Friday 9 September 2016

Weigh time over at TOFT Alpacas

At TOFT we religiously weigh every alpaca  on the farm every month come rain hall or shine. This month it was absolutely gorgeous making up for all the rainy days to come. We also check body score and  eye lid palour at the same time, taking this regular opportunity to monitor the whole of the TOFT alpaca herd. 
We weigh in the winter months to ensure that no one is losing weight and weigh in the summer to make sure that no one is gaining an excess. We try to maintain all the mature alpacas between 65-75kg not always easy when some of them want to eat all the pies. The greedy ones end up in the 'fat field' for the winter and the slightly challenged end up in the 'skinny field'. 
At this time of the year after the joys of summer grazing  we expect all the alpacas to have a body score of 3.5 -4 out of 5 max and would expect them to come out of the winter between 2.5-3.5 body score. That's what we aim for as our ideal but with two very mild wet winters on the trot, in which the grass hardly stopped growing, it's a challenge to keep the weight off these extremely efficient grazers.

Thursday 25 August 2016

What? Is my bin better than yours?

Irony upon irony. At the risk of starting to sound like Victor Meldrew -can people please use their common sense and finish the job they started.
I picked these two massive carrier bags up just left in the hedge on farm yesterday. They contain the remains of two or possible three disposable barbecues and all the detritus attached to a wee picnicin the  countryside on a lovely summer day.
What I cannot understand is the logic of people who buy Eco- carrier bags from Asda- fill it full of their rucbbish and then dump it in the hedges and lanes of the wonderful clean countryside they came to enjoy in the first place. 
Who do you think is going to dispose of this lot for you? Firstly it will be the foxes, badgers, ratsand  squirrels, not to mentioned seagulls, who will tear this lot apart in a night or two and scatter your debris all over the place. At which point your carefully packed rucbbish  becomes not just an eyesore and an imposition but a tsunami of litter polluting the very space you came to enjoy.

Get real people! My bin is not better than yours. You brought it out here please take it back!

Or I warn you some young millennial is going to make themselves a fortune by creating an app that makes these Asda bags and the like traceable. Then we shall gladly send your detritus to be dealt with at your gaff, possible by drone!!!

Enough! be logical and finish the job!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

What is all this about...please you brought it take it with you

To those thoughtful people who use wee plastic bags to pick up your dog poo we appreciate you efforts to keep our 3/4 miles of footpaths clean. 

To those of you who then proceed to hang the bags in the hedges and fences in the absolute belief that their is somewhere on TOFT a 'poo fairy' who comes along in the night and spirits these packages away- I have to inform you , at risk of destroying your innocence forever. There is no such fairy and in my busy life I could do without having to dispose of your little presents. You brought these items with you, you used them, please take them away with you. The whole point of performing this worthwhile function is that they go back on your own bin, not in mine and certainly don't hang like urban Christmas decorations all over the countryside. 
Much love and thanks- the TOFT 'Poo Fairy' who wants to be made redundant ASAP by your change of habit. xxx

Friday 12 August 2016

Fabulous weekend of celebration at TOFT Fest 2016

What a weekend we had last. Sorry not to have put this up sooner but it's been a busy old week- 'twas ever thus!
 We have all just recovered from tidying up and getting everything back in place after a tremendous two days of craft and alpaca celebration here at TOFT. This weekend marked the tenth anniversary of the brand that is now TOFT. A brand that is internationally recognised across the world as representing the very best in creative design, service and luxury. 
More than time this celebration marks the the arrival back from University some ten years ago of Kerry Lord or Bettinson as she was then, carrying her newly printed, first class honours degree in English and with a little time to kill before taking up a masters or embarking on an academic career. We casually asked her, as you do when a spare pair of intelligent hands arrives on the manor, if she would look over our emerging alpaca retailing efforts and see what she could do. 
Well the rest is history, she took to it like a shark in a meat factory, committed her talents to the n'th degree to make this side of our business a huge success. Ten years later TOFT employs over 14 people, retails and wholesales across the world and has become a brand with a huge national and International reputation. Kerry has just published her fourth book on crochet. We have the TOFT coffee shop and Shop open five days a week on site in the TOFT Studio. We have an online retail facility to rival the best in its field and a wholesale division that is smoking! The goal posts are moving so fast around here you don't get a chance to kick the ball at them.
All this is very much down to the commitment, energy, creativity and talent of our daughter Kerry, and of course in no small part also down to the amount of support she gets from her husband, her friends, all our family, friends relations, passers by and any other slave, that can be exploited to give her a hand. 
I could go on forever detailing the incident, adventure challenges and successes of the past ten years and I am convinced that one day someone will do just that, but suffice to say Shirley an I are so very proud of our daughter and what has been acheived here. We feel very privileged to have played a part in seeing Kerry Lord become a brand in her own right and mature into the formidable creative force she has become today. 
10 years is a long time and a lot has been acheived but I confidently put you all on notice to watch this space. For I am acutely aware that for TOFT the story is just at the end of the beginning. This first ten years has been a magnificent achievement but it may it well be a mere drop in the ocean as to where Kerry will lead her merry team of Yarnies to next.
Congratulations to you all, congratulations Kerry and our sincere thanks to everyone past and present who has contributed to making TOFT the success it is today. Hold onto your hats y'all for the best is yet to come!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

The end of an era... and thanks from TOFT Alpacas

I must apologise, I have been very remiss this past month or so in not informing all our friends and fans that Linda Newport our herdswoman of 15 years standing has left Toft to take up a career elsewhere. We have been so busy since she announced her sudden departure I haven't had time to spit let alone keep this blog up to date.
Linda will be sorely missed at Toft as she has been working with us as part time herdswoman for as long as most of the kids can remember and has played an absolutely vital part in our success over the past fifteen years.
When she joined us we had around thirty alpacas and around 15 acres of ground to look after, nowadays we have 70 acres  and  200 alpacas and whole lot besides with the Toft Coffee Shop and Studio onsite and the online activities expanding on a daily basis.
I was trying to get a half decent photograph of Linda to accompany this announcement but she was always expert at hiding from the cameras. I enclose a few shots to pay tribute to her time with us and jog a few memories.
We thank her for her massive contribution to Toft through her years of dedicated service and wish her well in the future as she retires from the farm work and moves on to pursue an indoor life so that she can spend more time with her Grandchildren and family. We shall all miss you, Linda, and hope that your change of path brings you all the happiness you deserve.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Broken bones and a quick car trip...

Alyona a four week old Cria was hopping around the paddock the other day unable to put any weight on her front right foot. At first we thought it a sprain but it didn't get better then we administered anti inflammatory and it didn't get better so yesterday we bundled her into the backseat of the Hilux and too fake her to Towcester Vests for a x ray. After some heavy scrutiny it was discovered that she had a broken metacarpal and a cast was put on. For the next six weeks she will be hobbling around the paddock toting this lump of plaster like Marleys Ghost, but hopefully she will mend quick and we can get her back solidly on all fours a lot sooner. She sat as good as gold in the back seat, Never made  murmur during the examinations and came back to TOFT like the queen on her birthday procession- all dignity and calmness in the face of all adversity. I kid you not its like they know you are there to help.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Eeee.... This grass is taking a bit of eating..!

You can't hear the grass growing at TOFT these past few weeks. We are busy shuffling the weaners around en masses to try and chomp it down. If we were growing cows or sheep we would be overjoyed but the alpacas are such efficient grazers that they get fat on concrete. As we prefer to keep our alpacas at their 'ideal' weight we are currently employing an intensive grazing and cutting regime to keep the grass under control. However this warm wet weather is doing its best to scupper those well laid plans. 'Twas ever thus!