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!
Although we have cleared all the regulatory and permit hurdles, there are still some things in various states of doneness…..in other words, NOT done.
- The whey-out system that will enable a local farmer to come and collect our whey for feeding his pigs is not quite finished.
- The room we built into the creamery to serve as a milk room is currently being used as a cheese aging room, and with the weather heating up, it needs some enhancements to improve the temperature and humidity for the cheeses.
- The creamery bathroom is functional and tidy, but still needs a fresh coat of paint and some new tile on the old concrete floor, and we still need to install the mirror and the under-sink cabinet we purchased months ago.
- The mechanical room still needs more cleanup, and definitely some paint on the walls.
- The screens for both the mechanical room and bathroom windows are all torn up and need to be totally redone; we have a screen kit but have not gotten to it yet.
- The exterior of the creamery building still needs to be painted.
- We still need to pick up all of our tools that are scattered about the perimeter.
- We still need to install the commercial dishwasher we purchased for washing cheese hoops (washing them manually is a major time suck).
I’m sure there are more things that I am forgetting at this moment. So yeah, still lots to do!
In the meantime, Marissa’s sheep have all given birth to their lambs, and both the ewes and lambs are doing a great job of being walking wooly lawnmowers. Marissa has also purchased 50 more dairy ewes from a nearby dairy. I am already getting excited about the potential increase in milk supply this will bring, because that means more cheese!
We are also working on compiling all of the financial data. It takes longer than you might think. Most things were paid by us, but some were paid by the Thorntons where it involved upgrades related to the entire property, or some of the improvements to basic services like water and septic. I can tell you for sure that we have spent at least $75,000 (probably more), and the Thorntons have spent at least $5,000 (also, probably more). In order to give you all a complete summary of what it really cost to build and equip the creamery, including the various infrastructure and property improvements that were required for the creamery to get permitted, we need some more time. However, it is looking quite likely that the entire project may actually have cost less than the $100,000 we origninally projected.
This project has definitely taken longer than the 100 days we had anticipated. Technically, it did only take 100 days from the day the permit was issued to the day the permit was finaled - but that does not count the 4 months prior that was spent in the pre-permit phase. We also have to consider the time spent before that, when there were several meetings and discussions between us and the Thorntons. The first time we visited their ranch was last year on May 18th. Several meetings later, on August 20th, 2012, we gave them our official proposal for leasing the building that we wanted to transform into a creamery. All in all, it has been a long process (at least to me!). If you count all the time between now and that first ranch visit last May, it's been almost a year.
Aristotle was right - patience IS bitter, but our creamery is sweeeeet!!!