I am happy to report that our building permit is FINALED! It was Aristotle who said "patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." Yeah...I wonder if he endured a creamery build-out, because that pretty much sums up what it is like. Just to recap, we started the permitting process with the County of Marin back in September 2012; they finally issued a building permit to us on January 15th; we were done building the creamery and got licensed by the state of California 40 days later on Feb. 23rd; it took another 60 days after that to wrap up the septic issues in order to get the final blessing from the county; so from permit issuance to permit final, it took exactly 100 days. The County of Marin has lifted all the holds, done their last site inspection, and given their final approval, closing the book on this project once and for all....at least as far as they are concerned. We, on the other hand, still have a long to-do list!
Yes the creamery is almost done for real, no April Fool's joke! It’s been quite a while since I last posted about our creamery project. Valentine's Day has come and gone, the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival is behind us, and I survived another birthday last week. In between all of that, we’ve been busy trying to wrap up this creamery project once and for all so we can focus on making cheese! I know the creamery will never really be DONE done, I’m not completely delusional. There will always be something - some new or unanticipated problem or need, always requiring more time, more energy, and more money, all of which are running pretty low for us right now. It’s been 75 days since getting our building permit, and so much has happened, I don’t know where to start. I have both good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Let’s start with the good.
It’s been 20 days since we finally got the building permit, and there hasn’t been an idle day since. After all those months of waiting and trying to navigate through red tape and overcome bureaucracy, it’s actually happening. The creamery is really coming to life. The action has been fast and furious as we rush to bring the creamery into a functional state. We are pretty much working at a pace that pushes the limits of our budget, and especially our physical and mental stamina. Our muscles & joints have ached in new and interesting places, and we’ve only sustained minor cuts and bruises. It’s amazing though how the body can be so dead-tired, but the mind keeps racing. Well, mine does anyway. To paraphrase the lyrics of “Gin & Juice,” one of the greatest rap songs of all time: I’ve got my mind on my cheese and my cheese on my mind. Here is a recap of the big accomplishments of the past 20 days…
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!
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.
Lots needs to be done to get the creamery project moving, but daily life seems to be getting in my way. Fortunately Seana and Dave are dedicating a lot of their time, and are making most of our progress!
We’re currently trying to obtain permits for plumbing, electrical, and water use. I actually thought this part of the process would go much quicker than it has, since the structure is sound and not too much needs to be done, relatively speaking. But permits take a lot of planning and negotiating. And you have to be willing to revise your plan and negotiate more. So while it’s a full-time job to get these things figured out and crossed off the to-do list, we go to our real jobs during the day, and work on permits in the hours between.
I am beginning to realize that patience may be the most important skill that I learn this year. When we were first discussing building a creamery two years ago, there was little question about hiring a contractor to do the work -- it's just not who we are (plus, our labor is much cheaper). Now, I'm beginning to see the benefit! Since my husband, the mastermind of the building part of this project, works full time, and is already kept busy by the constant flow of projects and problems that come with 150 acres and 200 year old buildings, things are progressing rather slowly. Slowly, but surely.
This blog will chronicle the planning, permitting, financing (including exact dollar amounts) and building of a micro creamery on a ranch in Tomales, California. It will feature alternating posts from 2 different people, Seana Doughty and Marissa Thornton, who have joined forces to help each other achieve their cheesemaking dreams and goals. Allow us to introduce ourselves.....