The Golden Fleece

Nov. 6, 2016

Hi, it's been a while since I blogged last. We are in new territory here again. Nothing stands still on or around an alpaca farm. You may remember, if you have read some of my previous pieces, that our two adult alpacas - Apollo and Astra - had their fleece shorn last June. Well, I have sent the fleece to a mill in Scotland and they will turn what I've sent them into yarn, for knitting. 

The alpaca wool is so special because it is so soft that it doesn't cause an itch on our skin like sheep's wool or even mohair tend to. Also the heat created or mantained by the wool is incredible. Because we only have two alpacas, the amount of wool we will get from what we sent over will be relatively small. But a jumper or scarves or hats will be possible.

I am hoping to receive the balls of wool in the coming weeks. However nobody in this house feels confident about knitting the alpaca wool and I was wondering if anyone reading this piece would be interested in knitting a couple of small garments. If you, or somebody you know would be interested in doing so, please leave a message on the website or send me an e-mail or Facebook me and we can come to some arrangement.

I will post photos of the wool when I receive it. 

Until then...



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By Their Nails

Sep. 28, 2016

Believe it or not but alpaca toenails have to be trimmed every three months or thereabouts. Our two ladies - Apollo and Astra - were last treated in June when they were shorn. So, last week we all took part in their pedicure. We use a shears that looks something like the tool used to trim plants in your garden.

It's amazing how different the attitudes of two similar animals can be. Apollo allowed her nails to be cut without much trouble. However Astra did all in her power to stop us from doing it. But the job was done. Next appointment is for early December.

The two crias are thriving and have grown so fast. Although they were born on 29th May and 23rd June respectively, they look much older especially Bronson who is almost the height of his mother. Blanchet is catching up on him but she will always be smaller because males are always larger.

Until next time.


You wouldn't Believe It!

Aug. 24, 2016

It's been several weeks since my last news bulletin concerning our alpacas. Bronson, our first born is now just over 12 weeks old as I write this. He has grown extremely quickly. Blanchett is four weeks younger but is not as big but she is mad with a capital M. She jumps and runs around each of the paddocks and would make you laugh. She is friendly but not as interested in being rubbed down or tickled as Bronson. Speaking of which, since I last reported, we have put a halter on the big boy once a week for the last three weeks in order that he can be halter-trained and so we can bring him on a lead to shows etc. It has been so much easier than was expected. Blanchett however will be more difficult, but I'm sure it will be rewarding.

Everyday should be a school-day and yesterday certainly was. I received a phone call from my youngest daughter who informed me that Apollo (one of our two mothers) was missing a tooth and that it looked as though it had just fallen out. I was somewhat worried that we were doing something wrong and so I did some investigation on the internet. Do you know what I discovered? Probably not - well, alpacas have baby teeth and will lose them from the age of 2 years and three months old. And guess what age Apollo is - that's right, 2 years and three months. It seems so strange that an animal that can produce babies can still have its baby teeth.

Things are going along nicely here at Hilltopfarm and our two mammy alpacas - Apollo and Astra - will be with us a year in a few weeks time. Its hard to believe and its also hard to remember what we spent our time at before these fabulous animals arrived here. 

Attached is a photo of Bronson haltered and looking much older that his actual age.

Shear Delight

Jul. 3, 2016

Saturday 2nd July was shearing day at Hushabye Farm Alpacas. Paul at Hushabye invited us to bring our two ladies over there to be shorn with his animals. 7:30am was starting time and we were asked to be on site at 8am and were able to do so because a part-time farmer we know loaned us his small livestock trailer. Apollo and Astra and their Cria, Bronson and Blanchett were somewhat nervous at the sight of the trailer initially, but made themselves at home within minutes of climbing in.

It was a busy day with Hushabye Farm having 33 alpacas to be shorn and there were our two ladies. The guys who were doing the job are professional alpaca shearers from New Zealand who will have shorn over 4,000 alpacas this Summer all across Europe. They were a team of four and it took three to shear each animal, but the process itself took just 5 minutes. Another guy with them who was interested in learning about the animals was also with them and he clipped the alpacas nails. Some of the animals were not happy to be shorn they screamed and spat for the duration of their shearing, but when the wool was removed, you could see they were happier to have the 2.5kg coat removed, allowing them to cool down. The photograph above shows Apollo being sheared. The animals front and back legs were tied to keep the alpaca quiet in order that the wool can be shorn with damaged being done to either the shearer or the alpaca.

Catriona, myself and our two girls helped out where we could on the day and both Paul and the shearing team appreciated the assistance. Our two Cria wandered around and watched their parents being sheared, but didn't seem to be all to be upset by it. In fact they were extremely well behaved,

But neither our day nor our alpaca's ended there. Oh no. As per Paul's advice and a previous agreement between us, Apollo and Astra were 'covered' once again by Hushabye's Supreme Male Alpaca - Goldsmith - who helped produce the wonderful Crias we currently have. Apollo and Astra are both due to give birth between the 7th and 13th of June 2017. Our herd will be increased to 6 by then, all going well.

Until later.




Jul. 3, 2016