April 2013

Women on Farms, West Gippsland traveled to the hills south of Yarragon to visit Clivden Alpacas. Lindy and Bill Smith bought the 52 acre property in 2007 which had been part of a larger property. There was only a dam and 3 paddocks but with the most magnificent views across the valley with a patchwork of different coloured paddocks overlooking the township of Yarragon. The Smiths lived for a long time in England and this reminded them of the English countryside they loved.

They built a new home and sheds on the side of the hill and moved in one week before the 2009 fires of which the possibility was quite frightening for the newcomers. Bill worked interstate so Lindy decided to farm an animal she could handle on her own, that wasn’t too big and was environmentally friendly. She chose alpacas and also chose just to have black ones as she thinks they look magnificent against the green grass. The alpacas are environmentally friendly because the soft pads on their feet do not damage the soil.

Lindy has 33 adult alpacas some of which have cria at foot. Alpacas are very hardy, almost never have birthing problems and are easy to care for. The wethers are sold to farmers in pairs as guard animals for stock. They will guard sheep, goats, cattle and poultry as long as they are bonded to the stock.

There is an emerging meat industry for alpacas. This new industry will provide an outlet for the alpaca breeders’ excess stock. The meat is very lean and sought after by gourmet and restaurant chefs. Bill cooked alpaca sausages for the group to try and they were extremely tasty.

Clivden Alpacas have their fleeces processed into yarn. The yarn is naturally very black and contains no dyes or chemicals. Lindy has a variety of alpaca products she sells at markets and field days. She has also written a children’s book about “Archie the Black Alpaca”. The Smiths also breed Belted Galloway cattle. For more information on alpacas the Australian Alpaca Association has an informative website www.alpaca.asn.au and also a booklet that is an introduction to alpacas and contains most information anyone would need to know if they were considering becoming an alpaca owner.

Women on Farms meet on the first Tuesday of the month to visit a different farming enterprise. It is open to all women with an interest in things rural not just those on working farms. For more information phone Hilary on 59 977 378 or look at the website www.womenonfarms.org