The stars must align: Lyra

Well our biggest star to date has been aligned. Lyra: Loans for above items. This has been a tricky star and it was officially aligned on Friday the 13th of April, 2012. Now, if we were to take an accurate count of how many loan/funding plans we went through it was finally approved at plan F. It took 6 different tries with 5 different lenders but finally worked. We started out last year with 2 banks, Zions and Utah Credit Union which didn't work out but then decided to put cheese on the back burner til Joel lived at home. Once he made it here we started a new push after the dairy sheep symposium in January where we got our business plan together and all documentation needed to apply for an SBA loan. We had all our papers in at AmericaWest bank and had it set for a much larger loan amount (plan C) but got the hint that it wasn't going to go through so we they went with plan D, use our own 401K and do everything by ourselves. Had the builder lined up, had everything ready to go and found out that we couldn't access our 401K unless Joel quit or was 60 years old. So on to plan E which was back to the bank where we still hadn't gotten a yes or no yet and re-submitted for a much lower amount. 2 months went by and not a word. On Sunday morning April 8th at about 1 am I woke up out of a dead sleep thinking "I need to get my loan documents out of that bank and off to Zions! I couldn't sleep for hours after almost panicking over how long we let our eggs hatch with this one bank. 9 am rolled around, I first called Zions and asked to speak with the SBA person, she said, "that is Nate but he isn't here so I will have him call you." I then called the other bank and told him I was coming to get my documents and that's when he let me know the denial came in that morning. I said "Ok, great I will be in for the papers, Thanks!" I had no fear or sadness over the denial I was just glad to be getting our loan docs. On the way to getting them Nate from Zions called me back and as I told him about our business he remembered it from last year when we gave it a piddly try. I recalled him saying "We can't do it at this time but don't close the door on us." Well as I was refreshing his memory he was fascinated and wanted to actually come to our house and see how cheese was made and aged. He restores old Oolite stone homes so he loved the idea. He tried the cheese and loved it, he thought the amount we were asking for was a very reasonable amount and since Zion's Bank is the number 1 in the state for SBA loans he thought we had a great chance of being approved. Long story short, he talked with me every day letting me know of every step that had been successfully met and on Friday morning at 8 he had an approval... it took 4 days. I told him we will be his most inspirational story. And that folks is how Lyra was aligned.


the stars must align

-Boötes: Business Plan -He looks ready to fight for a loan doesn't he?-

We have managed to align Boötes. We have our business plan ready and we are working on our numbers. Collecting all the info for a business plan is very difficult and takes hundreds of hours collecting data but we are there! As I would sit and watch Joel work on his spread sheets for the actually costs to run a proper business of which he has about 15 different spread sheets, I sat in amazement, speechless at the math equations he was coming up with. I can't really describe it since I still don't know what he was doing but this is an example of one he worked on:
[=((C47+B35)x(D32-B38))+E22-C47] Now, I could type for hours trying to concisely describe it but I won't due to the fact that I don't want to. Basically he is able to make up equations that will make the numbers adjust if he types in a different number on any given line. I know there are many of you out there who can do this and think it isn't a big deal but for those of us who aren't... how do I put this nicely, those of us who aren't nerds- it's very crazy to watch. I am SOOO glad I have a husband/business partner who can do this. I would be sitting there with a pencil and paper writing (1 sheep gives about a pound of cheese every 2 days, x $30/lb.= sell it and take the money.) I did help him with how the spread sheet was organized, the colors and making it easily readable. That counts for something!

oolite bleu- first appearance

As you may recall, we began this crazy journey with an idea in mind. Let's make a bleu cheese out of sheep's milk and age it in the Oolite limestone that is found in the valley where we want to live. This is a process that is very similar to Roquefort Bleu Cheese in France where they age their sheep's milk cheese in limestone caves. It's an idea that has been in the works for the past 4 years, we even moved our 5 kids to Manti, Utah just to undertake this endeavor.
Drum roll please....
It started out white curd then the blue mold started to show like usual but then a strange occurrence came when trapped in a closed lid pot with a piece of limestone, a white mold began taking over. It was a very fuzzy white mold and soon the blue was being consumed by the white. It smells like bleu cheese and tastes like bleu cheese but went white/gray. It was very exciting to see and not only did it taste like a very strong bleu but the sheep milk gave it an interesting peppery flavor as well, oh and will definitely leave your mouth numb. Very exciting! Now we just needed to get it to the 3rd Annual Inter-mountain Dairy Sheep Producers Association and let others see what they think.


back to work

It has been a while since I have posted, I know, but I have been busy trying to get Joel home on a more permanent basis and now that he is working from home regularly we are back to work on the cheese dream. Lots to report as far as cheese making. First we worked on getting the basement finished so we can age cheese there. It is a slow process to expose the stone but well worth the while.
Couldn't resist the picture of the ram. If you remember I did a painting for Joel of him petting a ram, well this is the ram and his horns have started to curl.
I was able to get a lot of Icelandic sheep milk from my neighbors and made several batches of cheese. When my neighbor had to go out of town she asked me to milk. It was so much fun! The sheep got to know me and we had our routine down. Very awesome to produce cheese from start to finish.
First I worked on What's Her Name and it turned out great. Looking forward to making the Oolite Bleu.


in loving memory of Cosette

Poor Gracie! She had lots of problems during her pregnancy and Beth was very aware of her lack of eating and just not looking or acting right. Maybe the triple birth was just too hard which, of course, made it hard on the babies. Cosette was so tiny and though she seemed like she was thriving I guess she wasn't.
Let's hope for the best for the spotted one to make it, she's our next pick.

i smell dead people

After 11 days of rotting in the basement, the rooster bleu is really.... coming...along. Man, does it smell like death! Joel says that's good, it is breaking down the fats & proteins. This one is definitely different from the first one we made. I added an extra tablespoon of Roquefort and boy is it showing! It turned bleu very fast, much faster than the first so again we are back to not knowing how it will turn out for another...79 days.


getting my gates built and up

After careful thought of what design I wanted for the gates, I finally came up with what I thought would work. I got my tools together and set up my professional fence building station which consists of 4 concrete blocks, you know the kind that people put their cars on when storing the car on the lawn.

I was able to get both built in one day but it took a week or so to put them up due to weather and laziness. But now they are hung and next I have to figure out what to do to latch them.

I bought latches but of course they didn't work so other than that I am pretty excited to have them up and neighbors seem to like the design and look of the completed fence which is also important. And Sunny really likes have a perimeter up, she runs and runs and is better able to protect her family with her property line more defined.