February on the farm

Bottling a lot of cider this month. Both our dry and medium bottled ciders are close to running out so we have had to do two bottlings this month. We have decided to alter the style of the glass bottles from the 'beer style' bottle to a more slender modern looking shape. The new style bottles are also more eco friendly which is is an interesting concept but the idea is that they have less glass in them. This results in less energy and materials to make them and also they are slightly lighter. This will help slightly with transport and of course they will be lighter to lift for individuals. Our label will be staying the same so they will be just as easy to recognise on the shelf! We are expecting the new bottles to come on line next month.

The fermentation has been slow this winter and the yeasts have sort of had the brakes on as at has been so relentlessly cold. Things have been picking up now and one particular tank is going berserk and sounds like a diver under water! Constantly blowing bubbles to the point of being a bit annoying when we are in the shed... All the tanks however are working away as they should which is very pleasing particularly after this harsh winter. I have always thought that if you do not meddle with the whole concept of making cider there is less chance of things going wrong. It is also nice that each tank has its own character when using wild yeasts.

I have been lucky enough and have managed to bag a number of free courses recently and I have another 3 or 4 to attend. REALLY enjoying stretching the old brain and useful information is always good to take on board. I am exploring several avenues regarding marketing using the internet. It is all very interesting indeed and I am picking up lots of useful tips. The biggest attraction to me is is that it is all free - both the courses and the actual concepts. The last course was called showcasing you product online. Nearly didn't go as I thought it would be building a website and how to portray it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a heck of a lot more and several times I simply could not keep up with the tutor! It was based on creating eportfolios using open source software. I have a lot of homework to do on testing it out but it is very useful to know.
I must say that it is so refreshing for a small business to be able to develop by attending such free courses organised by local authorities/groups. It is a shame that one set of courses are coming to an end this month due to the cut of the funding. Just pleased that I was able to make the most of it and in all honesty I couldn't face doing any more or my little brain would burst!

Spring is slowly showing a few signs of happening which is inspiring. Longer days and less grim weather is always so very welcome. The crocus is bursting through and the last few days the Daffs are shooting up in the garden. All very good but I am well aware that I have a lot to do before spring officially happens.

I am really quite excited with some of the plans we are going to explore this year. More focused on farm based bits and pieces. We are not planning to attend quite as many shows this coming year for various reasons. Much as we enjoy them they are quite time consuming and also costs of attending these shows are always going up. Vat has of course gone up, which increases everything but particularly the fuel prices. Fuel costs add up shuttling to these shows and also there is a slight feeling that some show organisers are seeing such shows as a cash cow. Occasionally there is little thought in a good selection of producers and stall holders are just bums on seats. I am aware that the organisers costs are going up too, but to be worth going to any show, we as a stall holder has to make a decent profit over the show days. All sounds a bit harsh but we are lucky enough to be able to explore different points of sale.


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