The main concentrate feedstock for the goats is whole barley grain, that we buy from a big farm up north from our farm. We get in big plastic bags of 600-800 kg, and that is far to much for our tractor to lift. We could store it in the sacks right on the ground, but that would attract all kind of vermin, like mice, birds and bugs. and wouldn’t be covenient for our barn cats to protect, as they reside on the second floor. Also, feeding it to the goats through the automated feeder that is under construction right now, will be a lot easier with a little help from gravity.
A regular revolving screw transporter is expensive and needs a lot of permanent installation space, so we were not very fond of such a solution. Vacuum, on the other side, is cheap and can be used for several purposes. At least for getting the grains up and down, and maybe aid in some vacuum cleaning too. So we bought the biggest vacuüm cleaner we could find at the nearest el cheapo shop. A 2400 W machine with decent removable filters and remote resemblance with R2D2 would probably do the job of sucking some barley 3 meters up in the air, and it sure did. The question was what to suck the grain into.
A 1000 m3 water container would be practical, since it has nice valves and is easy to move around with a hand truck or floor jack.
Unfortunately, it had very poor integrity, and went down like a lead zeppelin when attached to the vacuum. We filled it anyway, but in a quite exhaustive manner that meant filling up the vacuum cleaner barrel, 75 l at a time, and empty it manually down the container top whole. This is probably still the fastest way to get the grain upstairs since each 75 l run takes about 3:30 minutes, but with one dude downstairs manning the pipe, and one upstairs emptying the vacuum cleaner, it’s quite labour intensive speaking in man hours.
Anyway, the farm always provides, and we found an old rusty 1200l oil cistern in the junk mines that seemed like a better choice. After cleaning out some, rust, dead birds, and sealing a hole with a glove, we suddenly had the allegedly largest vacuum cleaner in the neighbourhood.
The pipe to the right in the picture leads down to the goat milking parlor, and the next challenge is to get the barley down again. Preferrably automagically.
Now, loading the barley is a one dude show, although the suction power is a little weaker than when using just the 75 l barrel.
Manning the pipe is really just about making sure it doesn’t get too much barley and becomes clogged. That could probably be avoided by inserting a small airhose into the pipe, or developing some nice automation stuff with a solenoid valve and a barometric pressure sensor in the hose, but we ran out of barley on the ground before the need for that was imminent. We’ll be getting a new bag next week, so we’ll see if that’s the next improvment.