THE STORY OF FRANKLY ALPACAS
Frankly Alpacas is the result of years of dreaming about a life in the countryside, working with animals, getting away from the hussle and bustle of the modern world and giving something back to society.
We're John & Natalie - we grew up in urban areas and until recently, had absolutely no experience of living in the countryside or of farming in general. However, we have shared a strong interest in working with animals for many years. We had dreamed of one day moving to the country and surrounding ourselves with animals.
So, some time ago, we dipped our toes in the water by keeping ducks, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs in our back garden. It was quite the talking point for neighbours and guests. But it was some way from our dream of a proper working farm.
After a house move in 2016, due to covenants on the property we were sadly unable to retain the animals but we continued to enjoy visits to the countryside to take part in animal experiences provided by others. Natalie also maintained her interest through regular horse riding activities.
Our careers however, couldn't have been further from our dreams. Natalie was an Assistant Headteacher in a difficult inner-city primary school and John ran a consultancy business working with senior executives and teams. We hoped that one day, our hard work would give us the financial security to up sticks and move to the country. Like many, we thought this would be something we accomplished later in life, most likely in retirement.
The pivotal moment came during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Like many others, our lives were upturned dramatically. After 8 years working to build a consultancy business, and on the edge of hiring staff to grow it, John was shocked to witness his business disappearing within hours of the first lockdown announcement. A breakdown in his mental and physical health followed. Natalie found herself in the middle of an environment where schools were struggling to deliver the basics, under intense pressure to perform, but with limited support. After 18 years of a fulfilling career, this was a huge shock with similar implications for her health.
So, to get a break from the stress and anxiety we were suffering, Natalie decided we should visit some alpaca farms (when restrictions allowed). We found the experience of being around alpacas incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. As 2020 moved into 2021, we developed an intense interest in alpacas and began visiting farms and breeders to gain further information and hands-on experience.
On Boxing Day 2020, whilst partaking in another alpaca experience, John asked Natalie if she felt we could run an alpaca farm ourselves. After considering our future in the wake of the events of 2020, we decided to fully commit and develop our own alpaca business, so we could bring that same sense of relaxation and tranquillity that we experienced when we spend time with alpacas to other people.
So, in 2021 we bought our first alpaca, a white female huacaya alapaca named Stala, from Toft Alpacas near Rugby. Under the guidance of the ever helpful and kind Rob and Shirley Bettinson, we began to get an understanding of what was involved in keeping alpacas and how to work with them effectively. We thought we'd spend a couple of years doing research and learning the ropes, with a view to opening our own farm in a few year's time. We had a working timeline of at least 5 years. It seemed so far from where we were at the time.
Circumstances, or fate if you like, had other ideas!
In the Autumn of 2021, thanks to serendipity, we were offered the opportunity to take on a farm in the gorgeous surroundings of the Willey Estate near Bridgnorth in Shropshire. The previous occupant had a beautiful herd of alpacas and had been providing much-loved picnics with them for a couple of years, but was looking to fulfill some new dreams in pastures new. We couldn't believe the coincidence. Opportunity seemed to knock! We couldn't resist.
So, we sold our house, left the town behind and started again at our new home, Caughley Farm in Broseley, Shropshire.
Frankly Alpacas was born and we now offer a range of experiences, work with schools to make a difference to young people and help work teams reset and relax in the beautiful countryside.
Alpacas got us through a very stressful period and we're sure an experience with them can do the same for many people in today's busy, digital and complicated world. We want to help you feel that same sense of relaxation, happiness and wellbeing that we did when we first met alpacas, and which we have the privilege of enjoying every day as alpaca owners.
Come and see for yourself - we look forward to seeing you and hope we can help you to fulfil a few dreams of your own.
John & Natalie Franklin-Hackett