Since starting our Creamery journey less than 6 months I have learned A LOT. Mainly, dairy is scary. And I'm not just saying that. I have reasons.
First, there isn’t a plethora of information out there on the ol’ internet for novice dairy girls like me.
Second, dairy is very heavily regulated and inspected, every single decision you make could be an expensively wrong decision if you didn’t research it enough.
Third, dairy people, as a general observation, aren’t very welcoming to outsiders. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some amazing people on my dairy journey. Specifically Jenna from Bee Tree Farm, who is on the same general schedule to open her cow and goat creamery as me, and, my fairy cheesemother Vicky from Little Brown Farm who welcomed me into her creamery, gave me a whirlwind course AND GAVE ME A RECIPE. Never ever ever will I ever forget this. But then there are also the ones who just don’t have the time of day to give to those of us who are breaking into the dairy world. That’s okay, I get it (kind of) but it’s just not very helpful when you’re a newbie.
Most recently I’ve been dealing with the struggle of planning and purchasing my pipeline milking system. There are two ways I can milk (hand milking isn’t an option). Bucket milking refers to milking into stainless steel buckets. This is what a lot of small dairies do, as well as those who breed and show dairy goats. The inflations connect to the teat and then go straight into a “bucket”. You then have to get the milk from the bucket to your cooling/storage tank. Pipeline milking on the other hand goes directly to your cooling/storage tank. One less step for you.
I’m choosing to start with a Pipeline system. For me this is a two-part decision. First, I like the idea of reducing one more contamination point for the milk (when pouring from the bucket to the storage tank) and second, it’s more efficient. The investment is greater for a pipeline system but I think it will pay off.
I’ve been working with some vendors for the pipeline system, comparing quotes, getting different bids from installers, and of course, everyone has a war story about the other guy. Not only this, the pipeline quote has two pages of equipment descriptions that might as well be in a foreign language. I look at these bids and I feel like a five year old trying to decipher calculus.
Also, I just can’t shake that inevitable feeling that I’m going to get screwed in this whole deal.
Say it with me now, “Dairy is Scary.”
I was inspired right off the bat.
“A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch…but in her own wings.”
I added to cart immediately. And then I wept for all the things I don't know. I had a good cry then I wiped my tears and washed my face.
Dairy isn’t the only thing that’s scary. Life is scary!
How lucky am I that I have the support of a community behind me?
PRETTY. DAMN. LUCKY.
And so I have made the following pact with myself: I will ignore the fact that every dairy professional who gives me a bid somehow manages to casually mention how small my project is and not at all what they’re used to. I will also ignore anyone who asks me if I have ever milked a goat before. I will definitely ignore anyone who points out that I have no dairy experience.
Five years ago I didn’t have any farming experience either. And you know what? We figured it out. We made a lot of mistakes but we also created a profitable pork and laying hen operation. The upfront expenses weren’t as high for pigs and chickens but I like to think that they have helped paved the way for the next tier of the dream.
This branch may break and I may get screwed when it comes to my pipeline system. But you know what, that’s okay.
Because I’ve got really strong wings from all those farm chores I’ve been doing.
Side Note: Jenna's sweet and supportive husband suggested that perhaps we should paint the phrase "Dairy is Scary" above the doors to our Creamery. We thought about it for half a second but then figured it might be bad for business. And he's right. Starting a dairy is scary but there is nothing scary about responsibly made, deliciously crafted goat cheese. NOTHING.
pps: Here's me and Gizmo in front of our milking parlor. Giz is in the bag you can still pledge for if you contribute to our Kickstarter...just 3 days left!