Wednesday, 25 March 2009

"To make a million, start with $900,000"...

...or to be more precise, why not apply for a Rural Business Startup Grant. This is an initiative whereby European Union money is used to provide 40% funding for new businesses. It's administered by Yorkshire Forward and Business Link with Growing Routes helping out with the application and post approval support. It sounds so simple!

Roll on 4 months, one 60 plus page application form (including the 30 page Business Plan and evidence of dozens of other application criteria documentation), numerous phone calls to Debbie from Growing Routes, numerous emails to Phil from Business Link, and........

We finally got the grant approved at Christmas 2008!! Yipppppppppeeeeee! Now the work can start.

Only one slight snag, all contractors were on an extended Christmas holiday.

Oh well, it's mid-January then to start work.......

Special thanks to Debbie and Phil for assisting with getting this through in time for Christmas. There could have been further delays with the approval committee but this was avoided in the end.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

My name's not really dave....

dave just happens to be my anonymous blogger name that I've used to do this kind of thing for a few years now. My real name is actually Carl (so much for anonymity)!

I'm an ex-IT, bass guitar playing cheese enthusiast with a strange addiction to swimming. I'm also one of the four directors of the newly incorporated Pextenement Cheese Company Ltd. The other three being Sandra, Alan and Christine from Pextenement Farm.

Finding premises - Plan C it is then.....

Plan A - the initial idea for the premises was an old garage situated next to the milking parlour. Not completely ideal but it could have been altered for cheese making, the only problem being that it needed a new roof and the Environmental Health people appeared to have some reservations!

Bring on Plan B - Why don't we use a portakabin?! It sounded like a good idea, but whilst looking into various portakabin options, Plan C came along! Why don't we use the old dairy across at Pextenement Farm?

Plan C - Although a bit small, the location seemed more suited to conversion into a cheese making premises. Also, the building contains over 50 years worth of collected "treasure"......!!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Time to make some time.

Whilst thinking about how to make the time to make some cheese, it suddenly struck me that the one single thing getting in the way of this was work! I worked in an IT department of a major UK bank and I realised that I was giving the vast majority of my time to the company (after all, that's what they paid me to do!).

"When will I see some of this cheese on Skipton Market......?!!"

.....said the boss one day as he sampled a piece! That was it - it was time to do something about it. The answer came in the form of the "career break" programme, which I started in July 2008 after 22 years of service!

Since leaving the company, it appears to have gone into freefall, eventually being swallowed up by another major UK bank! This gave me an extra incentive to succeed - when my career break comes to an end the company and my old department will look somewhat different to the one I left in 2008!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Where did it all come from ?

The book said "all you need is time, patience, and an endless supply of milk"!

The date was sometime in the mid-90s and the book in question was entitled 'Cheesecraft'. I picked it up in a monastry somewhere where the monks produced everything they needed. That got me thinking - I have patience, and I know where to get an almost endless supply of milk - all that was missing was the 'time' bit!

Wind forward about 10 years.... I purchased myself a Cheese making kit. The thing that struck me most was the fact that it hardly contained anything! Surely you must need more equipment to make cheese?! The simple fact is - you don't need much!, just good fresh milk and as mentioned, time and patience (and as I found out later an extreme attention to detail). What followed then for the next few months can only be described as extreme experimentation which produced numerous disasters but one or two successes.