“It started with friends asking if we’d bring [our animals] to their parties or different events. We thought, ‘If they can pay for their own hay, then that’s a plus.’” What Candice Miller didn’t realize then was that what started as a side project to pay for pet food would quickly grow into a full-time Animals for Parties business. A Farm To You Revue is now a popular New York-based traveling petting farm, catering to celebrity clientele and all. In our recent interview, she shared with me a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to effectively manage a business where things can get a little, err, hairy.
Keep It Clean
“We’re pretty fastidious at the house, and so we work to keep the paddocks very, very clean. But that can be a tough part of our job, because we can’t control how muddy the animals get the night before an event,” Candice explained. So she, her husband, and children are all up early the morning of an event, grooming and cleaning the animals to ensure that each one is in tip-top shape for tiny hands to be petting. As for the trailer, she informed me that because the animals spend so much time in it while traveling to and from an event, it’s imperative that they keep the entire thing pristine at all times: “We make sure we thoroughly clean out the trailer immediately upon returning from an event. And we fill it with fresh bedding before we leave for the next, so that they’re always traveling in a clean space.”
The Long and Winding Road
Because New York state law prohibits the Millers from driving with their trailer on certain highways and main roads, they’ve had to modify not only the routes they take to an event, but their subsequent system for pricing one. “There’s no such thing as a ‘straight shot’ when you’re driving with a trailer. We often have to drive very roundabout ways to get to an event. So we charge by the amount of time that the animals are in the trailer, not by the mileage.” This is a great bit of advice for any members who travel with trailers (whether they’re filled with instruments, equipment, or critters!)
Get Creative with Of-furs
When it comes to booking a petting farm, Candice advises you make sure you really know what’s included in any given package: “Some places will include more exotic animals, but because those aren’t in any way domesticated, you really can’t touch them,” she explained. “Make sure that the experience you’re paying for will really offer the kids a chance to get up close and be hands on. That’s what’s going to engage them.” From their Basic Petting Farm to the Deluxe Package with Large Animal Add-Ons, A Farm To You Revue offers clients a number of package options suitable for a variety of age groups and event types. They’ll even include free learning lessons to educate kids about the animals they’re interacting with: “We really want to promote farming as a part of our business. We think it’s important for kids to know that the eggs they get from the grocery store do come from chickens, and that the fleece from an alpaca can be made into yarn that their socks could be made of! It makes the experience even more exciting for them.”
So between caring for their animals, cleaning their trailer, figuring out routes, crafting offers, and constructing educational components— not to mention the actual setting up and running of an event— it’s really incredible that Candice manages to maintain such a tight ship (or maybe ark, is more like it!) Like many of our members, her work isn’t confined to the hours spent at an event. It spans across the hours put into preparing and breaking down from one, and then some.
With 22 chickens, 11 goats, five ducks, three dogs, two bunnies, two ponies, two horses, two cats, one tortoise, one bearded dragon, oh and a husband and three kids, all she’s is missing is a partridge in a pear tree. Then again, I wouldn’t put another pet past her!
And you thought your house was a zoo…
Click here for even more information on Candice and a Farm to You Revue!