A field of alpacas

Chillin’ at Freshfield alpacas

I couldn’t have hoped for a warmer introduction to alpacas than Fresh field alpacas. MaryAnn took me out to see the alpacas first. She knew all their names, and could call over those who were likely to be up for a cuddle.

Meet the alpacas

I got to see up close their gorgeous eyes and little ways they’ll tease each other. It’s pretty easy to see why people with a bit of space might consider an alpaca as a pet. Fresh field offer agistment services for those who don’t have the space to keep their alpaca. A couple were visiting their animals and giving them some treats when I arrived.

Fresh field is an easy hour’s drive from Melbourne. The farm is friendly and set up for family visits. You can feed the alpacas for a small donation. They also have a fairly large shop with a range of different alpaca products.

Fresh field shear their alpacas once a year before the weather gets really hot. MaryAnn contracts a shearer and she said the most they’d done in one day was 86 fleeces!

MaryAnn can wash, dehair and card the fibre on site. Their own fleece goes to different countries depending on the end product. Peru manufactures clothes, New Zealand spins most of the yarn in their store. MaryAnn gets fleece donations from people who’ve bought alpacas from her. She hand spins these or prepares them for felting.

Did I hear you say felting?

Yup! Fresh field has a farm studio and offers felting workshops. While I was there, the teacher was overseeing a more experienced felter. The felter had booked time in the studio to make some nuno felt pieces. In the studio there are large tables and a felting machine with fabrics and dyes on hand. I can see the attraction of working in the studio compared to trying to work at home.

Inspecting fabric in the process of felting

Inspecting the fabric after the first felting

Judy is the teacher. She’s skilful and practical, with a cheeky sense of humour! She also runs classes where you can learn how to create a hat, bag or scarf. I’m planning on coming back for a felt hat workshop. Judy’s examples of felt hats in the store are lovely (sorry, I didn’t think to take a photo – silly me!).