Thursday, 30 June 2011

June Blog

June has gone quite quickly. We have however got our new range of ciders on the go at last!
The new ciders have been tried at various shows and have gone very well indeed so we have decided now to bottle these ciders so they will last longer. This enables us to offer these special ciders all the year round. Our new ciders are:

Cider with Damson
Cider with Elderflower
Strong Dry Cider

These new ciders will only be available at the farm shop, the shows we attend and I am hoping to be also offer it on mailorder too.
Our first show with the new ciders was at Ellesmere on the 18th/19th June and we were very pleased with how the ciders went. It is nice to be able to offer a tasting of these ciders at shows so customers know exactly what they taste like. What is pleasing is to be able to offer a larger range to customers.
Ellesmere show was well attended and that is down to the organiser of the show called Lincoln who is a great character. Not so sure about the dressing up like a bunny rabbit but I suppose the theme was Alice in Wonderland. Joking apart the show was very good and we were lucky with the weather too.

June is Elderflower month and we have been busy picking the flowers and making lots of Elderflower syrup. It has been a good crop this year and I do enjoy picking them. I think it is because it so peaceful and also natural the actual harvesting of anything from the countryside. You can see what you have achieved and then make something delicious from them. We will be making a small amount of Elderflower Syrup in small 250ml bottles to sell but obviously with our new cider with elderflower on stream we are making it larger bottles for adding to the cider through the year.

We have almost run out of our popular medium sparkling cider which is not ideal. Planning the bottling is not easy at the best of times however the contract bottler has changed its lead in time from 1 month to 4 months. This I think is probably due to so many more cider producers jumping in on the scene as well as beer producers. Anyway it wont be long now and our stocks will be refreshed and we will be back to normal....

We are also planning at least one more photography course and we also planning a very exciting event in the barn just before Halloween. We will be holding a ticket only event which will feature a very special owl display. I am considering making it a bit scary but it will also be aimed at familys so I will have to tread carefully.... We shall have to see but watch this space for forthcoming news.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

May Blog

Still no real rain in May and the ground is suffering. The grass has not grown anywhere near what we would have hoped.

We had our first food fayre in May which was The Shropshire Show at Shrewsbury on the weekend of the 14th/15th of May. The show I think is still trying to find its feet after a rejigging of management and it is certainly getting there. One criticism that was certainly relevant to us being in the food marquee, was that there were too many producers selling very similar products. I feel that this a huge oversight as it is not only the exhibitors but also the visitors which subsequently get a poorer experience. The layout of the marquee was good and plenty of space and the weather was pretty good. As I keep convincing myself it is not always the sales you do on the day but it is the general presence and advertising. As a result of the show (or more to the point hanging around pubs in Shrewsbury in the evenings) we now have our cider for sale in a Shrewsbury pub!

We also had a presence at the Teme Valley Food Fayre in Tenbury Wells. This was ok but I think the numbers of visitors were a bit down on what the organisers had hoped for.

We had my local buddy come and do the processing of the wood I had managed to obtain using my new winch which is pleasing as at the start of the year I was starting to feel a bit ill prepared for the this winters wood fuel. We still have to source some more wood but at least is it a start..

We are still waiting for the delivery of the new labels for the new bottling of ciders we have planned. It seems to have taken an age which is a bit disappointing but having said that we still have to do the bottling - labels are always applied last. The start of June is going to be busy as not only are we going to be bottling the cider but we are about to start doing Elderflowers.

The development of the barn and the hiring out as a venue is taking shape! I seem to have got the Midas touch with Google as a subtle link on the frontpage of the website seems to have generated some interest. The enquiries so far are a bit larger than what we had originally planned but hey - you have to follow the market. Still have a fair bit to do to sharpen up but I am not pretending to offer anything we have not got - if that makes sense. It does however prove that there is a market out there.

Talking about the barn - our first photography course was very successful indeed. The theme of the event was Falconry and the weather was perfect in very way. Chris Neal (The Falconer) did an excellent job with his much loved birds and provided endless opportunities for people to take some stunning photos. Claire Carter from CarterArt was the tutor for the day and did a marvelous job in ensuring everyone was getting the most from their camera. We covered numerous scenarios from the basic to the very challenging 'in flight' shots. A fantastic range of birds were used from Molly the Barn owl (my favourite) , a Bengal Eagle Owl, a Kestrel and also a modest appearance from the cutest baby little owl which was just gorgeous! The range of skill of the participants varied quite considerably. One gentleman had hardly taken a photo in his life and had to borrow a camera. He thoroughly enjoyed the day and it has inspired him to take it up as a hobby! The cameras that were used during the day were quite impressive. I had to secretly whip out my mobile phone to take a few photographs and felt a bit of a numpty!

Everyone rated the day as excellent and already we are planning more courses!