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Garden demolition and walks with our alpacas.

Life at Candleford Cottage is never dull and never boring. What we aim to do with our blog posts now is keep you all updated on what is happening, from living with two crazy collies, how our bees are progressing and our adventures with our alpacas. Along the way we hope you will find something you can relate to, laugh at (hopefully with us) or learn from, or maybe it is just a 5 minute escape from the day to day while you drink your morning coffee.

The last few months haven’t been what any of us expected, and it certainly wasn’t the start to our journey we had planned for - especially on the wedding side of things. (Don’t worry this post isn’t about COVID-19) but what it has been is a chance for us to get things done at home, spend more time together and begin work to make this a place you will really enjoy visiting.

At the end of July, the alpacas moved fields, meaning we could get on with some much needed field maintenance. Buttercups are gorgeous and really gave us some lovely photos but they take up valuable grass space and actually aren’t that good for alpacas, not that Pippin seemed to mind... the number of times we watched him wander around with their leaves out of the side of his mouth.

The field has been sprayed and in the next month or so will be treated with lime to help balance the soil so we have more grass than weeds next year. Don’t worry, the buttercups had mostly stopped flowering before we sprayed so the bees weren’t short changed!

If you have seen our Instagram live videos you will already be aware that having moved the alpacas into their nice new field, we had to mow it so they could eat the grass. I’ll do a separate piece on this at some point but basically they have teeth that mean long grass is difficult to eat. So Sunday James spent his afternoon going back and forth mowing the rest of the field.

He took a break once the edges had been done so we could take the boys a walk. Clooney, Curly Wurly and Cangaroo went first, then it was Sam and Pippin’s turn.

Clooney, Cangaroo and Curly Wurly, three alpacas ready to go for a walk in the Derbyshire countryside
The three C’s, dressed and ready to go

It’s the first time we have walked them round this field and getting through the gate of the electric fence took some persuasion - they all seemed convinced it would somehow still get them.

Clooney hasn’t done much walking since he came to us, he’s mostly played Uncle to Sam and Pippin so he was a little excited. Watching everything, taking a second look at a tree we hadn’t passed before and jumping 2 meters to the side, much to James’ surprise at one point.

Curly Wurly was his usual speedy self, and the heavy weight that is Cangaroo (yes, he needs to go on a diet) followed him along as a best friend often does.

Sam and Pippin were amazing. If we are honest the only “big walk” they had done previously was to get down the lane from our field to the field they are in now. Sam nailed it. He led the way for the whole walk and a sociable pace. Pippin followed along but was a little more cautious, keeping an eye on things along the way.

Fun over, it was time to finish mowing, pick up the alpaca poop (it’s not all cuddles with Amelia) and get the house jobs done. Oh, go on - here she is.

Amelia isn’t halter trained yet and won’t be starting the process until she is at least 6 months old, so when we need to move her or load her into the trailer, we sometimes end up picking her up or holding her. Whilst a lot of it is fluff and super soft, she is a hefty girl underneath.

The other project we have on at the moment is the garden. What originally started as a plan to solve a bit of damp has turned into a full blown redesign of the garden with a new patio underway and plan to make an outdoor office as a great space to meet everyone who wants to come and talk to us about our alpacas.

James has been busy with the dumper truck shifting unwanted soil and trees out the way and moving hardcore. The left over soil has been put to good use piling some up ready for the raised beds and pollinator garden we will make in the field for guests to sit by, levelling out any particularly bumpy bits of field and making some great mounds for the alpacas to play on. Turns out alpacas love to be nosy and play "king of the castle", so do the dogs.

Fingers crossed we will get a few more dry days this week, otherwise our garden and the parking may look like a swamp.

See you all on Thursday for our Instagram Live - I'll be flying solo this week so fingers crossed everyone behaves.

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