Friday, April 18, 2014

Farming, farming, and more farming!

Spring arrived briefly, before making a hasty retreat.
I'm not sure if it's coming back, honestly.
But even so, the farm work pace has picked up dramatically.
There are seeds to be planted, most importantly.
And animals to be moved - but not too soon - outside.
Poop that was solid and frozen is now a mucky mess and needs cleaning up.
With the melting of snow we've discovered a feed bag here, a baler twine there, and numerous cracked cinderblocks in a stack we left outside last fall, revealed.
So there's cleanup to do.
There's decisions to be made about when to combine animals or separate them.
There are puppies to walk around as they enthusiastically follow underfoot.
The first batch of meat chicks arrived, so a brooder to establish, and chicks to introduce to their water dish.

But among all that - we got our loan approval for the creamery!
It was all anticlimactic in the end.
We'd applied awhile ago and we're feeling discouraged that the person handling our farm loan seemed to be putting us off.
It came out that she has to process loans as they come in and the type of loan we applied for is very hands-on.
The application that arrived right before ours did, on our farm-loan-person's desk happened to need a lot of hand holding.
So our loan waited. And waited. And then waited some more.
Finally, finally our farm-loan-person arranged to meet with us at our farm.
We answered the few questions she had in order to have her fully prepared when she presented our application to the deciding-committee at the end of that week.
"If we are denied, will they tell us why?" I asked, "So we can improve our application in the future?"
"I'm not sure," was her answer, "I've never had a loan denied. "The committee meets Friday and they will have an answer to me by noon on Monday."

To me, that was good enough. I assumed it was a done deal.
On Monday (one of the days Ren Man works off-farm), I didn't hear anything. Late in the day I thought to check Ren Man's email (the account he'd been using to correspond with our farm-loan-person).
Can you contact me some time after 1pm? said the email subject line, with no information in the body.

This was around 3pm so I called our farm-loan-person.
She explained that our loan was approved but she had some questions from the committee. I wasn't too sure of the answers so we arranged for her to come back to the farm the following afternoon.

When she arrived on Tuesday, we worked through her questions and signed the documents that needed signing.
And that was that.
We had the loan - but it didn't feel solid because our farm-loan-person still had to get answers back to the committee.

On Thursday evening, we went to Ren Man's parents' house for a birthday celebration. Ren Man's dad mentioned an auction that was happening Saturday - did we know about it?

An auction where a cheese-making-goat-dairy-farmer was retiring and selling his equipment.
Friday was a mad dash of requesting that a portion of the loan be overnighted to us.
While I was rushing to fedex the moment it opened on Saturday, Ren Man was driving 3 hours to the auction.
Only to have the bank say that a check of that sum would be held for a week before the funds would be available (this is apparently normal).

Thankfully the retiring farmer was happy to hold our check (and Ren Man's parents were willing to write checks for the max we were allowed to deposit and have access to immediately, knowing we could pay them back after the hold-period set by the bank). And even more happily: Ren Man scored an incubator (for aging certain cheeses), a chest freezer (so we'll convert our smaller chest freezer into a "can cooler"), and most most excitingly (!!!) a vat for cheese making!!

This is HUGE! The vat was the biggest equipment expense. So we're feeling on our way!!

Now the ground needs to thaw. The biggest project now is getting the renovations done on the "not garage" and the barn to get the creamery up and running.

In the meantime, blog posts might become more sparse ...

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