George the Farmer Blog
By: George the Farmer
Photo: Courtesy of George the Farmer
Young Rubey Williams is what you might call an Alpaca whisperer. At just 16 years of age she has been involved in breeding alpaca’s on her family’s property at Bargo, NSW, since she was a little tacker. She has a tonne of show ribbons to prove just how talented she is at not only helping breed them, but showing them. Rubey’s tip if you don’t want to have an Alpaca spit on you is to, “Keep them calm. Yes they spit — but only when stressed!” And, did you know that Alpaca wool can be used to create fire lighters?
Brief description of what you farm
We are Alpaca breeders. Alpacas are part of the Camelid family and related to Camels as well as Llamas. Alpacas come from South America and have been bred in Australia now for around 30 years. We also sell our own yarn – 100% Australian born, grown, shorn and manufactured in Australia!
Who farms with you?
I am part of the family farm – I work closely all the time with my Mum, Dad and our Farm Manager – who we call “The Governor”. We breed mostly for fleece and genetic conformation.
Interesting facts about alpacas
One of the first animals I named – was Mrs Herraman — after my wonderful kindergarten teacher. It’s been funny explaining to my teacher’s what Mrs Herraman has been getting up to: Mrs Herraman was having a bath in the dam on the weekend; Mrs Herraman was eating grass in the paddock; Mrs Herraman is having another baby and; the funniest was by far – Dad held Mrs Herraman down for shearing.
Alpaca’s have soft feet called pads – not hooves.
Alpaca’s are also being bred in Australia for meat consumption.
What do you love most about being with alpacas?
I love that Alpacas are a unique and emerging new agricultural industry in Australia. I love that they are magical looking animals, easy to train and have amazing fleece.
We show our Alpacas a great deal at many Alpaca and agriculture shows – including the Sydney Royal, Canberra Royal and Royal Melbourne. These are great fun as well as a lot of work.
Where do you sell your produce?
We sell our fleece a great many ways. We sell some direct to Australian companies that product alpaca garments, blankets and carpet. Our finest micron yarn is processed into our own balls under our own label making it 100% an Australian Product – Born, Grown, Shorn and Processed in Australia. Spinners love alpaca fleece as well and there are sales to them. The older fleece we wash and to produce dog beds and fire-lighters! On our farm we use every bit of the fleece.
What is happening on your farm at the moment?
Alpacas gestate for approximately 365 days, so it is a long wait to see the results. They usually only birth one baby (twins are rare). Alpaca babies are called Cria’s. They are usually born in the morning and are up running around within half an hour of hitting the ground. Sometimes I have to help deliver them as well as making sure they are feeding from their Mums.
If you could tell a kiddie one unique thing about alpacas, what would it be?
There are so many great, unique things about growing up on a farm surrounded by Alpacas. I cannot recall a time that I have not had them in my life and I have made great friends through attendance at shows like the Sydney Royal Easter Show, nationals and many regional shows. Alpacas are all round animals with more than one purpose – fleece, meat, gentle on the ground, work well as herd protectors, pets /companion animals and even lawnmowers. Kids who have had nothing to do with alpacas can attend our Youth Camps – and even compete in the Youth Parader Events. Typically, these events are organised by Youth Committees in each state by youngsters like me – who are Alpaca mad.
For more information on Storybook Alpaca’s, visit: http://www.storybookalpacas.com.au
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George the Farmer Blog