WOW! What a year 2023 was! The chaos still carried on from 2022 throughout most of the year but started to get a bit more organized toward the end.
We had so much fun with our farm stays-both Harvest Host and Airbnb! We met hundreds of people and shared many stories and are still friends with many! Unfortunately, circumstances have changed within our county and we have removed our Casita from Airbnb. We have turned the casita into more of an open family room/workshop. It is working great for get togethers and meetings as well as a place to keep projects out and open for a quicker turn around time start to finish.
On the other hand, being Harvest Hosts was a huge success! So much so that all our guests have convinced us we are missing out! So we're making plans to eventually retire (in about 10 years lol), downsize drastically and travel our beautiful country. In the meantime, we are currently in the process of expanding the area so that we have room for up to 3 Guests, still allowing each camper some distance from the others.
Our Fiber Herd and other critters:
Many of you got to meet personally or through social media our new additions of our 6 new lambs! They are 75% Valais Blacknose and 25% Scottish Blackface and are the most adorable little critters ever! We've added a few new alpacas and sold a small handful to someone beginning their alpaca journey. Our herd still lingers on the smaller side for us, but for now that is what we're able to maintain.
Our Donkeys....well it's beginning to look like the one positive test result we had was a dud and our girls may just be on the overweight side. Going to need to file a complaint with the Ranch HR for fraudulent use of maternity leave!
We have just about given up on the idea that Nani is pregnant, even though she is producing milk and has been for about a month. Animals can be finicky creatures and there's no telling why but she may just be that happy and relaxed in her new environment. Both girls have grown to love having visitors and are so comfortable in their new home it amazes me how relaxed they are sometimes when I check in on them through the barn cameras-so relaxed I sometimes watch to make sure Lilo hasn't passed away! When they arrived a year ago they were so edgy and nervous-not trusting anyone or anything. A donkeys gestation is anywhere between 11-14 1/2 months so they are quickly running out of time. Either way, we are so happy to have these girls and are thrilled they get to call our place home.
I'm sure many of you are wondering "What the heck are they doing!"
Yep, it happened-we fell behind. We definitely took on more than we anticipated in 2023 and had quite a few set backs putting us behind a few customers. So first priority is getting the last of our 2023 orders completed. We are trying to work as much as possible on the few warmer days we have here in January-we've had some pretty frigid temps making it impossible to work in the mill, which isn't heated. We're looking forward to some warmer days in the coming week!
Some changes you may have already seen: we are working on no longer taking wool due to my lanolin allergy. The constant exposure during last year really compromised my immune system causing some not so great reactions. We are to the point that even knitting with wool, my hands get irritated. So for 2024 we are down to a few clients with very small wool orders and by 2025 will be down to just one maybe two already established clients plus our own sheep.
Our plan is still to have a select client base of people/farms we will work with year after year, but focused on Huacaya Alpaca. We've been fortunate enough that we have built a decent sized list of Alpaca Farms that we are looking forward to working with this year and are no longer accepting new clients. The number of clients will also be limited, as we want to make sure their orders are completed in a decent time frame and we want to have time to focus on creating our own line of rovings and yarns.
What to look forward to in 2024...
-Yes I said it, our own line of rovings and yarns! Our goal is to have the first round available by the beginning of April.
-We will be attending a few festivals this year-those already planned are Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta in April, Heart of New Mexico Fiber and Art Gathering both in May and over Labor Day Weekend as well as Fall Farm Fiesta hosted by the Oveja Project in October. We may look at a one or two in December, time will tell. We will have yarns, roving, felt, hand knitted items, our Ranch Rugs and so much more with us at these events! We hope we get a chance to see you at at least one for a quick visit.
-Fiber Play Days! We will be scheduling at least 2 Fiber Play Days for 2024 where we will welcome all fiber artists to come out to the ranch for a relaxing day of spinning, knitting, crocheting-whatever portable project you have at the time. Projected timeframe will be one in June and one in August with another potentially at the end of September during our National Alpaca Farm Days.
-Open Ranch Days-we are hoping to have an open ranch day a few times this year to invite everyone (not just fiber artists) out to visit, see the animals, grab some yarn or an alpaca stuffie or just bring a sack lunch and enjoy the ranch.
Details for all of this will soon be available on our Social Media Sites as well as here on our website.
We want to thank everyone for being part of our adventures. We know it's been an interesting past year here at the mill and ranch while we settled into our business. We are fortunate enough to play by our own rules (for the most part) and make it up as we go, shifting when needed and that's making this journey we're on even more exciting and doable. We've got some good concrete goals to start with for this year and are looking forward to rolling them out and sharing them with all of you!