Expanding our business

Pouring the slab for the new 16 x 16 cheesemaking room
Pouring the slab for the new 16 x 16 cheesemaking room

My wife and I raise dairy goats.  Last April, after two years of making cheese in our kitchen, we decided to “go pro” and get our cheesemaking license.  This required a new building with specific characteristics like plastic walls, floor drains, and a 3-compartment stainless steel sink.  And it required an investment that, given the state of the economy, was pretty scary.

Despite the economy, we’ve been selling cheese as fast as we can make it: at farmers markets and by word of mouth.

We’ve been making cheese in 8 gallon stainless pots.  That produces about 6-8 pounds of cheese per batch– pretty labor intensive.  This year, we’re milking three goats.  Next year, we plan to milk nine, tripling our cheese output.  We realized that we’re not going to make a profit using 8-gallon cheese pots.  So we purchased a 150-gallon batch pasteurizer that will double as a cheese vat.

That required more space, so we decided to expand our current 10′ x 16′ cheesemaking facility to 37 x 16, adding two rooms and more than tripling our floorspace.  We bought three used bulk tanks, one for our goat milk and two for transportation and storage of cow milk from a nearby dairy.

Because of the economy, used equipment suppliers have some great deals.  We expected to have to pay $15,000 for a pasteurizer, but found one for about half that.  We’re also able to put people to work who need to work.  The guy who’s building the addition gave us a price we could live with, and has put his brother, father, uncle, and others to work.  We’re literally helping to feed his family.

On Monday, we’ll hire our first employee.  Counting my wife and I, we’ll be increasing our labor force by 50%!

Please wish us luck.  You can learn more at JackrabbitCheese.com.