Monday, June 29, 2009

Disaster Recovery

Back around the time of Ike, a lot of people asked us what a hurricane/power outage would mean to us and how catastrophic it would be. We found out today that we were exactly right in our assessment.

Because of our extremely small size, the frequency with which we process milk, and our rate of sales, our worst case - a power failure with no backup generator - would mean we would have to dispose of everything we had on hand. Which again, worst-case for us, would mean the entire contents of two refrigerators.

Breaking that down further, it would likely mean no more than 24 or so gallons of milk and no more than 50 pounds of cheese - but it would be unlikely that we would ever have that much milk and cheese both at the same time, as we sell everything we make about every three days.

Last night one of our refrigerators succumbed to the insane heat wave and froze-up while working overtime to get down to temp. This happened overnight and we came out to a fridge full of milk idling at about 55 or 60 degrees this morning. Oh noez!

We were supposed to turn 22 gallons into feta today and instead, the milk began to curdle on its own and the pigs were treated to 18 gallons - or approximately 144 pounds of soured, slightly curdled "fridge cheese". Sigh.

Due to an unusually large accumulation of milk before processing, we actually had quite a bit of milk in the other fridge (normally we keep milk in one and cheese in the other) and so did not lose our entire stock - which was at a near record 33 gallons. Fifteen gallons were fine and are culturing away in the pasteurizer now.

But we will not be going to market tomorrow.

The good news is that we defrosted the frozen parts and the fridge is working fine again. We plan to get a better A/C unit for the dairy to keep the ambient temp at 86 or so for the rest of the summer to avoid this happening again. We had just been running the A/C while we were working or while cheese was hanging, but we have learned that this does not actually work when it's 100 plus outside.

All this being said, I am proud to report that my days of crying over spilt - or in this case spoilt - milk are firmly behind me. While I was incredibly frustrated today, I was able to see that it is not REALLY catastrophic. We lost money today, to be sure...but not so much that we won't bounce back next week.

Farming. The fun never ends.


Annette said...

Did the compressor freeze up? You may try something as simple as putting the fridge on a timer so that it goes off for an hour at night, say from 1-2am and then again from 4-5 am to defrost. That is what my walk in fridge does since it doesnt have a true defrost cycle built in to the unit.

Mike (AD hijacked my computer and Im too lazy to log out)

Blue Heron Farm said...

It actually has a defrost cycle. We think it was just working way too hard.

C cleaned the coils and we are reducing our ambient temp to help, too.

You have a walk-in????? Y'all are bad-a$$!

Annette said...

I got one for 700 bucks. Was a truck box. said...

700 bucks for an 8 foot by 16 foot walk in reefer. I just like to say reefer. Put it in the reefer!

Im super happy with it so far. Well, except for the whole 25%extra electric bill and all...