All is not well...not without permits
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.
A big issue we have been dealing with is the water - specifically, the well. It turns out that the primary water source on the Thornton ranch, a drilled well like those found on most ranch properties, never had a permit-to-operate. This was an unpleasant surprise to both the Thorntons and us. They had no idea. I’m pretty sure that Marissa doesn’t stroll around the ranch thinking to herself…”I wonder if my ancestors got a permit for that barn/well/house/fence/etc.” Marissa’s grandfather had actually obtained a permit to drill the well, which is step 1 in the process, but he never got to step 2, which is finalizing the permit to be allowed to operate the well. This little detail had gone completely unnoticed for decades while the well adequately served 4 residences and a 200 cow dairy operation, and no one ever knew….up until we all came knocking at the county offices with ideas of making cheese. The can of worms has officially been opened.
Why is this a problem? We are trying to do everything on the up-and-up and get the required permits for all the work we are doing (but now I totally understand why some people decide to go rouge on this). Before we can obtain the building permit to begin the renovations to what will be the creamery, we need to first have a permit to operate the well. No well permit = no building permit. Getting the well permit is a somewhat complicated and expensive process, one that is taking much longer than we originally expected and has delayed the whole project.
First you have to conduct what is called a water yield test. This basically consists of a licensed drilling contractor pumping water out of the well and taking readings to see how much water the well produces per minute. This goes on for 72 hours and at the end you get the results, along with a big invoice. Water samples are also collected and sent out to a lab where they are analyzed for chemical and bacteriological hazards. Since we already have a water treatment plan and intend to install a new UV water treatment system for the creamery, this is not a big deal. However, running these tests and having to obtain unanticipated permits adds to the overall expense and timeline of the project.
Marissa’s dad, Gary, has been incredibly patient and a great sport about all this stuff. I’m sure that when he agreed to go ahead with the creamery project, he wasn’t figuring on all this trouble! Maybe we’ll have to make a special wheel of cheese for him once we’re up and running.
One bit of progress is that we hired a designer/engineer to take the floor plan we drafted and turn it into the official plans/blueprints for submission to county officials. We hope to have a final set of plans by next week. So...once that well permit is issued, then we can submit the official site plan along with our application for the building permit.
In the meantime, we have been making cheese whenever we can get a make day in at one of the 2 creameries we've been renting. Yesterday was Halloween, and while I was heating the milk, I realized that my usual cheeesmaking attire which to me is quite normal, would definitely qualify as a costume. I'd say it's the look of a cheese Jedi princess....pink steel toe boots, rubber apron, red hairnet secured with do-rag for extra flair and staying power, hot pink hoodie, purple pashmina scarf (it was cold), and of course...MAC lipgloss in my current fave color, "impassioned."
For those of you keeping track….75 days to go until I hope to be making cheese in our new creamery! Am I nuts? Yes! Can this be done? Yes! Am I sure? No!