Herd the latest?
IT'S that time of year when most people look to their sheds to find something to cut the lawn - but not for Chrissy Kirk of Homefield Alpacas, Great Carlton.
Around five years ago, Chrissy was left some land after her parents passed away and decided to farm with something that didn't result in a trip to an abattoir.
After a discussion with a friend the idea of an alpaca farm was born and Chrissy has never looked back.
Chrissy said: "I started off with buying my boys before we went into breeding to see what we were getting ourselves into.
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"It didn't take long before we bought some females and in 2009 our first cria (offspring), Apollo and Athena, were born."
From that moment Chrissy's love for the exotic animals grew and she rekindled her love of crafts to make unique items from their wool.
She added: "Our aim was to increase our own herd and increase the national herd at the same time and we breed healthy animals with strong confirmation and excellent fleece characteristics. "We have now been breeding alpacas for more than three years and have several stud males available, Blizzard, Jeremy, Nipper, and this year we have introduced Spirit and Cloud to our list.
"I have always loved crafts so this provided a chance for me to get into felting and hand spinning the wool."
Chrissy is often invited to WI groups and into schools to teach about the exotic species and to provide felting and spinning demonstrations.
Chrissy said: "I enjoy teaching people about alpacas as many people still aren't aware of them or think they are lamas."
Visitors are always made welcome at the farm although it is preferred that an appointment is made first.
As well as alpacas Chrissy keeps a range of resident sheep and happy hens. For more information about the farm visit www.homefieldalpacas.co.uk or call 01507 450804.
Alpacas are not wild animals. They have been domesticated for more than 6000 years.
There are two main types of alpaca - the Suri and the Huacaya.
Alpacas eat mainly grass and hay, however, a protein supplement is fed regularly when needed.
Alpacas usually have one cria after an eleven-and-half-month gestation period.
They usually give birth in the daylight as this allows the cria to dry its fleece before the night temperature drops.
Alpacas are sheared annually and produce an average of 3.5kgs of fibre in a range of 22 colours with many shades in between.
Alpacas are a herd animal and cannot be kept singly.
Alpacas will ward off foxes and male geldings are often run with sheep as guard animals.