A couple of weeks ago, we finished one of the largest projects we've done on the farm- assembling our walk-in cooler! I am delighted to finally have some breathing room during the flower season, where I can buy myself a few days (or weeks in some cases) of time. Essentially, a walk-in cooler allows me to cut flowers each day when they are at their peak, and then freeze time, keeping them perfectly fresh until I am ready to use them. Before this, it was always a race to cut everything, a race to prepare them, and then a race to send them out the door while keeping them fresh and long-lasting. It was insanity.
And speaking of insanity, assembling the behemoth was... insanity!!
Over one year ago, I found on Craiglist, a used walk-in cooler. These things are super expensive new, and almost impossible to find used. So I jumped on it. But here's the thing... it was not in Spokane! It was in Bend, Oregon. My brother lives there (most of the time), and we were getting ready to go visit him. On a whim, I decided to just check and see what Bend had to offer. Low and behold, a huge, 10 foot by 12 foot cooler. Perfect! I quickly texted my brother to ask if he could go check it out, and put down a deposit for me. He did, and reported back that it looked like... a large pile of metal walls and doors with some insulation in between. Good enough for me! Especially since it also included an A/C unit, and a cooling attachment called a CoolBot. It was a huge deal!
It took 4 of us to unload the monster from the seller's trailer, and into my bother's storage. A few months later, he grabbed some friends, borrowed a trailer, and towed the beast to our farm. We unloaded it into our barn, and there it sat. For months. It was so big, I had no idea where to put it!
Winter came and then the tulips. Aaaallllllll of them. I suddenly began to panic that I had 1000s of tulips beginning to bloom, and nowhere to store them. In desperation, I asked my husband and my neighbor to take on the project of assembling in the only space we had for it to fit. The barn. It is not the most ideal location, simply because it is far from where the flowers grow. I definitely get my exercise loading crates and buckets to wheel barrow to the barn.
Thankfully, my neighbor is great with these types of projects, because Brandon and I would have quit before we were done. We had no assembly instructions, except letters written on the walls themselves. The panels were 100s of pounds, tall, wide and awkward. It took two full days to just get the floor together and the walls lined up and locked together.
Then came the wiring! Again, I would have quit had it not been for our neighbor. He was able to wire the A/C while I worked on filling in all the gaps in the walls with spray foam insulation. Finally, all was put together, wired, and ready to run. We started it up, and... it wouldn't get cooler than 50 degrees in there. Huge disappointment after so much work. After some problem solving, I realized it was likely the A/C that was broken. After two trips to Lowe's, two different air conditioners, and a helpful lesson on voltage by an electrician, I had a working air conditioner that was not going to burn the barn down. (I wish I was kidding, the first replacement A/C that I purchased would have burned it down.... yikes!).
It was a week of work by then, a decent amount of lost tulips, and a LOT of frustration. But it was FINALLY working! Now my flowers can sit happily in their nice cool 38 degree room. And I can breathe a HUGE sigh of relief at having finally completed the walk-in cooler project and at having storage for my flowers. PHEW!!!!