We are living the dream! This is wonderful and we should have done it 20 years ago
On a Sunday drive in the countryside, Tina Lewis and Alan Rigby caught sight of several alpacas, got talking to their owner and from that moment on knew they wanted these gentle, friendly, inquisitive creatures to somehow be part of their future.
Fast forward eight years and the couple’s dream has come true as they now run Sol Alpacas, a successful breeding farm in picturesque rural Dorset. Boasting 11 acres and over 30 alpacas, the business sells these wonderful animals to people across the UK. The farm is also home to Tina, Alan and Alan’s mother who all live in a smart log farmhouse that sits at the top of their land with beautiful views across the surrounding valleys.
“This has been the enabler,” remarks Alan as he explains how their spacious Norwegian Log lodge has transformed how they live their lives.
“To breed alpacas you need to live on site as it can be a 24 hour job, should one of the alpacas become ill and require overnight attention. But to try and get a piece of land to build a house first time around is nearly impossible,” he says. “You’ve got to apply for a temporary agricultural dwelling, which means a static caravan or a wooden structure. So, we looked around and for us the log cabin option was ideal. It gives you all the space you need.”
Having bought the field, Alan was initially commuting from Basingstoke to Dorset to prepare the land for their alpaca herd which at this stage were being cared for off-site. The couple had an initial chat with Norwegian Log before employing planning and agricultural consultants to apply for planning permission for a home on their land. Once that was secured in July, they were able to place an order for a 20m x 6.8m three-bedroom cabin, designed bespoke for their needs.
By January the following year, the family had moved into their new home. “The Norwegian Log team on site were just brilliant,” says Alan.
The flexibility of the accommodation space was key, explains Tina: “Norwegian Log enabled us to design the rooms how we wanted them which was really important to us.”
Alan’s mother has an end ‘wing’ of the building with her own self-contained bed sitting room, dressing area, shower room and outdoor decking space. She even has her own front door, key for independence, but an internal door allows free access into the main farmhouse. This contains a large open-plan, contemporary kitchen living area, a master bedroom with ensuite, spare bedroom, plus a utility/boot room with a cleverly linked shower room – a real bonus for any farming family.
“We have never lived in a building like this before, it’s wonderful and we should have done this 20 years ago,” laughs Alan. “It’s very easy to maintain and keep clean, we’ve not had the heating on since March as it’s so warm, and we live on a ridge that gets high winds! The large windows are brilliant as when it’s sunny in the winter, the heat just seems to stream in. It’s incredibly thermally efficient, you can walk around in a t-shirt in the depths of winter.”
Their alpaca breeding business is so successful, the couple have recently been granted permanent planning permission by the local authority, so are now looking forward to putting the finishing touches to their gorgeous home, with additional landscaping and decking.
Surrounded by animals they adore, in a beautiful setting, they really are living the dream. Tina adds: “It’s just so homely and warm and incredibly comfortable. We just love it here.”