Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I know it is not the most interesting of subjects but I thought I would just tell you about my gardening escapades with Ghandi the lab.

Off to the veggie plot yesterday to plant, rather late I might add, the tomatoes (should have been in by mid October), peppers and chilli's. Ghandi came to help. He helped to dig holes and filled some in! Then it was time to plant the plants, well the pepper was planted at least 3 times, every time I put it in he took it out, quite gently I have to say.

I have to confess to a bit of excitement, we can now get Gardener's World (sad, I know) but the gardening programs here are just not the same. Now I have heard that the new format is not going down to well over there but I think it really works.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The first arrival...

If there's one thing that it's compulsory to post a blog entry about, it must be the first arrival of the season:

Yes, that's right - it's a Suri. We don't really think of ourselves as Suri breeders, it's a bit of a side-line, but we do have a small group and are trying to get a good brown line going.

This one is particularly significant though - it's the first cria to be born here from one of our own certified boys (shameless advertising link to the sire...).
Mum and baby doing well - already trying to pronk (but landing in an undignified tangle of legs on each attempt).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meet Gandhi

After Kitties yesterday - a puppy story today.

Meet the latest member of the Prados family.

Not really an alpaca story, but puppy pictures are always worth posting. We’ve called him Gandhi, not just because he was small, brown and wrinkled when we chose him but because he stood out from the rest of the litter by having a quiet dignity about him. While all the others were racing around like mad things, He was just sitting there, taking it all in and clearly top-dog.

There’s been a big, dog-shaped hole in our lives since arriving in Australia in 2004, but we didn’t want to get one until we were sure that we could offer a home where someone was around most of the time and we were properly settled.

I’d forgotten just how much work a puppy could be…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A very fancy kitty

A large international parcel arrived at our little town post office today, always an event of interest – ‘What have those odd poms with the long-necked sheep brought from America this time?

But we’re not telling... we like a bit of mystery.

But we’ll tell you: we’re now the proud owners of a ‘Fancy Kitty’.

No... we’re not importing US felines, we’ve invested in a ‘Kitten’ drum carder from Ron Anderson in Montana ( We decided to go for one with an electric motor and brush attachment and it arrived fully assembled and packed with so much care that it probably travelled in more comfort than any human passenger (now there’s a thought for the next long-haul flight...).

It is a thing of beauty – hand made from quality materials, Ron clearly takes great pride in his work, it even included all the parts needed for converting it back to a manual machine (I don’t think that’s very likely though).

It didn’t take long to make sure everything was there (it was), check that the power supply really was multi-voltage (it was), replace the US plug and glance at the excellent instructions for just long enough to feel over-confident.

Sarah had pre-washed some fleece from Zahava – a beautiful mahogany coloured girl and the mother of Puck – this year’s little superstar (the term beautiful here refers to the fleece, not the animal, who has a face and a temper that only a really dedicated mother could love).

I have to break off for moment here, dear reader, and admit that this bit doesn’t sit easily – I like to spin from raw fleece, straight off the animal’s back, nothing more than a quick shake to get the worst of the rubbish out, but washing it first is what all the experts advise, so that’s what we did.

So, less than 30 minutes after breaking the tape on the top of the box, we had our first batt. Not too bad for a first attempt.

A quick dot-point review of the machine:
  • Solid and well made
  • Easy to use (almost dummy-proof in fact)
  • Good instructions
  • Helpful and patient supplier – Ron answered all of my dumb emailed questions himself, often within minutes of me sending them
  • Excellent motor – very quiet but with plenty of power
  • Very well priced (it cost less than I would have payed here for a lesser model – even with the shipping cost).
So the final question – why buy a carder when I prefer ‘raw’ spinning? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, I can’t keep up with demand and I have to face it, spinning from batts is much quicker. The other reason is that, with fifty animals, we’re in an awkward place... Not enough to make commercial bales, too much to use ourselves or sell as plain fleece. There is a greater demand for part-prepared fibre and the margins make selling it more attractive – I’m selling raw fleece to spinners at $30 per kilo, but batts go for $12 - $15 per 100g; that's a big difference so it seems to make sense.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting back to blogging

At last, our lives seem to be getting back on track and slowing down. The National Show is well and truly over so I have more time which means Perry has more time as well. It has to be said that Perry and James were a big help whilst I was working on the show with a group of dedicated alpaca breeders.

Our shearing is now finished. As we did it all ourselves this year, our record number of animals in one day stands at 13 but the weather played a part in that, there is only so much time you can spend outside in 32 degree plus days (we stopped when the temp got to 32).

The show season for 2009 is now over and we don't start again until March. As we look back over our show year we feel quite content with what we have achieved; 52 ribbons from 9 shows with a show team of 5 animals (except on the last show where we took 9 animals). These 9 animals made up our team over the show season . Plus we have 2 girls on maternity leave so they didn't attend the last show. Now we just have to start planning for next year as we have set ourselves a standard to live up to.

So we now start cria watch. Our first should have arrived on the 13th but spring cria always seem to be that bit later. Our website has a camera that gives a regularly up dated view of the maternity paddock so keep an eye out and you may catch a new arrival.