I've been thinking a lot about our products and our prices, and so I thought I would put some of those thoughts down here. You never know, there may be someone out there who wants to know.
We started out three years ago with a very heavy focus on the carriage, and rightly so. Bought brand new from Les Voitures Roberts in St Pie Quebec, we took delivery on May 24, 2015. Living so close to beautiful historic Almonte, it seemed logical to start there. Interviewing a woman at MIssissippi Mills I was assured that tourism was a big deal in Almonte, and while they couldn't openly endorse what I was doing, they certainly supported it. That summer was glorious, spending the weekends in town and with a great assistant and my favourite work mate of all, Duke.
I found out later that at that time, Almonte had applied for heritage status what could be better than to have a horse and carriage service operating in town during that process? For us it did three things: it introduced us to the community; it was superb advertising; and it got us enough revenue to cover the wages of my assistant.
Last year, brides-to-be found us and we did several weddings. Shannon also came to us, through a trusted friend. The original intention was that she do weddings and Hindu Wedding processions. Although I would still like to do these things, she hasn't been tried at them yet. Because Shannon discovered she is a unicorn. What started as "let's see what she looks like with a horn" has evolved into her being "The Only Unicorn in the Ottawa Valley", with our partnership with Christina Warrysh.
This year has been really quiet so far, mostly due to the biblical rains that started and April and lasted until last week, with five days of sunshine sprinkled in there (get it, sprinkled? Never mind I'll sit down now). Our paddocks have been saturated quicksand, our fields subject to low level flooding most of the spring. Now that the sun has finally come out, I have high hopes that spirits will rise and we will get back to work.
And Suzy? I will tell you more later, but we can call in the vet next week for a pregnancy test. And there is definitely something up. Duke keeps trying to nudge her udder.
If there is one thing I have learned in thirty odd years of business, its that sitting back idle in quiet times is a mistake, because those times are used to manufacture sales for tomorrow. So I have been driving my family crazy, leaving messes everywhere, and surfing through Pinterest in the middle of the night refining a new idea.
We are not ready yet, but later in the summer, we will be introducing Duke as the Destrier. I have been hinting at this on Facebook and Instagram, but here is the whole story.
The story of the Unicorn is fantastic. Shannon provides a thrill for women and little girls and the pictures are exquisite. But watching all of these families come to the Red Gate got me to thinking. Females are only 50% of the population. As a member of the 50%, I would say it's pretty darn good. However, what about boys? Would parents want to see their boys as the squire caring for the knight's horse? Would men want to be the knight? Heck, I would want to be the knight! Modern day draft horses, like ours, evolved from the destrier, the war horse of the noble class. Hmmmm.............
Here is what we have done so far. Duke has a new Shamfer, or face mask, with acid etching, gold leaf, and a great big swarovski crystal. It's with our harness maker, Joy Drynan, for addition of leather parts. He also has a partially finished breast plate (it has a proper name but I can't remember it). I have medieval banners which will become his caparison, or the drapings that he needs. The banners were originally crafted by Roxane Kirkman, a local expert in Medieval Costumes and a friend.
Okay, so we can turn Duke into the Destrier. But your average person doesn't have the right clothing not to look out of place. Quite apart from being to big, too healthy and too clean (which we will ignore), what did people wear in medieval times anyway? Well for starters, they wore linen, wool, silk and leather. And they wore muslin. Which also looks a lot like linen. Yesterday, there arrived in my house 50, yes fifty, metres of unbleached cotton muslin. I only suffered a small moment of panic when I saw the box sitting in the front hall when I returned from a fitness run with Duke. That's a pretty big box. The upshot is that we will offer the loan of men's and boys shirts, and women's and girls shifts. We are also offering leather jerkins, thanks to the kind people of value village who stock leather coats at all times of year. And for the women and girls, we will have wrap around belts and other accessories to complete the look. My Mom sews (thanks Mom), I sew (I own four machines), and I am hoping for a few volunteers. We have a lot of clothing to create.
So what do you think? Is it a good idea? Golly I Hope so, I still have a box of 15 patterns coming in the mail!!!
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