A new animal experience has opened up at Valentine Vale Alpacas in Catton near Hexham. Owners Scott and Tammy Jaftha both 35, claimed the Alpaca love affair started with the classic "life is too short" conversation.

Tammy of Hexham, said: "We went for an alpaca walk at Barnacre Alpacas in Heddon and just fell in love with them."

The business side of that love occurred when Scott decided to gift his wife a very unusual but very appreciative gift of a Alpaca.

Tammy said: "Scott was given the most husband points ever awarded when he bought me my first alpaca, Farron, for Christmas nearly four years ago."

She continues: "It was from then that we had the push to make a business from it. We thought it was a great idea as we wanted to spend more time together, being outdoors and spend time with the animals, which we love."

The couple, however, did not expect for the 'fur' family to expand so quickly.

Tammy said: "The plan was to buy an alpaca a year over three years and by that point hopefully buy somewhere with land. But let’s just say we had three after 18 months and now 14 Alpacas, which 3 girls are pregnant and due to give birth next spring/summer."

Although the couple had the alpacas, they were still looking for the land to put them in and to start their business.

She said: "Lockdown helped us to see we could cope with being more rural and we stumbled across our current home. On paper we shouldn’t have even viewed it. It had been empty for a number of years, had too much land for us, needed a ton of work, but it has some spectacular views and so naturally we bought it! We’ve had the keys since January but the house needed a major renovation."

The couple finally moved in May, after the abandoned farm, now turned home, was 'habital' for both humans and animals, which is not just the alpacas but three Cria (baby alpaca), 6 sheep, and 5 cats.

On top of running the buisness, the couple also have day jobs. Scott is a Plumbing and Heating Engineer and Tammy is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and a manager working in a service that supports survivors of torture.

Tammy said:"The dream is for the business to grow and Scott to take on more of the farm work. I love the balance of both, but really love leading the alpaca experiences."

As the couple have only just moved in, the business has only just opened for bookings this week, 30 August, but has a lot of plans for customers.

Tammy said: "We hope to offer experiences on weekends to start with and depending on popularity we will increase our days. Our experiences include meeting and walking one of our boys, meeting our girls, and spending some time with our super friendly sheep."

She also adds: "We do have a minimum age for the experiences which is 10 plus, though we’re working with our insurers to consider options for younger children, so watch this space."

The couple has already seen a huge interest in the experience.                                Tammy said: "We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and interest shown by the local community. We’ve had lots of enquiries and bookings starting to come in which is brilliant. As well as experiences we also make luxury alpaca yarn which we sell, and once my knitting skills improve we hope to also sell knitwear. I’m biased but alpaca yarn is just a beautiful product, super soft and warm, and no lanolin so hypoallergenic."

Bookings for the alpaca experience and more information can be found on the website www.valentinevalealpacas.co.uk or by emailing info@valentinevalealpacas.co.uk