Tuesday 31 December 2019

Mixed Christmas

Mike took our presents up to the family in Salisbury just before Christmas which was just as well as it turned out, because on Christmas Day he was not feeling very good so I went up on my own for a few hours and he stayed at home.

It was lovely seeing everyone and Jane, my daughter-in-law put on a lovely spread helped by the "chuildren" home from Uni for the holidays.

It was not very nice travelling home as it was quite dark by the time I reached the A303 but I managed to come off at the right roundabout and made reasonable time.   Mike was much better when I got home but said he thought he had made the right decision in not coming.   As we are looking after Pauline's dogs as well as our own, it was good for them to have him on hand to let them out and they kept each other company.

We hope everything will be back to normal next Christmas.
Bobble hats sold very well before Christmas and I am still selling the surplus stock on our website www.alpaca-stuff.co.uk.  Click on the photo to see all our remaining socks and hand knits. 

Thursday 26 December 2019

End of an Era

On the 21st December - the last Saturday before Christmas, we closed our little farm shop finally.

Pre Christmas sales went very well and we now have a very limited stock of socks and quite a few hand knitted hats and mittens left which are for sale on our website.

My best friend has recently suffered a stroke which has left her with mobility problems and  restricted use of her hand.   I have been looking after her two dogs - Alice, a dear little Staffordshire bull terrier and Dodger, the brother of my bitch, Dollie - bred here on the farm. I think they may be here for the long haul if not permanently - especially as Alice is fifteen years old.  

We have also sold all our male alpacas exccept one cria who is still with his Mum and two more females left on Christmas eve.

This leaves us with four females, the male cria and a newcomer - Freddie.

Freddie was originally sold as yearling with four other young males.   The new owners had them all wethered and until recently we thought that all was well.   Unfortunately, however, Freddie has become dominant and made them feel uncomfortable with him.   I visited and found him to be rather full of himself and definitely the herd leader but not frightening.

I suggested that he returned to us and as he is a whether (castrated male) he is living with our four remaining females and seems quite happy.  He and I have reached an understanding - i.e. I am the herd leader and not him!

When the weather allows I will take his photo and upload to the blog.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Chickens on the move

Yesterday we moved the chicken run - which is a effectively a small paddock in the field near the house.   The female alpacas and chickens have been sharing the same area for some time and we felt they should have fresh pasture.

Unfortunately the hens did not quite understand and  several of them spent yesterday finding ways to get back into their original paddock.   We could not find a break in the wire netting we use to keep them in so assume that they must be flying out.  I was afraid that we might have to clip the wings of the repeat offenders but luckily they seem to be getting the idea that the new pasture is quite nice after all.    At least three of them insist on laying their eggs in the alpaca shelter and it has taken a a few attempts  to explain to them that the new shelter also has a hay rack where they can deposit their eggs if the nesting boxes inside their house are not comfy enough!

The weather has been very changeable and they have spent most of today dashing for cover when the high winds and rain started and then coming out one by one when the sun appeared again.


Monday 2 December 2019

Quiet Day

Even the weather is quiet today.  The wet weather and at times bitterly cold winds seem to have given way to sunshine.   It was frosty this morning but that is so much better than rain.

With the male alpacas gone, the barn is not needed as a night time shelter now and has returned to a cart lodge and storage area.   We are expecting a skip soon so that we can have a good clear out and tidy up so that we can put our private vehicles under cover.  It will be lovely not to be scraping frost off the windows in the mornings.

The chickens seem to be on strike at the moment with fewer eggs.   Unless we have some really unseasonable weather I expect it will be the spring before they get back to their full potential.
I am thinking of buying another batch of hens because we have lost a few recently due to old age.
That will help boost the egg production and reduce the impact of the older birds who are no longer laying many eggs.


Click on the image of our latest bobble hat in Wine and Fawn to see our selection of hats

Sunday 1 December 2019

Busy Busy

I didn't realise it was so long since I updated the blog.

I have sold our last six male alpacas which was a bit of a distraction.   Although it was not hard work it coincided with the shop being extra busy because of the imminent arrival of Christmas.

It is not just a question of selling them - they have a pre-movemment TB test and have to be up to date with their husbandry such as toe nails, worming and ADE injections.    Because they are genetically designed for life at high altitude where they get plenty of sunshine and therefore vitamin D, they have to have a regular doses of ADE over the winter months.

The TB test was negative, thank goodness and their new owners collected them a few days ago.  Since they were born and bred on the farm they have never been in a trailer before so it was a bit of a performance getting them in.  After a fairly long time trying to coax, push and pull them in to the trailer without success I fetched my faithful dog Dolly into the barn.   I was concerned that she would be over excited to be involved in the situation as she is not used to working indoors (i.e. in the barn) but she was very calm and gave the boys the eye and with hardly any effort she explained that they had to move forward and they just went in like little lambs.

Apparently they travelled very well and are adjusting well to their new home.

I am closing the shop down at Christmas and took a chance on getting extra stock  of our alpaca socks.   Luckily it has paid off because they are going very qickly and some of the shelves are already empty.

Hand made Chulla Hat with ear flaps to keep you really warm in the winter weather.
Alpaca Walking socks with cushion sole for extra warmth.

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacstuff website.

Friday 22 November 2019

No Respite

More heavy rain forecast for this evening.   We have left the alpacas out for the last few days and although it has been wet at times it has not been too heavy or prolonged so we have left the alpacas out.   The girls have a shelter (which they treat more as a larder for their hay supplies than weather protection), and the boys have access to shelter under the trees at the bottom of their field.   When the weather gets really bad we put them in the barn and that is where they are going tonight.

We have had very few customers for the farm shop as people don't feel like getting out of their cars in the wet.  Egg sales are uneffected it seems.  It probably helps that the banks and entrance have just been strimmed and the access to the egg sales box is mud-free.  It is not very pleasant collecting the eggs or cleaning out the hen house in this weather but it is important to keep up standards and saves work in the long run.

The dogs must be fed up with getting wet then dry (we put coats on them when they come in after being in the rain - saves having shake marks over the floor and furniture).  The cat has the best idea - she has taken over the biggest dog bed and is oblivious to everything except the rattle of food bowls or the milk jug.   She expects a little bowl of milk when we make our tea and the dogs line up to clear up the non-existent remains.
Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff Website.

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacas for Sale website.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Winter is here

The weather is still awful - varying between very wet and quite hard frosts so I am still making sure the alpacas are under cover over night.   This is quite easy with the girls as they are in field shelters and it is just a case of closing the gates but the boys are going into the barn and so I have to muck out every morning.  Not a pleasant job but worth while if it keeps them healthy.

The shop is starting to get quite busy - especially for our lovely alpaca socks.

Most sales still seem to be for personal use but some Christmas sales are starting.

We are hoping for a spell of dry weather so the soggy fields can drain off a bit and give us all some respite.

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff  website.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Only the Lonely

As a rule we try and keep our male alpacas as far away from the females as possible as it can cause problems when the boys realise they are in the presence of attractive potential mates.

As we have been having some extraordinary weather lately with very heavy rainfall I have brought the males up near the barn so that they can go in at night if the forecast is bad.  They are in a fairly big field and Mike and I put up a barrier of hurdles so they cannot get too close to the girls in their paddock.

At first the males were excited but after a while they realised that they could not get near enough to socialise and gradually mooched off to the bottom of the field.  All except Amaru, generally the herd leader.   He could not be persuaded that the girls were inaccessible and has become the lone male at this end of the field.

Click on the photo to see our Alpacastuff website for socks and hand knits.

Friday 8 November 2019

Socks R Us

A sure sign that winter is here is the increase in our sales of socks online and in the farm shop.

I thought my last delivery would be the last ever  but looks as though I had better put in another order to keep going until Christmas when we are closing permanently.

Today at last the weather has improved and there is actually some sunshine.   It is lovely to see the alpacas looking clean, dry and fluffy instead of soaking wet. The girls have two shelters in a small enclosure in their paddock but unless I actually shut them in at dusk they often stay out even in heavy rain which makes them look bedraggled and is horrible if I need to hold them for any reason.

The males on the other hand are fairly keen on keeping dry and will use shelter if it is available.   They have been in the field furthest from the farm yard until recently but we have brought them up to the paddock behind the house since the bad weather came in.   There is no shelter there so they come into the barn at night if rain is expected.

Click on the picture to see our full range of socks and hand-knits!

Sunday 3 November 2019

Change of Plans

Yesterday our neighbour called round to let us know that they would be having friends round for bonfire and fireworks on the 5th November.  This gives us time to move the alpacas so that they are not so likely to receive an unwanted visit from a used rocket.

They were comfortable in the paddock behind the house but we have now moved them into the field in front of the house where they will be safer from debris from fireworks.  They will probably still be spooked by the noise.

Unfortunately this means they will be nearer to the females so they were a bit restless and tried to attract  their attention whilst trying to fend each other off.   The females very quickly lost interet and wandered off as did all but one of the boys.   Amaru really did not want to leave and preferred to be on his own whilst the rest of his little herd trotted off  quite happily.

I expect he will eventually join his mates and harmony will reign again.

Click on the photo (sorry about the quality - couldn't fix it) to see our alpacas for sale or visit
wwww.alpaca-stuff.co.uk for socks and hand knits

Friday 1 November 2019

Still Raining

It is still raining and foggy.  I used the short dry spell this morning to carry out the outdoor chores such as cleaning out the chickens, collecting eggs, cleaning the paddocks and emptying the trailers on to the dung heap.

The dogs like to be in attendance but I often wonder if it is worth it when they come indoors and have to be de-muddied and towelled off.  They also have absorbant coats which I put on before they are allowed back into the main part of the house. They cannot shake themselves when wearing the coats so it saves a lot of housework.  The cat loves to share their bed and gioven the choice would stay there for the whole day.   She goes out at night an usually sleeps in the hayloft of the barn when she is not hunting.
This weather is not very good for the shop.   Have only had two customers today and a few mail orders. Th photo is of our latest Extra Beanie which is mint green with Dark Brown Stripes.  It is very effective.

Thursday 31 October 2019

Good Bye Boys

Despite the horrible weather we had a visitor today who is interested in buying our last remaining male alpacas.  They were very wet and scruffy looking (the alpacas not the visitor) but they behaved quite well and it looks as though they will be leaving us soon.

It will be a very sad day when they go as our fields will be almost empty apart from a few female alpacas who guard the chickens.

The rain has been non stop since this morning so I was quite pleased to be going out for lunch with some friends at the pub across the road.  The meal was lovely but we had a power cut which lasted for about half an hour and being a wet and miserable day it was quite difficult to see what we were eating even with the candle light.

Mike is really not well.   He went out with a  friend earlier in the week and thinks that he might have had some undercooked fish.   The nurse is coming to see him tomorrow and he is hoping she will be able to diagnose his problem.

No sign of the cat - she is probably asleep amongst the hay bales in the barn, which is her favourite spot if it is wet or really cold.

Click on the picture to see our remaining alpacas for sale.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Market Day

Usually Mike and I go into Axminster together on market day but since he broke his leg I have been going on my own.

Today it was very misty to start with but luckily it cleared and there was no rain.

The Fruit and vegetable stall is very good and I usually buy enough to last for the week and top up the rest of the food shopping at the Co-op followed by a visit to the farm shop to pick  up chicken feed and other farm essentials.

By the time I got home the sun was shining and I was able to clean  the chicken run and the alpaca shelter in the dry and then take the dogs on a well deserved walk around the whole perimeter of our fields to check on the male alpacas and for Ted to have his daily splash in the pond and stream in the bottom field.

Ted, Dolly and Jake being unusually still for just a few moments.   Click on the picture to see our Alpacastuff Website.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Simple Solution

Have decided to move the protective electric fence further up the field so that the alpacas who share with the chickens will have a smaller area to graze.  The chickens mainly stay near the top end of the field anyway so they won't notice the difference.   Given that when winter comes in the grass will not be as good the girls should start to lose weight without feeling deprived.

The males are in a field which is lower quality grazing so they should sort themselves out.

Mike had no ill effects from his extra activities yesterday and finished off the mowing today.  I have to leave his crutches in strategic places so that when he dismounts he can support his bad leg. He also managed to get in and out of our old landrover which was failing to respond to my entreaties to start.  Of course he started it first time.

Egg sales are going really well and I am always grateful to the kind people who leave egg boxes so  that I can re-use them.  It is environmentally friendly and also enables me to keep the price down.

Click on the photo to visit our website

Sunday 20 October 2019

1970s Disco

Despite some improved weather coniditions,  I am still shutting the alpacas into their enclosure at night just in case of unexpected heavy rainfall.  They don't mind getting wet but it just makes more sense to keep them dry.  It is quite unpleasant catching and holding a wet alpaca if you need to.   For example sometimes they get brambles in their fleece and it is as good idea to pull or cut it out before it gets too entangled.   No one wants to buy a fleece that is full of debris and there is also the chance that the bramble  might get in their eyes or some of the unfleeced skin on their underbelly..

As we know the grass on the other side is always greener and they think that too and often like to get really close to the hedge or fence to select the most inaccessible greenery.

Also it helps in my efforts to keep the paddock clean in that their poo  (that is a technical term!) is concentrated in a smaller area for the time they are shut in.

Mike is still hobbling around but is more and more able to add some tasks that he can cope with on one leg.  The latest project is to mow the grass near the house and in the back paddock (the one behind the house.)  I hope he is not being too ambitious.

Livestock must be checked at least every day to ensure their welfare  so I usually take the dogs with me to check on the boys in the lower field every morning.  It kills two birds with one stone - exercise for dogs and a visit to the boys.  Ted (my youngest collie) has learnt that it is not acceptable for the males to" fight" (usually a minor tiff).  This morning  we heard the tell tale noise of the males disagreeing.  With just a "go on"  Ted ran at full speed and by the time I caught up with him he was lying down "holding" them in a group.   End of story and peace reigns.

Last night I went to a 1970's disco to celebrate the finish of refurbishment to the village hall in Chardstock. It was built in the 70s - hence the theme.  It was a great evening and three groups entered a dance competition .  I was in one of the groups and really enjoyed the rehearsals and the opportunity to meet new people.  The group that I was in were such good fun and we all sat together for the meal, which was great because I went on my own of course.  All three groups strutted their stuff with gusto and surprise, surprise, the result on the clapometre for the best group was a draw.  Couldn't agreee more.
Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff website

Friday 18 October 2019

Dodging the Showers

Yesterday was market day when I go to Axminster and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables.  As well as the jostling crowds (well a few people) it was a challenge to dodge the showers.  In some ways it was better than usual as it was not so crowded but it was a bit miserable too.  I always combine the visit with a visit to the farm shop to collect chicken feed or dog food if needed.

As the evenings are drawing in I am shutting the chickens in earlier so they are spending longer in their house, which is a bit of a shame.

The shop is starting to get busier now that winter is nearly upon us.   Socks are the main sales but usually hats and mittens start to get more popular from now on.

There is some sunshine this afternoon so fingers crossed a few more people will pop in.

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff website.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Tuesday Helper

On Tuesdays we usually have two helpers.  Jon comes in for a couple of hours to help me with routine husbandry with the alpacas and any other chores which come under my remit.  Nick works with Mike and is here all day .

Unfortunately this morning Nick texted to say he had a migraine (he is a regular sufferer).

We have to  trim toe nails of the alpacas regularly because they are on soft grassland all the time as opposed to the rough, rocky surface typical of the parts of South America where they originate, which wears their nails down.  So we made a start by bringing the males up from their field into the barn.

Prior to this I had my first lesson on how to drive the tractor.   Mike is still nursing his fractured leg and so could only give directions.   We normally park trailers and other mobile machinery in the barn to protect them from weather when not in use, so I had to back the tractor and topper out and park it together with some other equipment to make room for the boys to come in for their manicure.

All went well and I feel more confident that I will be able to help Mike top the fields in the spring when the grass needs cutting.  I even managed to park it back in the barn afterwards.

I also clean out the hen house every morning and clear up after the alpacas in the chicken enclosure.   This creates two small trailers of excrement a week  to be ferried down to the dung heap where it biogrades into very good compost. Jon and I carried out this unenviable task between us.  A busy two hours (including the toe nails) but very useful.
This is a typical scene when I start my day.  the nesting boxes are lined with hay (we have run out of straw) and when I arrive with the wheelbarrow everyone one wants  a slice of the action!  The cat hitches a ride, Ted (dog) keeps an eye on everything, and the alpacas pinch as much hay as they can before I move on to clean their enclosure.  All of this is overseen by the hens!  Happy families!
Click on the photo to see our alpacas for sale.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Still Raining!

This autumn seems to be all rain and no sunshine.    I like to let the chickens out as early as possible in the mornings so they get maximum time outside but at the moment it is getting on for seven o'clock before it is light enough to venture across the yard in my dressing gown.  The dogs don't mind what time they go out  and the very mention of chickens gets them into a state of excited anticipation of a good chase around and in Jake's case far too much barking for the early morning.   Good job we have no really close neighbours.

Luckily the hens  seem to be laying quite well even though some of them are quite old.

As it has been exceptionally rainy lately I have been rounding up the girls who share the paddock with the hens into their enclosure, which is a small fenced area with a large and a small shelter.
It is also where some of the chickens lay their eggs in the hay racks - a bit of a nuisance but at least the hay is a nice clean place to nest.

After a few days they began to put themselves into the enclosure at dusk so all I have to to is go over and shut the gate behind them.  clever girls!

 Click on the photo to visit our Alpacas for sale website

The boys (alpacas) are in our bottom field which, unfortunately only has a shelter without a roof at the moment.  Mike and Nick stripped off the roof some time ago and Mike was intending to bring some surplus roofing sheets which are being stored at our old Salisbury home but it has not happened yet.  Luckily there are plenty of trees and bushes to give them shelter at the moment and we hope to have the new roof fixed before we get any really bad weather. 

Friday 11 October 2019

Fighting the Weather

Trying to get the routine jobs done without getting too wet is a bit of a challenge at the moment.

The hen house is a converted field shelter and the alpacas who live in the same field as the chickens often run  in there for shelter if there is a sudden downpour.  It gets pretty crowded and the alpacas don't understand that the hay in the nesting boxes is not for them so things get a bit hectic and untidy at times.

It is difficult to decide what the alpacas consider is heavy enough rain to warrant a run to cover.   Sometimes they just continue grazing in what seems to be quite extreme weather and other times they will take shelter at the drop of a hat.

The chickens are easier to predict - they don't like rain if it is more than a light drizzle and equally they like to go into the shade if it is a really hot day but otherwise they just meander apparently aimlessly around from feeder to shelter to nesting box and sometimes lie in the summer sun with their wings outstretched to keep themselves cool.

This week the alpacas all had their first injection of ADE which we administer every couple of months in the winter as they need more vitamin D than our native species.  We also gave them a dose of medication to prevent fluke which is a parasitic worm which can occur when the weather is wet and not too cold.

Click on the picture to visit our website.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Catching Up

All my resolutions to keep the blog up to date (it would be good to look back on at the end of the year) have fallen by the wayside. Since Mike's accident there has not been much spare time.   Since my last post I had to take Mike back and forwards to Musgrove Hospital in Taunton several times and eventually he was kept in for a couple of days whilst they assessed the situation and fitted a different cast.

He is now at home and has another month and a few days before he returns to hospital to have the final X ray and cast removed (we hope).

He is doing a lot of reading and helping as much as possible - peeling vegetables for dinner, and other kitchen tasks, which is much appreciated, but of course, he is not too happy as he is used to being very active.

We have sold another male alpaca.   The numbers are slowly going down.  I know it is the right decision but it will be strange to be down to just two or three, which is the plan.

Nick is getting on with laying the hedges which is a job that has to be done in winter so the wild life, birds etc: are not disturbed during the breeding season.  Mike would normally be working with him so it will be much slower than hoped.

I will be helping next Tuesday when he comes by clearing the debris of branches and twigs as he cuts them down.   Then it gets put on a bonfire, weather permitting.

I am used to Mike covering the shop if I want or need to go out when it should be open, but of course he cannot do it whilst he is on crutches as it is quite a walk on a tiled floor to get to the shop from the kitchen.  This means that opening hours sometimes have to be shortened if I need to go out.

The shop will be closing permanently after Christmas so I am hoping that we will not lose too much trade.  I will continue to sell online for a while if there is too much stock left over.

Friday 20 September 2019

Getting Busy

Unfortuntely Mike has fractured his fibula and is currently unable to do very much on the farm or in the house.   He had a fall whilst strimming on Tuesday.   At first we thought he had probably sprained his ankle.  His toes and ankle were an agry purple/red.

We ice packed it but by Wednesday there was no improvement so I took him to A & E at Taunton.
It took several hours but we finally left with Mike in a temporary plaster cast which will be removed and replaced with another one when the swelling has gone down.   The replacement cast will allow him to walk with the aid of crutches. Unfortunately with the temporary cast he is more or less chair bound because he is not supposed to put his weight on the injured leg but his shoulders are arthritic and he finds it too painful to take the full weight of his body on the crutches.

The shop is getting busier with the autumn approaching and we have stocked up on socks and the hand knitted items are starting to sell again.
Cick on the picture to see our range of hand knitted hats.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Shop Opening

Our Autumn/Winter season has started well.   We are fully stocked with socks, hand knitted mittens, hats, ethnic throws and fair trade rugs.

The alpacas are enjoying the late spell of really lovely weather and lazing around in the sunshine.

Even the hens seem jolly at the moment and they are laying well.
Click on the picture to see our alpacas for sale.

Monday 9 September 2019

Moving On

I spent Saturday and Sunday at a local Dog Agility competition with my older dog, Dolly and young Ted.   They both worked well and Dolly was third in one of her classes but Ted is a bit of a wild card at shows and I need to up my game to make sure Ig ive him the right signals and information.  Dolly is an old hand and we get on well, but she only had one clear round all weekend (3rd place) due to lack of timely information from me.

The alpacas are lying in the pouring rain at the moment.   Sometimes when it rains they gallop for cover in their shelter but sometimes they just lie down.  I think this rain started as a shower and so they thought they would lie down and as it got heavier they did not feel it worth running for shelter.  Who knows!!

I am opening our farm shop this week and every week until 21st December which is the closest to Christmas given that we only open Thursday to Saturday 11.30 - 5 p.m. excepting unexpected circumstances.www.alpaca-stuff.co.uk

Wednesday 28 August 2019

New Home for Three

Three alpacas left the farm this morning to go to their new home.

They were very well behaved when we herded them into the catch pen in our back paddock where they have been living since they were sold two weeks ago.   There is always a delay because we have our alpacas pre-movement tested for TB so that the new owners know that they are receiving healthy animals in that respect.

They are also up to date with all husbandry such as toe nails, vaccinations etc:

Two of them were happy enough to move from the catch pen into the trailer which was to transport them to their new home, but one, normally the most docile, decided to object and it took ages to get him in.  Alpacas normally travel very well once in their transport.  Mostly they lie down in a cush - i.e. with their legs tucked under them.

They do not have too far to go and should be grazing in their new field by now.

We are expecting a visit from another prospective buyer to look at one of our males sometime soon so our herd dispersal/retirement sale is starting to work.   It may well take a long time - perhaps as much as a year - to completely sell up, but we prefer to sell directly to new owners rather than take them to market.  Mainly because of welfare issues but also because they would probably make even lower prices than what we are offering them for.  Also we are not really in a hurry to sell and like to know who the new owners are so that we can help if they have any problems (unlikely) or in extreme take them back (has never happened so far).

Our Farm shop is closed at the moment but we will be re-opening in September through to the spring when we will be closing down finally.   There will probably be some stock left over which we will continue to sell online for a while.

This one our ethnic throws - made in Peru.   Click on the picture to visit our website.

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.

www.alpaca-stuff.co.ukThis 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.
www.alpaca-stuff.co.uk/socks/Bed 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.