For the 2nd time in 2 days I happened on a hero, and once again, it changed my life. I found Betsy, her blue eyes a blazing, in the Alpaca pen at the Lyons Farmette. She and Kim were snipping off the baby hair from a 9 month old but LARGE alpaca, Ernest. As I entered the farm, I knew I was on sweet ground. There was peacefulness mostly from the animals in the yard: chickens, Nigerian dwarf goats, angora goats, alpacas and a llama.
Betsy was cheery and bright at 9 am when I found her in the pen. She finished her clipping with Ernest’s head resting in her lap, eyes closed.
Betsy and I met each other through a dear friend, Kris Kinney, in Eldora, Colorado.
Betsy explained the evolution of the Lyons Farmette. She loved animals and wanted to live near them. She and her husband, Mike, bought and moved onto the property and with some livestock. 5 years later, she has a thriving business with two venues and is able to do what she loves everyday.
She also works very hard.
She tapped into her background as a teacher and began hosting educational classes on the farm so others could learn alongside her. She’s lived in Boulder for 30 years and has many friends. Those friends taught workshops on beekeeping, wool making, fermenting, and all sorts of things – at the Lyons Farmette.
During one of the classes someone asked if Betsy would consider hosting her daughter’s rehearsal dinner there. Why not? And when someone asked about hosting a wedding? Betsy saw no reason not to. Then someone in one of the classes wondered about creating farm to table experiences at Lyons Farmette. Pulling on her rich network of deep, caring relationships, Betsy called on her chef friends. These friends were very interested in just this sort of thing. Betsy’s garden, already in production, beefed up its game and the Dinners debuted. The day I was there, 125 people were attending a Nepalese dinner at the River Bend venue. This space also hosts WeeCasa Tiny Houses. This allows guests to rent a Tiny House for the evening rather than drive back home after the event ends.
Betsy and I visited at her kitchen counter for a long time. She gave me valuable advice from her coffers of experience.
Betsy explained how easy it is to follow your dream. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you get started.
Just get started.
She talked about the nuts/bolts of running her farm. From what media outlets to focus on, to the best methods of communicating with clients and what NOT to do when foreseeable.
As I reflect on my time there, I felt the beauty Betsy has created in the expanse of nature where she lives. She has shaped an environment where animals are loved, people are able to use and share their talents and gifts.
Plus there is frivolity in the air. Chandeliers hang all over the place, there are sconces some trees.
And since this is a farm, everyone works hard. Really hard. Yet, there is a reigning sense of calm and acceptance throughout the space.
And then there’s the weather. A few years ago, a windstorm blew this cottonwood over in the yard. They left it where it fell and then propped it up later for a wedding arch.
Colorado has received a lot of rain recently, which washed out the animals’ route to pasture. Last week, a hailstorm that lasted 3 ½ hours, broke the kitchen skylight, ruined the roof, cars, etc. The hollyhocks were naked in the front yard, stripped of their leaves.
But Betsy was smiling amidst the evidences of this hardship.
She described how she and Mike acquired the old Airstream trailers and completed refurbished them. Now, one of them is the bride’s dressing room during weddings and the other two are homes for a couple of her interns. Adorable.
It changed my life.
Betsy helped me put some pieces in place by total disclosure of herself and her story.
Event planning, check.
Love of outdoors, check.
Love of animals, check. Eating great food? Growing it and organizing the people who do, check and check!
One comment Betsy made that continues to resonate is placement. Where I am going to locate my dream? If I want the revenue stream of weddings, farm to table dinner parties, and access to a large group of people to attend – I need to stay near a metropolitan area. St Louis, check.
Also, she started without a business plan. She started with her dream, to live with animals. When I saw Betsy and her animals, all were blissful. The way they interacted showed mutual love and respect, seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever seen farmers and farm animals engage so well and so deeply. It’s very hard to explain. I’ve seen people that love their animals; some dog lovers will do anything for their pets. This wasn’t that. In that scenario, the dogs seem spoiled. At the Lyons Farmette, everyone and everything enjoyed and respected each other’s presence. It was a gift to experience. One I want to remember vividly.