Giving thanks for progress
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we have finally made some progress…not as much as I’d like, but I am thankful nonetheless! So what have we gotten done between Halloween and Thanksgiving? Quite a lot, actually. How much money has been spent so far? Also quite a lot.
On the regulatory front, a complete and hopefully final set of plans for the creamery has been officially submitted to both the Marin County Building Department and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Every possible test and inspection that the Marin County Environmental Health and Safety Department wanted to be performed on the well and septic systems have been completed and the results have been submitted. A complete application with detailed description for the creamery and sheep dairy wastewater system has been submitted to the California Regional Water Quality Board for our district. You will notice that all of these things have been submitted, but nothing has been approved – yet. So we wait.
Pretty much all of these tasks could not be completed without retaining licensed professionals. In other words, we were not allowed to do any of these things ourselves, we had to pay other people to do it. The well yield test had to be performed by a licensed well contractor. The well water quality tests had to be done by a state certified lab. The septic system for the creamery and dairy bathroom had to be evaluated by a licensed agricultural engineer, who also evaluated the dairy waste pond for the wastewater management plan. The building plans had to be done by a licensed structural engineer. I understand that some things greatly benefit from the input of a trained professional, and we are glad to have some very good people on board, but it definitely adds to the overall cost of the project! We aren’t quite sure yet what that total is for all of these professional services since we are not 100% done, but it’s certainly in the several thousands (we’ll post more details about that soon). Between us and the Throntons, there has already been a couple thousand spent just in application fees.
Now for the best part…after months of waiting and a long voyage from the Netherlands, our cheese vat is almost here! It arrived at the port in Los Angeles and cleared customs last week, but not without first being x-rayed by the Department of Homeland Security (so I hope you all feel safer now). The vat is due to arrive at the ranch this week, finally! Like Marissa said, it’s been like waiting for a baby. Maybe I should give it a name. The total expense for the vat was $33,709 ($28,818 for the vat, $796 in broker/customs fees, $1,718 freight & delivery charges, $2,377 sales tax). We still have some more equipment to buy, but this was certainly our single most expensive item.
With Thanksgiving behind us, I can’t finish this post without saying how especially thankful I am for my amazing husband and business partner, Dave Dalton, who despite my endless concerns and questions and anxious requests for updates (some people might call this behavior “nagging”), he continues to calmly move this project forward, and still appears to want to be married to me. I’m also thankful to Marissa and her dad Gary for being so collaborative and doing everything possible to keep things moving along. It’s been a pleasure to work with them and I am happy there is a “we’re in this together” spirit. I must also give a big thanks to Lisa Bush, who is our local Agricultural Ombudsperson and has put many hours into helping advise us, guide us around some of the hurdles, and has been a great advocate for this project.
I still don’t know if we are going to meet my self-imposed deadline to start making cheese in the new creamery, but I can hope. At least it’s starting to feel like this creamery is really going to happen, if not by my deadline, at least in the near future.