'No people, no money': Alpaca farmer tells of latest struggles
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
The last year has been difficult and worrying for us all – and it's even more stressful when you have dozens of furry friends to feed.
This is the problem Lucy Ackers has contended with since last March.
She runs Stubbs Farm Alpacas in Loddon by herself, and has 30 alpacas to look after - as well as several goats, sheep and chickens.
But after having to close to visitors during lockdowns, her revenue streams disappeared and the problems began.
She said: "Pre-Covid, all of our income came from the public visiting us, and that's all dried up. No people, no money – so it's been a tight year.
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"Typically, the year where we had no money, everything went wrong. We had six babies born in the summer and four needed the vet's attention, which has never happened before. Some of our older animals needed the vet too.
"Then there was all the flooding that happened recently. It was one thing after another."
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Earlier this month the shelter which housed the male alpacas flooded and became unusable. Removing the water and fixing the floor was a costly job.
And then, last week, winds from Storm Christoph destroyed the large shelter housing the female and baby alpacas, which had only been installed four months before.
Miss Ackers said: "The storm we had last week wasn't even that bad – we've survived worse – but the wind blew the shelter apart and took our fences out with it.
"We've had such stretched finances over the last year that this was just another big thing."
Materials to replace the shelter will take a long time to arrive due to a backlog, but after posting an emotional video online a fundraiser was launched to cover the cost of the new shelter, and has now been closed after reaching its £2,000 target in just three days.
"I can't believe we achieved the goal so soon," said Miss Ackers. "If we hadn't been able to raise that, the farm would have been in a very difficult position.
"It doesn't feel like words are enough but that's all I've got."
While the farm remains closed to visitors, Lucy has taken to knitting socks, scarves and hats from alpaca wool, while she is also offering gift vouchers for when the farm can reopen.
To find out more, visit the Stubbs Farm Alpacas Etsy page.