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.