Fast & Furious Creamery
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…
- Building permit issued
- Old concrete floor removed
- Trenches dug for floor drains & wastewater plumbing out to waste pond
- Floor plumbing & floor drains installed
- Floor plumbing passes interim County inspection
- Trenches backfilled, rebar installed & forms built for new concrete
- Wash sinks and extra hand sink acquired via craigslist ad
- Rebar for new floor passed interim County inspection
- New low-flow toilet installed in creamery bathroom
- Bleating Heart gets Marin County business license
- New concrete floor poured, with curbs for new milk room
- New electrical panel with sub-meter installed
- Framing for new milk room is built and new double doors hung
- Vapor barrier and new ceiling panels installed
- Plumbing in new “wet wall” installed
- Holes and cracks in existing plaster walls patched & filled
- Base coat (“scratch coat”) for new plaster walls is done
- Numerous beers consumed (and a fair amount of Ibuprofen, and occasional Ambien)
As you may have gathered from this list, I have some new and expanded skills to add to my resume. Some of these include measuring and cutting runs of copper pipe for plumbing, using a mini jackhammer device to chisel away mortar that was never intended to be removed, patching & repairing water-damaged drywall, and using a metal grinder to remove stubborn bolts and nails from concrete but without catching my hair on fire with the cascading sparks this creates. I’ve also performed support activities like ordering sandwiches, fetching beers, restocking toiletpaper, making runs back to our house or to the hardware store upon realizing that a tool or a part we need was somehow forgotten, and vacuuming up old desiccated mouse turds that fall down into the mechanical room whenever Dave gets up into the attic to work on plumbing and electrical stuff (the attic has since been thoroughly cleaned, and I can report that it is rodent-free, and now turd-free).
I have to take a moment to mention the creamery bathroom. When I first laid eyes on it, the toilet in particular, it wasn’t pretty. All I could think about was that scene from the movie Trainspotting, “The worst toilet in Scotland.” I was fairly certain I’d found the worst toilet in Tomales. However, now that we have scrubbed the bathroom sink, vacuumed all the dust and cobwebs, and installed a shiny new toilet, the creamery bathroom is no longer scary. I tried to keep it all in perspective because for some time, I rented a creamery that did not have a bathroom. It had an unpleasant, poorly maintained porta-potty and every time I had to pee, I was worried that one of the many spiders who resided inside would crawl over and bite my ass. Usually when I made cheese there, I consumed a minimum amount of liquids in order to avoid using the porta-potty, and if I had to pee I would just try to hold it. So, it could be worse.
The other thing you may have guessed from the list of accomplishments is that a lot of money is flowing out of our bank accounts. So far, we are getting close to the $60,000 mark when you include both construction and cheesemaking equipment expenses, and we aren’t done yet. This is mildly unnerving because it’s all our own money, but over half of that $60K is equipment, which are company assets. As I’ve stated in this blog before, Bleating Heart has no loans or investor money to play with. This makes us far less likely to squander time or money, because the time and money is our own! Since I’ve (wisely, I think) managed to keep a full-time day job since starting Bleating Heart, this has enabled all proceeds from cheese sales to be reinvested in the company. This combined with my start-up strategy of renting other people’s creameries to build a cheese following BEFORE building a facility, as well as the fact that Dave and I purposely lead a fairly modest lifestyle, has enabled us to fund this growth phase of our company without taking on any debt or investors. I’m not gonna lie though, it’s still a little scary to be spending so much of our own money. Now we just need to hurry up and finish the creamery so we can sell more cheese, which means I am really hoping that Marissa is going to milk lots of sheep so she can sell us lots of milk!
Coming up next week: we install the cheese vat!