Emma & Terry
We always like to start a story in the grand tradition of story telling, so here goes...
It was once upon a time in the land of the lakes when Emma (writer of extraordinarily interesting children?s books, maker of beautifully whimsical things and owner of award winning craft and design business ?temporary measure? ) found herself accidentally nodding her head when Terry (former soldier in the British Army, loss prevention investigator, entrepreneur, ne?er do well, assistant children?s book illustrator and aspiring pirate) informed her that the only sensible thing to do in their spare time, was to start raising a herd of alpacas. The reasons he gave were as follows:
1. Alpacas were funny-looking and would therefore, logically, be fun to look after.
2. Having done some ?solid research? he had it on great authority that alpacas were the easiest of animals to care for, in fact he would go so far as to say that ?they would look after themselves.? (let?s fast forward briefly to days spent covered in mud, drenched by rain and battered by howling winds, attempting to memorise the dosage on a catering sized bottle of Fasinex.)
3. They had moved to The Lake District. What better way to become part of the local farming community than to breed Peruvian livestock (fast forward to three years of quizzical/disbelieving looks, conversations that begin with ?so what?s that then eh? Does it bite eh?? and then of course, the downright mockery.)
4. Emma could use their fleece in the business for making new knitted products, and maybe even make them characters in her new book. (fast forward to a range of new knitted products and the draft for a new book on the way...okay, so he may have been right about this one. Don?t tell him, he?s insufferable enough. )
Based on four whole points of such profound logic, and bearing in mind their complete lack of experience, knowledge, land, or indeed funds, there was only one inevitable outcome. In a move that made no sense to anyone apart from them, they gave each other a wink and went off and did it anyway.
They started with a name. Because that was clearly the important bit!
Alpacaly Ever After... was born.
And then what did we do? Well, although some ?solid research? had obviously already been done, we (Emma) decided that it would be prudent to do lots and lots and lots more. We bought books (mainly Emma). We scoured the web (mainly Terry). We asked breeders annoying and repetitive questions ? a baby alpaca is called a WHAT!??
So having somewhat offset the Lack Of Knowledge issue, we decided to approach the Not Having Any Serious Funds issue by employing a tactic that Terry had learnt in his army days, and that had come in remarkably handy ever since: ?Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!? We did this by offering to take on alpacas from owners who were looking to down size their herds, or were reluctant to sell their animals separately, preferring to keep a family group together in the knowledge that they would be going to (annoyingly) keen new owners, who would do their absolute best to make sure the alpacas had a marvellous new home and far too much attention.
Three years later we now have a herd of thirty delightfully funny-looking alpacas that is growing all the time. We have two beautiful new cria (yes, we know the words now and everything!) and another on the way. We have the know-how to build the sturdiest of shelters and put coats on camelids who take a very reluctant approach to the concept of outdoor clothing. We have ropes and rope skills. We can spend several hours at a time discussing the difference between hay and haylage. We have found the most beautiful home for the Alpacaly Ever After herd on the Deer Park at Armathwaite Hall in the northern Lake District, on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, very close to the little barn where we live. The alpacas can roam free surrounded by the fells, wandering through the woodland at the top of the eighteen acre site and taking walks through the river that runs along the bottom. We also have a fabulous collection of buckets and Terry has a tweed cap.
Last year we began halter training some of the most outgoing (flipping nosey) members of the herd and have been running walks with visitors around the grounds of the hall and down to the lake. There really is nothing quite so delightful as watching an alpaca take a bath in a lake, it should be recommended as a cure for all cases of melancholy and world weariness.
Emma has also been drawing the herd (in between helping them to look after themselves) and we are developing gorgeous product ranges with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, for the new website www.alpacalyeverafter.co.uk including greetings cards, knitting kits, patterns, mugs and hand knitted alpacas (designed by Emma?s mum The Greatest Knitter Of All Time Ever), using the yarn spun from last year?s fleeces. If watching an alpaca take a bath doesn?t quite cure the blues then watching our shearer ?Alpaca Bob? spraying himself liberally with WD40 in order to top up his tan, before shearing thirty alpacas without taking a breath, will certainly send them on their way.
So, not bad for a start, but we have grander plans ahead! In fact, Terry may just not stop until world domination is in his sights. His twitter account @alpacaly has become ridiculously popular over the last twelve months with alpaca lovers and a surprising amount of celebrities from all over the world, while he steadfastly refuses to follow anyone (except of course for Emma, the man may be a megalomaniac but he?s not daft.) He has taken great delight in sharing our huge learning curve with everyone, and making the most of our awesome gang of misfit alpacas. We have found to our absolute pleasure, that although we are lucky enough to have some stunning show worthy alpacas, it?s the funniest looking ones that make the best photographs and drawings, and are often the most fun to hang around with (okay so he was right about that one too.) It has been amazing to have so many people joining the Alpacaly Ever After team, his tagline runs ?Be Warned: our numbers are growing and we are mobilizing...? and his ?Woolly Army? of followers on Twitter has lead us into some unusual situations, most recently being asked to name our beautiful new girl cria after Tim Burgess, the lead singer of rock band The Charlatans...who are we to argue with unusual ideas and so Burgess she is. We call her Burdie for short, just so she doesn?t feel too much pressure.
And where will the story go next? Well who can say, all we know for sure is that it has been an absolute privilege to spend time in such gentle, curious and extremely funny-looking company, and that we will be trying our hardest, every day, to make sure that our alpacas get there Alpacaly Ever After...