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.