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Can you feel autumn trying to take over?

With storm Francis giving us a blustery, wet start to the week and ushering in the feeling of autumn, I think we can safely say it won’t be long until the log fire starts coming into use.

I hope everyone escaped the worst of the weather and managed to hide out of the way rather than ending up with the wet look. I really need to invest in some new waterproofs before winter arrives!

Whilst our alpacas may have be more than capable of living out in all weathers (and actually a little ungrateful when we bring them in during winter) they did seem to sulk a little at the start of this week. Amelia did her best to hide in the hedge bottom, resulting in a stylish Bramble necklace and a few spot of blue where she had obviously laid on blackberries.

James has been away with work this week so the daily feeds fell to me and my sidekick Alfie (One of our red and white border collies). Instinctively alpacas are quite defensive around dogs since they would be prey in the wild. It’s also one of their traits that makes them ideal guard animals for poultry. If you take a look here you will see an article from the bbc where alpacas had been used as guard animals for their flock of turkeys. I have to say, for us it is definitely better knowing they are wandering around, rather than facing the prospect of trying to get our ducks in at night. That was never a fun job!

They are fine with us walking through the field now but having Alfie with them while they eat is going to need some more time.

As you might expect, Amelia is overly inquisitive and can’t resist coming over to say. Ambition on the other hand is not so impressed by the new friendship. Alfie is just so desperate to behave and lies perfectly still as long as possible.

Thursday was our weekly Instagram live (look up @candleford_cottage if you want to join us) and this week we did a spit off with Ambition to test if she was potentially pregnant. We also made the move to YouTube for our replays of these sessions so make sure you subscribe to our channel to see them in the future.

I’m going to guess some of you are wondering what a spit off is so here is a quick (and child friendly) explanation. When an alpaca is ready to mate, she will sit for the male, giving him the go ahead. But if she is approached again after this and is already pregnant, she will spit at the male, essentially saying “back off”. Taking advantage of this reaction, we can use the controlled presence of a male to test for pregnancy. It is also the reason for the name spit off.

We will do this again next week to be sure and then perhaps get it double checked with a vet before crossing our fingers for the next 11 1/2 months until we get to meet our new alpaca.

Since moving into the new field it has been great to start and walk the boys a little more. One lap around the field takes us about 15 minutes, after convincing them that the electric fence gate really is open and they can walk through it.

On Sunday we had a group of friends over to walk with our boys and for the first time in a while there were enough pairs of hands for all the boys to go out together.

Next week we are back on project garden, and will be trying to reinstate a garden wall and choose some slabs to go with limestone. If you have any suggestions let us know in the comments.

Like or comment below to let us know how your week was and if there is anything you want to know.

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