Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What are these things with short necks?

Sorry, couldn’t help getting all artistic…

And suddenly, we've got sheep. We never intended to have sheep, it just happened that way.

A few months ago we sold a package of female alpacas to a couple that wanted to change away from the Wiltipolls that they currently kept on their property, As part of the deal we agreed to take four pregnant ewes in part exchange.

It’s all part of our aim here to be as self sufficient as possible; while we’re certainly not eco-activists, we do care about knowing where our food comes from and how it’s raised.

So now the first two have given birth and we have spring-loaded lambs bouncing around one of the home paddocks. They do, of course have their own, personal alpaca guard – woe betide the fox that tries anything, I wouldn’t argue with her.

Got to admit that they are cute but I’m not going to get too attached – we have to remember what they’re here for.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

You want them halter trained by WHEN????


We’re getting towards the tail end of the showing season here, just two more to go before shearing and mating starts in earnest.

Tomorrow is Strathalbyn Show (it’s a public holiday weekend here). Strath is one of my favourites – it’s our closest for a start, only about 40 minutes from the farm gate. It’s a great, traditional, country agricultural show, a real family event with a well supported alpaca show.

This year we’re taking a team mostly made up of juniors on their first outing. So, less than 24 hours away and guess how many have had a halter on before?

And there’s a suri to do… We like a challenge.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Compost, compost everywhere



I’ve had enough of organic fertaliser…

Look, I know it’s great for the land; I know it’s environmentally friendly and will result in sufficient good karma to reduce the chances of me being reincarnated as a sea slug or reality tv contestant but I’m fed up of eating, breathing and wearing the stuff.

Three tonnes of Neutrog Rapid-Riser and a week or so later and I can say that it was probably worth all the hard, smelly work.

But what I want to know, what I really want to know is why my younger, fitter son gets to run the slasher from the big tractor with the comfy, air-conditioned cab while I get the spreader and the 50 year old, bone-shaking MF135?

Maybe the good karma isn't working immediately...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Composite and Production Classes

An interesting development as we move ever closer to recognition as a 'proper' emerging agricultural industry is the growth of Production or Composite classes at shows.
We had our first go at the Royal Adelaide Show this year. I'd call it a success, we put in three animals, got two firsts and a second and took home the overall trophy and broad ribbon for the event.
So, for anyone unfamiliar, how does it work?
Well, judging is a three stage process. Stage one is just like normal halter classes (though, in this case, there was no separation by colour, just by age and gender), the animals presented are judged on the same overall criteria as a normal show and points are awarded. Stage two sees the animals being shorn, the fleeces skirted and presented to the judge as a fleece exhibit.
In the final stage the animal is judged without fleece on with the points being awarded for conformation and structure.
Personally, I really like these classes for three reasons: first is that it concentrates on the commercial side of things, something that I want to see encouraged. Second and, more selfishly, it allows recognition of some animals that we would not enter in the main event; in this case a top girl with a damaged ear from an injury (perfectly within the rules to enter I know, but not a good look) and an ex-champion white male that has developed a small fawn spot. The third and probably most important reason is that, at a public show like the Royal, it is such a draw card - the visitors love it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A new sideline?

We’re heading towards the end of the show season: a fairly quiet one by our standards but still a few things to be excited about – more about that in a later post.
But here’s something I wasn’t expecting to win – Champion photo at the Nationals!
It loses a bit shrunk down to blog size…
It wasn’t a planned photograph, just one of those ‘Kodak Moments’ and a few minutes in Photoshop.
What I really wasn’t prepared for though have been the offers to buy prints. Maybe there’s something in this?
Hey! I've just noticed, this is my 100th blog posting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sometimes I wonder what we’re farming

It’s a very Australian problem…


One of the things that we’re quite proud of here is the preservation of native habitat. We have quite a large area of scrub and native woodland on the property; home to a range of wildlife that we’re generally very happy to share with,

But they’re beginning to take advantage. The kangaroo population is getting out of control, they know a good thing when they see it!

They’re eating us out of house and home (or, at least, paddock and pasture) and they take fences as personal insults that have to be dismantled with extreme prejudice.

Kanga-burgers anyone?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Colin’s last stand

Primarily, we’re huacaya breeders. We specialise in colours ranging from mid-fawn through to dark brown and that was originally meant to be it. But these things rarely turn out as planned and one of our excursions into the unknown has been our suri experiment. We now have nearly 50 of them on the property and they’ve been good to us. It was a suri that gave us our first interstate broad ribbon and last year we landed the Grand Champion suri trophy at the Royal Adelaide Show.

At the centre of our suri herd has been Arequipa Colin, a dark brown stud male that we purchased, on a whim, at auction.


Colin has done us proud but, sadly, we lost him last year to a bite from a brown snake.

A few weeks before that however he’d been less than popular. He escaped from his paddock and followed a group of girls back from matings into their paddock. We found him a couple of hours later, looking exhausted, covered in spit but with an evil, satisfied glint in his eye. That left us with a problem, there were nearly 50 girls (nearly all huacaya) in that area, most had been mated either that weekend or within the last month, some to outside males. We couldn’t possibly flush them all and we had no idea who, if any, he had mated with. We just had to wait and see and hope for the best.


We now have six first-cross suris to sell off as pets – so that was 6 successful matings inside two hours – annoying, but impressive.

Thanks Colin.