Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Visit to Wonder of Life Farm

We recently had the opportunity to visit Wonder of Life Farm in Lancaster, KY. Our first experience with the Turner's, who own the farm, was at the 2011 Field to Fork Festival. They were there along with a couple of alpacas, which is what really drew us to their table. After talking with them we decided that we should visit their farm to see a small-scale alpaca operation first hand. Unfortunately, a year passed, and we had yet to make time to visit the farm. We talked with them again at the 2012 Field to Fork Festival and, as before, said we would have to visit the farm sometime. Fortunately for us, the Turners hosted an open house on the farm, which was the perfect opportunity for us to finally go see the farm. We could have easily made arrangements to go another time, but the open house was a set date that we could put on our calendar, making it more likely we wouldn't let something else get in the way of the visit.

We began our tour of the farm at pen of the two male alpacas. Jeff, one of the farm owners, answered several questions that we had about raising alpacas, then took us on a guided tour of the rest of the farm. The farm recently won a ribbon at the state fair for their eggs, so I was glad to hear a bit about how they raise their chickens. Other animals that we saw on the tour include the female alpacas, geese, turkeys, and angora rabbits. We didn't get to see the cow and horse, which is okay since we are primarily interested in small livestock.

Once Maria, the other owner of the farm, caught up with us, we left Jeff to greet other visitors and chatted with her. She took us inside and we talked about how they got started with the farm and their approach for growing it. I was surprised at how closely their process matches what Andrea and I have planned. They began with 30 chickens, which is more than we'll start with, and then added more animals over time. In just 5 years they have expanded a great deal. It was also great seeing how much they had done with a fairly small area. We have much more space than they do, so that helped to alleviate any concerns we had about having space for alpacas.

Maria also offered to let us come help on the farm sometime to become more familiar with alpacas before we decide to move forward with raising them. She was also excited to hear that Andrea has an interest in learning to spin the fiber, and suggested that there might be some opportunity to work out a partnership if she decides to go down that path.

Visiting the Wonder of Life Farm, and talking with the Turners about their experiences has helped to rekindle my interest in acquiring livestock. We were already planning to get chickens this Spring, and it sounds like that may be the perfect way to start. Interestingly, it doesn't seem that we are the only ones who feel like either chickens or bees are a good place to start. After establishing their chicken flock the Turners next acquired bees before moving onto to other animals. I'm encouraged to see that we appear to be on the right track.

I am very glad that we were able to attend the open house at Wonder of Life Farm. It was a great learning experience, and a lot of fun as well. I wish that more local farms would have such events. I do know that Salamander Springs Farm has regular open house events, so I need to get more info on those sometime. I suppose if we ever turn our place into a successful farm we should try to host regular open house or other similar events.

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