When life gives you a hurricane...grab a chainsaw!
Things are progressing here on the farm! Its November, and winter is definitely beginning to show itself here in Virginia. We have been busy building walls and putting in the new subfloor, as well as making sure we are good to go with permits, well, and septic systems.
Having just read Seana and Marissa's blog post about permits, I find myself very grateful for the ease at which we have been able to get to this point in our plans. Our county has very few permitting requirements for agriculturally zoned property, which makes changing the existing barn a breeze. Although we could easily have been in the same situation they are with the well, this being a very old farm, we again have been lucky. Sam's family put in new well and septic systems for the barn and surrounding houses in the last 10-15 years. This meant that the county Health Department was a-okay with us putting in a creamery connected to the existing well and septic! In Virginia, the county has very little to do with the permitting process to make cheese, or process dairy in any way. I'm not sure how this compares to other states, but here the permitting and specific requirements for water quality etc. come straight from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), which will be the agency issuing our license to make cheese. The dairy inspectors have also been very helpful, coming out to check out our site, and walk through our plans with us before we even picked up a hammer. Although this type of meeting prior to building isn't required by the department, it made me feel much more comfortable going ahead to know that they had checked over our plans. So, its all systems go for construction!
On that note, we hit a small hitch last week, just when we had a few days off to really get down and dirty. We had been planning to put up the two walls separating the larger space into the three rooms (milk room, milking parlor, and make room), as well as get the joists set up for the new subfloor. Then Hurricane Sandy hit, and we lost power for a few days. No power, no power tools, no construction? Wrong! Despite it being chilly and rainy, and not having running water or heat, we busted out the chainsaw and built the walls anyway. Where theres a will theres a way (or a whey??), after all. We were very lucky with the aftermath of Sandy, our region got hit relatively lightly and power came back on a few days later.
Meanwhile, I have been busy putting together our web presence, and of course, making cheese. Although I have recipes dialed in and ready to go for a chevre, feta, and a lactic-set, bloomy-rind cheese with and without ash coating, my goal to have a tomme-style or other aged cheese is still a work in progress. To that end, I have been busily trying recipes, and filling my cave-fridge with variations on the theme of simple, lightly pressed, cheeses. More on that as they mature and we try them out!
All in all my patience is paying off, and we are progressing nicely. Still a long way to go, especially with the construction, but I have been making lots of cheese, lining up restaurants and wineries to purchase it, and our website will be going live soon!