Let the construction begin!
Today is January 15th. This is the day that I’d originally hoped the creamery would be completed. So of course, in a remarkable case of situational irony that no one could have predicted, today was the day that we finally obtained our building permit. You just can’t make this stuff up! This morning, Dave drove to the County of Marin offices to present the final piece of paperwork, an authorization for our project from the County Fire District. After paying more fees, they issued our building permit. Dave and I took a moment to celebrate with a couple of pints of beer over lunch today but before we toasted, I made him show me the permit. It felt a bit like the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie shows his family the Golden Ticket, and overwhelmed with happiness, they break into song and dance. We didn’t have time for singing or dancing because Dave had to rush off to check on some creamery work that is already underway….but maybe later.
This morning, as Dave was picking up the building permit, our plumbing contractors arrived at the creamery site to begin digging the trenches for the floor drains. We had already purchased a drain for the center of the make room, a drain that I call “big momma.” If you saw it and held it, you’d understand the name. It is about 12 inches in diameter, extremely heavy, made of thick heavy duty stainless steel, and has both a removable cover and basket insert that will catch any curd that ends up in the drain. The removable components also make it easier to keep clean, which is important since floor drains are often the place where listeria takes hold in a food processing environment. The drain is probably way more than we really need for such a small space, and at close to $600 it’s not exactly cheap, but I do think big momma will be a welcome component of our creamery.
In anticipation of getting our permit this week, we had already done some preliminary work. Last week, the existing concrete floor was completely demolished, and after 4 full truckloads (9 tons total!) of old broken up concrete being hauled away for recycling, the creamery floor is now back down to the original dirt. As it turns out, we didn’t strike gold or oil in the process of digging. This is a good thing though, since our lease specifies that all oil and mineral rights belong to Marissa’s dad, and our lease would basically be void had anything been discovered. We all sort of laughed about that clause when we saw the attorneys’ first draft of the lease, but I suppose these things happen or else they would not have provisions for it, right?
One little unanticipated consequence of the concrete floor demolition was that the existing entry door had to be completely removed, never to be reinstalled. This was because the floor had to be completely jack-hammered all the way to the walls in order to leave enough space to create a sanitary cove when the new concrete floor is poured. Since the whole building, including the walls, is mostly concrete the entire door unit had to be sort of chipped and chiseled out of its opening – it’s a goner. I was actually pretty happy about this because the original door was awful! It’s an old sliding glass door from the 1970’s, the kind with the shabby aluminum frame that just did not sit on its track quite right. I’m glad to see it go. After consulting with our inspector from the CA Dept. of Food & Agriculture on what type of door he’d prefer, we worked with our local window/door vendor to design a new entry way. We came up with a combination that includes a set of out-swinging fiberglass double doors with full light tempered glass panels, and a full light double hung window on the side, also with tempered glass. This will provide an attractive yet durable entry way that is easy to clean, will withstand a wet environment, and allows for maximum natural light. Even though the new door/window entryway combo is a bit more money than we budgeted for at $1,332 (not including installation costs), it’s well worth it.
Now the race is on to see if we can finish the creamery before Feb 17th when we have a very special guest coming: Peter Dixon. He is a highly sought after artisan cheese consultant who is also an active cheesemaker. Peter will be spending the day consulting with us about some of our cheesemaking plans and goals...it's very exciting because we have some new cheeses we hope to work on in 2013. I hope the creamery is ready for him and for us!