On The Farm
It's a new year here at Georges Mill Farm, and one we are sure will be filled with exciting new things- including opening our doors as a licensed creamery! In the whirlwind of researching and buying materials, the holidays, the arrival of new goats at the farm, moving, and the various everyday crises and solutions that come with all of that, 2012 completely got away from me. And just when I felt like I had finally gotten used to it being January, its already February! Time is flying by, which is both exciting and scary for me as I look forward to opening in a couple of months, and then think about all that still must be done.
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!
The days slowly lengthen, the sun creeps a little higher at noon and wider at dawn and dusk. The dark mornings have me slow to wake, the dark evenings tricksy - is it six or midnight? I drove my car one dark evening along a lane, came to water over the road. In the dark I didn't see how far the water was from the stream, and drove on. The water was over the headlights and I could see a flooded car and tractor beside the road - can't stop or the car will take in water. I made it to the humpback bridge, which is covered in water, can't turn round, maybe I'll make it across the next low bit of road. I set off, lights go under water, the car sighs to a halt. There is silence, then I hear the gurgling of water coming in through the doors. The windows don't work. Will I be able to get out? I open the door, water pours in almost to the top on the seat. I scramble into the boot to put my wellies on, get everything I can think of onto the roof, and climb onto it myself.
The dark time of year, dark mornings, night comes so early. When we have sun it seems very special, and with a thick enough coat and hat is a magical time, precious brightness, low light highlighting every bare twig and blade of grass. The earth feels like it is ruminating, digesting last year, brewing next year. The undergrowth disappears, leaving everyone’s tracks clearer. Tom & I were in the garden one late afternoon, and about 20 wild boar solemnly trooped by on the other side of the stream, a couple of sows, a few gilts, but mainly this year’s piglets. Boar, like the farmed pigs they are so closely related to, have large families. Tasty, but scary when you get too close. When we said we wanted more room for wildlife on farms, I’m not sure we meant this: be careful what you wish for, you will get it.
It's getting cold in Tomales!
Which means it's almost Winter, which means it's almost January 31st, which means it's almost time to build the creamery if we want to stay on track!
Amazingly, Seana and Dave finished composing all the drafts for the Building Dept. to review before being officially submitted. To me, this feels like a huge step forward. Also, the cheese vat is due to arrive soon! It feels like waiting for a baby to be born...is it here yet?? Have we reached the due date?? I'm sure it's even more exciting for Seana and Dave, since it's really their vat and their creamery being developed. But ultimately I, too, will use the space (hopefully sooner rather than later), so I feel pretty elated at the progress. It doesn't actually feel real yet, as most dreams-come-true probably don't at first. But I bet once the jackhammer hits the concrete, reality will hit me, too.