In October I received an email from a Spanish man who wanted to come to the UK for a few weeks so that he could improve his English. If we gave him board and lodgings (and talked to him now and again) he would help us as needed. His email ended saying that he designed cheese dairies…… It took me all of 10 seconds to reply!!
Andres was fantastic. I’ll go as far as to say that his 4 weeks with us was transformational. We hung on to his every word about the best conditions for making and storing cheese. We had been on the point of creating a ‘cheap and cheerful’ building where we could expand our cheese-making. Andres was horrified. I think that if we had insisted that we were going to go down this ‘easy’ route, then he’d have given up on us and gone back to get some winter sun.
Instead he went round all the redundant farm buildings and he fell in love with an old barn. It had been a water powered threshing barn built in 1787. It is built into a rock, with an upper ground and a lower ground level. Traditionally the cheese would be made on the upper level and then stored in the lower level. Cheese used to be aged in a cave or a cellar, where the temperature varies little throughout the year, usually maintaining around 10-12oC – ideal for cheese storage. Caves are also naturally very humid – again ideal.
So the building we walk past every day and which we have always thought of as a dank black hole has been waiting for Andres to arrive to bring it back to life. It will be more expensive than Plan A, but once converted the running costs should be minimal – just think no electricity needed to keep the temperature and humidity at the right level – our dank black hole will do that all by itself.
The building’s transformation won’t be ready until this time next year, but the decision to make this important investment has put a spring in everyone’s step.
It puts me in mind of one of Grandpa Finlay’s favourite sayings ‘If you use what you’ve got, you’ll never want’.