Today has been a busy – but productive, day:
we had a meeting with managing director Eurig Jones at Whitland Engineering, regarding the process rooms we’ll need in the new Dairy Complex. Our meeting was far more fruitful & productive than we could have possibly dared to hope: whilst the rain lashed the office windows we discussed design, layout & materiels of our dream dairy – & Eurig is intent on turning them into a cost-effective reality for us. He has raftloads of experience; & his expertise in the dairy industry will clearly prove of enormous & extremely welcome help – in fact the company even builds & supplies specific, tailor-made cheesemaking & dairying equipment. So, what started out for us as fairly vague ideas, have been formulated into a credible building design accommodating everything we need & even potentially more that we hadn’t anticipated – such as a small laboratory for milk testing & sample storage which was an idea I’d toyed with but didn’t think we could manage. It was very exciting to see our ‘woolly’ ideas actually taking shape & we really feel we are starting to move forward, at long last – despite the brakes being applied by the Planning Office. Eurig’s staff are now going to take the sketch we’ve planned & turn it into a detailed design for our future dairy including a changing area; rooms for crafting, drying & maturing cheeses – as well as for making & storing ice cream, & for packing our products prior to delivery. And the great thing is that being modular, the design of our building – both inside & out – will allow for expansion in the future, as & when we can afford it. However, our company philosophy will always be ‘quality over quantity’: & so the LittleFfarm dairy will always be just that – small but (hopefully) perfectly formed!
After our meeting, we headed off for a celebratory snack in Cardigan’s Cellar Bar cafe, with a filling ‘brunch’ of ham, egg & chips whilst perusing ‘Gwlad’ magazine which is a free publication for Welsh farmers. We stumbled across another possible grant scheme – that of an agri-food grant – but haven’t been able to determine any further information so far. To be honest I’m really concerned that the money we have earmarked for the new building will run out, before we can even start production. After all, we still have to fund the groundworks; the external building; the internal partitions & process rooms; the electrics; marketing; packaging; ingredients; & a fair bit more ice-cream making equipment to boot. To be realistic we may have to start with just a couple of basic cheeses (for which we are pretty much set up) & then start making ice cream once we’ve built up some capital. But it’s going to be a real struggle if we cannot get any financial assistance in the form of grant aid. When you consider we’ve already spent over £30,000 on secondhand equipment & ancilliaries alone (we could not possibly afford to buy new), it’s quite frightening really & no wonder I suffer regularly sleepless nights.
After lunch we popped into the butcher for some jointed rabbits – a tasty, lean, value-for-money game animal (as Tony hasn’t had time to replenish our own larder via the shotgun, lately) & some big beefy bones (with which I’ll rustle up a rich stock before drying them as ‘munchies’ for the dog); after which we called in to see Katherine at Maes Y Derw. She was in celebratory mood because whilst we were there, it was confirmed that her beautiful Edwardian Country House B&B has now been given a five-star categorisation which is great news, & wholly well deserved for this hard-working hostess. We enjoyed steaming mugs of freshly-brewed coffee & a delicious slice of her homemade date & walnut cake in her lovely kitchen, before rushing home so that Tony could do the milking & I could roll up my sleeves & tackle the mountain of washing up whilst cooking our supper & continuing my radical overhaul of the kitchen (breaking a crystal goblet in the process – oh well – it was the last one of our otherwise smashed-up set, anyway…!). I then opted for an early night whilst Tony, inspired by the day’s activities, researched alternative methods of funding our gradually-growing business until late into the night. One thing’s for certain: it’s all getting very exciting…..!