I am in a very thoughtful mood. Drivel it still may be but it is thoughtful drivel.
Sue and I entered the alpaca world almost three years ago as the second step on a ladder which would ultimately change our lives dramatically. The first step had been the sale of our house in Dorset and the resulting purchase of our 'Wooden House' in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the South of France. It was a long term plan, eight years to be precise (still 4 years and 11 months to go). Some people said it was too long, sometimes I think it is too long.
The plan was to buy three female alpacas, which we did, and from them build a herd of alpacas through careful breeding that would be worthy of a business after the eight years had passed.
Three years down the line and we have 9 breeding females, (three black, three brown and three fawn) having purchased two more a year ago and 'grown' the others ourselves.
The herd, however, stands at 29 at the moment, which for us and our 5 acres, is maximum occupancy.
The rest of the herd is made up of our boys, including our new herdsire Columbus, and the sales herd. The sales herd is made up of animals belonging to others who have asked us to sell them on their behalf. The commission on the sales covers stud fees and the cost of running a herd of alpacas, in theory.
Last year, the first year of real business we did well. We have just received the accounts and we actually made a profit. Everything we made went back into the business.
This year the belief that we have in the ability of our alpacas to provide us with an income is under fire. We are going through the 'difficult' second year. The alpacas are in tip top condition, they are pampered, they are adored, they are watched carefully, they are fabulous, we love them all...........yes even the spitty ones and we don't regret making the decision to enter the alpaca world one single bit. Actually we can't imagine life without them.
However, we are starting to struggle. The cost of running two homes, a five year old and a herd of alpacas is beginning to take it's toll. For the last six months the alpaca bills have been paid by us personally and not the business (we don't earn huge amounts so it makes a big difference). The latest raft of bills (including Lily's jaw abscess whopper) arrived today and made me wince. In fact it made me want to run away and hide.
To try and ease the situation we have reduced the prices of all the alpacas on the website. We are having a winter sale, we need to shift some alpacas for monetary reasons and to reduce numbers, as I said earlier we are at maximum occupancy.
My faith and belief that we have made the right decision is still strong, I see that there is a future for alpacas and deep down I know that if we can weather the storm we will come out the other side and we will look back on a 'glitch'. At the moment though, the belief and faith are under attack.