Alternative View Alpacas is a 69 acre farm located in Mirboo North (South Gippsland) which is just under a 2 hour drive from Melbourne. Run by Brigitte and Keith Kat, it has a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and is home to around 150 alpacas.
Brigitte kindly gave us a tour of the farm. First it was off to the barn where expectant mothers, and mothers with young babies are housed each night. Oh boy, were they cute. Inquisitive and quite friendly - we were surrounded by alpaca mothers and babies. I'll spare you the 100 or so photos I took and just show you a couple..well perhaps a few more than a couple :)
I got to hold 1 day old alpacas and take a mother and her baby for a walk, as well as do lots of alpaca patting. Suffice to say I couldn't stop grinning.
Brigitte lets the mothers and youngsters out of the barn each morning and they spend the day grazing around the house and garden as well as in paddocks.
The view from the deck of her house was of mothers grazing and babies playing. Pretty hard to get used to.....NOT! We went for a wander around the farm and saw more alpacas grazing in the paddocks.
Then Brigitte took us on a tour of the rest of the farm. Brigitte and Keith are very keen to live sustainably. They recycle, reuse, grow their own fruit and vegetables, capture rainwater, keep chickens and bees and generate electricity from renewables. The house they built was made from timber milled on the property. This was followed through with the fit out - ceiling, floors, kitchen, shelving - all made from trees on the property.
The house has rooftop PVs and captures water from the roof.
|colourful chook shed in foreground, house in background showing the PVs|
Just by the house there was an orchard which doubled as a chook run. We can vouch first hand that alpaca poo certainly agrees with fruit trees.
A prolific kiwi fruit vine also powered by alpaca poo provided ample shade for the chooks. The last harvest from the vine was over 600 kiwi fruit!
Inside the orchard there were several beehives so naturally we got to chatting about our mutual interest in bees :)
A non-functional and unrepairable water tank on the property was recycled to create a large veggie garden consisting of multiple beds. This supplied much of the couple's food. We could see a good garlic harvest drying in the house.
Brigitte and Keith swap excess produce from the garden with friends in return for things they don't grow. They have a large composting bay for garden and kitchen waste.
Brigitte also took us into her workshop where she makes garments from silk and felted alpaca wool. She had an amazing range of items - from jackets to scarves, some using naturally coloured alpaca wool, and others hand-dyed in a wide variety of colours. Every item was unique. She sells her pieces at markets and runs felting classes from her workshop. You can see some of her creations here
Oh yeah, and Brigitte's dog had recently given birth to some very cute puppies:
Last but not least, the entry gate to the farm was pretty good too!
All in all it was an inspiring trip - for those that like alpacas, as well as those interested in permaculture and sustainable living. Brigitte and Keith are planning to run more farm tours, from the end of February onwards. You can check out their website for contact details.