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

April 3, 2019

Behind the Scenes at Open Farm Day – Part One

Filed under: Open Farm Day — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 2:15 am

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Shortly after we moved to the farm in 2000, we opened our gates to invite people in for our Open Farm Day at Windrush Alpacas. Since then, Open Farm Day had been enjoyed by many visitors. It has also been through a bit of an evolution.

I thought people might enjoy learning about that evolution and what it takes to put on our monthly event.

When we first started Open Farm Day, our purpose was to let people know Windrush Alpacas existed and to help educate people about alpacas.

In 2000 alpacas were not as well-known as they are now, and many people were confused as to what exactly we were raising. We often got asked about our llamas. Or our emus! We even had someone call us about a wandering emu to tell us that one of our animals had got out.  (We did try to capture the emu but when it charged us, we decided to let it be!).

So, we decided it would be a good idea to invite the public to the farm so people could meet the alpacas and us, and to learn about what we were doing.

At the time both Ric and I were working full-time jobs off the farm. We decided to hold an Open Farm Day once a quarter would work with our schedules. Our first Open Farm Day was in 2003 and had about six attendees. A big difference from the 100 – 200 attendees we often have at our current Open Farm Days!

As time progressed interest in the farm grew.  Additionally, I decided that in order to make our alpaca business succeed it would be best if I left my full-time job and focused my time and energy on the farm.  That was a bit of a scary leap to take as it meant our income was dramatically reduced, but I felt it was worth the risk.

With more time to focus on the farm, it became apparent to me that it would be more appealing to people to have greater access to the farm on a regular basis. So we decided that Open Farm Day would become a regular event and our current monthly Open Farm Day format was born.

For sixteen years we have consistently held Open Farm Day on the 2nd Saturday of the month – except for July and August when it is just too hot.

It has taken a lot of time and effort to get the word out about Open Farm Day.  Print ads in the local paper, entries on local business calendars, mentions on the radio, flyers in local businesses, word of mouth from visitors, family, and friends. As the popularity of the Internet and Social Media rose those resources were very helpful in spreading the word.

It’s hard to believe that we have hosted nearly 160 Open Farm Day events! It certainly doesn’t seem that long. Our reward each month is seeing the faces filled with happiness and joy as our visitors interact with our alpacas.

Next month – How we make Open Farm Day happen!

 

February 5, 2018

Who Doesn’t Love Open Farm Day?

2.10.18Flyer FINAL

May 2, 2016

Visit the Alpacas after their Makeover!

IMG_20160409_141656799Humans aren’t the only ones who like to strut new styles in Spring! Our Alpaca herd gets their own ‘makeovers’ in Spring when we shear their winter coats!

Come to our next Open Farm Day on Saturday, May 14 to see our newly shorn alpacas, tour the farm and learn how we use the soft fleece and fibers from the alpacas.  Visit us sometime between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to learn about, see and touch the alpacas!

After your pasture tour, step into our Farm store where you will find an incredible selection of alpaca yarn products. Although OFD is after Mother’s Day, ask mom to join you as we are sure you will find a ‘little something’ to brighten your mom’s day, or maybe a soon-to-be graduate, or a blushing June bride. Alpaca yarns are hypo-allergenic, as soft as cashmere and incredibly warm. You can never go wrong when you give a gift made from alpaca yarns.

Or, we can provide a very unique gift! While you are visiting, sign up for our Adopt-a-Paca! Program. Choose which alpaca you would like to sponsor – or give as a gift! In addition to receiving a glossy photo of your special alpaca, you will also receive a certificate of sponsorship of your very own alpaca.

If you have been here before – we welcome you back! Every Open Farm Day provides for a different experience.  Bring your Mom, a friend, your spouse, even your cousins and grandma! There is something for everyone at Windrush Alpaca Open Farm Day

We have ample free parking, it’s free admission for everyone, and we even offer cold refreshments to our visitors. Windrush Alpacas farm is located us 1-1/4 miles south of Brady on CRM. Watch our Facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas.

For more information, call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at www.windrushalpacas.com, shop online at http://www.windrushalpacas.net/store/ , or sign up for our newsletter at http://eepurl.com/xhiwn! Learn more about our Adopt-a-Program here http://www.windrushalpacas.com/pages/2087/adopt-a-paca .

 

October 1, 2012

Windrush Alpacas Farm Day Tours!

Join us at Windrush Alpacas in Clovis, NM on Saturday, October 13th for an experience like no other and learn about our new Adopt-a-Paca Program!

What’s so different and exciting about alpacas? You’ll just have to come out and see, won’t you? You’re sure to have a good time meeting our herd, watching them play, getting some ‘paca love, and learning really cool facts and trivia that you probably don’t already know.

After a fun day like this, you might just want an alpaca of your own… and we’ve got that covered, too! We’re rolling out our new Adopt-a-Paca Program that will give you the opportunity to sponsor an alpaca — which will give you some special privileges! Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to win some cool prizes! Neat!

Our Farm Store will be open as well, featuring products made from our alpaca’s fiber, crafting items, souvenirs, and so much more. Since the weather is starting to cool down, now’s the time to stock up on super warm and soft alpaca fleece garments. Plus, we got in a new shipment of Pacabuddies!

What better way to spend the day with your whole family, learning, growing, and having fun!

We can’t wait to see you on Saturday, October 13th, 2012 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. As usual, we always offer free admission, free parking and free refreshments.

For more information, call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at http://www.windrushalpacas.com. Also, you can Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas and shop online at http://www.windrushalpacas.net/store/.

April 3, 2009

North To Colorado

 

This morning I will be headed north to La Veta, Colorado.  There I will spend the weekend with Judy and Will Sims-Barlow of Spanish Peaks Alpacas and receive lessons from Judy in how to make an alpaca felt hat and a silk and alpaca felt scarf.

 

Judy is extremely talented with her felting, I saw some of her hats a couple of years ago when I delivered one of our girls to their farm for a breeding to one of their males.  The hats Judy makes are beautiful with such a lovely smooth finish.

 

Ever since I saw Judy’s hats I have been asking her to show me how to felt alpaca, and now we finally have a weekend when we are both available!

 

I am taking two fleeces with me – Chamberino’s (a dark brown/maroon fleece) and Ma Cushla’s (a pretty medium silver grey) plus some fawn roving from one of our boys, Homer, and some white roving that is a combination of several white fleeces from the herd.

 

When Judy sent me information on the type of fleeces to use for felting she mentioned that the micron count of the fleece for the hats should be around 27 micron.  That made me happy as we still have Chamberino’s blanket fleece from 2008 and dear Chamberino is a consistent 30 microns across his fleece.  For an alpaca 30 microns is not a desirable figure.

 

Chamberino’s fleece still spins up to a soft yarn and has a lovely handle to the yarn partly due to the consistency of his fleece.  It will be great to have something different to use that fleece for and I am looking forward to seeing the end product.

 

While I am away learning how to felt alpaca, Ric will be home looking after the herd.  We don’t have any cria due yet and all that needs to be done is routine chores so it shouldn’t be too much for Ric to handle – except of course for the 75 mph wind gusts we are expected to get in Clovis on Saturday which might just make chores a little bit challenging.

 

Rosemary

October 16, 2008

I’m Off The Farm For One Day ……..

Victorian Glow - Pasture Queen

Victorian Glow - Pasture Queen

And a new cria arrives!  Victorian Glow (who belongs to Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas) decided to keep Ric entertained by delivering a beautiful dark brown female cria at 2:30 pm.  The delivery went well and the cria seems to be strong and healthy. 

 

Glow is an older female and a solid producer of beautiful crias.  She has had several male crias in the past so for Bob and Regina to get a female cria from her is exciting.  To me Glow is a very true to type alpaca with a compact body, great bone density and of course super soft fleece.   Glow is also a “pasture queen” ruling the pasture in her own quiet but very definite way.  The other girls know not to mess with Glow.

 

By the time I came home from the Crafters Mall it was too dark to take a picture of the new arrival.  Bob and Regina had come over to visit their new girl and had fitted her out in a cria coat to keep her warm during the chilly night.  Let’s hope the other crias leave her out of their “Remove The Cria Coat” game which they still are having fun playing.  The temperature was a little cool last night (46 degrees) but today it is supposed to get up in the 70’s which will be nice weather for the new cria to check out her new world.  It is also good weather for cria deliveries so who knows we may get another new arrival.

 

Meanwhile while Ric was delivering crias my day at the Crafters Mall was a quiet one, which allowed me to learn the ropes and get acquainted with the various booths in the store.  I was also pleased to discover that we have already sold some product from our booth, which is promising.   I am assured by the other vendors at the store that as the holidays get closer the pace will pick up at the Crafters Mall, so I had better brace myself for busier times on my next volunteer day in November.  By then hopefully all the new crias will have arrived – only five more to go!

 

Rosemary

October 15, 2008

A Different Days Work

 

Today is my first time volunteering at The Crafters Mall in Clovis where we now have a booth selling our end product.  One of the conditions of having a booth at The Crafters Mall is that each vendor has to volunteer one day a month to work at the store.

 

It will be a different day dealing with people instead of alpacas.  I am sure it will be a nice change in many ways (out of the rain and mud for a start!), but I know I will miss my fleeced friends who usually occupy most of my day.

 

Of course I will be packing a knitting project in case of slow times at the store.  I am not sure if knitting will be permitted while “on the job” so as to say, but if it is I will be prepared.  If not there is always lunchtime to fit in a row or two.

 

It will be a nice chance to meet some other crafters and also to meet potential customers; with the holiday season rapidly approaching I am sure there are some people already working on their holiday gift shopping.

 

At home, Ric will be minding the farm including the remaining girls who are due to have their crias.  The very wet weather has meant that the girls are still hanging onto their crias, but the forecast is for the weather to start to warm up a little as we reach the weekend.  So there is a chance that one or more of the girls will start to go into labor.

 

The three crias that are already with us have finally learnt that when it is cold and rainy a cria coat is a cozy thing to wear.  The last few days have been exceptionally wet and yesterday was not only wet but also cold and windy.  When it comes to the evening cria races however, Dutchesses boy still thinks that tugging the coats off the two girls is a lot of fun – boys will be boys!

 

By the time I get home in the evening all the chores will have been done, so maybe I will take the chance to catch up on some paperwork, or work on the website.  Not before I’ve paid a visit to the pasture though to say hello to the herd.

 

Rosemary

October 1, 2008

Taking Stock

Having lost our downtown end product outlet earlier in the year (the store owner retired) we have been looking into other options for us to get our alpaca products into a local retail location.  After looking at several options we have decided to try a booth at Main Street Crafters Mall, which is in the downtown area of Clovis.

 

There has been a lot of effort to promote and improve the area of downtown Clovis.   To me it has a lot of character ranging from the brick road to some beautiful architectural features on the buildings.  The Clovis MainStreet Program has been busy planning and securing funding for various projects.   The Chamber of Commerce has now opened a Norman and Vi Petty Rock and Roll museum in the downtown area and various events are scheduled in the downtown area throughout the year.

 

So today, following chores and with cria births permitting, we will be spending our time setting up our booth and making it as eye catching as possible.   I am challenged when it comes to artistic layout but am improving over the years, Ric has a better eye for display than I do so he will be putting his creative touch to our display.

 

The Main Street Crafters Mall consists of a collection of booths stocked by local artists and crafters.  There are a wide variety of products to choose from and it is a good place for gift shopping.  Having been open several years it is well known locally and usually gets a good flow of visitors throughout the week and weekend.

 

A crafters mall (or similar idea) can be a good place for alpaca breeders to place product, it allows you to get exposure for your product and your farm (don’t forget to include alpaca pictures and perhaps some rack cards or postcards about your farm in your display) while not tying you down to being at a store every day.    Some alpaca breeders I know have also sold product at Farmer’s Markets which can be another good avenue for end product sales (especially if you are willing to sit and spin, knit, weave or crochet which will get people’s attention).

 

To prepare for the set up of our booth we have inventoried our entire end product on hand and have had to re-label everything to comply with the requirements of the store.  It has taken a little time but it is a good opportunity to remind yourself what you do have on hand and maybe adjust pricing of various items depending on current markets and how long you have had that particular item in your inventory.

 

We are still planning on having a small online store on our website, and will offer products for sale at our Open Farm Days, but we like the idea that our local customers will now have easier access to our product on a day to day basis.  With Christmas rapidly approaching we are hoping that sales will still be good despite the current economical crisis in the US.

 

By the end of today our booth should be pretty much set up, I am sure we will need to come up with some additional signage, but we should have enough supplies and product on hand to make a nice display to start with.  Some of our marketing pieces will need to be changed to advertise the new location of our products –to ensure that as many people as possible know how to get their hands on our lovely alpaca goods.  Here’s hoping for some healthy alpaca product sales!

 

Rosemary

 

 

September 15, 2008

It’s Back! The Second National Alpaca Farm Days Is Almost Here

2008 National Alpaca Farm Days Poster

2008 National Alpaca Farm Days Poster

For the second year the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) has coordinated National Alpaca Farm Days in order to increase the public’s awareness of alpacas.  For alpaca owners, alpaca lovers and those who have yet to meet an alpaca National Alpaca Farm Day’s provides an easy opportunity to find an alpaca farm or ranch to visit.

 

The date for this year’s event is September 27 and 28 and once again the National Alpaca Farm Days web site has been set up, complete with interactive map to help people find the nearest participating farm or ranch.    Once you get to the National Alpaca Farm Days web site at www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com just click on the “Find a Farm Near You” tab on the left hand side of the screen and the interactive map will appear, complete with search fields for you to enter.  You can enter just the state you wish to visit, the town you live in or even a specific farm name if there is a particular farm you wish to visit.  Do note that the interactive map comes up as a pop-up screen so if you have a pop-up blocker installed on your computer you will need to temporarily disable it.

 

Windrush Alpacas will again be taking part in National Alpaca Farm Days and will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 27.  We will have free refreshments, tours of the farm, educational presentations on alpacas, alpaca products and of course plenty of opportunity to meet an alpaca.  I can’t say for sure that we will have any new crias by then, but you never know!

 

So mark your calendars and come and visit us on September 27, we will look forward to seeing you then!

 

Rosemary

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