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Suri – The Fibre of the Gods

I often hear alpaca being referred to as the ‘Fibre of the Gods’ and I can certainly understand why. The animals themselves are closely tied to cultural practices for Andeans people and prior to colonisation, the image of the alpaca, in the form of canopas (small figures carved from stone and used in traditional rituals), were used in rituals and in religious practices. Since the people in the region depended heavily on these animals for their sustenance, the alpaca was seen as a gift from Pachamama, a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. There is evidence that royal cloth was woven from alpaca.

It is said that alpacas came to be in the world after a goddess fell in love with a man, bringing a herd of alpacas with her, and when he failed to care for a young alpaca, she fled home, through the swamp lands, taking most of her the alpacas with her. The man prevented some of the alpacas from leaving the world and it has been said that the alpacas who didn’t make it back can be seen in today’s alpacas in the swampy lands in the Andes waiting so they can return to their goddess. Alpaca brings with it a very ancient and fascinating history, steeped in mythology, and stories told through history. Alpacas also bring textile tradition that has survived through the ages in woven and hand dyed clothing.

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Shearing Day

Shearing Day – not my favourite day of the year I must admit but shearing day, in between the hard work, does have some moments of joy. Like when you shear your Appaloosa alpacas and their spots are uncovered or when you shear an alpaca and you realise their fleece is just stunning and you just can’t wait to get the fleece to be made into yarn -that is my favourite bit! Or when you have a work experience student helping for the day and he gets to to help shear an alpaca – helping to train the future shearers! Or when you get to spend time with clients, who have purchased their alpacas from you, and you get to mentor them about alpacas, their care and their fibre.

This year shearing day was a Monday – a bright sunny day with a slight breeze. Ideal for shearing day! We had 64 alpacas to shear, including 5 rescue alpacas with over 3 years of fleece on them, and we started bright and early at 7am! Yep the shearer rocked up at 6.15am to set up – no sleep in for us that day! 

This year we had 4 helpers, including a work experience student from Kayleen High School located in Canberra, and 3 friends – 1 who runs a farm rescue shelter called Lucky Stars Sanctuary just outside of Canberra and 2 clients, who have now friends. They transported their alpacas to our farm for shearing and it was so nice seeing just how the boys, Captain and Rusty, had grown!

The day started like every other shearing day – catch, put on table, shear, skirt and repeat. Once you start you get into a rhythm, with each person doing their allocated job, and the day flys by. You get more moments of joy, albeit at the expense of someone else (and yes Ross and Christina I am talking about you both), when someone is not holding the alpaca head in the right direction and they spit at Christina and not only hitting her but also filling her open coat pocket! How does that happen? Who knows…but at the time it was very funny. Or when Ross gets knocked down by an alpaca trying to avoid being put on the table and skinning his knee when he fell. Ok this one was not funny, it is never nice when someone gets hurt, but when it happened the group all called out “Not coming back next year” our inside joke when something bad happens to visitors! They will be back though – fingers crossed:)

Thank you to our helpers. Without you shearing day does not happen. And even though the day is hard work we all seem to enjoy the day!

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Farm Open Weekend

This weekend we opened our farm to the public to help celebrate the Murrumbateman Moving Feast.

This is a local event that showcases some of Murrumbateman’s finest wine, food and views – an exploration of the region and senses by roving degustation. People attending the event over the weekend, travelled from, winery to winery tasting and drinking some of the finest food and wine the region had to offer. 
 Mother nature was very kind to us over the weekend with two very beautiful days that gave the visitors more reason to visit our farm and stay a while.

During the weekend we had a stream of visitors come to the farm to browse our Farm Shop before visiting our alpacas. We had the visiting party of Atlantis and Alchemy (aka Fat Face) to meet everyone but visitors were warned…..”You will fall in love, just warning you!’ And yes that is exactly what happened! ♥ Both little boys, Atlantis and Fat Face, were a hit with many people indeed falling in love with them. They were gentleman and let everyone pat them and take them for a walk.

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The joys of new colours

Last week, with my very good friend Jennifer, I set about the task of finalising my standard colourways. Now those that dye will fully understand that selecting and sticking to a limited amount of colourways is hard, really hard. There are so many pretty colour combinations and I just want to dye them all! I love the mix and match colours, set off by a range of semi and solid colours.

There are so many combinations… how do you select a few? How do you stop at a set number? Much like how do you stop at one piece of cake? Or in my life…how do I stop at buying just one alpaca? Mmmmmm….very tough.

At the beginning of the task I thought it would be easy. Just select a few of the colours I like and then work from there. How wrong was I? I started off easily with 12 colours and that quickly grew to 20 and then it went to 30 in a blink of an eye. In the end I settled on 50 standard colours! Yep 50!

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Support an Aussie farmer today

Well hello there my pretties!! Where have you been my friends? We have missed you! Grass and clover…a couple of simple things that make my heart sing! 🎶  As primary producers we need Mother Nature to be kind to us. This year has been particularly tough for many farmers across Australia and we too have been affected, not as much as others though, as thankfully we still have some green coverage on our very dry paddocks, other alpaca farms are not so lucky.

Last week we got a little rain and the paddocks are starting to come alive. We are still hand feeding our alpacas and goats, as we have been doing for many months. Feed costs are adding up but we continue to care for our livestock as best we can!

How can you help? Easy! Buy Australian grown and Australian made products! Every purchase you make helps an Australian farmer. No matter how small, all purchases add up and they all make a difference.

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