Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Is it cold enough yet to wear alpaca? Perhaps when you read this the rain will have stopped and we'll be frosted over. I HOPE SO!! We are very very lucky to have well-draining land on the top of a hill but even so we're getting fed up with being soaked. Our thoughts are with our farmer friends who are not as lucky as us and have more to contend with.

Perhaps if I keep my blogs short they'll appear more often! Until the next time, stay as dry and happy as possible out there...

Friday, 22 August 2014

New Alpaca Yarn for Autumn

I've totally failed in my New Year's Resolution of blogging more often. I've finally accepted that I'll probably only manage to do it about three times a year. I enjoy everyone else's blogs though, this can be quite a solitary life so it helps to find out about others trials and triumphs.

I hope everyone's had a good summer. We had a year off mating last year and I've missed not having any cria on the ground this summer. Now we've sold a couple of our boys I plan to try and get some of our good females mated before the autumn kicks in. So hopefully we'll hear the pitter patter of tiny pronking in the paddock next year. In the mean-time we've had lots of grass this summer and our alpacas are slightly too fat as a result. All the muddy areas from last winter are fully pastured again and the hedgerows are hanging with blackberries and elderberries - lovely.

Yesterday the yarn from this year's shear arrived back from the Border Mill. I'm pleased with the quality and can't wait to get knitting. Back in January I bought a LK150 knitting machine as I cannot keep up with demand just hand-knitting. This is a beginners knitting machine and I've found learning to use it pretty easy. I've been churning out scarfs, cowls, socks, wrist-warmers and beanies. The results give a professional, even-tensioned finish. The stitches are different to hand-knitting, I haven't yet got to grips with cabling and it doesn't come with a ribber so you have to do a fake rib. We still produce hand-knits but I have to say I love my knitting machine for speed!

Here's a picture of it in action (I'm making a cowl):

And here's our yarn from the 2014 shear:

It's all hands on deck now to get knitting for the autumn markets!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rain, a Randy Alpaca and Roll-on Spring!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

The rain has driven me inside and forced me to update my blog at last! Like everyone else we've been taking action against the mud and bog over the last few days to keep our girls and boys as clean and dry as possible. We live on a hill, our land is sloping and has good drains so we are lucky enough never to have standing water in our paddocks, but our barn isn't big enough to house all our alpacas and the entrances to the field shelters are getting muddy! So we've been laying stone and using hurdles to try and save the ground. It's not too bad but I'm ready for winter to be over already!

On the day before Christmas Eve, just as we were in the eye of the storm of pre-Christmas preparations, our un-neutered boy Boris suddenly decided that he wanted a girlfriend. He's now 3 and until recently he was such a quiet and gentle boy that we'd decided to keep him entire and wait and see how he got on. He also has a slight heart murmur so I didn't want to risk an operation if it was unnecessary. However on the 23rd December (great timing) I found him half-way over the fence into the girls paddock orgling like crazy. It must have been the sherry and mince pies. Anyway he's now on the vet castration list for this Thursday and the girls are in another paddock. This was a lesson learned. In the future I'll always castrate my non-stud males.

We had a fantastic autumn selling our yarn and knitwear. We couldn't keep up with orders and did really well at the Christmas markets. There is so much demand out there for well-made alpaca products.Our business model relies on our cottage-industry brand and people love to see photos of the actual alpacas that their gloves or beanie come from. It's extremely rewarding but super hard-work. Before Christmas I was knitting about 6 hours a day for a month! We've got plans to work smarter in 2014.

Here's our stall at Frome Artisan Market:

My new year resolution is to do more blogging. Let's see if I can stick to it.. ;-)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Summer at last! Shearing, new yarn, alpacas for sale and breeding.

Isn't it fabulous to finally have some summer weather! The alpacas are loving it and I hope you all are too. We were able to shear on time and the fleece is now at Farrlacey Mill being spun into some lovely double knit yarn. This will replenish our depleted stocks and we have some new shades of fawn to make into knitwear ready for the shows and craft fayres we have coming up. It's always so exciting to get a new colour spun for the first time.

I've started using for our on-line shop. We have just a few things on-line at the moment and have made a few sales, but we definitely sell more face-to-face where customers can try things on and feel how soft, light and generally gorgeous alpaca fleece is.

Here's the knitted hat with which we won a rosette at the National Show this year:

We chose not to breed last year as we're waiting for a couple of our really good females to get to mating age. We are a little limited with land and and don't want to overstock plus we only want to breed our best animals. So we don't have any little cria in the field this summer and I never expected to miss them so much.

We would definitely like to breed our best females this summer and in order to make space for new cria we have 3 lovely boys for sale (white, fawn and black). Please contact me if you know anyone who may like them, we can be very flexible on price as my priority is on finding them a good home where they'll be looked after and not moved on. Photos and more info can be found at: but in the meantime here's a picture of their bottoms:

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Mite in Alpacas

Although we've never had any problems with worms, a couple of our alpacas do have reactions to the dreaded mange mite. We have a family of foxes who live in the hedges and copse which surrounds our paddocks and so aren't in a mite-free zone (who is?) I thought I'd share our mite experiences as it's always good to know how other people are tackling this problem.

One of our girls came back after being agisted with some bad mite damage, even though she had been given a 4 week course of ivermectin (2ml every week). At first I thought it would take ages to get on top of it but not so! Our vet (Hale in Chippenham) provided us with "witches brew", a topical mixture that includes ivermectin. After using this on our girl a few times (over her belly, armpits and legs) the pink skin returned and she's remained almost mite free since. I'm a firm believer in providing vits and minerals to alpacas susceptible to mite and we give her extra rations of camelibra. Maybe this helped too.

Then we have Jean-Luc. A neutered accoyo male who has very dense fleece. He's a real kicker and so for months last winter I just clipped his toenails on the ground where he stood. Then at shearing we noticed his ankles were really thick with hardened crusty skin - mite attack! He hadn't lost any fleece on his ankles and so I didn't realise this was happening. I felt really guilty, poor boy, that I hadn't properly checked his ankles over winter. Straight away we started him on a 4 week course of ivermectin and I started massaging his ankles with the witches brew. This was achieved by getting him to cush and then I asked my husband lie on him while I bravely grabbed his legs. As a proponent of cameldynamics I had wanted to avoid this level of man-handling but we had no choice, we had to treat those ankles. Of course Jean-Luc was absolutely fine and apart from a couple of warning spits he didn't mind. He's a gentle soul and we can do anything with him apart from grab his feet. Perhaps the fact that he has mite problems has exacerbated this kicking or even caused it. If his ankles are painful or itchy he probably doesn't want people grabbing them.

But the thing I found has really worked for Jean-Luc's hard, crusty skin was sudocrem - a wonder cream! This is the stuff that has softened the thick skin and is sticky enough to stay on in this wet weather. I've now stopped using witches brew, ivermectin and am just massaging sudocrem into his ankles every 2 weeks to protect them from mite and help keep his skin soft and healthy (plus it smells quite nice too).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Marvellous cria

Well the breeding plan really did come together, hurrah! A brown, female cria arrived last Friday. We've named her Olympia. Just what I ordered and we're absolutely delighted with her fleece. The first time dam is being marvellous after a slightly shaky start with her milk production which was resolved with a shot of oxytocin.

This cria is out of Bozedown Bellatrix (our lovely dam) and Snowmass Sizlin Hot.

Phew, all birthings done for this year.. it's been the year of the girl for us (lucky)..

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Autumn nip?

Is anyone feeling an autumn nip in the air the last couple of mornings? I feel that we're arriving at the end of our summer, such that it was! Still there's plenty of grass left still, I feel we barely need an autumn flush so the last few months rain has been helpful in one way!

Our little prem cria is doing really well and we're waiting with baited breath for our last one this year from one of my best girls. This will be her first time and I'm really excited to see what she produces. She has a very dense fleece that has great character, however I wanted to improve the fineness so I mated her last year with Snowmass Sizlin Hot who's held his fantastic fineness really well. I'm hoping for a brown/dark fawn cria. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

I'm also starting to knit up this years yarn ready for autumn and the craft fayres. I'm excited to have some lovely black this year from our boy Raven. It's come back from the mill really bright and true black. I was very pleasantly surprised as he'd gone a bit browny blond at the tips in the sun so I didn't know whether we'd get a very black yarn. I have him up for sale with some other boys but as he's my only black alpaca I don't know if I'm going to be able to part with him!

I hope to be able to post a picture of a new brown cria soon..