It has been way too long since our last post. I was hoping TS would write the next one, but as much as he enjoys writing when inspired, it’s just been too long and too busy of a Summer. We kicked off our Summer with the ASAP Farm Tour. When I first volunteered us for the tour, TS was completely against it. Even when the ASAP rep came out to the farm for a look-see and approved us for consideration, it took some convincing on my part to get TS to agree to doing it. That was in March I think. Fast-forward to May after I’ve attended ASAP’s Agritourism Workshop and we are freaking out that anywhere from 50-200 people would be visiting our farm in June! Here is the link to the full info on the Tour: ASAP Farm Tour Attendees buy tickets to go tour the participating farms from 12-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Participating farms are located in “clusters” of 3-5 per county. Farms volunteer to participate. Ticket sales help support ASAP, which stands for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and whose mission is “to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food” (www.asapconnections.org/about us/). Our farm was the first stop on the Yancey County cluster. Anyhow, I have this habit of volunteering for stuff and then realizing later what I’ve done and freaking out. I was terrified that our farm would look like crap, a visitor would trip and fall (and sue), rain would pour down the entire weekend, or people would just be so underwhelmed by what we have to see that no one would come. Thankfully, I was totally wrong! We had over 80 visitors on Saturday and over 50 on Sunday. The weather was beautiful! There was a few minutes of drizzle late on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t a big deal. We had a great time sharing our farm with our visitors. We had our ASAP volunteer stationed at the entrance where she could check tickets and direct parking if needed. We had a tent and tables with our products and some rabbits and chicks/ducklings. I spent most of the day there spinning and talking with people. TS hung out at the entrance to the barnyard where visitors could feed the chickens and ducks. I was actually really surprised by how enthusiastic TS was at the end of Saturday. He loved the tour and wants to do more agritourism stuff in the future. We were both exhausted by the end, but we had a great turn-out and got really positive feedback. We would love to participate again. I wish I had photos from during the tour, but I only managed to take a few just before we got started on Sunday.
Another thing that has kept me busy is hatching! I have been hatching a variety of chicken and duck breeds starting in early Spring. I was hatching and selling a new batch of birds every week up until mid-June in addition to raising our mail-order meat chickens. Once I was finished hatching I continued to sell coop-ready birds (and processing extra males). I’ve finally gotten down to what we want to keep for ourselves AND have hatched some chicks for my own projects. Hatching has been really fun and I am hoping to expand next year. We are working on our plans for obtaining some new equipment to make things easier and more efficient for next year.
And last, but definitely not least – we have started breeding Bengal cats again!!! I had hesitated to share this on the blog since pedigreed cats are not really farm-related, but they are taking up so much of our time that I can’t NOT write about them. If you have known us in real life for more than the last few years, you already know that we spent much of our free time from 2008-2012 breeding and showing Bengals. When we moved from our Opelika house (where we had our cattery) to our Auburn house (which was huge but had no good place for the cats) at the same time as we had a newborn and a 2 year old (and zero free time), we reluctantly retired from breeding and sent all of our wonderful Bengals to loving pet homes. Even though we had kicked around the idea of getting started with Bengals again since we first decided to make our move to the farm, I was very reluctant to get back in – mostly because of the huge expense in starting over. Breeding Bengals takes a lot of investment of money and time, and it was especially difficult to wrap my head around it when I’d already gone through that before and quit just when our hard work and investment was starting to pay off. Nevertheless, we took the plunge and purchased a Bengal male and female at the end of last Summer. In January, an old breeder friend of mine told me he was retiring and wanted to send me a kitten he owed me from a past deal AND an additional female. Not long after that, another breeder friend offered me a female when she retired. So quickly we went from one pair, to two pair, to five total Bengals, before our first litter was even born. We had our first litter born in May and they have already been sold and gone to their new homes. We kept the single kitten from our next litter and obtained another female in a trade with a local breeder friend. Most recently we had a litter of three silver kittens born in September who will be ready for new homes just before Christmas. Breeding Bengals again has already been full of ups and downs and has taken time away from other farm projects, but we are really enjoying having them again! For more information about our Bengals, visit our website here: Sakura Bengals