Sunday, 30 October 2011

A long Autumn

Back to serious talking... I have been thinking about a post in which I explained what is our time schedule and what are the things needed to be done but after much thinking I came to the conclusion that it is not such a good idea, because it's way too early for that. We still haven't talked with the competent offices yet and although I have been reading the relative legislation in terms of agricultural building permissions and food business, there is still too much prospecting to be done.
The only sure thing is that whatever we'll need to do, we'll have to do it at a specific time. In fact, sheep are seasonal animals and they do not have oestrus cycles all year round.
Sheep start having regularly spaced oestrus cycles (17 - 19 days long) with the decrease of daily light (short day breeders), which means in August at the earliest (in the northern hemisphere). If they are not mated they stop cycling regularly in spring when days get longer once again. This means that in the northern hemisphere the best time to mate ewes is around October-November (it really depends on the climatic region and market needs) so that they are ready for delivery in early spring after a 5 months long pregnancy.
That's when they start producing milk.
Therefore the only two known deadlines are: i) to get a stable (or a simple shed) ready by late summer and ii) a cheese cave ready by early spring.
Everything goes around this two major deadlines and if you miss them you'll lose a whole year of learning and production.
There are also of course a ton of other things to be done like a new and upgraded electric connection, refrigeration units, a well and so on. So you can understand that P. and I have our hands tied for now, and we can't even practice or help around in nearby sheep farms because they are not producing cheese at the moment.
I have planned a trip around Christmas holidays to try and get quotes for materials so that we can get a better figure of the investment needed and I would also like to try and speak with local vet services, small business authority and food business regulators. But that is it.  This was really a bummer because I feel like I'm wasting my time here, so I decided to keep myself busy and at the same time to get some experience under my belt by engaging in some cheese making at home.
The thorn apart thing you see in the picture at the top of the post is the second hand fridge that, after the due modifications, will serve as a home made cheese cave.
More soon :)

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