The wedding guests

A novel al­paca ven­ture

Country Smallholding - - Inside This Month -

Many small­hold­ers have imag­i­na­tive ways of mak­ing an in­come, but Wendy Wil­liams has been par­tic­u­larly cre­ative. She takes her al­pacas to care homes as ther­apy for res­i­dents … and has hired them out as spe­cial guests at wed­dings!

Wendy, who has a 21-acre small­hold­ing near Shaftes­bury in Dorset, even ap­peared with Adam Hen­son on the Coun­try­file farm­ing and ru­ral life­style show on TV and the pair were filmed with the al­pacas at a care home.

Wendy started out with just a bun­ga­low and gar­den and man­aged to buy more land to cre­ate her small­hold­ing. She had told her par­ents when she was just three years old that she was go­ing to be a pig farmer and later went to agri­cul­tural col­lege. Her first live­stock were Kunekune pigs and then she

ac­quired a flock of Zwart­bles sheep

“The best birth­day present I ever had were the Kunekunes, Grace and Lily. The were three years old when they ar­rived and sadly Lily died in 2015 but Grace is now 16 years old,” said Wendy,

“The Zwart­bles sheep which are a Dutch milk sheep. They are quite quiet and the ideal small­holder sheep. The car­case is very lean and all the meat is sold from the small­hold­ing. It’s such a lovely meat – peo­ple are al­ways say­ing how tasty it is.”

Wendy de­cided to buy her first al­pacas to pro­tect the sheep from foxes while lamb­ing. Af­ter a cou­ple of years the herd had grown and she had six males which weren’t good enough for breed­ing. She then de­cided to try to boost her in­come by invit­ing vis­i­tors to walk with them. Her busi­ness, Al­paca Ad­ven­ture, was born.

“I only walk with the male al­pacas as the value in the fe­males is from breed­ing. The only other in­come was from the fleeces and you need re­ally good al­pacas to make money on them,” said Wendy.

Af­ter a year of walk­ing she re­ceived a phone call from a lo­cal care home ask­ing if she would con­sider tak­ing the al­pacas to visit res­i­dents. “It was such an op­por­tu­nity to be able to share th­ese beau­ti­ful calm­ing an­i­mals that I couldn’t say no.”

At this point Wendy left here full time job in Shaftes­bury and be­gan reg­u­lar vis­its to care homes with her al­pacas. Then came the idea to take them to wed­dings as ring bear­ers, and the idea proved very pop­u­lar, with pro­mo­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties at wedding fairs. Wendy also started tak­ing two al­pacas along to WI meet­ings for mem­bers to find out about them and in­ter­act with them.

Ex­cit­ing

Wendy said she par­tic­u­larly en­joyed film­ing for Coun­try­file. “It was the most ex­cit­ing two days of my life. It was re­ally fun while they were film­ing. I did an al­paca walk with Adam and a few oth­ers, then we went to a lo­cal care home.

“Adam makes you feel at ease as he’s just an or­di­nary man and a farmer him­self. He was very in­ter­ested and was amazed at the tem­per­a­ment of the placid al­pacas. He be­came quite fond of the boys, es­pe­cially tak­ing them in the lift at the care home!”

Wendy said that de­spite the last few years be­ing very hard work, it has all be worth­while as she feels priv­i­leged to be able to share such beau­ti­ful and gen­tle an­i­mals with other peo­ple.

“It just goes to show that be­ing a small­holder is al­ways a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity in life as you can give things a go and some­times it works! I am ex­cited to see where the fu­ture takes my busi­ness. Farm­ing is a life­style not a job. If you are lucky enough to be in a job you love, life is won­der­ful.”

MORE: www.al­pacaaden­ture.co.uk Tel 01747 853180

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