Another year has passed, and well I think we can all agree that it was a special one. I will start this news letter where the last one from 22/2/2020 ended. Three notes, first sorry for some strange phrases, the French is slowly creeping in to my "style lingustique". Second I'll try to be more to the point because of being very busy, so I have to well organize my time. Also, I plan to translate this letter to another two or three languages. Last but not least, if there is just one thing which you have time to check, have a look on the 2020 Season Crowd-Funding and Pre-sale, which is the principal way to help me to accomplish my main current project.
So what did happen since the last February 2020? I guess you all know the big news but I've to say for good or bad the last year covid situation did not actually affect me too much. During the spring lock down or "confinement" as the French say around the April I've been busy with bottling the 2019 cider season, which some of you supported through the last campaign, again once more thanks! Instead of few days it took me around a month because I could not ask my friends for help and I've done vast majority of the 7 000 of 75 cl bottles alone. Also since January I had issues with my knee which prevented me to get a job, it was actually really bad, for two to three months I had issues to walk. During the late spring and beginning of summer I came back to Czech Republic where I got help with the knee, which improved a lot, it was caused by muscular disequilibrium. At home I've also progressed with work on family house, which garage I plan to use as cider storage for Czech Republic and surrounding regions. In June I came back to France and within few weeks I started to feel physically very bad. Long story short, I had a Lyme Disease, which was twice wrongly diagnosed as an allergy even when I was mentioning the tick bites and my suspicion, well it was not considered and I was completely ignored afterwards by the medical system too. I got really bad, at the end I've managed to get appointment in hospital department specialized in infectious diseases and was immediately hospitalized. I stayed there for a week, did lots of tests, got inter venal antibiotics (for one month), later on corticoids and was send home. All in all I've been out very sick for nearly two months. Still when taking medicaments I've managed to get a job in my field of expertise and started to work for cidrerie Les Vergers de Ducy as a seasonal worker. I've managed to keep the job, now it is my sixth month there.
Cider Season 2020
For the details of the 2020 cider season, please have a look here. The 2020 season, which started around mid of September, came early this year, was very very challenging. I have been working around 200 hours per month as an employee so I've money to invest into my cider activity and I did around another 100 hours per month for my micro-entreprise artisanal, Cidrerie Jara. Since the mid of September till mid of December I had around four days off, I can say it was way too much and I do not want to repeat this again. However because of the previous health issues which prevented me to work during the spring and summer to earn money to have treasury for the 2020 season, I had no choice except forfeit and I did not wanted to do that.
Well at the end I've managed to process around 18 tonnes of apples, from which I've manually harvested around 6 to 7 tonnes, bought another few of manually harvested ones and the rest I got from a friend who uses small semi-automatic machine. The cider is fermenting, had to do all what I could to slow it down because it was quite warm during the autumn and winter but it seems I will manage. This year I'm newly trying to completely avoid filtration, lets hope it works. For more information about the season please have a look on the crowd funding campaign combined with the presale/prévente.
Just to get a bit of idea how my life goes, here is little "window" into it describing one of my usual working and relaxation days.
On a working day I wake up at 6h00 (trying to move it slowly towards 5h00 but it is not easy), I do my meditation and reiki, physical stretching and muscular exercise, have a breakfast and well off I go to work which starts at 8h00. I hope to wake up more early so I can work intellectually in the morning. During the day I do variety of activities in the cidrerie, from labeling the bottles, pruning trees and arranging branches in the orchards to helping working with the cider in the cider cellar. I'm also learning how to use forklift. Lunch brake is one hour starting at 12h30, plus two smaller breaks during the day, I finish at 17h00. After that I take shower, have a preprepared dinner (cooking and freezing meals during the weekend) and after that I use the bureau of my boss where I do my correspondence. Around 19h30 I try to finish up, go back to my caravan, play a bit of guitar, do some reading and go to bed, really really tired. I sleep as a baby, that is for sure. In short I'm trying to do my "active" duties within 12 hours period so I've another 12 hours of the day, including the sleep, for relaxation or rather passive activities which I like.
On a "relaxation day," it actually looks like the working day but I get up one hour later or so and I do things of my "free will." So for example I decide freely to do my laundry for the working week, clean my living quarters and I started to cook and ferment again, had to stop since September because of lack of time during the season. I really enjoy it, marination and fermentation of raw crevettes/prawn is one of my latest achievements which I'm "proud" off, another may be fermentation of raw topinambour (Helianthus tuberosus) . Of course during the weekend, now after the cider season, I work on my cider, which can take anything from few hours to whole weekend. From time to time I watch a movie, go for a walk and I try to see more of my friends because I was neglecting them in past years being "too busy" with other things and it is not good. I've been forty recently and even when working hard, I really want to dedicate more time to people who I love and like.
Despite all the complications of 2020, I've progressed with my micro-entreprise artisanal cider project but lets be honest the toll was high and it reconfirmed to me that I have to make sure that in the upcoming years at least from September till December I can fully focus on my cider season only, otherwise I'm loosing big time. However if we consider my budget and the volume of financial investments into the project, which are rather significant, plus the current "world" situation, which is rather volatile, well ...
One of the things which made me happy is finally starting to use my caravan as home so really live in it, not just as a sleeping spot like in the past three years. I wanted to do this for many many years but generally never had the money and place to make it happen. I'm working on "deplacement"/displacement now so during the week I'm in the caravan which is connected to electricity, toilets and showers are near by. I've to say I'm happy with the set up, it confirmed to me that especially when I get bit bigger caravan, my one is nice but just medium size, I could actually stay in all year long, comfortably and importantly also on a very low budget. This is important for development of the business. Decreasing the living costs helps me to accomplish sooner the switch from earning money by working for someone else to gain what I need from my own activity, which has been my principal goal since coming back to Europe in 2016. Another good thing which worked for me very well was preparing variety of dishes in advance to the 2020 season and freezing them in portions. This allowed me to eat good nutritious food which I like during the very busy period when I did not have time to cook properly. Next step is to pre-prepare and well store variety of fermented items like probiotic drinks, kimchies, fermented soybean pasts etc.
Activities which I do in near by future and with which you may help me
Here you can find more details of what I'm after in 2021 and later. The list is quiet long and diverse, if you think that you can help me with any of these projects or it seems to you that something is missing get in touch please.
- 2020 Cider Bottling&Distillation Funding, February and March. As during the last year and in years to come this with the autumn harvest&transformation period is time when I need help most. For the spring it is especially financial support so I have enough money to get materials like bottles, corks and I can pay charges for distillation and oak barrels. The list of what is needed is quite long, have a look on the campaign details to find out more please. More and more it should be about getting resources by presale with prices down by 20 to 30% compared to normal rather than crowd-funding.
- Design of logos and labels. Latest by March, I need to have at least decent temporary logo and labels done so I can start deliver and continue to sell products legally. I need help here, especially with graphical part. I've some ideas which are already on the paper but they need to be taken care off by professional.
- Cidrerie Jara webpages. I need to set up my online presence, at least on a simple representational level, as soon as possible I need to add online shop. On both I'm quite blank and I really need help here.
- Personal Pages. Again I need to set them up, here I would prefer media wiki style at least for most of the info, may be front page in wordpress is OK or something else what is nice for presentation. However I really would like to have most of the info in media wiki so it is easy for orientation and work.
- Living&Fermentation Community Temporary base. Within this year I would like to set up place, which would serve as my living/working base but it would be also open to people who would like to join me for few days or weeks in my activities. Lets call it temporary fermentation community place. In simple terms just "teleport" Food Hacking Base (fhb) from for example 2019 CCC Camp to Normandie and make some subtle changes. Main focus are fermentations and help during the 2021 autumn cider season. I would like to get a permission to set up few caravans on some spot, build up dry toilets, showers, outdoor kitchen etc. Last but not least I'm preparing my come back to Czech Republic, hoping that I can move there within 2022. Still for years to come I need to secure cider apples from Normandie so I'll need to be here at least during the autumn harvest season till my orchards in Czech, which do not exist yet, give enough fruits.
- Apple harvesting and transformation, season 2021, September till December. I will be harvesting and transforming apples primarily for cider and I need help by people who would join me. In exchange I would like to offer my experience, rustic place to stay and fine food&drinks. I feel I've to be very honest here, this is the most important period of the year for me and my cider activity. It is busy, it is hard and it may be even slightly stressful. However it is also great fun and amazing experience. Of course any financial help by donations or investments would be appreciated. For the 2021 season I would like to process around 30 tonnes of apples, the whole season from harvest, transformation till bottling&distillation may cost me up to 20 000€.