Don’t you love alpacas and Collingwood cows

Alpacas and belted Galloways were high on my list of things to see and do at AGFEST last week. When my boys were little they used to point to belted Galloways in the paddocks and name them Collingwood cows and it has just stuck. Alpacas are a personal favourite and I still harbour ideas of having a pair one day. They have the loveliest faces and produce a wonderful fleece.

Beautiful alpacas at AgFest

Beautiful alpacas at AgFest

The rugs in the alpaca exhibit were so soft and comfy that they are really a must on every sofa. Just feeling one conjures up notions of lying on a couch on a cold winters day, warm and comfy reading a book. I first saw alpaca rugs at the farmer’s market in Wagga Wagga in NSW at the time I was fighting to stop

Collingwood cows!

Collingwood cows!

the sale of the CSIRO wool scour in Geelong. Right around Australia on farms small amounts of fleeces from coloured sheep or alpacas are generated for high quality value adding but they need to be processed before being returned to farms for the knitting or weaving etc. The dismantling of the scour threatened those small producers and artisans who would have had to send the fleeces to South America or New Zealand to be processed if the scour had been lost. In the end the government sold the scour to a private carpet and rug company Velieris Pty Ltd but I did secure an undertaking from the government that the sale conditions would include the company still taking small amounts of private scouring work….which reminds me that I must follow up with those producers to see that this arrangement has been honoured.

Talking rugs with ladies from the Australian Alpaca Association

Talking rugs with the Alpaca Association

Since the demise of agricultural shows as places to showcase machinery and new technologies AGFEST has taken over as the “must go to event” in Tasmania for anyone interested in what’s new on farms or at the lowliest level, in gardens. I wanted to see what progress has been made in solar pumps as this is my year of the water feature and I want to build something that can be powered by a small scale solar pump. This had the advantage of intermittent running water that look after itself and doesn’t require the electric mains. I found what I was looking for and so am now quite excited about construction scheduled to take place in August or thereabouts.

My final indulgence at AGFEST was a gift from my son, a pair of emu garden sculptures …very simply made from a stone and some metal…you will see them when they are delivered down the track.

6 thoughts on “Don’t you love alpacas and Collingwood cows

  1. I thought that you may appreciate an update on what has happened to the scour.
    The ex CSIRO scour has been relocated and recommissioned. It is now operating at its new premises; the Velieris factory in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. To date, only lower value product has been put through the scour as the operators iron out any small glitches with the system. Even so, the scoured product is of better quality than was produced by the CSIRO when they were operating the scour.

    Velieris have added an opener prior to the fibre going into the scour & another post scour opener (before the drier). The fibre coming out of the drier is no longer matted or felted in any way, as was the case with the scoured product that was produced by the CSIRO. This should mean that fibre breakage will be reduced when cashmere and alpaca fibre is dehaired, as it will no longer go into the dehairing process entangled. Our company, Cashmere Connections Pty Ltd is very happy with the commission scouring that Velieris have done for us to date, but are hoping that Velieris will be ready to scour some higher value fibre for us soon.

    The management at Velieris Pty Ltd are committed to working with the the Natural Fibre community in Australia.
    I was one, who was initially fighting to keep the scour at the CSIRO, but believe that moving the scour, although making business very difficult for those in the industry in the period that it was offline, is in the long term be a much better outcome. Velieris will give stability and certainty to the Australian Rare Natural Fibre Industry. Key skilled people have been employed by Velieris in order to ensure that not only is processing carried out efficiently, but that the quality of the processed goods is not compromised in any way.

    Should you have the time, I am certain that the management of Velieris would be happy to show you over the plant and explain the changes and improvements that they have made to the scouring line.

    • Dear Trish,
      It is so good to hear from you and even better to know that Velieris is doing such a great job for the Rare Natural Fibre Industry. As you know I was worried about the sale and the impact it would have on small producers but this is a good news story. Thank you for letting me know. For once rural people have not been short changed. I can now enjoy the beautiful products knowing that they are still grown, processed and sold in Australia.

  2. As I lie here in hospital in Sydney recovering from a spinal operation this was a nice article to read.

    My best wishes to all in the Tasmanian alpaca community.

    • Dear Raymond,
      I was really chuffed to see your comment appear on the blog on this rather dreary afternoon in the federal parliament.
      I hope that the operation is a big success and that you are back in action soon….in your garden perhaps. Are you a gardener or an alpaca or rare natural fibres friend or better still, owner?
      cheers C

  3. Dear Christine<
    I too have been looking for such an item for my water feature- I was unable to visit Agfest this year as I was away in Melbourne enjoying time with my new Grandson and watching the real Collingwood (bulls).
    I too am an Alpaca breeder and appreciate your efforts in relation to the scourer.
    I would appreciate knowing the brand of solar pump you found if not too much trouble.
    Kind Regards,

  4. Dear Christine
    All is not lost , the Natural Coloured Fibre Company is also working closely with Tony Arduca and the team at Velieris . They will be scouring small lots at reasonable cost and large lots more cheaply . It was to take advantage of this that the NCFC formed in the first place . Tandara Wool at the above email also scours small lots ( 1-10 kg.) but can not take the process any further . Velieris will hopefully have the old Longtops plant on line some time this year as well . They will then be able to provide the complete service under the one roof . The team at Velieris are dedicated to natural coloured fibre and quality product at reasonable cost . Don’t give up on them !

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