With the school holidays upon us but moving plans and a road trip to Scotland on the horizon, doing outrageously expensive kids activities and outings every day of the holidays was out of the question. However, I was trying to think of anything to avoid the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” I saw an advert on the local resident’s Facebook group for children’s experience at the Elmet Alpaca Trekking and Crafting. So I decided it was something that we could justify.
Elmet Alpacas Experience
Elmet Alpaca Trekking and Crafting is a working farm located near the village of Sherburn-In-Elmet in North Yorkshire. They advertised walking/trekking with Alpacas.
Upon enquiry I found out that the Walking with Alpacas is only for children older than 9 years old.
For the younger children it is a walk around the farmyard, meeting all the different farm animals, and then an introduction to the Alpacas followed by a little crafting session. Perfect!
Health & Safety On The Farm
When we arrived at the farm we were greeted by Sam and the other two mums with kids who were already there. The kids were all given a little pep talk where Sam explained the rules of the farm. As it is a working farm all the kids had to wear little child sized high visibility vests. This is so that the tractors can see them (although there weren’t any rogue tractors at all whilst we were there – this is obviously just a precaution).
Ewes and Lambs
Sam then took us to the barn where we got to meet all the pregnant ewes, and those who had just had babies. We were fortunate enough to have booked on a day where one of the ewes had given birth to a lamb earlier that day. My girls were ecstatic to meet a ‘brand new baby lamb’. We got to pet him very briefly whilst Sam cradled him securely, and patiently answered lots and lots of questions. My girls wanted to know how you could tell it was a boy lamb, and Sam very patiently explained this to them. No surprise they come from a house of girls. haha.
The Pig Sty
From there we moved on to the rare breed pigs. They were temporary residents on the farm as a sort of foster home after their previous petting farm home was unsuitable. They were so funny. Contrary to popular misconceptions, pigs are actually very clean animals and can become fairly domesticated. Although these were all about to be rehomed.
It’s A Hen’s Life
All the while you are wondering around the outside of the barn area there are free range chickens everywhere. They are darting into the sheep pen, stealing the pig food, living their best life. My eldest spotted one that didn’t have many feathers on it. When she asked what was wrong with it Sam told us that it was a rescue hen. She went on to explain how battery hens (those bred for eggs production), are declared unfit for purpose after 14 months of age. After that they are slaughtered. #shocking!
These hens at the Elmet Alpacas are basically rescued from the egg farm and given a new lease on life. When they arrived at the farm, most of them had very few feathers at all, if any, and were understandably cold out in the elements. So they spent a lot of time in the barn where it is warmer. After a few months of the good life on Elmet Alpaca Farm their feathers were starting to grow back, and they were clearly thriving.
There’s always one …
After feeding the pigs, my youngest asked whey the one chicken was standing on the back of one of the pigs. As quick as you can, my eldest jumped in with her answer: “For a piggy back ride of course!”
I was super impressed by her quick witted response!
The alpacas are really Sam’s pets. You can tell by the way she talks about them, and to them, that she really does love them all. She knows all their names, and their individual personalities. And she is very knowledgeable about them in general.
What I learnt about Alpacas:
- The girls and the boys are kept separate because alpacas love to be pregnant and can fall pregnant 2 months after giving birth to a baby. Can I just say I would have made a rubbish alpaca!
- Despite this, they don’t really like to touch each other or cuddle. You know how you see sheep all huddled together, or pigs climbing all over each other? Well Alpacas are not like that.
- One of the reasons why the alpaca trekking is only available to over 9s is because they kick (the alpacas that is … mainly).
- There will always be a leader of the herd, one dominant alpaca that the others defer to.
The girls loved feeding the elmet alpacas and the whole farm experience.
Once we were finished visiting all the animals we went back to the little crafting caravan and Sam led the kids in a wet felting craft exercise whilst the mums had a cup of coffee and a chat. When Sam shared that she has a background in working with children with special needs, I immediately realised why she was so good at keeping the excited kids in line, but being endlessly patient with their million and one questions.
All in all this was a lovely day. I don’t think that kids always want to have the big theme park, or expensive attraction days out. Sometimes a simple visit to the farm followed by some crafting is all the kids need to be happy.
Elmet Alpaca Visit Details
I booked for the two girls over the phone and paid via bank transfer to avoid messing around with change on the day. It was £5.50 per child, and £4.50 per accompanying adult.
Elmet Alpacas is a working farm. It’s imperative that visits are pre-booked to avoid disappointment and inconvenience to the farm operations.
The experience took around 2 hours and the kids were kept busy the entire time. And they do host birthday parties as well. They are in the process of expanding their activity area – I can’t wait to see what it’s like when they are done.
The Alpaca treks for over 9s is priced at £25.00 per person walking an Alpaca, or £30 for two people to share an Alpaca. The trek visits last approximately 2 hours and so there isn’t a crafting session after these. That is just for the under 9s.
Please do check out their website and Facebook page if you want any more details. I highly recommend the Elmet Alpaca Trekking and Crafts experience for a fun, simple and educational activity for kids.