seana and marissa's blog
I am happy to report that our building permit is FINALED! It was Aristotle who said "patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." Yeah...I wonder if he endured a creamery build-out, because that pretty much sums up what it is like. Just to recap, we started the permitting process with the County of Marin back in September 2012; they finally issued a building permit to us on January 15th; we were done building the creamery and got licensed by the state of California 40 days later on Feb. 23rd; it took another 60 days after that to wrap up the septic issues in order to get the final blessing from the county; so from permit issuance to permit final, it took exactly 100 days. The County of Marin has lifted all the holds, done their last site inspection, and given their final approval, closing the book on this project once and for all....at least as far as they are concerned. We, on the other hand, still have a long to-do list!
Yes the creamery is almost done for real, no April Fool's joke! It’s been quite a while since I last posted about our creamery project. Valentine's Day has come and gone, the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival is behind us, and I survived another birthday last week. In between all of that, we’ve been busy trying to wrap up this creamery project once and for all so we can focus on making cheese! I know the creamery will never really be DONE done, I’m not completely delusional. There will always be something - some new or unanticipated problem or need, always requiring more time, more energy, and more money, all of which are running pretty low for us right now. It’s been 75 days since getting our building permit, and so much has happened, I don’t know where to start. I have both good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Let’s start with the good.
While Seana and Dave’s main focus right now is the creamery, my main focus is growing my dairy flock and buying milking equipment. Ultimately I want to have a couple hundred ewes, so I’m going to buy 50 more ewe lambs this May. I also need to buy stanchions, milk buckets and maybe an industrial refrigerator…but more on that later. It’s hard to find quality dairy ewes and I’ve found it especially difficult since I’m trying to keep my flock CL-free. While not life threatening, CL causes large, bulging abscesses that show up continuously throughout the animals’ life. It’s impossible to get rid of once the bacteria are introduced to your farm. Dairy sheep aren’t common in our country and come from a small pool of genetics, which means CL runs pretty rampant in the U.S.
It’s been 20 days since we finally got the building permit, and there hasn’t been an idle day since. After all those months of waiting and trying to navigate through red tape and overcome bureaucracy, it’s actually happening. The creamery is really coming to life. The action has been fast and furious as we rush to bring the creamery into a functional state. We are pretty much working at a pace that pushes the limits of our budget, and especially our physical and mental stamina. Our muscles & joints have ached in new and interesting places, and we’ve only sustained minor cuts and bruises. It’s amazing though how the body can be so dead-tired, but the mind keeps racing. Well, mine does anyway. To paraphrase the lyrics of “Gin & Juice,” one of the greatest rap songs of all time: I’ve got my mind on my cheese and my cheese on my mind. Here is a recap of the big accomplishments of the past 20 days…
I can’t believe we actually got the building permit! That laminated piece of paper has a lot of power….it held us up longer than we wanted, and also granted us permission to construct our dreams. Even as I held it in my hands it seemed unreal.
First in order of construction was removal of the weathered concrete floor. The echo of jackhammering rang throughout the ranch as the old floor was demolished. I fully intended to help lug chunks of loose concrete away to the dump truck, but when I walked up to the scene I quickly realized it required more muscle power than I had. Plus I didn’t have a dust mask, so I didn’t feel so guilty about leaving. Trenches were dug, drain pipes were laid, and inspection was passed. Yesterday the concrete guy planned the pouring of the new floor, which I know from experience is a detailed process that takes a lot of measuring and thinking and more measuring.
Today is January 15th. This is the day that I’d originally hoped the creamery would be completed. So of course, in a remarkable case of situational irony that no one could have predicted, today was the day that we finally obtained our building permit. You just can’t make this stuff up! This morning, Dave drove to the County of Marin offices to present the final piece of paperwork, an authorization for our project from the County Fire District. After paying more fees, they issued our building permit. Dave and I took a moment to celebrate with a couple of pints of beer over lunch today but before we toasted, I made him show me the permit. It felt a bit like the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie shows his family the Golden Ticket, and overwhelmed with happiness, they break into song and dance. We didn’t have time for singing or dancing because Dave had to rush off to check on some creamery work that is already underway….but maybe later.
Let’s just get this over with: NO, we do not have our building permit yet. We are still waiting. I’ve entered the New Year with the realization that our creamery will not be completed by my fantasy deadline of January 15th. I’ve accepted this, but here’s hoping for February 15th, which is more than the original 100 day goal (by 30 days), but we’re sticking to the $100,000 budget no matter what!
I’m glad the holiday season is over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge or a grinch, but the holiday season is not very compatible with a construction project. Building a creamery requires the full focus and attention of not only the proprietors, but also the various officials, professionals and vendors associated with the project, and the holidays are both distracting and non-productive. Places and offices have limited hours, or days when they’re totally closed, and people take extra days off on top of that. It’s 2013 now, so let’s get to work!