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.
It's November. My goal is that the creamery will be ready to rock on January 15th. We have yet to obtain ANY permits. Needless to say, I’m feeling anxious and frustrated with the slow pace at which things seem to be moving. On Monday I had a massive migraine for the first time in many months, hmm… I wonder what could be the cause.
I first began the Birth of a Creamery blog on March 24th, 2011, optimistically calling the first chapter “Four Years and 364 Days” for the 4 years of planning that had gone into our creamery plan and the “less than a year” promise I was given for how soon we could complete construction. Well March 23rd 2012 has come and gone, but with all the hoops and hick-ups we went through in the planning process we should have foreseen that construction wouldn’t be without its own hurtles. Thankfully we are only a few weeks over our mid-March deadline. On Thursday May 10th Pennyroyal officially became California’s newest licensed creamery!
Monday I had flashbacks to every moving day I have gone through in my adult life. Forklift-full by forklift-full our garage was emptied of all the cheese making equipment that had filled it from wall to wall and floor to ceiling for the last 4 months (the garage being the most accessible and securable location available). I spent the better part of the day in the creamery directing equipment unpacking and placement, answering “Yes, I do need this many cheese molds,” scouring discarded cardboard for missing bits of stainless steel, and racking my brains trying to recall where we intended this or that shelf to go. Of course it is during this process that forgotten items become apparent, so there was also lots of darting back to my computer and my ever faithful Nelson Jameson catalog to add to the growing list of “Still to Buy.”
Only ten days since my last post, but as we approach completion the final work is adding up quickly. Ceiling panels and ceiling light fixtures were completed last week, though joints between the ceiling and walls still need to be sealed. The viewing light fixtures in the aging room walls still need to be installed as well. Unfortunately our crew framed them from the dimensions on the cut sheets without verifying the measurements of the actual fixtures, so the holes are too large and will require flashing for a clean finish. No construction project gets completed without a hitch, and this is one of the many (albeit one of the least daunting) we have faced over the last 12 months of building.
Last week a dramatic development occurred in the creamery, the final wall coating was applied. The doors and windows were taped up, and for three days layers of fiberglass and polyurethane were sprayed onto the walls by a company called Ironclad. With the door jams in place and the new glossy white walls the creamery looks cleaner and brighter. During the application of the walls our crew began work on projects outside the creamery, like putting up the walk-in refrigerator and welding frames for cheese aging racks.
In the last two and a half weeks there have been some major deliveries at Pennyroyal, and only some of them were stainless steel.
Since February 24th there have been 174 kids born and 21 lambs, of which 9 doe kids and all 11 ewe lambs were retained for the Pennyroyal herd (we are still increasing the size of the sheep flock, but only need enough doe kids to replace the geriatric goats). The remaining kids and the ram lambs have all been sold as meat animals, for browsing programs, to 4H youth for fair projects, for people wanting dairy animals, or as pets. There are still another 20 goats left to kid between now and the 24th of April, but the chaos of 10 or 12 due in a single day is behind us.
The first three weeks of February have been productive ones at the creamery. Both aging rooms received three coats of plaster. The first coat was very rough, and served the purpose of filling the gap between the radiant cooling tubing and the insulation of the walls. The second coat was another “rough” coat, intended to increase the thickness of the wall. The third coat is a “smooth” coat. The smooth coat ensures that all of the walls are level. The final wall finish, a polyurethane cement, will be applied over this smooth plaster. During the application and drying of the plaster coats, the radiant tubing was pressurized, thus any expansion or contraction of the tubing which may occur when chill water is being circulated will not damage the walls.
This morning our first delivery of cheese making equipment arrived from Fromagex in Quebec, much of it having first made the trip from France to Canada, before working its way through U.S. Customs. I also received a call from the company shipping the stainless steel draining tables we had fabricated by Custom Metalcraft to set-up a delivery date for later this week.The pasteurizer should be arriving at the port in southern California in a few weeks. In short, everything is starting to come together. Inside the creamery progress continues as well.