Pathways Progress – 8 September 2016

They are at it

In the last update I announced the arrival of our alpacas. They are beautiful creatures and have added something to the farm that is very hard to explain. Their regal presence attracts people… they are unusual, curious animals with exotic names like Papillon, and Sundance. The two young cria are adorable (and growing quickly). They really are worth a visit.

When they arrived we thought that both of the mums were pregnant ready for spring/summer births next year (the gestation period for alpacas is 11-12 months). The test for checking that a female is pregnant is called the “Spit test’. This involves introducing the amorous male to the female again – if the female spits in its face it is possibly pregnant. If it does the same a week or so later the pregnancy is more certain. The third time is like a confirmation and a scan is taken to make sure… Clever.

Papillon was indeed pregnant and the above picture is the scan of next years’ cria. How exciting is that?

Unfortunately, when the vigorous and very keen male was introduced to Verushka she… well, see for yourself. Please click on the photo (right) to see something not seen every day in sleepy Lowestoft.

Of course, the reason we have alpacas is not just to admire their strange good looks, nor to be entertained by their mating activity. We have them for trekking. The feeling of walking alongside one of these gracious beasts is such a privilege and something so ‘different’. Click on the other (below) to get an idea of the experience.

Anyone for a tomato?

It doesn’t seem to matter how many tomatoes you eat in a day, especially if they are straight from the plant, they always taste amazing. I have eaten so may over the last few weeks people think I have a tan… its just my skin pigment turning red!

We have produced some truly wonderful veg. It is thrilling to see it freshly picked and sitting in the barn. Its also brilliant to hear comments from people who visit as they look at it all spread out. Is this for sale? is one of the most common questions to which we answer “please help yourself and leave a donation”… There are some lovely, generous people around – or maybe they are just connoisseurs of great produce.

Next year we will be growing to more of a plan and selling it as an income stream but this year has been about learning, trying things out with our co-workers, enjoying the freedom of experimentation and trying out the soil. What a great journey we have had since April.

The real work

Of course, all the pleasure we get from growing things and being with beautiful animals is just a means to an end… our real work is done with the wonderful co-workers who come to the farm each day. We have been truly blessed with some incredible weather over the last few weeks but all of us would agree that the greatest pleasure we get is seeing the people we work with enjoying their day and seeing some of them achieve things they may not have thought possible.

One very dear lady had never been in a field with animals before. We stood in the paddock with the alpacas and one of them came to within a meter to take a closer look at us. That wasn’t the end, we then went into Geoffrey’s pen (the billy goat!) and he put his hooves on the back of her chair and put his head on her shoulder. Wow.

I received a note from the key worker of one of our co-workers which said: Since attending Pathways he has shown a noticeable change. He smiles and will initiate a conversation with “I go to the farm on Mondays”. Previously he did not state what he did unless asked. He smiles when asked about his day and has said several times that he likes the care farm and would like to attend more. Several staff have said his body language is relaxed when he returns home.

One co-worker said: “I have anxiety at times and its important to have time to rest and have a chance to focus on things that matter, to spend time with people who care. What I found here is people that care.”

Its encouragement like this that makes everything worthwhile.

Autumn must be coming soon

We have a number of jobs to complete before the colder weather starts and our Saturday workparties are great opportunities to meet, chat, see what has been going on (and to get some of those vital jobs done).

Our next Saturday together will be Saturday 17 September we will be there from 10 till 4ish please come along if you can spare some time. We really would love to see you.




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