A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 1, 2019

Behind the Scenes at Open Farm Day – Part Two

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How We Make Open Farm Day Happen

Last month I wrote a little about how Open Farm Day started and the purpose behind Open Farm Day. This month I will let you know how we make that happen.

Our preparations for Open Farm Day start immediately after the last Open Farm Day finishes. When the last party has left for the day, we pick up the signs, roll up the banner, close down the store and go in and have a well-earned lunch!

We usually have our faithful volunteers with us (more about them later!). As we eat lunch we talk about the day and discuss ideas such as items for the store or things we need to do to make Open Farm Day even better.

Lunch is usually something that can survive several hours in a slow cooker, as often it is well past 3 pm by the time we get to sit down and eat. Once lunch is over, we then have to feed all the animals on the farm. While the female alpacas have usually had lots of tasty treats from visitors during Open Farm Day the rest of the animals on the farm are awaiting their evening feed.

The next few days after Open Farm Day are spent ordering inventory for the store. Some of the products we carry in the store can be ordered quickly but other products take quite a time to restock. Dryer balls have to be made – a process that involves putting together the fleece to be used, lightly needle felting them to shape, decorating them with color and then putting them through a process to felt them and dry them.

The goats milk soap for our alpaca felt covered soaps takes three weeks to dry once it has been made. I order the soaps from my soap making friend Rena in order to get it here in time. Then I apply the felt cover using a wet felting process and get the soaps to dry once more.

Our beautiful alpaca rugs are made in a small town in Texas. To get the rugs made we first decide how much of each color of fleece we want to send. Then we go through that fleece to remove as much dust and vegetable matter as we can (a process called skirting). Next we ship the fleece to Texas and then wait for the rugs to be made.

The mill works fleece on a first come first served basis and it can take two to three months before our rugs are ready to come back to us. Products made through the various fleece cooperatives we work with are often easier to access, but they too are subject to where our fleece is in the “fleece pipeline”. The boutique yarns that are made solely from our fleece typically take 6 -8 weeks to process.

So, you see it can be quite a juggling act to keep products stocked in the store!

Once products arrive at the farm, they are entered in to inventory, labeled and then put on display. Excess products are stored so we can find them quickly should a product need replenishing during a busy Open Farm Day

While all of this is happening, we also have to come up with the advertising for the next Open Farm Day. For this I have the assistance of my wonderful Virtual Assistant Diane Sweeney. Diane has been working with me for 5 years and is a vital part of the Windrush Alpacas team. Diane comes up with the ad copy for advertising for Open Farm Day, submits the ads to a long and growing list of resources who help us advertise our Open Farm Days, and keeps me on track for getting the newsletter written so that we can stay in touch with our customers and fans.

There is a lot to do to prepare for each Open Farm Day, but thankfully over the years we have streamlined the process. Because in addition to preparing for Open Farm Day, we still have to keep the farm running, schedule and run farm visits and do all of the mundane paperwork that comes with running a business!

But I so enjoy what I do! Especially for our visitors!

 

Next up: Open Farm Day – The final preparations

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