Last year, we got set up with a great team of horses and a nice passenger wagon, which was rather in demand. Then one of the horses was injured, and we had a hefty vet bill to deal with. Next, we had to purchase another horse to take his place. By the end of fall, we were looking at our books and started brainstorming ideas to try to recoup some of the massive expense we had put into the horse aspect of our farm. Sure they were the power for our farm, but unlike a tractor, they do have the potential to generate revenue in other ways. We decided that, as much as the wagon was in demand, a carriage would likely go over very well. After shopping around for a while, I found a great deal on a used one in Michigan. S drove up to inspect it, and brought it home, along with a nice assortment of odds and ends for the carriage and a carriage business, as the previous owners were getting out of the business.
We took it for a spin and loved the way it handled. We scheduled our first carriage rides a few weeks later, and it was a huge hit! In fact, we scheduled a 2-day, special Christmas ride event, and the slots were booked so fast, we opened two more days, which also booked up. We were out of available dates, so that was it for 2014. We avoided scheduling in January, due simply to the cold, but then we scheduled an event for Valentine’s Day weekend, which booked up within 72 hours!
We are only 3 months into owning our carriage now, but clearly it is an item which offers a lot of potential for our farm income. We have had people ask about weddings and formal events, and are still waiting on some of those to confirm. Our struggle now is making sure that the carriage and wagon part of the business doesn’t interfere with the main part of our business–meat sales and homesteading classes, but we are enjoying having a side business that can offer something unique to our community. We’ve got a confirmed booking for our wagon already for December–almost a year from now!
It’s also fun being able to give to the community. Back in December, we were able to help with an event for a special, local, little girl with Down’s Syndrome, whose dream was to be a princess. The community rallied together and literally made her Queen Elsa for a day, as she adored the Frozen movie. We were asked to provide the transportation via horse-drawn carriage. It was such great fun, and likely provided a day of memories this little girl and her family will never forget!!