Panorama from the Farm

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Donnacha has been busy over the last couple of years making alpacas. His first lot were all females! Goodness me. I wonder what this year will bring? The main aim of course was to breed replacements for all the older ones who have moved on to better pastures. Baby alpacas are incredibly cute, but they grow quickly! You should see some of our skirted cria fleeces at market day with the hand spinners and weavers guild this year - see for details (if their site does not work, use the cache on your search).
This year you should also see us at Fibre Frolic and Fibre Fest.


We're delighted to have been part of the Knitters Guild event called FibreFest Online 2020! See for details. The event took place over the weekend 24th - 25th October 2020. We had a draw of scruptuous alpaca yarn, and there were special offers. Thanks to all who took part, and I hope you all had fun.

Shearing is all done and dusted! Only one really funny incident this time. One of the alpaca boys was being wrestled out of the pen, and he decided it was time to do a rocket act. He made a beautiful arcing leap for freedom, only to be brought down to the gym mat by the magnificent, co-ordinated tackle by our shearer and offsider, worthy of a footy grand final.

What an odd year! First the bushfires, then the floods, then the virus lockdowns. We planted over 100 trees at the farm so hopefully the soil will stay on the farm and the atmosphere will benefit from the lovely little trees.

Although face-to-face sales ceased after the March lockdown, Marlyn Alpaca is still open for mail orders. There is now plenty of time for Jill to lovingly hand spin more unique products, especially while watching the cycling on TV!


Amazingly all the dams filled up over one rain event early this year! But drought again, so we are hand feeding alpacas.

We had a lovely time catching up with people at various markets over the year. Great opportunities to actually feel the yarn and appreciate the fuss over alpaca.


We started the year with 43 wethers, 18 females (4 are cria) and 7 would-be males (2 are cria). New cria include Daphne (dark fawn suri). Last year's cria have started to grow up. They are a delight to watch. A lack of rain meant hand feeding. We entered animals with East Station Alpacas at the Mudgee alpaca show and received some ribbons.

At the markets some new yarns are on offer, which are a mix of 50% alpaca and 50% wool or wool/silk. They are popular with people making shawls and other one-off items.


This year we had six fantastic suri cria at the farm: "Cafenoir" (brown black male), "Champak" (male, spotted dark fawn going grey), "Camellia" (spotted fawn female), "Crystal" (white female, looks a bit like a huacaya), "Charbonne" (brown black female) and "Corinthia" (fawn female).

East Station stud male "Cacao" has done his duty and has gone on to help bring more quality alpacas into the world up at Running Stream. Alpaca "E10" has gone to Mudgee to look after some goats. Apparently he looked around the fence, then stayed with the goats and has not left them! That's good news.

Shearing this year was put off for a couple of weeks due to snow (of all things). What a nuisance! But we had some really great help on the day.


This year we had some gorgeous suri cria at the farm including "Barbet" (brown black female), "Beauty" (female, spotted fawn), "Blitzen" (white male), and "Bunny" (brown female) who was born on Easter Monday.

Welcome to the farm some older black female suris including "Zambia" and "Petra". And farewell to "Andreas" and "Heatwave" who have left to look after some sheep.


New baby alpaca
Hover over the image to see "Freckles".

There is a new arrival at the farm. This is young Freckles and his mum Ena (Hi, Ena!). They have been joined by Patch and her cria Peter. "Aurora" came late in the season (fawn female) and has a fantastic glossy coat.

In July we exhibited our alpaca products at the Mudgee Small Farms Field Days. We sold all of the rose-grey yarn that we brought along – it's very popular as rose-grey alpaca is not as available as white and it makes for a lovely color in scarves and beanies. Jill has been experimenting with carded mixed fibres and these went quickly, too.

This year we have come to an arrangement with East Station Alpacas of Mudgee. Several East Station animals are now at Marlyn.

Farewell to "Bacardi" who has gone to look after some sheep.



We went to an auction to have a look, and guess what? We now have some nice female alpacas from Earthwise, and a young grey suri male. Fifi and Oriental Pearl are huacayas, Holly and Emily are suris.

Another female joined the herd: Storm, from Wiraki alpacas, is a grey huacaya.



October: Just received a batch of nice processed alpaca from Echo Beach (South Australia). There is some absolutely beautiful and glossy black suri fibre from Toto. There are some balls of yarn suitable for a shawl, some roving ready to spin and a batt of fibre with a little vegetable matter, from the second pass of the picker. Did I say it was glossy black? 27.4 micron puts it similar to Shetland wool. Use it as a colour contrast with corriedale or mohair, or with Bacardi (see below).

In the white and cream suri, Yengari's fleece has been processed, along with Etienne, Bellini and Bacardi. Etienne (oh so lustrous!) and Yengari are nice and fine, and are available as cones and roving. Bellini is also fine, and comes as skeins ready for you to dye (should you feel the urge). Bacardi (cream suri) is now 30.8 micron so is more suitable as a woven article such as a blanket or rug. He's available as skeins or roving, with a separate lot made up in skeins ready for you to dye for your next rug.

Hollywood (white huacaya) is still very fine and is available as roving. There was just a little vegetable matter which should be easy to pick out during hand spinning or weaving.

Your very own alpacas! Are you after a couple of herd guards? We have some animals available as their fleece is now too coarse for fine garments. They are healthy, and will be available in about a month's time when their fleece grows a little. We also have some quiet animals which make pretty lawn mowers, again healthy but fleece is too coarse for us. They are all wethers, $200.00 each incl GST. Please contact us for a list as there is a significant reduction for quantity.

September – Shearing Week: As the song says, "Oh, the springtime, it brings on the shearing". How do you get 57 alpacas into a 1950's sheep shearing shed? You start several months earlier, by putting treats such as lucerne hay here and there in the shearing shed, and leave the door open where the alpacas can go in and out at their leisure. We plan the sequence of paddocks that they will be moving to, always minimizing the opportunity to pick up burrs and other contamination. Then a couple of days before shearing they are moved from paddock to smaller paddock, always closer to the shed. It's all a matter of slowly getting more alpacas in than out. Eventually there is a tipping point when there are way more alpacas in than out, and this usually results in the remainder trying to get in regardless of how crowded the entrance is.

With the doors shut, Mike and Jill then sort the animals by colour. Generally we put all the white and light fawns in one area, and all the darker colours in another area. This minimizes fleece contamination during shearing.

The next day we get up early to meet our helpers and our professional shearer who has been booked for this day months in advance. If it is raining, we can rest assured that the animals will be dry. We have a hay shed nearby so if it is too cold, the animals will be warm after shearing.

Our shearer uses a table. Mike and the helper go to the first pen and pull out an alpaca. The shearer ties the alpaca by the feet, sets the rope and begins to shear following a set sequence. Helpers find the labels for the fleece bags based on the alpaca's ear tag. Part way through, Jill takes a mid side sample. Toenails are clipped and 5-in-one injections are done. The fleece is bagged (saddle in one labelled bag, neck in another, the stuff from the legs in the bins is placed in a third bag). Helpers keep the floor swept as fleece gets underfoot.

One big white suri was so upset at being derived of his dignity, instead of going out the side door like everyone else, he flopped into the wool bin full of floor sweepings, toenails and rubbish. Jill tried to get him out with a broom, but the shearer suggested to just leave him there. Sure enough, after the next alpaca was shorn, the first just got up and accompanied him out as though nothing had happened.

At last we finished, tired but triumphant, with a shed full of fleece. The alpacas were let into a new paddock with plenty of feed. They seemed really happy, running and rolling, and eating.