At the end of June, I spent the best part of a week at Neal's Yard Creamery in Herefordshire learning and making cheese, crème fraiche and yoghurts with them. In the past I’ve made lots of social visits to Herefordshire in general and Neal’s Yard Creamery in particular so it was great to be back and to catch up with Charlie, Grainne, Conan, Holly, Finn and Rags the dog. Although initially Neal’s Yard Creamery and Neal's Yard Dairy were one and the same, the two parted ways after a few years when Charlie Westhead, until then an employee at Neal’s Yard Dairy working in the shop and driving around the country buying and selecting cheese, moved into cheesemaking and developed Neal’s Yard Creamery as a separate and sister company.
Only ten days since my last post, but as we approach completion the final work is adding up quickly. Ceiling panels and ceiling light fixtures were completed last week, though joints between the ceiling and walls still need to be sealed. The viewing light fixtures in the aging room walls still need to be installed as well. Unfortunately our crew framed them from the dimensions on the cut sheets without verifying the measurements of the actual fixtures, so the holes are too large and will require flashing for a clean finish. No construction project gets completed without a hitch, and this is one of the many (albeit one of the least daunting) we have faced over the last 12 months of building.
In the last two and a half weeks there have been some major deliveries at Pennyroyal, and only some of them were stainless steel.
Since February 24th there have been 174 kids born and 21 lambs, of which 9 doe kids and all 11 ewe lambs were retained for the Pennyroyal herd (we are still increasing the size of the sheep flock, but only need enough doe kids to replace the geriatric goats). The remaining kids and the ram lambs have all been sold as meat animals, for browsing programs, to 4H youth for fair projects, for people wanting dairy animals, or as pets. There are still another 20 goats left to kid between now and the 24th of April, but the chaos of 10 or 12 due in a single day is behind us.
This morning our first delivery of cheese making equipment arrived from Fromagex in Quebec, much of it having first made the trip from France to Canada, before working its way through U.S. Customs. I also received a call from the company shipping the stainless steel draining tables we had fabricated by Custom Metalcraft to set-up a delivery date for later this week.The pasteurizer should be arriving at the port in southern California in a few weeks. In short, everything is starting to come together. Inside the creamery progress continues as well.
Goat Barn Building 101
I must admit to being incredibly lucky at having the opportunity to design our barn from the ground up rather than modifying an existing building. While our start-up costs are, for lack of a better word, astronomical, in the long term this barn will hold up better, be more efficient to use, and healthier for our animals. Lots of thought went into the design of the building, and I am, again, incredibly lucky to have worked on several goat dairies whose various strengths and weaknesses directed the features included in the barn.
The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Creamery…
or the pea traps and drains, as the case may be. That is the phase of construction that is underway now at Pennyroyal. There are three systems of drains and piping that are being installed before foundations and the floor slabs can be poured. The first is the domestic waste system, which handles water from the bathroom and takes it to our septic system. The second is the largest, and will capture all the process water which will be pumped to a water treatment system. The third system is a whey diversion line, which will allow us to collect whey to use as animal feed.
Four Years and 364 Days to Build a Creamery...
and I may be overly optimistic about the 364 day part!
A goat dairy at the nascent Pennyroyal Farm vineyard began as a conversation early in 2007. After two years of planning, foundations were laid for the barn and milking parlor in a freshly planted vineyard just east of downtown Boonville, a secluded town in California's Mendocino County. The 70' by 100' barn was designed to comfortably accommodate a milking herd of 108 goats. The milking parlor permits 36 goats to enter at a time, filling two raised platforms between which the milker is stationed. While construction proceeded on the dairy buildings (which allowed me to relocate my herd from Sonoma County to the site of the future farm), planning and the convoluted permitting process were tackled for the creamery.