Alpaca walking might not seem like an obvious choice for a day out, but the gorgeously fluffy herd hidden away just outside of Chichester are full of surprises.
On arriving at Dunreyth Alpacas, the oddly endearing animals are to be seen calmly munching grass in their paddock, alongside Truly the horse, Bill and Ben the pygmy goats, llamas Larry and Laddie and a hutchful of chickens.
For Bruce and Peta Ives, the experience of seeing young and old enjoy meeting their alpaca family in Alsdean and further afield is still a highlight after 10 years in the business.
Bruce said: “You get a lot of the public up here. To see the joy in their faces, especially those with special needs, it’s brilliant.”
As well as visits from schools and families for walks at the farm, the couple now bring a few of their alpacas into care homes to meet less mobile animal lovers, an idea that started with a visit to Cornelius House in Chichester.
A particularly memorable incident was when a hungry alpaca saw what looked like an extra snack.
“One lady, she had this straw hat on and Baron went ‘oh straw!’ and woomph!” Peta laughed.
“She loved it. We persuaded him to give it back.”
Since then, the alpaca visits have expanded to Selsey and Havant, with one request as far away as Wimbledon.
Bruce now has to use a lorry to transport the docile creatures instead of a trailer.
“The elderly love them, absolutely love them,” Bruce said. “It’s looking at you with these big eyes and you can stroke it, its breath smells like popcorn, and so there’s nothing not nice about them.”
Children with autism have also responded well to meeting the alpacas and the walks are carefully paced for little legs where neccessary.
Alongside the walking side of the business, Bruce and Peta sell handmade garments made from alpaca fleeces.
The natural colouring of the wool means that no dyes have to be used in the process and unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca wool is hypoallergenic as it contains no lanolin.
Each bag of wool is carefully labelled with the name of the alpaca so that when the clothes are made, customers know which animal the material comes from.
To find out more visit www.dunreythalpacas.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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