Merry Christmas. We found our farm in late April of 2009 and closed on it at the end of May. We moved onto the land on June 15, 2009 and began the fencing on the 2 areas we selected for pastures. Our first alpacas came here on August 28th, then we purchased 2 sons out of Peruvian Ion, Essence and Tequile. Soon after, the boarded alpacas arrived and also our guard llama Chocolate Chip. Since then our herd has grown to 20, 11 alpacas and 3 llamas. We have bought some really good females, adopted a male from a petting zoo, as well as purchasing 1 gray and 1 black geldings, so as to increase our selection of yarn colors.
All our fencing projects are now completed. we have excellent perimter fencing and use temporary electric fencing to rotational graze our animals, improving the grass and keep the parasites at bay. Fencing is expensive, so we have had to pace ourselves. Infrastructure in very expensive. However we now have all the tractor tools we need and are finishing up the small stuff. For example, the blackberries are now trellised, apple trees added along with a whole new blueberry patch, 3 rows of eating grapes, both Marquis and Muscadines. We have a high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) that is 72 X 30. This extends our growing season, both in the Spring and Fall, and presently we are selling kale and cabbage.
In addition to raising alpacas and llamas, we also raise Southdown Babydoll Sheep, and produce and eggs for resale, both here at the farm and at the local Farmers Markets. Iris also takes produce and eggs to her hairdressing shop in Western Branch for folks to stop in and pick up (757/484-2682). This year, we sold our produce and alpaca products at 2 Farmers Market, Portsmouth and Suffolk. And finally, we are now Certified Naturally Grown. This is a farmer to farmer program similar to "Organic", but we think "beyond organic", because big AG and the Government isn't involved.
2016, has been a good one and we are finishing up our Craft Show schedule; 3 to go after this Saturday, 12/3. Then it is time to rest a bit and begin to plan for next year. I think we have the right number of alpacas and llamas so there will not be any changes there, and the rotational grazing has worked out so well. Thanks to Joel Salatin and the great books he writes. Produce wise, we are planting apple trees to replace the dead peach trees. Peaches don't do well here because of the April frosts, precisely the time when the peaches blossom. It took me 8 years to figure that out! Also, going to do more cultivating with the tractor this year. I have a new plan to straddle the low growers, while at the same time cultivating the high growers. Time will tell if that works. In the meantime the garlic (25 rows) is growing well and the other 2 gardens are covercropped with white clover.
The winter weather has been unpredictable as usual. We have some peach trees that could blossom very soon, while the others thankfully are not. I am going to start planning the garden layout, which includes 3 gardens. I am going to alternate low plants with high plants so I can straddle the low rows with the tractor and be able to do a better job with cultivation. It seems like the grass always gets the better of me in July and I am trying to do a better job this year. Also, we are going to grow more of the popular vegetables and fwer of the least popular. We only sell what we produce on this farm and we will do that again this year. We may be one of the very few farms that do things that way- no funny business!