As I hinted early last year (here), we have been waiting on the arrival of some special additions to the farm. We’ve spent a long time waiting, but I can finally introduce you to Wally and Tweedledum – the alpacas.
These guys have been worth the wait. Not only are they utterly gorgeous (I love watching them run around the paddock, and their big dark round eyes are so beautiful), but they actually serve a really important purpose on the farm.
We’ve had a lot of problems with foxes getting into the paddocks and attacking our young livestock at night time when our dogs are inside. Alpaca’s are amazing at guarding and will trample anything that’s not supposed to be in their paddock, so we’re using them to guard our sheep. If you’ve ever driven past a farm and seen a couple of random alpacas mingling amongst the other animals, that’s why. A lot of farms nowadays are keeping alpacas to help protect their flock from wild dogs and foxes.
As the alpacas don’t like dogs in their paddock, we’re unable to use our working dogs to round up our sheep. I can tell you it’s no fun trying to round up sheep without the dogs. Although we certainly give our neighbours something to laugh at. It’s hard work and can take hours to do something that our dogs can do it in minutes. So we are currently trying to train Wally and Tweedledum to be hand fed and touched, so we can lead them out of the paddock and get the working dogs in. The challenge is on!
Wally is the brown one on the left and Tweedledum is the white one on the right.
An added bonus of keeping alpacas is their wool. They need to be sheared every year so we’re putting our thinking caps on how best to use their wool when the time comes. At the moment I’m tending towards making a throw pillow from the first shear just to get use to handling the wool and it’s an easy project to start with. Em wants to give spinning the wool into yarn a go. Yeah….. I’ll leave that to her to try. If you have any suggestions or if you have ever worked with alpaca wool before, please leave a suggestion in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’ve done.
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