Sunday, 27 April 2014

Toft triumph at the Heart Of England Spring Alpaca Fiesta

Another busy weekend and another great show for Toft Alpacas at the Heart of England Alpaca Fiesta.
 We took eleven Toft alpacas to the show and every one of our entries achieved a rosette including three firsts and a Reserve Champion. 

TOFT MATILDA- 1st, Huacaya Junior Female Brown and Reserve female Champion Brown
TOFT ADELE- 2nd, Huacaya Intermediate Female Brown
TOFT TIMOGEN- 1st, Huacaya Junior Male Brown
TOFT TAIPAN- 2nd, Huacaya Junior Male Brown
TOFT LEANDER- 6th, Huacaya Junior Male Brown
TOFT IKRIT - 1st, Haucaya Adult Male Brown
TOFT RASTABAN -3rd, Huacaya Adult Male Brown
TOFT TITUS- 5th, Huacaya Junior Male Fawn
TOFT STALA- 4th, Huacaya Junior Female White

TOFT MARY QUANT- 3rd, Suri Junior Female Light

In addition we took 2 clients animals and they both got rosettes with one of them achieving a Championship Ribbon.

Terry and Liz Davis of Snapdragon Alpacas got 4th in the Huacaya Junior Female Light with Toft Bootes
Ben Harford of Ashcroft Alpacas achieved First in the Huacaya Junior Female Fawn and Champion Female Fawn with a Lavender Park Tulley girl- Ashcroft Tulley's Zephyrine.

And to top the lot we entered Timogen and Matilda in the Sires Progeny alongside Zephyrine on behalf of Lavender Park Tulley of Ashcroft alpacas and won the cup. Epic!

A great day for Team Toft and a big thanks to our herdswoman Linda Newport and our new trainee herdswoman Freya Shuttleworth for preparing and handling our alpacas throughout the show. It was Freya's first alpaca show and she took to it like a seasoned Alpaquero. Well done Freya!

British Alpaca Society Alpaca Judge Cathy Lloyd of EP Cambridge judged the show with great skill, clarity and professionalism at a pace that was very impressive. We may have had early starts but on both days we were done and dusted by 3pm. Thanks Cathy a great job well done!

The Supreme Champion Huacaya Alpaca was won by Houghton Bentley a beautiful fawn male owned by Liz and Mick George of Houghton Hall Alpacas.

A big Toft thanks to Lulu Oliver of Lusi Alpacas and Paul Stead of Saphire Alpacas for organising and running the show on behalf of the Heart of England Alpaca Group. Your efforts were much appreciated -thankyou. We are already looking forward to next year when we shall all meet up and do it all again. 

Well that's us done showing for 2014. We shall start shearing the herd on May12th and saying goodbye to the 'Teddy Bears' and welcoming the 'Pink Panthers' as we start preparing for the birthing season where we are expecting almost 60 cria before the end of July. It never stops at Toft Alpacas- Perfick!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Heart of England Alpaca Group Halter Show this weekend

We are dodging the rain here at Toft today squirrelling the Toft alpaca Show Team into various sheds to keep them dry for the show. The. Heart of England Alpaca Group Halter Show is on at the Royal Agricultrual. Centre, Stoneliegh this Friday and Saturday. With almost 300 entries it will be a bit of an alpaca festival, providing an interesting alpaca event for alpaca enthusiasts all over the Midlands.
This will be our last show of the season as the birthing begins in earnest in May and continues through to the end of July. 
After our tremendous success at the BAS National and Alpaca Showtime we have our fingers crossed for a few rosettes this weekend- who knows? Different time, different judge? We live in hope.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Congratulations to Primrose Alpacas...

Only three days into their new equestrian alpaca, craft and smallholding business in Norfolk and the Robinsons of Primrose Alpacas took delivery of a fabulous Toft Alpaca Fibre Herd to begin their alpaca adventure. No flies on you guys. 
Have a great time with your new herd and good luck in getting your new life sorted.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Well done Team Toft

Here they are - the full Toft team, minus my good self, seconds before the Toft Easter Monday Farm Open Day.  Apologies for the darkness of the photo but the cars were already arriving as I was taking this and we didn't have time to shuffle the gang into the light. The Herbert in the high vis vest who is supposed to be greeting the people and parking the cars is busy posing like he's in the cast of Oklahoma and it would have ruined the moment and delayed the day to shift him.
Joking aside, we had a fantastic day on the Manor. The Toft Team ran the event with a precision and professionalism that would have made. Swiss clockmaker cry. The cars got parked and left without incident. The workshops created and crafted. The Pop up Cornflower Cafe went down a treat. The people were alpaca walked and talked. The Knitters were able to touch and feel in a unique atmosphere created by all the  Toft Team, who pulled their puddings out to make this a memorable day for all the attendees. Long may the Team Toft continue to bring joy in abundance to these special Days on the Farm. Thank you all and well done Kerry Lord for pulling it all together and making this a very special Alpaca event.
And a very special thanks to all those who came along to enjoy our alpacas on Easter Monday. I was very appreciative this morning when I went on my walk round to find not one single piece of litter on the Farm. I thankyou all for your responsibility and respect.
The Cornflower Cafe will be popping up again soon at Toft. In two weeks time it will be popping up in the TOFT Studio from Thursday through Saturday right though the summer. So make a date to get along get some great coffee and cake and take in a little alpaca. The babies start arriving in three weeks time.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter surprise...

Came across the first Toft Alpaca cria of the season yesterday morning during my rounds. Unexpected to say the least at four weeks early. With a cold wind raking the hill the cria had been on  the ground about an hour when I found him. He was freezing and floppy and struggling to hold up his head. He's a big lad and I have the felling it had been a long labour as he seemed exhausted,as well as cold. A quick run to the shed do get mother and baby out of the wind and the challenge began in earnest. 
An hour later with the hair drier working like a Trojan he perked up a little but not a lot. I managed to get some colostrum down him and a coat on him to keep the wind out. In short bursts throughout the day as he warmed up  I managed to get some more milk down him until eventually  he  managed to stand. Overnight thankfully he started to feed from Mum and today although he's not exactly running around with the joys of spring he is happy on his feet and feeding regular and getting stronger by the hour. Needless to say I didn't get a lot of me 'busy jobs' done yesterday.
 I know it's tempting fate but I think he's over the hump now. However he'll be a touch lonely for ge next few weeks as the rest of his 60 colleagues are not scheduled to arrive for another three weeks.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Congratulation to all at Hurstway Alpacas

Yesterday  Hurstway Alpacas took delivery of a very fine Toft Alpaca Fibre herd and began their alpaca adventure. We wish them joy in the years ahead with their alpacas. A beautiful herd for a truly stunning setting. Enjoy!

Friday, 18 April 2014


Cornflower Pop up Tea Room opens at the TOFT Studio on Easter Monday during the Toft Alpaca Farm Open Day! 

Toft Alpaca Fibre Herd

Another fine group of young boys go off today to provide their new owner with a great looking fibre herd. Incredible that the fleece statistics of these young men, the quality of their fleece and their inherent genetic fineness would have made them Champions not five years ago. 
The oldest of the males has a micron of 22.2 in his fourth fleece, the intermediate light fawn was 17 microns in his second fleece and the two juniors are under 20. Although micron is not everything in addition all these fibre males exhibit very little guard hair, good density and uniformity throughout their fleece and come for our bloodlines which have  a track record for maintaining quality. There can't be many starter groups of alpacas in the country with such potential to be a productive fibre herd.
Unfortunately for them, they all have  better brothers who will continue to move the Toft Herd on towards Elite whilst they will graze in celibacy and provide their owners with fine yarns for years to come-enjoy.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Look what Popped up...

An all singing and dancing Italian coffee machine popped up yesterday in the corner of the Toft Alpaca Studio. This heralds the official "popping' up of the Cornflower  'Pop Up' tea room at the Toft Alpaca Farm Open Day on Easter Monday. 
After the launch on Easter Monday our customers will be able to savour the very best of coffee tea and cake Thursday- Saturday at the TOFT Alpaca Studio. 
Customers can sit around and chat alpaca from 10 am - 4pm throughout the Summer and keep an eye out for where the Cornflour Pop Up will Pop next. And believe me the coffee is goooood!!

Shorts is on...

Shorts is on and with a bit of luck they won't be coming off again until September.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Heart of England Alpaca Group Shearing and Showing Day

A terrific turnout of owners on Saturday at Toft for the Heart of England Alpaca Group Shearing and Showing day. 
 Shirley and I took members of the Heart of England Alpaca Group through an alpaca Shearing  and Showing day, focusing on preparation and organisation for shearing, skirting and sorting of Alpaca Fibre, dissecting and assimilating the practical application of the British Alpaca Society Shearing guidelines and shearing manual in relation to the realities of the UK. I know it doesn't sound like fun but it truly was. We had a lot of laughs and covered acres of  information and discussion as we shared our practical experience of the past 17 years with the attendees.
A great turnout and very reassuring to so so many new faces. Thanks for your attendance, good humour and patience and we hope you took away a lot more than you arrived with from the day and look forward to seeing you all again in future!

Honorary scrubbing up

As we finally start to bask in these glorious dry days we are having I got a phone call the other day from the BAS breed secretary asking me for a good photograph of myself for the BAS magazine. Apparently the ones they took at the National Show hadn't turned out flattering. Well that's the story of my life. On virtually  every photograph I've ever had taken I either look like 'Greengrass' or gormless. Best photos need to catch me unawares.
They wanted a photie  to commemorate me being made an Honorary Lifetime Member  of the BAS. I was officially given this honour in June 2013 for services to the society, when I finally retired from the BAS board after an amazing ten or so years. Well they finally caught up with giving it to me at the 2014 AGM, about a month ago. I have to say I was seriously touched by this award and deeply grateful to those who put it in motion.  I was also given an engraved glass bowl which shall take pride of place in the trophy cabinet.
So she who rules the roost nagged me to whip off me alpaca farmers costume and don a jacket to satisfy the brief. Shirley normally takes photos in which it is hard to spot the subject but this was pretty straightforward. Well done Whoopy Daisy ! This is about as good as it gets for me with photies. I take them real good but can't be in them. So to safeguard against any additional titivation that might occur when published I flick it out to prove that I can scrub up quite well.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Toft Alpaca fibre herd ready to move to a new home

These lovely group of Pet alpaca males were selected at the weekend to go off to Norfolk where they will be groomed for Alpaca walks and talks as well as supply fibre for a craft enterprise. 
Each of these junior. Males carries a very consistent and uniform first fleece that is under 20 microns containing very little guard hair. The only reason they leave as pets  is that they have better brothers here who will remain in the breeding programme to be monitored as they mature. You've got to admit that they make a very attractive alpaca fibre herd.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

BAS Judge Training Level 1 at Toft

What a week preparing for hosting  the British Alpaca Society Level 1 Judge training course. Linda our herds woman and our new trainee herds woman Freya seemed to be running around for days humping hurdles, clearing shedsand shuffling and selecting alpacas in preparation for the selection day last Thursday. Even Linda's daughter Gemma got roped in on her day off to lend a hand- thanks Gemma.
All in all we had to have well over 60 alpacas available in all colours age groups and quality to enable the teaching classes to be put together. 
The Judge tutors Liz Barlow and Nick Harrington Smith rocked up on Thursday to scrat through the groups to select the teaching and test classes. Jay Holland of Pure alpacas rocked up with a small group of coloured Suris to compliment the classes we put together from our own herd. Shirley seemed  to have been making lists for weeks coordinating the groups for the selection of the classes and as always she did a fantastic job enabling the selection day to run like a Swiss watch.

The delegates arrived at the crack of sparrows on the Friday and were put through their paces by the Judge Tutors all day Friday and Saturday. By a sheer stroke of luck the weather which was forecast to be horrendous passed us by and although we didn't see a lot of sun the weather held off until,after the course was over. 
A huge thanks to all the handlers who gave freely of their time, skill and patience in handling the classes to enable the delegates to get to grips with their methodology.  So a big Toft thanks to Shirley Isseyegh of Merrifield Alpacas, Peter Young and his son Chris of   Top House Alpacas, Angela Churcher of Hayes Alpacas, Jan Penny of Penn Alpacas and Liz Davies of Snapdragon Alpacas- all of whom worked tirelessly with great humour to make the event a success.
Jay and I were observing with the intention of teaching the course in future and it was a fascinating couple of days in which all the delegates seemed to gain confidence and ability as the course progressed. Well done to you all and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Linda worked herself to a standstill over the week and I would lay bets the she almost fell asleep in her dinner on Saturday evening. Thanks Linda and well done Team Toft for making this a very successful event.