Archive for August, 2016


Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Winter is the time we make time for ……changes. This year it was the turn of wisteria in our back garden to come in for a tidy up. Since we have been at The Alpaca Place, the wisteria has grown, and grown ….and grown, until it not only covered the punga fence back extended over the front of studio at one end, and over the top of our potting shed at the other. Probably would have grown into the raceway, too, but a frequent application of alpaca teeth at least kept it trimmed there.

The punga log fence was starting to collapse under the weight of age and the wisteria, so that needed replacing too, so Liz and Gordon got busy with the loppers and trimmed the wisteria right back to a stump, carting trailer full after trailer full of branches to our fire pit. A convenient storm blew the now unconnected wisteria off the top of the potting shed after Liz had spent hours worrying about how she could get it off!

The punga logs were removed by Gordon and carted off for burning, and then Liz and Gordon rebuilt a new, and stronger fence for the wisteria to grow over. Now all we have to do is wait for the wisteria to resprout (and if it doesn’t we’ll plant a replacement). In the mean time we may plant some sweet pea to cover the brand new fence until the wisteria takes over.

As it was! The wisteria covered everything!

As it was! The wisteria covered everything!

The job half done - wisteria gone, new fence going up

The job half done – wisteria gone, new fence going up

The new fence now in place, waiting for the wisteria to grow

The new fence now in place, waiting for the wisteria to grow


Yet another use for alpaca – weedmat!

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

I am not much of a gardener, preferring to spend time on the farm or with the alpacas. However, I  love eating raspberries! So a few years ago I dealt with my anti-gardening prejudice and bought a few canes of raspberries, which have been producing delicious raspberries every year ever since.

As with all gardening, the worst part is the weeds, as as they grow when I am busiest on the farm, most years the raspberries have to compete with them, while I make the occasional effort to remove them.

This year I decided to try something different. I have long known that scrap alpaca was reputed to make a great weed mat, and as we had a number of odd scraps of alpaca lying around, I decided to make the effort to see how it works. After pruning, and hoeing the raspberry patch to remove as many weed seedlings as possible, I laid down a thick layer of compost to ensure the raspberries had sufficient food and moisture, and then carefully laid down a patchwork of alpaca fibre (quite a bit came from wool samples taken at our 2009 shearing and never sent for testing – it was a trip down nostalgia lane, as with one exception, all these alpacas had been sold).

So now all I have to do is wait and see how effective alpaca fibre is as a weedmat. I did strike a problem today when wind threatened to blow all the fibre from the garden, but got around that issue by dampening down the fibre.IMG_6006

Alpaca fibre: now the first choice for filtering smoke!

Friday, August 19th, 2016
Alpaca fibre has a great future! We all know that, but the sheer variety of uses for alpaca apart from the beautiful garments it makes, never ceases to amaze. Here is yet another use for this endlessly variable natural fibre:
From the winter edition of “New Zealand Alpaca” I recently reread an article by Jenny Durno about an amazing new use of alpaca fibre. Jenny’s article discusses a fire fighter mask with an alpaca filter, invented and developed by Australian Mike Taylor.
Mike didn’t set our to find a use for alpaca, rather he was looking for a solution to keep smoke out of your lungs when fighting fires, withour having the product melt all over your face, or leak smoke around the edges.
By chance, while Mike was researching natural materials he wandered into an alpaca show, and purchased felted alpaca to test along with other materials he was working with. The alpaca performed so well he went looking for a source, and together with an enterprising alpaca owner came up with the ideal solution for his face mask.
When CSIRO ran the alpaca filter through their tests, the results were so impressive, the respirator was the first and only respirator to pass two International Standards for fire resistance.
Not only, but also: the face masks have also been used for protection against word turning dust and allergens!
Says Mike: “I now have  a completely new electrostatic material which uses alpaca. I have called it “Pacastat”. By itself it removes 99.9% of 5 micron particles and over 85% of 0.3 micron. Fantastic texture too.”commercial