To Dairy Or Not To Dairy?
For years I have had requests to sell goat cheese from my farm. For years I have had to deny people cheese sales and explain why. Getting a micro-creamery up and running in Wisconsin is A LOT of work. Wisconsin is one of the most regulated states when it comes to dairy. And it's the only state in the nation that requires cheesemakers to be licensed.
Pasteurized milk is required in the production of young cheeses (under 6 months old), though I believe raw milk aged cheese (over 6 months old) is o.k now. (Don't quote me on this please) I need to be a Grade A dairy which means I need to go through training, and learn a lot of protocols. I am of course all for food safety! For many years I worked in the restaurant industry, so I understand all the basic practices.
Part of this training requires that I apprentice under other cheese makers for 240 amount of hours and can take 18 months. I'm grateful to know that there are now other micro-creameries that have been created over the past 10 years that are fairly close to me. Training under them I believe is a viable option.
Last but not least, there is the infrastructure piece. That is a building, a certified kitchen for cheese making. That would also house a pasteurizer, cheese making equipment, tables, sinks, and possibly even a cheese cave for aging! Plus a refrigerator and freezer. Included would be a small area to milk my goats, and using a portable milking machine would be optimal.
Think of that delicious pastured goat milk cheese! YUM!
Well Am I Going To Create A Micro-Creamery?
This is a question I hope to answer with more certainty by the fall of this year. I am meeting up with some amazing local micro-creamery folks. I hope to get a better grasp of what this kind of enterprise entails. I am hearing nothing but really wonderful things from these people, though I know it's quite a process to get to opening up for business.
The past few days I have been researching the cost of opening a business like this almost from scratch. My estimates bring me to a $85,000 initial start-up cost. Which to me is a a lot of money. But to others that might be a drop in the bucket. In my searching I am also looking for grant opportunities and would launch a kickstarter to help fund this project.
What Would You Like In A Micro-Creamery?
My personal mission would be to create a wholesome dairy products using milk exclusively from my San Clemente Island goat herd. In the first 3 years I will make this a successful business that generates sales that I can live off from and profit. In 5 years I hope to have a better understanding of my business and possibly start taking on apprentices or even hiring a person or people.
In the mix is implementing solar power to possibly power at least partially if not full all the energy needs required. At EB Ranch we currently have solar panels that are not hooked up to anything. We could possibly get an inverter and battery system to run this micro-creamery.
The food products I could produce could be varied. From offering just goat milk, to an array of soft and hard aged cheeses. To even butter and yogurt! In the past I even made goat milk cheese curds that were just as squeaky as cow milk curds and maybe a bit more delicious!
With thoughts of potentially shipping, this cheese could possibly be bought nation wide. With that in mind, what would like to see from the EB Ranch Farmstead Creamery?
Would You Help Or Donate?
Would you be able to help out financially or in other ways if I moved this project forward? Perhaps you know of reliable construction workers, or are you looking to invest in a business you believe in. I'm even researching what it would entail for EB Ranch Farmstead Creamery to be a Cooperative, and if that is a viable option. This business is something I know the local and widespread community has been requesting.
I will also look into investor options as I put together my business plan as well as other options to finance this project.
Using these wonderful heritage breed goats for milk will not only help the breed, but also perhaps showcase something like a unique flavor or higher butterfat content. Possibly making these goats for favorable in the goat community.
Why Am I Sharing This?
In general I'm transparent with all farm happenings. I believe sharing ideas with the community at large can help generate new ideas, opinions or opening doors to options I wouldn't have thought of on my own.
Your voices matter and are appreciated. If you have thoughts, concerns, wild ideas, or just supportive encouragement please share them.
As I gather more information and my business plan unfolds. I plan on continuing to make and offer goat milk soap and other goat related products. But if I choose the creamery path, these products will be scaled back in variety.
If I choose not to pursue a micro-creamery, I will laser focus on the goat milk soap and body products. That would still entail building a goat milk soap workshop to create more space for product as sales keep increasing.
All other enterprises such as my hyper-local clean-up crew of goats, tanned hides and cleaned skulls will also still be implemented. Diversity on the farm is incredibly important to me in not only that diversity bring forth more diversity in my little ecosystem. But it's also a smart move in farming to not put all of your eggs in one basket.
More than anything I would love to hear your voices in this matter. Feel free to leave comments or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support!