Friday, 25 December 2020

Christmas 2020 Version

Today was a very different Christmas Day due to the strict rules preventing the usual Christmas celebrations within families.  We normally meet up with our families in Salisbury and sometimes they come down to Devon.

We did the usual farm chores of course - the alpacas, hens, dogs and cat did not know it was a special day.

The hens  love their new shelter even though they have to stay indoors all day at the moment because of bird flu restrictions.   We managed to source some straw from farmer friends in the village and the girls had a whale of a time running through it, spreading it arround and rummaging for seeds.  The noise of the excitement of 31 hens romping and scratching around in the straw was deafening.

 It will be a lot easier to keep their residence clean now. 

Mike and I decided to have our own Christmas Dinner despite being just the two of us.   We are both getting on a bit and Mike has had some health problems in the past which makes him a bit more vulnerable.  I cooked a free range chicken with the usual roasties and fresh vegetables from the farm shop next door (almost).  Mince Pies and Ice Cream for pud.   (no such thing as an ice cream-free desert for me!)

At 4 p.m. we took part in a pre-arranged Zoom get together with son, David, daughter-in-law,Jane and grandchildren Zach and Tara - both young adults now.  It was nearly as good as having them in the room and we all found plenty to say.

We had some lovely thoughtful presents and plenty of "goodies" too.

What do you want to do ?
New mail

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Avian Flu


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New mail
Unfortunately there have been cases of Avian Flu (Bird Flu) and at the beginning of November there was a governemtnt warning that chickens and other poultry would have to be shielded from wild birds who carry the virus.  Their feed and water have to be kept under cover to prevent contamination by wild birds and other animals.   This was not really a problem for us as we have always fed them under cover.   There is always a drinker in the hen house but there was another drinker out in the field.   We have now brought that under cover too.

There is now a new notification  and all poultry has to be housed indoors.  I should think there are some really big free ranging flocks who cannot possibly be brought in under cover.   We have decided to move the hens to a large  shelter (originally built for alpacas when we had a much bigger herd)

On Tuesday when we have help on the farm Mike and his merry men will be making the new hen house secure and the old hen house will return to being a field shelter for the alpacas.  They will have to put up high fences around the area and roof in as much as possible.  Defra have allowed up to the 14th December for poultry keepers to comply.

It is especially unfortunate for us because we only keep the hens as a hobby and the proceeds of egg sales go to a local charity so any money we spend is just lost.

I have nearly sold out of socks left over from the days when we had a farm shop selling alpaca products mainly - socks - hats - gloves etc:  There are still some hats, mittens and gloves available - ideal Christmas presents !
What do you want to do ?
New mail
What do you want to do ?
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What do you want to do ?
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What do you want to do ?
New mail
What do you want to do ?
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What do you want to do ?
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Saturday, 28 November 2020

Hens and things

 Well so far no news on the trees to be pruned by Hi Line.  Probably much more important jobs - or maybe they have decided that no work necessary after all.

Bad news - there is an outbreak of  avian influenza (bird flu) amongst wild birds and some big flocks of domestic poultry in the UK so we have had to keep our "free range" hens under cover and make sure that they have no contact with wild birds and that wild birds cannot access their feed or drinking water.

They are used to being completely free  in their field in the daytime and only being shut in at night.  They seem to be quite happy at the moment and even when I go through the gate into their pen they don't really make much effort to escape.

 Keeping the hen house and pen clean is more difficult than usual because there are 33 chickens to work round.   So far no real problems but also no idea how long the nationwide restrictions will be in force. 

Everything else seems OK - apart,of course  the restrictions due to the Covid 19 pandemic.  We are very lucky that our lives have not changed very much as we spend most of the time on the farm and all the usual chores still need doing.  We miss going out for the occasional meal or  trip to the seaside but it is a small price to pay compared with the problems some people are suffering.  One of us does the weekly shop and we have a local village shop and a small farm shop close by.  Because of our age we are advised to minimise contact with other people so cannot be much help to others.


What do you want to do ?
New mail
What do you want to do ?
New mail

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Torrential Rain

 We are still waiting for the Hi-Line workers to come and deal with the over hanging branches that they want to remove.   Cannot blame them - at the moment we are having wall to wall non stop heavy rain.  Not much fun when cleaning out the chicken house or clearing the yard  but those jobs still need to be done.

Our young hens are laying plenty of eggs but only the older girls lay full size eggs.  We sell the smaller eggs at a low price (80p for half a dozen) and they seem to go well.   They are too small to boil and put in an egg cup but ideal for poaching or frying - just need to use more eggs per meal.  It will be quite a few weeks before the young hens start laying full size eggs.

 I filled all the hay racks up with fresh hay as  the few alpacas we have left will spend more time in their field shelters during this weather and eat hay instead of grass.   The chickens also like the hay racks as they make a nice cosy place to lay eggs.  they are free range so when collecting the eggs to sell at the farm gate I hve to check in quite a few places to make sure none are missed.

 I usually take the dogs round the farm in the mornings so I can check the boundaries and make sure there are no problems and also check up on the two male alpacas who live in the lower field .  This morning they had to make do with running around in the field near the house.  They still managed to get quite wet but at least not muddy too.

 We will be catching up on indoor jobs today.  Mike always has a few projects on the go in the barn. 

Although I closed the shop at Christmas last year, I seem to be making quite a few sales online of our remaining alpaca socks and hand knitted hats and mittens. There is not very much stock left but it is nice to see that it is selling rather than going to waste.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

High Wires

We are awaiting a visit from the Hi- Line engineers as we have electric cables on our land and from time to time they have to come and carry out mantenance or cut back tree branches which might be in danger of interfering with the cables and thus with the local electricity supply.  The weather has been quite bad today so we are assuming that their visit has been postponed for the time being.

During the winter farmers are allowed to cut back hedges and trees where necessry.  In the spring and summer this work is not allowed  as it can interfere with the nesting birds and other wildlife.

Nick,our once a week helper, is very knowledgeable and skilled in farming matters.  Mike first met him when he attended a hedge laying course where Nick was the teacher.  Hedge laying involves partially cutting the main stems of the hedge and weaving them to make the hedge more solid and encourage thicker growth thus making a very effective barrier around fields and between farms and again,providing wild life habitat.

We only have a few alpacas left as we are no longer trading so the four girls share a paddock with the chickens as they are good guards and will give a strong alarm call if they see anything to worry about (such as a fox thinking of dinner).  It is quite a high pitched sound like a series of short screams from the back of the throat.

We let them free range over a couple of fields during the day and in the evening they respond very quickly to the noise of the feed bucket being shaken.   They literally run through the gate in a race to see who gets to the feeders first.

The chickens put themselves to bed in their shelter at dusk and I go over with my trusty dog Ted and shuth them in - after a quicjk count to make sure none are missing.   There are 33 at the moment. 13 older hens and the rest are youngsters only just starting to lay very small eggs.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Starting Again

 After a long silence I have decided to make and effort to keep a blog again.   Looking at the old posts it was interesting to be reminded of what was going on with the animals and ourselves in past years.  

Mike and I are both aging and finding it more difficult to remember times and dates when events happened, or even whether we have carried out routine tasks.   Maybe keeping a regular blog (if I keep to my resolution) will be interesting and at the same time serve to settle any disagreements about dates, times and events. 

Although the farm shop has closed I am selling off remaining stock online through the Alpacastuff website.

There are a few socks and quite a lot of hand knitted hats, bobble hats, and mittens still available  at   We have only six alpacas now.  Two males and four females.   I expect they will live out their lives here, although we would be happy to sell them if a buyer appeared.   

We have 35 hens, so we keep the four female alpacas in their paddock.   As the hens are free ranging and only shut inside at night, it is good to know that the girls are round to raise the alarm if Mr. Fox appears. The alpaca alarm call is quite strange and difficult to describe.   Something like a series of very short high pitched yelps with a loud intake of breath between.  

 We let the alpacas free range during the day and they pop themelves back into the chicken paddock at usually a little before dusk to take up guard duty.

As we have three dogs - two older boys and a three year old, there is plenty of noise and excitement if anything happens -like a customer coming to pick up eggs from the egg box which is situated half way down the drive.   I like to think they would make a lot of  noise to alert us if they saw a predator in the chickens' field too.

All in all we have a very good team.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

We now have a very limited supply of socks for sale on our website but we still have stocks of our hand knitted hats and mittens so it is  worth looking to see what is on offer.
Hand knitted Beanie hat in 75% alpaca and 25% wool   Ideal to keep your hair tidy  for those breezy spring walks.

Click on the photo to see all the hats available.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Still Raining

Really nothing of interest is happening.   The wet weather continues to stop all but the basics.   The chicken field is constantly water logged and the hen house is a muddy mess despite my best efforts.  Until the water table drops it is not likely to improve.

The dogs get very wet and muddy most mornings when they go for their walk round the farm and I try to confine them to the yard for the rest of the day because at least it is fairly mud-free and gives them a bit of space for a run around.

We still have some socks and hand kitted items available for sale.
Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff website for socks, hats and mittens.

Saturday, 29 February 2020


Sunshine has occurred today - short bursts and I still got soaked this morning walking the dogs and sorting out the  chcikens.   When will it ever end?

I have not had anything to add to the blog recently because it has been one wet day after another and nothing much has been happening.

We have an extra dog on the farm now.  Dodger is sister to our Dolly, border collie.   He belongs to my friend Pauline who is currently not well enough to have him at home so he is here for  a while.  He has  been used to visiting us in the past for holidays so it has not unsettled him  to come and stay.
He is very very active and is really enjoying sloshing around the farm.

Pam who has knitted all the hats and gloves which we sold in our shop is now using up the last of our yarn .   It will probably take some time to sell because we are now (believe it or not) starting to come out of the season for buying woollies!!

Check the website for hand knits in 100% natural colour alpaca and 75% alpaca blended with wool in great dyed colours.

Click on the photo to visit our Alpacastuff website.

Friday, 14 February 2020


The heavy rain we have been having lately is turning the gateways and paddocks  which we are using into virtual mudbaths.  The winds and rain overnight were really concerning but this morning the sunshine has returned at least for the time being.

More storms are forecast for the week end.

We have four female alpacas alpacas for sale as we only want to keep a couple of males to guard the hens.  This is part of our retirement plan.   Eventually I expect the hens will go too but at the moment they are laying lovely eggs and we have quite a few regular customers.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Still Available

It has been very quiet since Christmas but it has been nice to just keep things running without having to worry about opening the shop.   I am keeping our websites live for the time being as I still have  a small stock of hand knits and alpaca socks.

Also there re  4 female alpacas available for sale as we only really need a couple to guard the hens who are still going strong and laying surprisingly well for  the time of year.
Click on the photo to visit the Alpacastuff website and see the selection of hand knits and alpaca socks for sale.