Jo Gaha and Helen Jenkins, friends for over thirty five years, since our twenties, decided in 2006, to start a small alpaca herd together, mainly because of our love of the animals and the yarn produced from their fleece. Our first purchase was a pregnant female with a cria at foot. This female was a slightly scrawny light fawn alpaca with Peruvian heritage called Thedia, and her lovely brown male called Primo. We adjisted them on an alpaca stud north of Sydney. We soon learnt that Thedia had a very decided personality. Through the long hot summer, she was happiest when standing in a bathtub of water with a shade sail above her! She produced a lovely solid white male but in the first of a number of unlucky occurrences, she was not interested in him, and after hand feeding and much coaxing, he did not thrive and died at six weeks.
Not long after, having purchased two wethered males, Chocolate Sox and Phoenix Star (known affectionately as Cuddles), that were always playing with Primo, we moved all four to the Lanyon Estate near Canberra. Our female produced another male, this time a rusty brown colour, and with two new females, the herd was now seven. These two females were quite different to our first – being very assertive, determined, even bossy.
What’s Happening Nowdays
In time Jo and her husband moved to a farm at Michelago. The animals followed, and were joined soon after by more white animals that we bought, including a white stud male. Initially we planned to have a white herd, to produce fleece and yarn for sale.
However as our numbers of white animals grew, we decided to expand into colours. We had our best fleeces milled interstate in Victoria, with Gayle Herring at Fibre Naturally, and the product was very exciting – soft, wonderful to touch and easy to knit. We decided to keep our white lines, but to continue to expand our coloureds, as these were proving popular for sale to home knitters.
We now have sixty-one alpacas (and two llamas), in a beautiful range of colours, and we mill the fleeces in Victoria or Burra – Tanya Boston has set up an alpaca mill there, Boston Fine Fibres – and sell the yarn in their natural colours and knit or crochet items for sale. We have another partner in the business too. Ann Harrison lives on the farm next door and bought into Pacawoolly a few years ago. This allowed us to buy some coloured females and a rose grey stud male.