Lavender Hill Farm, owned by Kevin and Paulette Batchek, is surrounded by the beautiful Pachaug State Forest in the rural town of Voluntown, Connecticut. We started the farm in 2006 with three Huacaya alpacas. Now our farm has grown to 19 alpacas! We strive for quality in our alpacas' conformation and fleece characteristics. Keeping our alpacas' health and well-being our top priority, we are rewarded with a healthy herd of alpacas with superior fiber.
We've been dealing with snow on a regular basis since the first snow of the season fell in January. Even though we snow blow trails for the alpacas to have more space outside, they seem to have a little cabin fever, just like we do! They'll be glad for warmer days to be here to melt all this snow and give them their paddock space back!
The girls were hanging out in the stall one day when I caught Ambrosia with a back full of snow! She must have been outside in the snow for awhile. Their fiber is about two to three inches long and the snow just sits on top of it. I don't think they even feel it!
This was a really cold morning while doing chores. Champ is seen behind me with his usual smile on his face.
Acura, in the middle is mother to Rose Petal, on left and Mia, on right.
These three can usually be found close to one another.
Buster Brown must have been eating snow!
The barn looks very different this time of year, with huge mounds of snow on either
side of the front gate. There's not much more room to put any more snow!
The snow is almost as high as the fence! Mateo is looking out from the barn.
This is the area between the paddocks that leads to the manure pile out back.
Champ and Smokey just hanging out after breakfast one morning.
These two were born the same year on our farm and are good buddies.
Buddy was the cause of a traffic jam on the path that runs along the side of the barn.
He was busy eating snow and wasn't about to move so Champ could go by.
Champ finally turned around and went another way.
This was the view of the field out back, from the manure pile, while the snow was coming down.
Mellea is in the forefront while her girlfriends eat at the hay box.
Mellea is our largest alpaca on the farm and just fits into the hay box!
She loves to lay in it!
The alpacas don't mind eating their breakfast in the snow.
Chance wears a blanket to keep warm and stay protected from the snow.
He too, would rather be outside even when it's snowing.
While we're in the grips of winter I thought it might be nice to look forward to spring! In the fall of 2014, we got a rototiller that we have a lot of plans for. We'd like to make our existing vegetable garden larger, add more lavender to the farm, and break ground with it to add new gardens all over the property. The rototiller's first job was to break ground at the top of the bank in front of the shop for a long row of tulips. We carefully placed tulip bulbs that will bloom to be an array of pinks, white and purples. We added alpaca manure on top of the bulbs before covering them up with dirt. Alpaca manure is great compost for a vegetable garden and it was recommended to add compost to the bulbs, so alpaca manure it was! We can't wait to see them bloom in the spring!
This rototiller will have plenty of work to do on the farm!
It was easy to use and did a great job on the tulip bed.
Chickens are kind of a rototiller of their own! They love to use their feet to scratch up
the dirt and find bugs to eat. This hen was not afraid of the tiller and spent
a long time walking the row of freshly tilled dirt.
The tulips span from the left of the stairs leading up to the shop all the way to the
old manure spreader that's on the other side of the shop!
The bulbs were placed and covered with a fine layer of alpaca manure.
You can see how much darker and rich in nutrients the manure
is compared to the dirt that was tilled.
Buddy, our Boston Terrier, enjoyed the sunshine
while we worked on the tulip bed.
To finish the tulip bed we covered the bulbs with dirt and gave it a good watering. They're all tucked in for the winter and now all we have to do is wait. It'll be so exciting to see the bulbs starting to come up in the spring and even more so once they bloom! Only 43 days until spring!
In early January, Lavender Hill Farm became home to Chance, a 16 year old Thoroughbred. He's solid bay and 17h tall. We converted part of the girls' side of the barn into a stall for him and put up corral panels to give him a separate turn out area. The alpacas have seen horses only a couple other times on the farm and Chance had never seen alpacas before. We kept the alpacas close to the barn while letting Chance get accustomed to his new surroundings. The boys came around to see him first, causing Chance to trot back and forth for a little while, as he was trying to figure out what all the alpacas were. After a short while Chance settled down and became more comfortable being around the alpacas. Now they are very used
to each other and enjoy each others company.
Chance had just arrived in this photo. You can tell he's a little worried,
but he settled in great!
He hasn't seen the alpacas yet..
The boys came to see what all the fuss was about and they followed Chance from left to
right as he trotted back and forth in his paddock. The alpacas couldn't take their eyes off him!
Chance stopped and got a better look at the alpacas. He finally realized they're
not a threat and calmed down.
This is Chance after a couple days on the farm. He's much more relaxed and has his
alpaca buddies in the background.
I took Chance for a walk out back and he grabbed
a bite of what little grass he could find.
Chance is settled in and has a much more relaxed look on his face.
He enjoys soaking up the sun!
Kimmy, the alpaca, is seen spying on Chance. She's a very curious alpaca and just seconds after this photo was taken, she stood up on the bars of the corral panel as if to get a better look.
It was nice to see Ember, Peg, and Ambrosia cush (lay down) near Chance's paddock. They're all very comfortable with each other already.
Buddy came by to say hi! Buddy may be small, but he's
not afraid and wants to be friends the alpacas and Chance.
Chance is getting a better look at Buddy.
It's great to see he's settled in so well and feels comfortable
enough to lay down and take a nap.
I opened up Chance's paddock space so he could roam in the deep snow. He loves the snow!
There was great weather this day with no wind and tons of sunshine, so I took off Chance's blanket so he could get some fresh air. He loved just standing in the sun.
This is what a horses' snow angel looks like! Chance enjoyed a nice roll in the snow!
I'm looking forward to nicer weather so I can start riding Chance again, but in the meantime it's great to be taking care of a horse on the farm! He's a really friendly horse and very easy to work around. He's a great addition to the farm and I'm sure many visitors will enjoy meeting him!
Having a blizzard dump around two feet of snow, with drifts much higher, means there will be a lot of extra work when it comes to doing chores. All gates need to be shoveled out and a path that a wheel barrow can fit in needs to be cleared in order to clean up manure. That means a path to the manure pile also has to be cleared. Don't forget the path from the barn to the house either! We also clear the road that we drive in on to bring hay, grain, and supplies to the barn. When the snow is deep, we use the snow blower to make paths for the alpacas. They love to spend their time in the snow, but dislike walking in the deep stuff. This gives them more space to be outside and makes enough room to feed them their grain outside also. Sometimes snow collects on the overhangs of the barn and has to be cleared. In the case of this storm, it was necessary to shovel the roof and use a roof rake to get the large amount of heavy snow off the roof.
Buster, Mikey, Miko and JJ are enjoying some hay outside as the snow begins to fall.
Kimmy was out in the snow for awhile, getting a light dusting of snow.
Buddy enjoying some time alone under the tree.
This is the entrance to the shop the morning after the blizzard!
The side entrance to the shop was blocked by a high drift.
The barn was covered with snow! I removed snow from the front and right side of the
barn where there was the most accumulation of snow.
It's hard to even tell where the stairs are leading up to the shop! They're just to the left of the hand railing that's barely sticking out of the snow on the right side of the photo.
It seemed like there was no end in sight, trying to dig out the stairs. Almost there!
Out back, the snow is perfectly untouched.
Ambrosia is enjoying some time outside in the snow. Alpacas don't mind the snow
and are usually outside in it.
The boys are enjoying their hay outside.
Champ is licking snow that the snow blower threw at the tree.
Alpacas seem to like licking snow!
Here's a view of the boys in the snow. Their colors really stand out against the white.
Here's a view of the girls from up on the roof. Every shovel full that landed on the edge of the roof, landed with a "thunk". This was some heavy snow that could have caused damage to the barn if left for too long. It's always better to be safe than sorry and do the work to keep the animals safe.
The roof is cleaned and ready for more snow to come!
The alpacas are enjoying their new white surroundings. Winter is really here now
and we're ready for the next round of snow at the farm.