Today, everyone will be preparing for Thanksgiving and family get togethers. We have a turkey and all the fixings for an entire Thanksgiving meal ready for preparing, so we can make and deliver a complete, hot meal to our friend Isabelle and her husband Ralph, who are to be returning from Boston where Isabelle underwent a heart procedure to correct an arrhythmia condition which has plagued her for some time now. We haven't heard anything to the contrary, so we are expecting them to arrive home tomorrow or Thanksgiving Day. As soon as we hear they are home, we'll take their meal down to them at their home. We will spend our Thanksgiving with Vick's parents and brothers family.
Today, it has dawned on me that we have undergone some major changes in the farm as we naturally developed it throughout the last two years. Originally, we were going to have miniature donkeys instead of the Alpacas, which we have ultimately ended up with. The decision to change from donkeys to Alpacas was a conscious decision that we made after discussion about how donkeys would never, ever give us anything in return for the food and keep we provided them. Alpacas however, would return a value, both in their manure and in their fiber, allowing us to sell or produce a product of value which would help offset the cost of their feed and keep...and it has.
Along the same lines, some time ago, we did some serious soul searching about the bunnies we were planning to breed and raise. We had regular short haired domestic albino rabbits, which we were just going to breed, raise and then turn loose...to roam around the farm, so we could enjoy seeing them hopping around. We wouldn't even consider raising them for their food value, which caused a lot of controversy with the local summer dwelling, Italian population, which was coming regularly for eggs. They wanted to buy rabbits for their meat in the worst way and were even lying to us about raising them as pets, when we knew what they really wanted to do. We could not bring ourselves to breed and raise them, just to be slaughtered when sold to our customers. We also discussed the fact that bunnies roaming freely about the farm would result in a regular, if not encouraged...visitation of foxes, coyotes, hawks and other opportunists, which was not what we wanted to have happen or planned to do either...actually providing pet food to predators!! We therefore gave all the regular short haired bunnies to a young boy and girl of friends, who wanted to raise them as pets... and we decided to replace them with Angora rabbits to be used in the harvest of their fiber. That would be a valuable return on the investment of feed while we enjoyed the docile bunnies as pets too.
Now we were on a mission...one that didn't include the death of any of our animals, in the normal operation of the farm and our mission. That mission would now encompass a new plan that we then found to be a great, new expansion of our original dream. We would harvest the Alpaca fiber once a year and the Angora fiber about every three months and that fiber would be cleaned and processed right here on the farm. Vick would then spin it into Alpaca and Angora fiber yarns to be used in producing hats, scarves and other related items which will ultimately find it's way into the hospice gift shop this spring when we open for business as "Nature's Friends of Hospice, Inc." This will be the fruition of a dream that Vick has had and her way of giving back. I fully support this concept too and vow to come up with additional venues of revenue making ideas and aggressively implement them.
I've had a dream of sometime creating a small farm store on the premises, where we can sell eggs and other produce and related items generated on the farm. It will be my plan to come up with additional ways to increase the farms ability to support itself and at the same time, increase the visitor interest with fresh new ideas which will draw local and seasonal vacationers. One local business man discussed the possibility of including our farm on a bus tour from one of the local golf course resorts, which already bus house guests to Antique shops and other shopping areas.
The possibilities are endless if you are open to exploration of new and exciting ideas and some older tried and true ones of years ago. At the present, we are operating under a labor of love, but with a few changes and some planning, we could possibly become a tourist attraction in the Greenville area. Every day the farm undergoes a transformation... sometime so subtle it cannot be seen, unless you look back over the period of the last year and see that we are doing many things quite differently than last year and can perform our care of the animals and facility much quicker and easier. It is definitely moving in a forward, upward direction...and will continue to do so.
Presently, we are trying to acquire a large round bale of second cutting hay to be placed in the pasture for the Alpacas to feed on...long into the winter. That will eliminate their standing in a barren field with nothing to eat. Once the bale is placed in there, they can cush beside the bale and relax, while chewing their cud.
This coming spring, we are planning to install several raised bed plots in the side yard area to raise field corn, which we will harvest for the chickens.