Little Downham couple plan an eco-lifestyle at their Alpaca farm

STEVE and Irene Cole set up an alpaca farm as part of their retirement plan, and are embracing a new lifestyle that includes self sufficiency and spiritualism.

As well as running the breeding herd of two dozen alpacas, the couple are planning a new eco-lifestyle at Alpaca Lifestyle Farm in Little Downham.

They are members of the Cambridgeshire Self Sufficiency Group, and hope to grow all their own vegetables and move from their mobile home into a log cabin on the site.

“We are into Reiki and spiritual healing, and we want the farm to reflect that way of living,” said Steve.

“We want to set up a sensual garden, and have a school room in the barns, where we can teach people how to look after alpacas, spin, and breed worms.

“This is an idealistic way of life, but we think it is a sustainable way of life. We are looking at solar energy, geo-thermal heating and setting up a wormery.

“We believe we have got to go back to war time principals and values, where everyone helps each other and passes on information. We grow some of our own vegetables at the moment, but will grow more once I retire.”

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Steve and Irene first got interested in alpacas after meeting a breeder at Pymoor Show, seven or eight years ago.

“My wife is allergic to anything with fur or hair; and we discovered that an alpaca’s coat is hypo allergenic,” he said. “We started the herd with three animals, but at that time we had no where to keep them, so had to find somewhere to board them.”

The couple previously lived in Littleport, and moved to the farm about four years ago.

Steve added: “Most people dream of going to live in the countryside where it is peaceful, and that is what we have done.

“I was brought up in First Drove, and when I got the chance to buy the farm, I jumped at the chance.”

THE matriach of the farm’s alpaca farm has astounded Steve and Irene, by adopting a baby alpaca born on the farm just three weeks ago.

“The cria was rejected by its mother, after a traumatic birth, and we bottle fed it for a couple of weeks,” explained Steve.

“But now our matriach, Supreme Lady, has begun to feed the baby, although she has not given birth herself for two years.

“The vet says he has never seen anything like it. The matriach now spits at us and warns us to keep away if we go near with a bottle. I have never known a female alpaca to take over like this.”

Most of the alpacas on the farm are named after country and western singers, but the baby alpaca is yet to be given a name.

Alpaca Fact File

*Alpacas are a domesticated species of South American camelid

* They are bred for their coat and meat

*Alpacas are social herd animals, living in family groups

*All alpacas are capable of spitting

*An alpaca herd uses a communal dung pile

*When in danger, alpacas make a high pitched shrieking whine

*Alpacas live for up to 20 years

*They eat hay or grasses, but will normally try to chew on almost anything

*Alpacas have a three chambered stomach