We moved to Lowgate in 1996.
Our property had an acre and a half of land so we thought it would be a good idea to keep some animals there. We first fell in love with alpacas at the Northumberland County Show way back in 2002, and spent four years researching how to start a business with the animals. We chose to breed black Huacaya alpacas, which are softer than the Suri breed.
It came to a point where we needed more space to expand the herd.
That’s why we have just purchased a field and moved into a log cabin there – we can be closer to the alpacas and dedicate more of our time to them. Alpaca breeding is unpredictable – you need to be on site as much as you can. We can now monitor when the females are going into labour, and can take greater care of the young animals.
Our only source of income is the alpacas.
Up until November 2017, we ran a bed and breakfast, but now we make all our money from the breeding stock, stud services to help improve other herds, our alpaca knitwear business Wear Alpaca, and our recently launched Alpaca Encounters, which allow the public to experience alpacas firsthand. Our visitors love walking alongside them and feeding them. We do a briefing before every session to give groups information, but ultimately getting up close to the alpacas is the main attraction.
We have an award-winning herd.
The British Alpaca Society National Show is one of the biggest events we attend. One of our top animals is a female called Nero Black Galaxy – she was a national champion in 2011, and two years later she gave birth to a boy called Nero Black Shadow who has also won awards.
We started out with five alpacas in 2006, and there are now 36 on our farm.
We own 30 of those, and six have been purchased by people who don’t have their own land so they pay us to look after them. In the last three years, we’ve sold high quality male studs to other breeders.
What we do is a genuine pleasure.
The animals make us laugh – and cry at times due to their unpredictable nature!
Our life is generally stress-free.
We spend most of our time outdoors, and we’re absolutely loving the new log cabin – it’s warm and full of character, with contemporary interiors.
There’s a great sense of belonging and community in the Tyne Valley.
Our neighbours really look out for our herd and will always let us know if something happens to the animals when we’re not there.
This is such a peaceful part of the country.
We’ve lived in the North East for over 20 years now and wild horses couldn’t drag us away.