Friday, 23 August 2019

All is Calm

What a change in the weather.   Really lovely and sunny and forecast to last for the next few days.  The alpacas are making use of their dust bath -  small bare patch in their paddock which they love rolling in.   I sprinkle it with  Diatomaceous earth, a very fine mineral which helps keep mites away.  Also good for preventing scaly leg in chickens.  They absolutely love it - even the new cria can be seen rolling away in the sunshine.
Click on thebottom picture to visit our Alpacas for Sale website

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Splitting the Herd

We have sold three of our alpacas in the start of our herd dispersal.

A lovely couple from near Exeter have bought three alpacas which came  to us a year or so ago.

They want them as chicken guards/pets and already have farming experience with their sheep, so they should have no trouble integrating the alpacas. They have been living happily with our boys up until a few days ago when we separated them to await their pre-movement TB test prior to moving to their new home.

Click on the picture to see our Alpacas for Sale website.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Dreary Day

You would hardly believe that it is still summer today.   It has been raining and drizzling since first thing this morning.   I did manage to clear the paddocks and clean out the hens but really there is no incentive to do other than the essentials and basics.
All the alpacas seem to have decided to stay out in the rain.  I suppose because although continual it is fairly light most of the time.  If it gets heavy they usually gallop to shelter and the hens go running and flapping to their house.

Bed socks seem to be popular this week which is surprising because they are more popular in the winter usually.   Even though we call them bed socks, they are 90% alpaa and can be worn with any footwear - even wellies.   I also use mine as slippers on carpeted areas.   They don't work quite as well on tiled or wooden surfaces as they only have a single layer sole.    Our walking socks are probably the best for indoor slipper replacement on hard floors as they have a lovely thick cushion sole.

Click on the photo to see our range of socks.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Dodging the Showers

The weather has been very changeable today so far and several times we have seen the chickens and alpacas dash for cover when a really heavy shower starts only to come creeping out again a short while later.

I am now wearing a pair of our every day socks which are 55%  Alpaca but they are ideal in this sort of weather because they are light weight and still thick enought to wear in wellies or walking boots around the farm.

They have been really good as I can quickly slip my boots on over these lovely soft socks and dash out to collect eggs or clear up in the paddo
They are also quite smart in shoes or trainers.

Click on the photo for more details.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Torrential Rain

With heavy rain in the forecast we have been keeping an extra watch over the alpacas.   The females who live with the hens often try and shelter in the hen house if there is a sudden downpour but they cannot all fit it.   If it is late in the day or more than a quick shower I usually walk over and guide them to their shelter where they can all fit in.

I am not sure if they appreciate it because they often stay outside the shelter even when it is close to hand.

The hens, on the other hand, run for cover whenever heavy rain or strong winds come along.

Last night I shut them all in early as the rain was heavy and forecast to becomome torrential, which it duly did.   Still it saved my having to water the tubs of flowers and the back garden, which was nice.

Click on the bottom picture to see our alpas for sale.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Back to Normal

Took my dogs, Teddy and Dolly to an Agility Competition held at West Point Showground near Exeter.  The show was run over four days commencing last Saturday until Tuesday.

I am having a crisis of confidence at the moment as I am having difficulty remembering courses.
Despite that, Dolly did several nice runs but made some mistakes and I made handling errors too.  She qualified  10th for the Blenheim Palace Agility Stakes but it is 135 miles away so I don't think I will go.

Ted was a bit wild for the first couple of days but then I decided to go back to basics and did  some serious sit wait training in the car park which we then transferred to the competition ring.  Although he did not get a clear round he was more responsive and allowed me to leave him at the start so I could get a head of him.

We have sold 3 alpacas which is a start for our closing down sale.   The young couple who bought them seem very keen and subject to a clear pre-movement TB test they should be ready to go in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

End of the week. seems to have been quite a busy week.  I went to Exeter with my friend, Pauline, on a rare shopping/social outing.   We had a lovely time catching up and I managed to buy some new cothes and shoes so, for a while at least, I will not have a problem finding something to wear if we go out.
Natually I have plenty of work clothes as there is no need to look smart when dealing with animals and fields.

Unforunately the weeds grow faster than the flowers on the patios - back and front of the house.
I am not really a gardener but enjoy the results when the colourful additions make everything look bright and cheerful.

Mike has gone to a local classic car event and so spent most of yesterday afternoon cleaning and polishing his entry - Suburu Impreza.  I really like it as I used to have a green one years ago but I am not insured to drive it - probably just as well.

Even though the farm shop is closed we still have the occasional customer calling in, which is fine, we never turn them away but we don't have the tie of having to be here all day waiting for visitors.

 Click on the bottom picture to visit our website for socks, throws,  and more

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Coping with the Heatwave

Of course it is business as usual on the farm but we have to keep a check on the water supply as the wter troughs can quickly run dry in this weather.   The alpacas like to pinch the chickens' water if they can so I need to check regularly to make sure there is some left.

Today my helper, Jon, came and we checked the condition of all the alpacas and put suncream on a few who seemed to have some pink skin exposed.  Sometimes it is where they have slightly thinner fleece on their ears or where the fleece is particularly short between the legs.   They were all very good - maybe just got that holiday feeling in the hot weather.

We had a bit of a situation when the males took a wrong turn and nearly ended up near the females enclosure, but between us - Jon, me and the dogs, we managed to turn them back towards the barn for their husbandry.

Ted - my young dog - was very good and remained in the down outside the barn with my older dog, Dolly.  Considering the excitement in the barn with alpacas being moved around and some objecting to their treatment, I was pleased that the dogs remained calm and lying down until we wanted to take the animals back to their paddock.

After sixteen years with the alpacas we are now selling the remaining  herd of six females and ten males - including three wethers..  I expect it will take quite a long time but we are offering very good prices.   Although we have already sold much of our breeding stock in recent years, we still have some good stock and we are selling them at realistic prices.

I am updating the sales list gradually so it is worth looking from time to time over the next week or during which time I hope to have all the information available. online.

Click on the picture to visit our website with details of the alpacas for sale so far.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Fencing Progress

The fencers are back to continue replacing the fencing which is rotten or damaged.  It is a major job which will take several weeks to complete.   They are here for a week this time and then will return again after a three week or so break whilst they have holidays and carry out other jobs on their list.

When you see the new fences it makes you realise how bad the old ones are.   They are also putting in new gate posts which will make life a lot easier as some of the gates will no longer shut because the old posts have moved or rotted.  We can remove the make shift bits of rope or bungy and just click them shut as intended.

We have decided to retire from alpaca farming and to close our farm shop next spring so that we can take a little more down time and be less tied.   We were retirement age when we started but this time we are really retiring - although of course we will still have to maintain the land and buildings but at least we will be able to do it in our own time.

It will probably take quite a long time to sell all the alpacas - 6 females and 10 males but I would rather do that than just take them to market and not know where they are going.

Today is market day in Axinster again.   I love shopping there - it makes you feel as though you are on holiday.   I now buy all our fruit and veggies on the market.  It is good quality and reasonably priced and everything is in one small square which I prefer to trecking round the supermarket.  We also like the cheese stall and, when needed the meat stall which is run by a renowned local butcher.

Although we are not opening our farm shop again until September we are happy to sell our lovely socks and hand knits on our website.
This is one of our lovely bright ethnic throws - ideal for indoors or for picnics, festivals etc:
Click on the picture to visit our website.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Fence Me In

A lot of the fencing on the farm needs replacng.  It is a very expensive job but we are doing it in stages which seems to suit the fencers as well.   So far they have replaced the fence down the driveway and this morning they started the continuation of that fencing which will go down to the second field gate.   After that we will have a finance break and start again in a week or two.

As well as being reassured that the animals cannot escape, the place will look a lot smarter.

When the fencers arrived I took down part of the electric fencing that divides their field into smaller paddocks and with the help of my trusty dogs, Dolly and Ted started to walk them down to the lower part of the field.  I was about to put the electric fencing back together when I realised that the gate to another field at the bottom was open and of course the girls decided to investigate.

Luckily they were quit amenable and with a small glitch as they headed for the dividing hedge at the into the next field we managed to steer them back to the right paddock.  I suppose the exercise is good for me.

Our back paddock is looking very smart at the moment.   I use it as a dog agility practice ring and cut it with our mulching mower.   This time Mike spent some hours cutting out the lowest level of the wire fencing which surrounds our sunken back patio, so that he could strim around and make it look
much smarter.   Jon, our Tuesday helper, had the unenviable task of clearing up all the cuttings.  I climbed on a kitchen stool and brushed off the tops of the wall and passed through the weeds which Jon could not reach properly.

Click on the bottom picture to visit website selling alpaca socks, knitwear,  rugs and throws.

Saturday, 13 July 2019


Yesterday evening we had unexpected visitors.   The dogs were running free outside as the farm gate was closed when we heard a lot of excited barking.   I looked out and saw two girls leaning over and looking at the alpacas.  I called the dogs indoors and went over to explain that we were not open.

They were French and after a few false starts it turned out that they could not find a camping place  and asked if they could bring their motor home and park for the night.   After a quick consultation with Mike I told them that it would be OK to stay in the paddock behind the house, which has a lovely view of the Devon landscape and also has an old picnic table which they could use.

A few minutes later they returned with two motor homes and several other people - relations I think.

They were very considerate and we managed conversation of sorts, although my schoolgirl French did not help much. Might be interesting to do a refresher course sometime.

They left this morning and had obviously enjoyed their stay.   They were able to sit outside quite late into the evening as it was nice and sunny and they had their meal and a few bevvies too.  We did not charge them but they insisted on giving a large tin which is labelled Manchons de Canard which I think is Duck Wings.

Although we are not keeping the shop open over the summer, we still get people calling in from time to time and we are happy to see them and let them visit the shop if they wish.  Click on the picture to visit our website and see most of the products we sell in the shop.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Summer Weather

Today started off quite cool and breezy but has developed into a real scorcher.   The hens are spending a lot of time in their house and the alpacas are lying under the shade of the trees.

The alpacas hardly make any impression on the water in their troughs usually but in this weather we often have to top them up during the day.   On a couple of occasions they have been completely empty.

The dogs are sensibly lying down in the shade or in the house.

Mike has spent today finishing off the bodywork on the farm truck,  (Nissan Navara.)  He has replaced the front bumper and painted all the wings so it looks very smart for its age now.  I use it mainly for taking the dogs to shows or training and if I need to pick up feed from the stores and it also stands in for the old landrover at times.
Click on the picture to visit our website selling socks, knitwear and more.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Manicure Day

Today we brought the male alpacas up to the barn to have their toe nails clipped.  In South America where they originate they live on the plains where the surface is arid and rocky so they natually wear down their nails, but in the lush Devon countryside here, there are no such natural abbrasives.

Most of them behave really well but a few are naturally stroppy and take a little more persuading before they agree to the procedure.  Jon my helper holds them and starting with the left front leg I trim the nails on each foot and take the opportunity to check their condition and in some cases apply a little cream or antibacterial spray if they have any abbrasions or skin problems.

Once they have all been treated Jon runs down to  the field where they are currently kept and waits by the gate - my two collies Dolly and Tedd lie down to block them and ensure that they can only go in one direction.   Usually once they realise they are heading home they start to gallop and it is easy for Jon to shut them in again.   He then shuts them in and sprints back to the barn because he is very fit.

Our shop is now closed for the summer but we are still selling our products online.   There seems to be a demand for bed socks at the moment which is surprising considering the time of year. Socks

Click on the photgraph to see our selection of socks.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Amazing Skies

We went out for a meal on Friday evening to the Windwhistle pub which is just a couple of miles away.   We had a pleasant evening which was finished off by the spectacular skies which we came home to.
Click on the bottom photo to visit our Alpacastuff website for socks, hats, mittens, scarves and more.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Market Day

Mike is visiting his garage in Salisbury today.   He is still involved even though he officially retired some time ago and goes back once or twice a month to help out and to keep up to date with what is going on.

It is market day in Axminster  and I was there soon after 8 a.m.  to get our weekly shop of fruit and vegetables and get back in time to meet up with Pam who makes all our hand knitted alpaca hats and mittens.   She comes round for a chat and a cuppa on Thursdays  and if she has made anything she brings it along to replace what has been sold.   Obviously there is not much demand for knitwear at the moment and as the farm shop is closed for the summer, these items will go into stock for sale on line or in the autumn when the shop is open again.

We still have some Ethnic throws from Peru available.  Click on the picture below to see these on our website.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Helpers Today

On tuesdays we try to get all the jobs done that need more hands on deck.   Nick comes all day and usually works with Mike and Jon comes in for a couple of hours to help me with the alpacas if I need him or joins in with Nick and Mike if they have a project that needs another person.

Today we checked the male alpacas and I applied sun cream to a one who has never had fleece in his eye brow area and is therefore inclined to get a little sore at times.   We also checked all the others to make sure that they are in good condition.  It was my intention to cut their toe nails but yesterday Mike helped me by holding the females so that I could do their nails and  I found that the dry weather lately had made them really hard and difficult to cut, so we decided to leave the boys until the grass is damp for a day or two.

The chickens share a paddock with the six female alpacas in the hope that they will protect them from the fox but we also have an electric fence between the hens and the hedge to try to make sure that foxes cannot get in steathily.  Today we all helped to take down the fencing whilst Mike mowed the area.  If the grass grows up too high it shorts out the fence making it less effective, although (famous last words) so far we have been lucky when that happens and have not lost any hens for a long time.

Nick says he saw a dead fox in the road just outside our field on his way here, so maybe he or she (the fox)  has friends and family around ready to feast on our girls.
This is laurels Autumn.  Click on her picture to see our range of knitted products.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Revealing the Stream

One of the things that really appealed to us when we bought Laurel Farm was the stream in our lower field.   It is fed by a spring and meaners for a short distance to the edge of our property.

Unfortunately becaue of Mike's recent health problems some of the farm jobs have had to be sidelined including keeping the stream clear and strimming along its banks.   I usually try and rake out unwanted water weeds and fallen wood from the trees which can cause blockages.

Today our neightbour John, spent most of the afternoon helping me to get rid of the undergrowth which had almost hidden the stream and we also cleared the muddy blockages which had formed.   To be honest - John's work was more effective than mine but between us we made a lot of progress and hope to finish the job when he comes back from his holiday next week.

Our alpaca walking socks are ideal for wearing inside boots for this sort of job.
Click on the picture to see our range of alpaca socks.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Clearing Up

Today we have been clearing up after the fencers.   We have a lovely new fence running along the farm track from the main road to our farm yard but the old fencing was just lying in piles of old rotted wood in the paddock.   We piled most of the old fencing into the landrover and Mike desposited it in a pile away from the animals and buildings with a view to having a good old bonfire when the wind is in the right direction.

I spent some time filling in the holes left by the old fence posts with gravel and sand,which was a bit fiddly but worthwhile as it will prevent any of the animals hurting themselves on the partially buried remains of the rotted fence posts.  It looks very smart now and shows up the rest of the fencing around the fields.

Of course we had a visit from the female alpacas in the paddock wanting to know what was going on and the hens also paid us a visit from time to time - hoping we has some bread or other treat for them.
I wore my Every Day Alpaca socks which are 55% alpaca and 45% nylon.   They are nice and light and the alpaca fibre allows for breathability and moisture absorption from the skin allowing your feet to always remain fresh and comfortable at the right temperature.Click on the picture to see our range of alpaca socks and knitwear.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Weed War

During our first summer here I noticed that we had a beautiful array of bright pink flowers all along the left hand boundery.  I mentioned this to our neighbour when she called round to see how we were getting on and she told me that the beautiful flowers were actually Hymalayan Balsam which is considered to be an imported pest weed like Japanese Knot Weed.

We were very disappointed but nevertheless took her advice and pulled up the plants by the roots.  We have had a few plants reappearing from time to time but this year there has been a come back on quite a large scale.  Probably because we have not been as vigilant recently.

Sadly I spent most of this morning clearing a big patch of the plants to prevent them spreading again.   They got their own back because they were interspersed with nettles and now both my arms are covered in nettle rash which is really stinging and uncomfortable.

The weather has at last changed  to sunny which makes everything much more pleasant and enjoyable.
Our Every Day Socks are ideal for this time of year.  They are 55% Alpaca and 45% nylon and are fine enough to wear in trainers or shoes.  Click on the picture to visit our Alpacastuff website.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Catching up

Tuesdays are always busy as we have extra help.  Nick has been helping almost since we first moved down to Devon.  He is an expert on all things rural especially hedge laying, care of livestock and he is a great help with any job that needs doing.  At the moment he and Mike are re-roofing our field shelters to ensure they will withstand a few more winters. 

I have help for a couple of hours on Tuesdays from Jon.  He helps me to bring the alpacas in for routine husbandry such as vaccinations, toe nail clipping, vitamin D injections and often just to check their condition and make sure they are healthy.  Any time to spare and he  is a great help to Mike and Nick when an extra pair of hands is needed.

Today the weather has been kind and if it holds for a few more days we should be able to finish topping the fields - which had to be abandoned when it became too wet.

Although the farm shop is now closed for the summer, we are still selling online.

These are our short plum walking socks in 75% alpaca and 25% nylon for strength and to help keep the shape.   They are lovely and soft and ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities in summer or winter.
Click on the photo to visit our website and see our selection of  alpaca products.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Please fence me in!

At last the fencers have started to replace our failing boundary fences.   It will be a very expensive job and we have already spent out on the posts and rails but luckily the wire fencing can be re-used.
We are lucky to live in an area where there are still the rural skills to carry out this work.

We have started at the farm gate and the fencers put the new fencing up before taking down the old so that the chickens and alpacas did not have a chance to escape.  It will look very smart when it is all done and of course, most importantly it will ensure the safety of the animals.

The weather has also been kind which makes all the chores much easier.

When we came back from the farm shop with our chicken feed and screws etc: for the fencing we found our driveway blocked by a broken down car with two elderly ladies sitting in it.   Obviously I spoke to them and they explained that they had just managed to pull in to our driveway before the car petered out.   Some sort of fuel problem, it seems.  They were waiting for the RAC so I made them mugs of tea and they used our facilities whilst they were waiting.   A couple of hours later they were on their way with a sturdy and very polite RAC rescue man.
I am still in the process of adding our Peruvian range to the website.   Click on the picture to see what is available so far.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Weather Holds Up Work

The weather has really held up work on the farm.   The grass had grown really long before there was a chance for Mike to get out and top it.   Unfortunately it was so long and wet that it spread itself around in small piles so we had to go round with the landrover and a trailer to collect up as much grass as we could and take it down to the compost/dung heap.  It was back breaking work, although I quite enjoyed jumping up and down on the trailer to squash the load down as much as possible.

Unfortunately it is still wet today.  Once we get some dry days we can cut again and try to get it back to a sensible length.   Alpacas don't like grazing on long grass.

We are expecrting the fencers tomorrow to repair and replace much of the fencing whcih has rotted over the years.  The wet ground will make it easier to batg the fence posts in but not very pleasant to work in otherwise.  Unfortunately the wether forecast is not very promising.
Maybe this bright throw will cheer you up.  Ideal as a bedcover, table cloth or curtain.  Click on the image for more details.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Catching Up

At last the weather is being kind to us.   Mike has been able to cut the grass in two of our paddocks and I mowed the paddock behind the house where I train the dogs for agility.  Up until now everything has been so wet that it has been impossible to mow.

Unfortunately the topper on the tractor kept getting clogged up with the damp grass and so there are small piles of cut grass everywhere.   Every time I walk through the effected areas I kick down the piles so that they dry as hay and do not ferment and become dangerous for the alpacas.  It will soon level out and the fresh grass will make better grazing.

The hens are laying well and the eggs are selling really well at the moment.

Mike and Nick are in the process of re-roofing all our field shelters so a run of fine weather will make their job much easier and safer.
As well as knitwear and socks we also have a selection of throws, bags and hats from Peru and I am in the process of putting them on the website.  Up until now they have only been available in the shop.
Click on the picture to go to the Alpacastuff website.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Thursday is market day in our local shopping town, Axminster.   The market square is very small but the stalls also spread down a side street and on to the pavement alongside the high street.  You can buy lovely fruit and vegetables with much less plastic than buying at the supermarket.  You can also select just how much you want.  Most people take their own shopping baskets or bags so that the produce can go straight into them and save on carrier bags too.

We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and it is lovely to be able to select your own and also feel that you are supporting the market and helping to secure its future.

 There are also craft stalls, butcher, baker and fishmonger amongst other trades.

Image result for photo of Axminster marketImage result for photo of Axminster market

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff Website
Image result for photo of Axminster market

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

My first jobs of the day are cleaning out the hen house and letting the female alpacas our of their shelter.  When the weather is bad I shut them in over night as some of them are pregnant.  This is to make sure that they are in a dry and secure place in case they give birth early in the morning.

It is quite funny to see two or three of the hens dash over to the alpaca shelter first thing when they are let out.   They have decided that the hay racks in the shelter are ideal nesting boxes and there are usually three or four eggs to be found in the shelter during the day.   The alpacas seem to take care not to break the eggs when they are feeding.

We keep the alpacas in the same field as the hens to guard them against fox attacks.
Click on the photo to see our range of hand knitted hats and mittens as well as alpaca socks in a variety of colours and types.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Summer Holidays

Although we normally expect June to be the start of the summer, it has let us down this year.   We have had a lot of cloudy weather and rain.

We no longer sell alpacas and have only 16 to look after now.  We don't get many visitors in the summer because, of course, there is less demand for "woolly" products.  This year we have decided to close until September, although we  have a click and collect option on our website and visitors are always welcome if they give us a ring in advance.

Of course as soon as we made this decision we have two or three batches of visitors but they were happy enough to wait for a minute or two for me to open the shop and have vowed to return in the autumn too.

I am taking the opportunity to try and become more familiar with the quirks of getting our website more visible online.

Along with the alpacas we have a flock of hens and sell eggs at the farm gate, so what with keeping the hen house clean, clearing up the paddocks after the alpacas I am quite a dung expert.  Of course even with fewer animals there is still a certain amount of husbandry involved such as vaccinations, toe nail clipping, shearing and so on,  so no time to get bored.

Click on the image to visit our website and see our range of socks, hats, mittens, scarves and more.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Even though it is nearly summer time we still have a few customers buying our lovely soft alpaca socks in the shop and others just come in for a tea or coffee but end up looking around the shop.  Usually they find something they like for themselves or for presents for the family.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

TLC for Alpacas

We only have sixteen alpacas now as we have retired from the breeding side of the business.  Our six females are pregnant this year as it seemed a shame not to have any cria, but the pln is to keep them on the farm unless our circumstances change.  Also the small herd we have is predominantly male, so it would be great if some of the cria were female to redress the balance.

My friend's son, Jon, comes in for a couple of hours once a week and today he helped me apply cream to the alpacas were the skin was a little sore after shearing.   They don't seem to mind the attention and it gives me a weekly opportunity to carry out health checks and make sure they are all happy and comfortable.
Plum is the latest colour to be added to our range of alpaca socks.   These practical walking socks have a really thick sole and are ideal for all sorts of out door sports.   They are just above ankle length which is ideal for boots or walking shoes.  Click on the image to see our full range of socks, hats, mittens and more.

Thursday, 16 May 2019
Matching bobble hat and fingerless mittens from our range of hand knitted alpaca products.