From an early age, I’ve held a love affair for the countryside and the animals in it. At the age of four, I was trotting around on tiny ponies, by age eight I was certain that I would become a vet one day (I watched Animal Hospital, Vet School and Vets In Practice religiously.) By the time I got to secondary school, I accepted that six years studying at veterinary college was quite beyond my academic and financial abilities! Instead, I embarked on a two year Animal Care and Sciences course just outside of Cambridge, which is where I met my now husband, Edd. He was on the Agricultural course and was in the year above me. An older boy, who was a farmer and could drive…it was love at first sight!
That was way back in the winter of 1999, when Backstreet Boys ruled the charts and the only mobile phone to be seen with was a Nokia. Now 18 years on, we have three children and have been married for eight years. Since being a stay-at-home mum, I’ve toyed with many different careers and hair-brained money making ideas. Anyone who is a farmer’s wife will tell you that there are select few jobs that fit alongside a farmer’s unpredictable working hours and looking after three young children. The logistics are almost impossible, especially at harvest time! So, with that in mind, we thought of numerous livestock ideas including raising cattle for beef and turkeys for Christmas dinner. And then we discovered alpacas….why hadn’t we thought of them before?!
We very quickly fell in love with the idea of alpacas, and the longterm business ideas we could embrace; alpaca trekking, grazing our land, protecting our free range chicken flock, creating items from the fleece, and breeding animals to eventually sell. We decided to visit different breeders to gain as much knowledge as possible, and to get up close to the animals to see what we needed to look for.
We found several young breeding females that ticked all of the boxes for us. Despite being rookies, we had learnt that fleece quality was one of the most important aspects of choosing alpacas. The four girls we settled on were all one year old, halter trained, with good genetics and great fleece quality. A solid light fawn, a solid black, and two solid medium brown alpacas.
The four girls will be shorn next month (May) and each will be put to a stud male at their current home. The girls, (who will hopefully be pregnant!) will be delivered to our farm in June, where they will start a brand new herd and a new chapter for our farm.