Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dove-tailing Our Business

Dove-tailing one business with like businesses is something we are beginning to see more and more of around our town and state. Probably, if you look, you can find something similar in your area. The quilt shop across the street, Completely Quilted, participates in fairly regular “store hops” in which bus loads of quilters go from town to town visiting several quilting stores. (We are always happy when they do that, as it invariably brings interested shoppers into our store, as well.)

Yesterday, June 6, we got to do something that was lots of fun, and that promotes our business. Patti and I spent 5 hours out at Silvertop Farm and Vineyard during one of their agribusiness bus tour stops. There are four local farms and ranches that participate in this area and it is really coming along for all of us.

The four sites around Ponca City, OK, are The Historic Big V Ranch, Blubaugh Angus Ranch, Silvertop Farm, and the historical site of the 101 Ranch (where rodeo got its start).

The Big V is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ranch home was completed by original claim staker, W.H. Vanselous in 1903. Vanselous claimed the land during the Cherokee Strip Land Run. He was the largest mule dealer at the turn of the 20th century, providing mules for both the American and the British Army.

Blubaugh Angus Ranch was founded in 1893 by Cletus Blubaugh. Blubaugh lived in a sod dug-out house for seven years. I don’t know for sure but I think he lived in it by himself. I figure he must have gotten a missus around the time he built the home, judging by the number of descendants in the area.

The 101 Ranch Historical Site is on the home place of the old 101 Ranch (so-called because it original comprised 101,000 acres). Time and fires and neglect have pretty much destroyed the buildings of the place. In its day it was the largest diversified ranch and farm in the United States.

Silvertop, where we spent most of yesterday, is a 3,250-acre working farm, that includes registered Shropshire and Hampshire sheep, registered Hereford cattle, small grain operations, hay, pecan groves and vineyards, as well as nature trails and rolling hills. It is a beautiful place.

My friend and student Tori took her sheep over to get sheared by their shearer. Ramsey is a miniature Shetland wether. He is tame as can be and walks on a leash like a dog. We took him home to her in the backseat of our car, where he rode quite comfortably with our sheep-herding Belgian Tervuren (my Service Dog), Pal. Pal does sheep herding for a hobby and is quite good. He has won several ribbons and titles and he will be spending part of the fall with our trainer and dear friend, Terri Wilson at her facility called Willow Acres Dog Training over by Collinsville for much of this fall. We hope he can get some more titles on before the fall season is over. He really loves doing it. However, he was appalled at having to share the backseat with a sheep. Fortunately, Ramsey was equally appalled and they decided to stand looking in opposite directions so that they could thoroughly ignore one another.

Agribusiness is a growing movement in this part of America. This group calls itself “Salt Fork River Valley Ranch and Farm Tours.” They are enthusiastic about their farms and love to show them off to the busloads of visitors. I think that these tours are popular in part because people are beginning to want to understand the foundations of our history. We are very proud to be part of this movement and thrilled to show the visitors how yarn is made and woven.

While your business may not be able to “dove-tail” itself in with agribusiness, by giving it some thought, you might get in with one or another of the tours that do come through your town. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they can give you information on local tourism. If nothing quite suits, maybe it’s time you start one of your own.

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