Being raised alongside a growing business means we were blessed to have an extended “family” of people around us our entire lives. When I was little, I thought it was the best time ever to go “help” in the cheese room. Quite often I would come in and kind of stand around until someone asked if I would like to help. To which I would grin, grab a hairnet, and get right on carefully placing the shiny gold stickers on the Paneer.
The ladies I worked with became my favorite people in the world. Of course it helped that they would slip me candy once in a while. There was Clarice, who was instrumental in transitioning the Gouda from a hobby to a production. Laurie, who was mostly in charge of packaging (I actually got to be a flower girl in her wedding-I was ALL over that!), and of course Uncle John who did everything and anything.
When I was around eleven I was officially put on payroll and told to report to the cheese room everyday for packaging Paneer. By then we had slightly larger group of ladies working for us. To this day Rachel and Cami are legends in my mind. These two managers taught me everything I needed to know about packaging cheese. Making sure my stickers were straight, keeping everything at an extraordinary level of cleanliness, and all the while moving as fast as I possibly could. Besides my Uncle John, I learned the most from these two. Even though I was young and very immature at times, they were always there to encourage or simply demand (which I needed!) my work be kept at a standard of excellence at all times. To this day, the cheese room wins regular 100% grades in our inspections and our cheese is at constant high quality levels. It’s unacceptable to have anything otherwise!
Everyone had their “job” in the cheese room. Yes, it was very much a team effort, but everyone had something they excelled in. Let me tell you, it was a GOOD day when you had the best of the best working at the same time on their specialized jobs. We could cruise!
My job had always been “stickering”. I would fill in when needed in other areas, but stickers were my jam. When I first started I would work alongside Cami, but eventually I could keep up on my own. I remember being nervous about getting a second vac-packer because I thought I would no longer be able to keep up. However, another advantage of growing up alongside the business means I was able to start young (and slow) and grow in strength, quickness, and responsibility at the same rate the cheese plant needed it.
At the ripe old age of twenty-one I had worked in the plant for ten years. Growing and learning alongside some amazingly hard workers who knew how to get the days list done with a smile on their face. The November of my twenty-second year (only a short time after my own wedding!) I was asked to move out the store full time and therefore left my hairnet and boots behind. While I still reminisce about the memories made in the Cheese Room, I think I can live without the constant smell of whey (it permeates everything!) and the bleach spots on my clothes! Working closely with our loyal customers is one of my favorite parts about the move. Sharing our families history and why we love what we do makes days here hardly feel like work!