Sunday, August 02, 2009
I continue to entertain ideas on how to generate some small amount of income with the space on the farm. It seems clear from my gardening experiment this summer, that produce is simply not going to be the answer. I can't keep up with the weeds on my own small plot, let alone a garden that produces for the public. It just Ain't Gonna Happen. So let's write that one off.
So I've been considering a dog park. I have the flat field across from the house, and the bottom of the barn. I could put in fenced areas for large dogs, small dogs, and a "reserved" area for people whose dogs need to be run alone or people who wish to reserve a space for obedience or agility work (membership and interview required to use the "reserved" area. If there are going to be dogs here that don't like other dogs, I would need a separate parking area and a signed statement that the owner actively accepts liability for their dog).
I'm far enough out that I would likely not generate a ton of traffic. And I'm the only residence on my section of road. The field is in a depression, so barking probably won't be an issue for neighbors. I could also make it free for neighbors, which might improve their reaction.
I could take out the chicken coop, which has cement floors, and put in two professional dog runs for people who wish to day-board their dogs if they want to shop in Owego, etc. after running their dog.
I would put in trails on the hill for people to leash-walk their dogs. That probably would not happen for a few years. There is a guy who will harvest wood off your own land for you plus put in trails, for $160 a cord. Seems to me that kills two birds with one stone.
I have the water hole in the creek where people can stand while their leashed dog takes a dip. I'd need to check with the DEC to find out if the creek is protected. If so, that is probably out. The water hole is entirely stone (not dirt), so a few doggy dips a day is not going to degrade the banks. It's not like I'm going to have more than 10 visits a day, and most folks probably will not want their dog to smell like creek. And it's not something I would advertise.
And I have the bottom of the barn where I could put in a watering and "toweling off" station.
There IS water to the barn. Down the road, I could also put in a dog-rinsing station, but I don't think I could let people use shampoos, etc, without a septic system or gray-water system of some sort.
If the venture fails, or if I were to sell the farm, the fenced areas could be used for gardening, and the dog runs would of course be a benefit to anyone buying a farm. So this wouldn't be money thrown away. It would probably make the place more marketable to someone who wants a gentleman's farm.
One thing I am damned good at is mowing, weed-wacking, and picking up poop! So essentially costs would be installation, mower maintenance, gas, poop bags, towel-washing, and time. And I've built trails for the DEC, so I can manage that (although I need an ATV--something I've been putting off getting).
I'm hoping an added benefit would be more exposure for the cats. I wouldn't be available to do adoptions or tours during weekdays, of course. I do have to work; the park can't be drawing me away from my workday, except in a true emergency. But people would come to know it was here, and recommend me to people who are looking for a cat.
So I think I'll take a day this summer and go check out the Ithaca dog park for a few hours and see how much volume they get, and the sort of people who visit.
So hey, dog owners, would you drive 10-30 miles every few weeks to let your dog run her heart out for a tiny $2 charge?
And hey, The Main Street Cafe in Spencer is being reincarnated as The Bishop Inn. So we will have good food once again in Spencer! Spencer also has Hollybrook Golf Course, a golf range (only 2.5 miles from me), and of course, Totalily Water Gardens. In the spring there is Mountain View greenhouses, and there is shopping on River Row in Owego.
I could also rent the entire place for parties for people who get tired of leaving their dogs behind. They could have the "reserved" fenced area, and I could put in a picnic area that overlooks the creek.