Matt Aderhold transitioned from his career in residential homebuilding construction to inside sales of construction equipment about six years ago. Now he manages a large rental fleet of heavy machinery and sells supplies, which grants him more benefits than his previous work. Growing up in South Dakota, Matt has been an avid hunter his entire life, since about the age of twelve. His dad owns a dairy farm and he’s recently taken to raising hogs with his own childern, aged four, eleven and fourteen. He loves the process of being able to teach the kids responsibility through tending to the animals from start to finish. “We’re still learning, every hog we do,” he tells us. From purchasing the animals as piglets to butchering and processing the meat, Matt and his family partake in every step along the way to ensure that they’ll be eating fresh pork all year long.
This summer, Matt and his family realized they’d be unable to sell the hogs that his kids had raised, so they decided to keep them for themselves. This brought about the immediate need for cold storage on the family property. “We were contemplating putting it (the walk in cooler) in the basement or maybe building out a quarter of the barn. Nothing really jumped out at me. Maybe we needed a separate building. That probably would it have been easier,” he laughs.
“Building something familiar and square would’ve definitely been easier. But one night I was looking at the silo and was like, ‘I don’t know why we couldn’t put it in there.’ It’s a unique way to use this silo that just sits there doing nothing.”
He’s not wrong. This is probably the most interesting, challenging and original CoolBot build we’ve ever seen!
Once they made the bold move to build a cold storage unit in the old empty silo, Matt got to work researching options. He had heard about the CoolBot from a few different people at this point, one actually being the guy he purchases his piglets from, who lives about 40 miles north of Matt’s property. “He told me the CoolBot was both super easy and very affordable, which caught my interest,” Matt tells us. “Then there’s a gal that lives not too far away who has a flower farm, and she owns one too. So we went over to her place for a fish fry and checked it out and asked a lot of questions.” Matt’s friend with the flower farm reportedly loves her CoolBot system, confirming that it’s very simple to install and hardly needs any maintenance at all. “For what I could afford, this was obviously the route I needed to go,” says Matt.
So he ordered his CoolBot this spring, “to get ahead of the rush” that Matt assumed would be coming due to Covid19. He’s had his unit up and running for about a month now.
Matt used to build several entire houses each year when he was with his construction job. But he claims it took him all summer to put together this 132 square foot walk-in cooler silo build, working on it mostly during evenings and weekends.
“This project took a lot of thought. It was challenging and I learned a lot. It was really fun.”
Matt walks us through the process of this epic cooler build, beginning with the literal ground breaking. “I needed to get in there and dig everything down to the footing, the clay base. Then I built it back up with compacted gravel for the floor.” Then came the doorway. He’d previously been sneaking in through the original narrow door, so it came time to cut out a space for a proper one. And also to cut out the hole for the air conditioning unit. “I had to cut rings for the door and the A/C, so I drilled through and clamped a U-bolt in place, bolted it all together and tightened everything back up snug.”
From there, Matt says it was time to “just build something circular.” So he cut 3/4 inch plywood for both the top and bottom into 13 foot circular plates for his framing. He added studs every 16 inches. The wall was built 1.4 inches off of concrete staves, as to add insulation behind the studs. Next Matt added roof and hanging support and then a rubber roof on top. (The silo no longer had the metal dome roof on the top.) Matt’s waterproof rubber roof slopes down to one corner, with a drain on one side running through the wall and to the exterior of the silo. He’s added a drop ceiling that’s 8 feet tall inside. Once the roof was secured, Matt had someone come out to spray foam on the walls and ceiling. They added 2 inches of foam beneath the concrete floor and 1 inch foam all the way around the silo walls.
Finally, Matt decided to go the extra step to properly finish the silo walk in cooler so that it would be easy to clean. He really wanted to add a dairy board or something on the inside, but found that the plywood with white vinyl would take too much force to bend and guessed that the screws would want to rip out over time. Then he discovered Trusscore, which was the perfect solution for him. He used 16 inch wide panels with screw leaded edges that snapped all together and were totally waterproof. The panels go from stud to stud, wrapping around the room that way. Then he added conduit and panel and wired it up. Now he’s able to pressure wash the Trusscore interior of the walk in cooler to clean it out.
Matt plans to eventually figure out an ideal shelving situation, possibly with built in tables with storage beneath them for totes. In the meantime, they simply set up tables to cut on and just move them around as necessary. “We’ve had up to four hogs in there at a time, hanging from a 2 inch pipe that’s boltedto the ceiling,” says Matt. “Maybe we’ll add a block and tackle to help pull things up in the future. We’re figuring it out as we go.”
Despite owning the CoolBot Pro, Matt doesn’t have internet connection that reaches as far as the silo just yet. But he did buy this model with the intention of being able to utilize its remote temperature monitored feature in the future.
The grand total cost of Matt’s silo build ran about $6250, and he did everything himself aside from the spray foam. “Adding the sealer to the concrete and the Trusscore has made the cooler so much better and it’s much easier to clean the fat etc. from the animals. The extra cost was worth it,” Matt tells us. And now his 132 square foot cooler is chilling at about 35 degrees and he loves it.
“I was nervous because of the size of the silo, so I tried to do an extra step on everything to get it just right,” says Matt.
“The first night we used it, we had two freshly killed pigs in there and were in and out the door a lot, but I was impressed with how well the cooler held its temperature and the meat firmed up perfectly.”
Matt and his family had their neighbors come over to help butcher the pigs this year, divvying up the meat once they were done. “We always processed our own pheasants, waterfowl and venison growing up,” tells Matt. “We typically try to save everything until Christmas time, then process everything at once. This system works really well, we all get together and make sausages, etc. It’s easier to do everything at once instead of lots of small batches.” In South Dakota, butchering and meat processing serves as a social celebration and everyone goes home knowing they’ll be well fed for the upcoming weeks and months.
Between Matt’s family’s two hogs and the beef they get from Matt’s dad’s dairy farm, they ought to be all set for the winter. Matt’s wife is also “super into gardening,” and they’re looking forward to having room in the silo cooler to store all of her potatoes, tomatoes and garden veggies. They typically just store the potatoes in the basement and by February, they begin to spoil. “Hopefully with our new cooler, we can prolong that,” says Matt.