Before Covid hit and while I still lived under the illusion that juggling a farm, a business, a herd of alpacas and being the sole caregiver for an aging father successfully, was within my superpowers, I was fully convinced that I would one day buy the farm from my Dad and carry on into my own retirement years, happily living off the profits (or at least, not going broke) from the mill. January came and with it, the last of the kiwi harvest and pruning. This was a routine my Dad had performed over and over for almost 3 decades. This year proved too much for him however, and with much regret, he announced it was time for him to retire from farming. At 90 years old. Slacker.
The investment I put into the mill building, the equipment and farm improvements was much more (surprise!) than I had prepared for. Taking on the backlog of jobs waiting for processing from the previous mill owner while doing our best to learn the idiosyncrasies of such specialized equipment, with very little training and no guidance was a really tough go. The saving grace? I am darned good at hiring the right people! My staff were amazing. We learned by leaps and bounds together and every new fleece provided a new challenge and opportunity to increase our knowledge. I am so very proud of the wonderful product we ended up producing! (And although I owe apologies to some of those first customers, I can now recognize that not every fleece is meant to be processed in the way requested! Hairdressers and dog groomers will surely relate!)
It became clearer as time went on that my financial ability to continue running the mill AND buy my Dad out of the farm were not mutually compatible. I could do only one or the other. Nor could I throw myself into the mill as much as was needed and still manage the farm and alpacas and take care of Dad. Time for big decisions. Reality sucks.
Priority one was finding good homes for the alpacas before the farm went up for sale. Check. Then Covid hit and staff hours were reduced in order to maintain social distancing in the mill. Done. And then Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Decisions were being made for me. I met an amazing man living on 18 acres on the ocean. The universe unfolding as it should apparently.
The farm is up for sale. Dad has moved to long term care (and enjoying himself!) and the mill equipment is being offered as a package. I will continue to offer yarns and rovings for sale, processed right here in our little mill, until they run out. Or maybe I will weave my heart out with them. Life is good.