Unbelievably, well for us at least, we are in our mid 50’s now – and living the dream!
It has been a beautiful day up here – very cold but dry and bright. Having started with a bit of admin and extra animal duties due to the weather Kathryn and I decided to walk the dogs through the fields, down to the town. The jacket I was wearing is older than Will, so we popped to Hubbuck’s for a new one. Then we went for “dinner lunch” with a couple of drinks!! We’ve just walked home, fed everyone and here I am – keyboard at the ready and hot coffee beside me.
We started with alpacas over 12 years ago. For many years they have been there but my work, bringing up our beautiful children, running a B&B and then moving/building a house all got in the way. No more!! Today was just like a normal couple’s Saturday or Sunday I guess, but we had the chance to do it on a Wednesday.
What makes the day even more special was everything else that has happened – concurrently with us enjoying ourselves so much.
However, before I share all that with you, we are also constantly reminded of how tough life can be! We have two very close family members receiving crucial care from our brilliant NHS just now. We have ongoing concerns for two parents with dementia and the other parents lovingly but struggling to care for them. Then we have other friends recently diagnosed with illnesses. Our thoughts are with you all.
Before moving back – since I last blogged - we have also lost Nero Black Roma. She was the cria who in my last blog I gaily reported had recovered from pleurisy. Sadly, I was premature and despite our ongoing conviction that she was so much better one morning Kathryn found her dead in the paddock. A PM was totally inconclusive.
Whilst we were both devasted about Roma we have to be aware of the realities of animal breeding and, the challenges our friends and family currently face bring all these set backs into a realistic perspective.
So back to the Pub at lunchtime. Unusually, whilst we were there Jack our eldest rang. He gets married in June and had some exciting news about the wedding venue. Whilst I was on the phone to him Hannah tried to ring. With me engaged she rang her mum – stating first off “I’m pleased someone wants to take my call”! Understandably she was madly excited about a new job opportunity that she’d just been interviewed for. We were probably only saved from Will ringing us too as he’s currently “incommunicado” on Operation Blue Warrior, as he approaches the culmination of his RAF Basic Training.
The reality is the three of them are now all independent, carving out their own lives – but it’s great to keep in touch with all their adventures.
When we go to the pub as a twosome, we also kid ourselves that it doubles up as a “board meeting”! However, this lunchtime we did make some important decisions - between the “American Food”, drinks and phone calls! We always find it difficult to attend as many alpaca shows as we’d like but this spring it’s even more challenging. The upshot is we’ll attend the National Championships, NWAG and Northumberland.
We’d have liked to go to HOEAG but its too far and too soon after the Nationals. Then I’m at Jack’s Stag Weekend when Scottish Champs are on, plus we have a commitment to the Hexham Spring Fair the same day which Kathryn will fulfil. Sorry to our friends in Scotland but we’ll be back next year we promise.
As if that was not enough, we’ve arranged for prospective buyers to come to see an animal next week and sold a duvet.
In brief, in other news, Kestrel has seen her new suitor Stig and hopefully will have pups in March. Alpaca Encounters goes from strength to strength with three more visits booked. Our annual holiday has been finalised – a week in a beautiful cottage in Norfolk, next September with our buddies Jane and Brian. Halter training of weanlings going well.
Sat now in our cosy new log cabin – Life is good. Hope it is for you too. ... See moreSee less
Wishing all our family, friends in the alpaca community and everyone beyond all the very best for 2019 - really looking forward to catching up with many of you in the months to come.
Regular followers will be aware of a momentous 2018 for Kathryn and I. Moving to our new home in late May was the culmination of 4 years of hoping, planning, negotiation and upheaval. Seven months on we could not be happier. We’ve had a fabulous family Christmas in our new home with lots of family visiting. Our herd are generally flourishing and we have so much to look forward to. Our lives revolve around our family and our alpacas - Life is good!
In a quick further review of 2018, aside from “Hillfield” our name for the log cabin, highlights include:-
Our first purchased stud Houghton Cosmic taking National Coloured Herdsire Champion
Lots of healthy cria births, all bar one being black.
Nero Black Mountbatten taking Supreme Champion at the Northumberland Show
Launching our new Alpaca Encounters business - the start-up was steady at best but momentum is now strong - in the run up to Christmas we sold over 50 gift vouchers and love introducing alpaca lovers to our herd as they graze.
Now looking ahead alpaca-wise, we are still actively planning our 2019 show schedule. We are already committed to the Nationals in March and are finalising our booked show team of 6. We have an exciting crop of cria but as you will see from the pic taken at breakfast time this morning they are all well thatched with hay :( I’m delighted to report that Nero Black Roma who was laid low with pleurisy seems to have made a full recovery now. We also have a couple of Intermediates to add to the mix.
We always attend our local show in Northumberland but before then there is also the HoE Spring Fiesta, NWAG and the Scottish Championships. It’s impossible and too costly to attend them all - much as we’d like to. Jacks stag do (in Portugal) clashes with Scotland for me but that may not stop Kathryn attending?
As mentioned in my last blog we have lots of alpacas to deliver to new homes in early 2019 and the list has grown longer since. That said we still have 10 pregnant females retained and look forward as ever to the birthing season that will start in April/May. This morning I took the above picture of the pregnant mums advancing towards me as I went to feed them. They are accompanied by five intermediates awaiting mating in the Spring.
Away from the alpacas we have Will’s graduation from RAF basic training to look forward to in February. As I type he’s half way through and whilst it has been incredibly tough he seems to be more committed than ever. He has been lucky that Christmas has given him an un-typical 2 week break - but he still has a tough 5 weeks ahead. Beyond that he’ll head to Hampshire for 25 weeks Police training. His lovely girlfriend Lois has given him further strength and motivation despite them being apart making life seem more tough.
We’re now less than 6 months from the wedding of Jack and his Fiancé Becky down in Cheshire - in an amazing coincidence our last sale of three lovely females will be heading to the neighbouring village in February. The whole family is incredibly excited for the wedding - particularly Hannah who will fulfil a lifelong ambition to be a bridesmaid. Of course the big day will be in the middle of our birthing season but we are incredibly lucky to have our good friend Jane booked to come and house/alpaca/dog sit.
In the meantime Jane will hopefully be helping us with halter training of the weanlings in the coming weeks, as will lots of the lucky recipients of Alpaca Encounters Gift Vouchers. Let’s hope the rest of the Winter stays as dry as it is at present. We just need more wind to blow the debris out of the fleeces!
Alongside the pics already referred to I have attached a few of our home in the New Years sun and our great new house sign, kindly bought for us by my parents and made locally by Blossom Hill Engineering.
Great update Paul. They are always interesting. You should both be very proud of the fab house you’ve designed and created and how well your business is flourishing due to your hard work. Your children are onto their next chapters and are a great credit to you and themselves. Wishing you a fab 2019 and look forward to seeing you both soon! Xx
Exciting times coming up in 2019! Enjoy and wish you all the luck in the world. Hope to see you both at the National xx
Happy New Year x hope to see you both soon 😊
Your blogs are always so interesting to read Paul. We wish you and Kathryn every happiness in 2019 and trust all your alpaca dreams come true. Lots of love xx
Happy new year!
Happy new year to everyone at Shrimpton towers 👍
Thanks for the update, all looks great going forward! See you soon (request is in) x
Happy new year to you all
Hope to see you next time I am heading south to dads - would love to catch up and see your new home x
Happy new year to you both the boys are doing fantastic David And judith