An alpaca gift experience
It seems there is no end to the onwards and upwards march of alpacas in terms of the national consciousness and their favoured status is now confirmed among animal lovers everywhere. As to just why they are so popular (not least ‘trending’ online) I was here in a peaceful part of south Norfolk, with owner Lucy at Stubbs Farm, together with Pippa, 12, to find out.
However, the first animals we met at Lucy’s upland stretch of land near Loddon, were, perhaps counter-intuitively, some really cute goats. These sort of bounced around and nudged us in a really playful way. This was not scary, the goats are kept by Lucy, largely to give her many younger visitors a safari-style encounter whereby the taller alpacas are a bit too high for a four year old to interact with in the same way.
Of course, we fed the goats (pellets) but now it was time for the main event in any gift experience day.
For Stubbs Farm is the setting for a relatively new alpaca centre which boasts 30 alpacas. First of all we got to meet ‘the ladies’.
In a large paddock adjacent to the goats we met 12 females, eight of which, said Lucy, were pregnant. The alpha female, Molly, stood back a bit at the start and it was immediately clear how individual the different animals are. Some were happy to come close and try their luck with the food bucket while others hung back. The alpacas have a rather rigid hierarchy and each knew her place and how to interact with the others.
Alpacas were originally bred from llamas in Peru, but the grandmother of one of the group was from Bolivia. They were happy to hang out with us before we crossed the site to meet ‘the boys’. Many of these were last years young and Pippa was soon feeding them carrot strips and posing for selfies. The bravest was called Bentley and they took advantage of shade in a large white semi-permanent outside shelter.
As we fed the males carrots, Lucy explained how her hire business works out. This started as a bit of an experiment but now is incredibly popular:
‘If you have an upcoming event like a birthday, anniversary, hen party or wedding, you can hire some of our alpacas to come out to meet you. There is flexibility according to what you require and we can make a pre-visit to discuss options and you just need sufficient outdoor space so we can set up a pen and park a car and trailer nearby.
‘We bring a group of 2-5 alpacas to you plus favourite treats for you to feed them. Get up close, take photos and get to know them. For an additional fee we can include taking them on a short walk together as part of the experience and a bride walking an alpaca is a great photo opportunity!
‘So we’re happy to come and view the venue prior to booking to talk through logistics.’
Now it was time for me and Pippa to walk an alpaca each and the two ‘lads’ were adventurous and fun companions.
The hill in each of the alpaca pastures is more than it looks. To the alpacas it is a reminder of their upland origins and they delight in climbing it and we watched enchanted in the fading evening light as the alpacas we had been leading were now unharnessed and joined their mates to run about on the hill.
Especially this happens at dusk when they climb around and Lucy’s website has classic moody dusk shots of the alpacas standing on the mound.
Animal loving Pippa said “I LOVED the alpaca farm, they are now my new favourite animals”.
Whether you meet the alpacas at Stubbs Farm or they come out to you as a hire package, they give another dimension and will enhance your life and delight everyone.