We’ve had our alpacas now for a year and we love their personalities and watching them play and interact with us and each other. We often have people walking past stopping and watching them and pointing them out to their children. Their fleeces are beautifully soft as well as they keep the grass down in the little field next to our house. But something new I’ve just been learning about is how good alpaca poo is as a fertilis(z)er for the garden! Apparently it can be used straight away without even having to compost it for 6 months to a year like you need to do with other animal manures. You can basically shovel it up in your field and put it straight on your strawberries like I did, as well as my blueberry bush and while I was at it, I scattered some in my raised beds for the courgettes (zucchinis) and pumpkins! So we’ll see how all this fairs. I’m even now seeing it for sale in garden centres! So a whole market we didn’t even know about. I think I might first start with giving it away to anyone who would like a bit and maybe we’ll then move on to bags of it (maybe)!
The last 2 weeks or so, its been all about finding a male stud for our 3 gorgeous girls Veronica, Vixen and Velvet so we might have baby alpacas next spring which are called ‘cria’. We contacted a couple different people and farms and then decided to use a stud from Prince Bishop Alpacas. They have amazing alpacas and even ones that are leopard spotted! Very unusual and highly desirable in the alpaca world!
So in order to get our girls primped and pampered, ready to meet the boy(s) they needed a shearing first. Since it was quite short notice, we used a recommended Scottish woman called Jackie from Longhorn Shearers. She said she mainly does sheep and that alpaca shearing was more of a hobby! She arrived Sunday morning with all her gear and her helper for the day and got down to business. Three nice haircuts and bags of gorgeously soft alpaca wool later, and the girls are loving their freedom from their heavy winter coats!
The following day it was time to load up to go meet ‘Subtefuge’ the male stud and see if any of them fancy each other. Now the 3 girls hadn’t been loaded in a horse trailer since they arrived on our farm, so we weren’t too sure how this would go. But surprisingly, it went very smoothly, they were a little unsure, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome with a little coaxing.
So off we went, a beautiful day for a drive in the English countryside, and we soon found our destination. Carole and Clyde were there to meet us and introduce us to their herd of alpacas and in particular their boys! Subtefuge was quite a sight! Big, woolly, like a big teddy bear! We were very hopeful all would go well because he had actually been sold and would soon be leaving to go to Belgium and with his beautiful markings, we were hoping we would enjoy some of his leagacy.
Carole and Clyde were so lovely, Carole gave us a cup of tea with some tasty tea cakes and scones, (all so very British and civilised!) and as you do, you talk about all things alpaca! Carole has even written two children’s books about their experiences which have great messages. Since we now have our holiday let and people like to meet the alpacas, the books have a pride of place there.
Well, I could go on about it all, but the long and short of it is that the girls were just not interested! At all! We left them there for a week’s holiday and Carole and Clyde kept trying them together each day, but let’s just say, the girls were not receptive. Maybe they just weren’t quite mature enough because their animal instincts just didn’t kick in.
So the best laid plans, and all of the excitement of it, and we’re back to square one. We may try again later in the summer, or just wait until next spring. You want to time it so the young cria get the most of the spring goodness in the grass, so waiting too late in the summer and they would miss out on that because the gestation is eleven and half months.
So even though it didn’t work this time, we are happy to have out girls home, we’ve all learned a lot along the way and we’ll just have to think of it as a practice run!