Slow. A while back my amazing freelance writer friend sent me a pitch for an article on our ranch centered on the word “slow.” It was a sweet illustration of how I envisioned my country life with my family: a slow paced, purpose-filled, joyful collection of moments while growing slow clothes. It made my heart hurt and my stomach turn. The reality of running a small business, keeping a herd of livestock thriving, trying to figure out how to make stuff from our fiber harvest, and being a stay-at-home mom felt everything but slow (just scroll down and read the 2015 blog post). I told her she couldn’t pitch it. It was just a lie. I felt like a total fraud.
But this year something awesome happened: Clarity. The heavens opened and the angels sang, “This is it! This is what you’re supposed to be doing!” (I’m sure God had a face palm moment that it took me so long to get it.)
Just like anyone’s life, this journey hasn’t always made complete sense (if yours has, 1. I highly suspect you’re full of it and 2. You should write a book and make millions). I knew I wanted to be available to my kids, but build something that would give me purpose in addition to being a mom (yes, I made this decision prior to birthing my children; yes, I know how stupid that sounds). Of course the purpose of my journey got blurred by the reality that poop happens and most days feeling blessed by the mess is just effing hard. I put some wall words in my bedroom that say “Find Joy in the Journey.” Ironically they were a royal P.I.T.A. to put on straight and a corner of one of the words still flops over like a dog’s ear, mocking my inner demands for perfection (I am a Virgo, married to a Virgo…). But each illogical step has led me closer to this beautifully imperfect perfection.
Thanks to some insight gained in Accelerating Appalachia, an entrepreneur accelerator program, we shifted focus to our agritourism experiences. Thanks to my mother for setting the example years ago with her business focused on experiences for children, we decided to do just that. And Ranch Camp was born.
The first summer of Ranch Camp was the arrival of slow. Yes, we were still crazy busy and my son was still a wild toddler, but for the first time I allowed myself to live in the moment. We climbed trees, picked berries, dug in the dirt, chased butterflies, and wove wall tapestries while weaving moments of laughter and awe of God’s creation. And when my toddler starting pitching a fit, my amazing farm hand would swoop in and save me.
And God continued to encourage me through the voices of the parents when they returned the next morning: “They have not stopped talking about how much fun they’re having!”, “This is so wonderful to give them a real summer”, “Are you going to do an overnight camp?” (!!!) Umm….we’re just starting slow…
BUT, since it was so successful and fulfilling, we are doubling the number of sessions offered! We also learned a ton last year to make this year even better.
“Do you have Ranch Camp for grown-ups?!” We always offer our Alpaca Awesome Ranch Tour by appointment which can be personalized by taking on chores, making a craft with fiber, or adventuring around our beautiful rolling hills and forest.
But because y’all keep askin’ we’re expanding our calendar of experiences starting this summer! How does sunrise yoga in the pasture sound? Alpaca Grill Class? Sunday Funday Woodland Weaving? We’re also considering offering children’s experiences at the same time as our adult classes so the whole family can enjoy time out here while giving the parents a break. We’d like to hear your ideas too, so please comment below with your interest!
Which leads me to our biggest announcement: we’re giving ourselves time for slow. River Hill Ranch will be closing our gates to the public from Janurary 1st, 2018 through our Grand Re-Opening on June 1st, 2018. This will allow me time to devote to my military service, our ranch, and my family. In future years we probably won’t close for so long, but this year it’s necessary.
So that means if you’ve been thinking about coming out for a visit, there’s still time. Some of our most fun experiences are these crisp, sunny winter days when the herd is munching hay around the barn instead of out in the pasture. If you have family in town for the holidays, we invite you to bring them and enjoy some slow moments together.
If you don’t already, please sign-up for our email newsletter to receive announcements on our excited news ahead as tickets to our events will be limited. We will also continue to post pictures of the antics of our animals on Facebook and Instagram.
Thank you to all for your ongoing support. We pray you are blessed and can live a life slow.