Inspector’s Office White White Walls

Will Inspecting Inspector’s White Walls

As I mentioned yesterday the laundry and the office are practice rooms for perfecting the techniques we use in the critical processing rooms. I like to learn things in small steps to get them right, doing ever larger and more complicated projects. Today a USDA Meat Processing Facility…

…tomorrow the world.

Last year I had done over four dozen test patches of polyurea, mostly on concrete but also on a variety of other materials. Then in the fall of of 2013 I did more tests. Over the winter we got to observe those, how they wore and weathered. This spring after more test patches we did the laundry and then the inspector’s office.

The concrete is our structural building. The goal is don’t fall down, don’t let in insects, don’t let in rodents, don’t let in… Well, you get the idea.

The fiber plaster smoothed the concrete which we then ground to produce a near finished surface.

The polyurethane primes the surface so the polyurea can then provide a final impenetrable sealed and repairable surface that can be easily washed down for daily sanitation. This means no pinholes. No niches. Nada.

White is the color of choice because it shows dirt further enhancing our ability to keep the spaces clean. In a few spaces like the upper half of the laundry, the bathroom and the wainscot of the hall I played with concrete acid stains to relieve the eye. Those areas got a transparent polyurea coating to show off their colors which helps to reduce the industrial look and give our butcher shop more of a homey feel. Plus it is easier on my eyes.

White, white, everywhere I look.
Not a spec of colored landscape.
Winter lasts long enough,
Shades of summer not forgotten.

You might notice that the ceiling is arched. It is a catenary arch. This is the shape of a spider web silk in the morning dew. I like arches, as you may have noticed if you’ve followed our various construction projects over the decades. Arches are strong. Arches are beautiful. Arches lend a artesianal feel to the rooms. Arches flow and feel right. After doing curved arches for years I finally did a flat arch.

Up in the corners of the photo you can see the brick work of the flat arches are decorative, non-structural elements over the doorways and window in the non-processing, non-wet portions of the administration section of our butcher shop, further lending a reminder to a less industrial age. The bricks are sealed with the clear polyurethane and then clear polyurea. I throughly enjoy the effect of the arches where we can do them. There are bricks in just the office and hall, not in the processing rooms or bathroom for sanitary reasons.

I did the floor first in stain and then a clear polyurea build up. Then I did several layers of clear to mockup doing the initial cutting room floor which will be a light grey. Boring yes, but I need to get the techniques right and it was worth doing. I learned things. Eventually I plan to do a pebble floor in clear epoxy or clear polyurea. Something to look forward to down the road. With this in mind I build the floor half an inch low so that I can allow for the future addition of the colored pebbles.

The USDA requires each butcher shop, also known as a meat processing facility, to have a bathroom with shower, laundry services and office for the inspector. Fortunately we are small so they allow these to be shared with us which saves some construction and space. While the inspector’s here we won’t be doing much in the office anyways as we’ll be cutting meat, making sausages, bacon, hams and charcuterie. Soon now…

Outdoors: 63°F/44°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/60°F

Daily Spark: The future becomes very clear in the moment just before it smacks you in the face.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Inspector’s Office White White Walls

  1. eggyknap says:

    Is there a good reason for the requirement for an inspector’s office and shower? Bathroom facilities, sure, but if an office and shower, why not also a mini-bar and room service?

    • Office: The inspectors need a place to sit down and do paperwork, fill out reports, file reports (we provide a file cabinet), make phone calls, etc. In this modern age I also plan to have a basic computer with a web connection and email for their use. A fair bit of what the inspectors do is checking and keeping track of paperwork in addition to looking at the product, checking the animals (if doing slaughter), etc. With small under part-time (<40hr/wk) facilities they allow us to share the office with them which works well. With larger facilities operating full-time or more the USDA requires a separate office for the inspector.

      Bathroom: The work day is eight hours so they need facilities. This is called the welfare waste stream and it runs through a separate piping system out of the building to the the septic tank so that it doesn’t interact with the process room drains within the building to prevent backups to those areas. Again, with a small facility they allow the inspector and facility staff to share the same bathroom.

      Shower: For a slaughterhouse they, and we, need a shower. It can be messy.

      Laundry: Inspectors need fresh outer lab coats, other work cloths, towels and such. We’re required to provide laundry services. We can hire that out (expensive and not convient out here in the sticks) or just do it ourselves which is easier and less expensive since we need to was our own work cloths from the butcher shop too.

      Mini-bar: I’ve never seen anything about that in the regulations but we’re tee-totallers.

      • eggyknap says:

        Yeah, put that way it does make perfect sense. We processed our own cow a while back, and I must have blocked the memory of just how important the shower was afterward.

  2. Nance says:

    Walter! it’s getting late and I’m getting slow . . . but what is a flat arch? I always thought of an arch as being rounded?

  3. Patrick says:

    The work of your family is a constant, and as such it is also enlightening. “Great Men (families) are made one small step at a time”, and such…

    My only regret is not having time to follow you as much as I’d like.

    My one question (this day): do you have an idea of the requirements for charcuterie using USDA slaughtered primals? Specifically, I take my hogs to a USDA facility which gratefully can do many things others won’t (skin, trotters, fresh not frozen ,etc.). I am told our several-years-in-the-making hams and prosciutto are darn good compared to the stuff from Europe (I cringe saying that, but these folks are serious).

    I can look up the regs. The question is, “how much practical work between a USDA primal and a USDA blessed ham?”

    Again, the regs say one thing. But only those who have gone toe-to-toe with our regulator overlords know the real story. Is this an option for a small-share farmer, or are we just better off creating ‘private selections’ only our friends will enjoy?

    I don’t ask you to do the research. I am more interesting in your impressions.

    Thanks again.

    • I have looked into this. The basic idea is clean, cloistered and cold. You want to look for the keyword Ready-To-Eat which is abbreviated RTE. A lot of that applies for the charcuterie.

      The basic idea is having lethality steps that kill off pathogens like bacteria. This can be nitrates / nitrites which are traditionally used in charcuterie that allow hanging in warmer than ideal conditions (e.g., farmhouse kitchen, cellar, etc), heat steps and often the use of good bacterial like Lactobacillus and friends through fermenting which produce acids to protect the meat from spoilage. Another big thing is drying and the use of salts.

      All of this is very possible in a small butcher shop. We built our Cave room specifically for the future possibilities of charcuterie. Within the cave we’ll probably have ten small cabinets each of which can take one batch of product and hold it at the required temperature curve and humidity. We also have a room dedicated to brining both wet and dry which is between the cave and the cooler which puts it at the correct point on the temperature gradient of the building.

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