Happy Birthday Catherine!
February is the best month of the year. It's short and sweet, the weather starts to get warmer, the days start to get longer and, most importantly, it's my birthday!
We celebrated this year by going to La Flêche, a town just over an hour away with a famous zoo, to stay in a Tiny House for the very first time! It was one made by Baluchon (the same company who's making our Tiny House) and just outside of the town (a 45 minute walk to be precise) out the back of a couple's house. When I write it like that, it doesn't do it justice at all, it's by the river surrounded by trees, it's such a beautiful outlook from the house. It was also a great opportunity to talk to the owners about their experience setting up their business, the regulations and getting as much advice as we could from them since they're basically doing exactly what we want to do.
We had a really nice time, trying out quite a few different restaurants as well as some great bars and visiting the town. As the weather wasn't great and I'm not a fan of zoos, we decided to go bowling (as you do) so we could get out of the rain and have some fun. We had walked everywhere and even though it was a small town it was quite spaced out so by the end of the evening our legs were super sore and felt like we'd walked 100km!
I'd only taken my actual birthday off work, so the next morning I set up the internet and worked from the Tiny House! It's the best thing about always working remotely but it was kind of annoying to see how quick the internet can be with the same router! We headed home in the late morning and I continued to work from there.
The next day, Magali and I were supposed to take the car to get new tyres (very exciting, I know!), but then Magali found out a meeting of hers had changed from the afternoon to the morning so I had to go alone! It was the very first time that I'd driven to Châteaubriant alone, then the first time I'd really been alone with her parents (not just when she was in the bathroom), and we had to take the car to a mechanic to try and fix another issue. It was a strange morning but I felt super proud that I made it through the French and think I understood everything (and I was understood)! I got the new tyres as planned at least!
Then, on Sunday, I had to go to Germany for a two day work Retrospective. It was a really great trip where I got to meet most of the Frontastic team in person (most for the first time), work together with the team on driving the business forward, try my hand at Eisstockschießen (a kind of lawn bowls/pétanque on ice), visit 'the most beautiful' coal mine, and spend a lot of time on trains going through three countries (which felt longer thanks to a man sitting next to me who coughed every five minutes while looking at Coronavirus articles, comforting...). I had a really amazing time and I'm so happy to be part of such a great team! While I was away though, there was another big storm and we lost more trees including one really big plum tree by one of the hangars.
February was also Alpaca month for us! Sounds weird, I know, but stay with me. As we (I) want to have alpacas at Le Boulay, we've been trying to go to Atlantis Alpacas (an Alpaca farm in Mayenne) since November but it never came to fruition thanks to petrol shortages, bad weather, etc. but in February, we finally made it there! It was so cool going to see all the lovely alpacas as well as chatting to Clare and learning so much about them. Did you know that an acorn can kill an alpaca? Neither did I! But I still can't wait to get one but it probably won't be until next year as we need to install some fences and make sure we have enough space away from all our oak trees... We also went to the Alpaca Brasserie (with Carl from Blue Pig Farm) as they had their open doors for the winter. We've been a fan of theirs since we found out about them last year and it was great to visit the brewery and we came away with some great beer.
We can finally share some more news on our project that we've been teasing you about the past few months. Basically, the City Hall has said we can't put the Tiny House permanently on our land as it is marked agricultural land (we could move it every three months but that's a lot of work). Not sure on what to do next, Magali went to the Chambre d'Agriculture to get advice on our options and they gave her some really good advice as well as encouraging her with possibility of getting the status of a farmer. So after weighing up the options and the advice, we have decided to follow that path and dive into a new ocean of paperwork so that we can call Magali a Farmer. So this month, she went to visit Clara, an organic vegetable farmer in Mayenne, to try and get an idea of what she's supposed to do. She asked her as many questions as possible and Clara really helped her a lot in terms of accountancy, administration as well as ideas on costs and sales, just how it all works really. So now Magali is pointed in the right direction and is on her way to becoming Farmer Magali.
We've been trying out our new toys. We don't tend to buy new but we've had two exceptions very close together, the first is our oven which we talked about last month but my birthday present was a new push lawnmower which I'm very excited about. Now I just need it to stop raining long enough so I can actually mow the lawn...
We rearranged the garage a little so we could get out one of the main pieces of furniture that we can use to store our glasses and things but it's quite a lot of work to make it useable. I've sanded it back and am in the process of removing the back and bottom to replace as they're quite rotten. We also worked in the garden a bit, well, it was mainly Magali, she's been cutting back a lot in the orchard at the back of the property and trying to save the trees that have been inundated with ivy. She's also been trying to work more on the apple trees but as we said last month, it's been really hard with so much rain to be able to work on them. The land is super soggy and the pond has never (as far as I know) been so full! Magali has also started sowing seeds and organising everything to start growing in readiness for Spring. Since we don't have a greenhouse yet (I'm going to build it at some point), Magali has taken over one of the bedrooms as a makeshift one, with pots everywhere and they're starting to sprout already!
The other miraculous news, we may have bees again! We're not sure if they're coming from another hive to just take the honey left from the previous bees or if in fact the colony didn't fully die but it's a birthday miracle nonetheless! Hopefully, they make it through all this rain and I'll be able to check inside the hive once it gets warmer.
Thanks for all your support, especially in times like these. As more of you will be spending more time at home, we'll try to bring you more news in a couple of weeks and we hope to see you in reality soon if the government allows it!