When Future Holdings LLC in Shelton, Neb., outgrew its previous farm shop, a new facility was built that provided dual benefits. Not only did it offer much more space for larger farm equipment, but also a healthier start for newborn calves.The 12,300 square-foot shop consists of two equal sections with a divider wall: a shop for maintenance and storage of equipment for the farming operation, which includes 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and a calving room to support the farm’s 300 commercial calf/cow operation and 20 registered purebreds.
Designed and constructed in 2016 by Morton Buildings, the new facility also has a 30- by 24-foot attached office that includes a full kitchen, bath/shower and large common area with TV, along with outside porches on three sides. “It’s definitely our home base, without question,” said John Widdowson who, along with his dad Brad Widdowson and Mark Hahn, are partners in the operation.
Widdowson explained that their previous shop could no longer efficiently accommodate the farm’s bigger equipment. The new facility provides greatly expanded space, along with an 18-foot high ceiling, 40-foot wide hydraulic overhead door and large sliding doors that provide easy access. “We can pull up in our combine or planter without stopping, push a button and drive right in,” he said. “It saves so much time and effort during our busy seasons.”
Another big plus is that the shop is fully heated, which makes off-season maintenance much more comfortable. “Who wants to be outside working on a planter when it’s 20 degrees?” he said. “Being able to work indoors means we can have everything ready to go for planting season.”
Raising healthier calves
Previously, calving took place in portable sheds and some of the work had to be conducted outside, which despite the spring timeframe, could still present weather challenges. With 16 pens, the heated calving room provides a more conducive environment for raising healthy calves.
There’s also a vet room, with sink, hot water, air conditioning and medicine storage facilities, which makes it convenient for their local veterinarian to care for the animals on site.
“We no longer have anxiety about Mother Nature,” Widdowson said. “The calving room has reduced death losses and given our newborn calves a healthier start.” He added that 80 percent of the pens are portable and can be removed once calving season ends, enabling that space to be converted for farm equipment.
Widdowson said the new shop also offers important staff-related benefits. “It provides a common place for our employees to work, rather than being separated in two or three different buildings,” he explained. “Now we are all together, more of a cohesive staff, which makes it easier to work together as a team. And that’s also been a big selling point in recruiting new employees.”
Widdowson also praised the Morton Buildings crew. “The craftsmanship was great and made us feel good about our investment,” he said.