and bristles all around the brush head.
Glen thought it would make washing the barn walls and ceiling easier. We aren't making much progress with spring fieldwork, so we're using this time to tackle some of our spring clean-up jobs.
While watching the kids bicker over who got to wash walls with the new brush and who had to use the old brush with the short handle, I got to thinking.
This is the first time they've ever seen a bulk tank brush; that's why using it was such a novelty. But, it's certainly not the first time I've seen one. We used a brush just like that to wash our bulk tank every other day (and every day during the summer when we were on daily pick up) when I was a kid.
After our milk had been loaded into the milk truck, our milk truck driver sprayed the tank out with the hose and closed the lid. When we got to the barn for afternoon chores, the first task on the list was washing the bulk tank. It was a job we bickered to avoid. Regardless of who drew the short straw, the routine was the same:
Flip up the lids and lock them into open position. Close the tank. Fill the bottom of the tank with hot water and detergent. Grab the bulk tank brush. Start sloshing and scrubbing. Use the brush to slosh the hot, soapy water up the side of the tank as far as possible. Scrub the paddle. Scrub the bottom and sides. Scrub the lids and under the bridge. Scrub and slosh until your shoulders hurt. Then open the tank and drain the water. Don't forget to catch some of the soapy water in the small pail. Rinse the inside of the tank with hot water and then again with cold water. Close the tank. Use the pail of soapy water and the bulk tank brush to wash the outside of the tank. Rinse the outside of the tank. Rinse the brush and hang it up to dry.
And then, when milking was done, we washed the pipeline by hand, too. The big sink was filled with warm water for the rinse. The vacuum pump was turned on to circulate the water. The rinse water was pumped into pails and then used to wash the milk house floor. We repeated the process for the detergent cycle and acid rinse, except the swing pipe was positioned over the sink to recirculate the water. After the pipeline was washed or rinsed, we pulled the plug on the sink to drain the water and the pipeline. A friend of ours washed his pipeline that way up until a couple years ago. The first time another dairy farming friend watched him wash his pipeline, he asked, "Is that even legal?" Yes, it's legal to wash the pipeline manually. But it's not fun.
I am so glad that automatic bulk tank washers and automatic pipeline washers were invented. But I'm a little bit sad that my kids will never know what it means to wash the bulk tank or the pipeline the old fashioned way.
For them, automation is the norm.
A couple years back, Dan had to use the bathroom at a store. I sent him in by himself while I waited with Monika. When he came out, I asked if he remembered to wash his hands. He said, "Yeah, I did. But how come the faucet didn't turn on by itself?"
I wanted to plant the palm of my hand onto my forehead. My son expects all public restrooms to have automatic faucets. What would my grandfather think? We've gone from welcoming running water indoors to expecting water to run by itself with the wave of a hand.
The faucet on our kitchen sink has developed a few issues, so I started looking around for a new one. I knew I wanted one with a little more height, so that I'd have more clearance for washing pots and pans. Because there are approximately 800 different faucet options available these days, it took a little searching, but I finally found a simple one I like.
If I had been willing to put my left leg up for collateral (or sell a cow), I could have purchased a faucet with touch technology. These fancy new faucets function like the touch lamps that were so cool when I was a kid. Touch the faucet and it turns on; touch it again and it turns off. Maybe someday (i.e. when I don't have little kids) I'll be ready for technology like that in my kitchen.