Thursday, November 26, 2015

Knitting in progress

You would think that running fibre mill would result in more knitting right? Hmmm perhaps not... Not yet anyway! Loving working with fibre but in these early stages there is more knitting of tension squares than anything else! However I am managing to squeeze in a few rows here and there. In typical form, I don't just have one project on the go, I have three! I'm knitting socks for me with scraps from the mill, a baby vertebrae for my friend's new bub, a milo for a friend's young boy and have plans for a kina for another friend's new bub! I just can't help myself! 
I'm really enjoying knitting with yarn that not only did we make it but we know the people who grew the fibre. Aren't the colours just lovely?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Simple Coconut Yoghurt

Whilst our household loves cheese and yoghurt, sadly at least two of us are cows milk protein intolerant so cheese and yoghurt aren't such a great idea. I've made a few substitutes along the way, most recently with almond milk in my coffee. I had thought that I had "grown" out of my allergy however since not even having cows milk in my coffee this winter I have been more well than I can remember for a very long time, even with two small boys fermenting bugs! The hardest for our family is for our 4 year old. He loved cheese and yoghurt before we discovered his intolerance and just couldn't understand why he couldn't have it anymore. So it was with great joy that I realised that it is possible to make coconut yoghurt! At the time we couldn't buy it from the local supermarket so with much internet research we gave it a go. I was astounded by how complicated the instructions were! I have a few versions a go with many failed attempts. Throughout the failed attempts I just kept thinking, it can't be this hard!!! So I decided to give super simple a go. It worked! My boy absolutely loves it! He is so happy to be eating yoghurt that he doesn't even realise, or doesn't care that, he isn't eating the ones he used to eat.

A word of warning through. There is good reason for some parts of the complicated versions, including bringing the coconut milk up to a high temperature to kill the unwanted bacteria. However it is so simple that we only make a small amount at a time and it is nearly always eaten within 24hrs of it being cool enough in the fridge!
So my simple version is...

1-2 tins of coconut milk (I use the Ayam 270ml tins, just because we like it, we can get it easily and seems to be free of additives)
1-2 capsules of dairy free probiotics (I use Inner Health Plus Dairy Free)
2-3T maple syrup (this is not for our flavouring, this is for the probiotic bacteria food)
Put all ingredients in to the Easiyo container then follow directions of your Easiyo maker with regards to water level in the thermos. Leave for 7 hours and transfer to the fridge.
Thats it!

It produces a fairly runny yogurt but no one cares in this household! I have added agar agar to thicken but it requires too much heating and fuss for us. If I want a thicker yoghurt I'll often add a tin of coconut cream instead of milk, which seems to be fine for us. Time in the thermos and if we add 1 or 2 capsules of probiotics helps us adjust how sour we want the yoghurt. (longer time = more sour)
We also by accident made a really nice strawberry frozen yoghurt (we call it strawberry icecream here, was actually attempting a smoothie at the time!). 500g frozen strawberries and some (maybe a cup) of the yoghurt ground up together on speed 9 in the thermomix. Yum!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Twilight calm

I really love the calm that comes with twilight on a quiet night. 
It was very much needed after a tough week on the farm. We sadly lost a steer. I had been finding it hard to remember why I was working so hard for our small farm then the little things remind me.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A quiet moment

Quiet moments are few and far between at the moment. So I'm really enjoying that Xavie fell asleep on the trip home from the shops today and we were able to park the car in a nice spot for me to sit with him whilst Andrew takes James for a while to do boy things. The next photo is my knitting and my view!
I'm attempting knitting with the magic loop technique with our official batch 1 of adagio yarn! It's been a long time coming with temperature and humidity causing us dramas. (Who thought it was a bright idea to start a fibre mill in the middle of Orange in winter? Oh dear, that's right... Us... Hmmmm. Anyway...) 
Today is the first patch of sun we have had for a week so the alpacas are thoroughly enjoying themselves sunning their tummies!
It always gives me a bit of a heart attack seeing them in the paddock like that but they love it! The photo is not great quality but you might be able to see Julie, our white alpaca, sunning her tummy in the background. Also in the photo is Ebony and her cria Onyx in the foreground. She surprised us with him last weekend. We had been wondering but didn't really think she was pregnant but clearly she was! He was very small and born in the middle of terrible weather but he is feeding well and seems to be going strong which is a relief!
On yet another snow day this week we even had a lamb born! Also very cute.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


We've been watching the weather forecasts for snow all week wondering if the snow would eventuate. It didn't disappoint! When I fed my 10mth old at 3am it was so peaceful and beautiful with the covering of snow, it was a real shame that there wasn't enough light for a photo.
The alpacas weren't particularly impressed about the snow but we had so much fun playing in it!

What better to do now that a spot of knitting in front of the fire with my boys playing around me?
I just love this pattern! (Milo vest by TiKKi Knits)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Knitting a fratello

I love this pattern! Fratello by TiKKi Knits. In amongst everything happening here I've really enjoyed the row or two I've snuck in, in quiet moments. Xavie is growing so fast that I picked a large size but it still looks so sweet! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Another new arrival, Gedalyn's cria

Gedalyn has done us proud again! Her third black female cria was born this afternoon! I had been watching her all day worrying about her as she was really uncomfortable. In late afternoon I had assumed it wouldn't be today as it was getting too late but when I went to feed them snacks gedalyn didn't come to investigate which was very unusual. She is usually the first to the food! Then I found her on her side and was about to call the vet when two feet appeared! A very short time later the little female cria was born. It was wonderful to watch! We had missed all the other births on our property. It was also interesting to watch the other alpacas greet the new arrival. They each greeted her but the matriarch of the group, Julie, paid the most attention and stood protector over her whilst mum, gedalyn, rested. They form the most wonderful bonds.
The photo is of later this evening just before I caught the cria to check it and put a coat on her. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

New cria at adagio!

Our first new cria in 2 years was born today! By our calculations he is 2-3 weeks early but seems to be doing well. Dark brown, nearly black male, no name yet.

Family photo! New cria with mum and his two older brothers.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Antique car club meet

We are lucky enough to live next door to our local antique car club. They use a council owned building and we agist the land (approx 3 acres). Most of the time we don't see much of them but every now and then they have a meet and this weekend is one of those times! It was fantastic, today more than 60 antique cars were right next door! They were stunning! Here are a few photos that we took walking around and admiring a few that were left this afternoon.

The train can be seen in the background. Cars and a train, my 3.5 year old boy was pleased!

We have been doing a bit of hand feeding at the moment so the steers remember that we bring food and follow us everywhere we go! Bellowing at us in the hope that we will bring more lucerne for them. Rather large and intimidating to be following us around like puppies!
Our golden retrievers (Mahler and Bartok) are not so pleased that the steers are in the back paddock at the moment. Mahler runs up and down the back fence, barking, warning them off. The steers don't even bother to look up anymore! They know he can't get through the fence so they just continue calmly chewing their grass.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Andrew's creations!

As part of the start-up of our mill, we have sent Andrew to train in America with one of their top mills, Lynn from Olympic Yarn and Fibre. He has learnt so much and part of what worked through whilst he was there was some of Lynn's alpaca fibre as a bit of a test! This is what he created!

Alpaca fibre has such beautiful colours and blending the fleece from a few alpacas can create something really unique. When choosing the colours to use for my training here I thought it would be interesting to capture the change as the fleece was blended through the process. So here is the starting point, some brown, black and white huacaya alpaca fleece blended with a little suri grey, lets see what it creates!

Fleece on sorting table waiting to be processed
Into the opener

From some brown, black and white with a little Suri grey, you can see the stages of blending ready to go through the carder for the first pass.
First stage roving/sliver after carder

Rovings from the carder ready for the pin drafter. The pin drafter takes 4 slivers and combines them as well as a drawing it out for the first draft. This will "average" out the sliver and will both continue to blend the colours and reduce the imperfections.
Stacks of rovings/slivers ready for the spinner below!

Second stage roving after pin drafter
The sliver/roving is then fed into the spinner.

Rovings/sliver going into spinner
Plyed yarn still on the bobin.

Yarn 1 - Andrew 0!
Here's a picture of me hand winding back to the bobin from a skein after I managed not to completely close the gates and had a run of slightly short skeins... argh!!

The final product, simply gorgeous!
On skeins!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Craziness in abundance here!

Sliver produced from the blending, isn't it just gorgeous!
Its crazy here at Adagio headquarters! My dining table is officially sinking under paperwork and James has kindly painted a few important documents. Ah well, I had to laugh when he proudly came and showed me, my fault for leaving the room for a few moments!

Andrew is currently in America, training in one of the top small scale mills there, Olympic Yarn and Fiber. He is learning so much and has been putting together a story about the yarn he has processed there. It has been posted as a few chapters on our facebook page but I think I'll try to condense it into a story here in a few days time. The slivers he has been producing look amazing!

Blending of alpaca fibre into carder

I had one of those days the other day. I couldn't talk about it at the time but lets just say it involved chasing sheep around the paddock for 1.5hrs (and not getting them where I wanted them!), a sick baby who just wanted hugs and the loss of car keys for about half an hour which was just long enough for me to panic as to how I was going to collect James from preschool. Not to mention the few adagio disasters averted! Lets just say there wasn't enough chocolate in the house to make up for it that evening.

We have confirmation that our milling equipment should arrive in the country on the 3rd of May so I'm really hoping it will clear customs quickly and be on our doorstep early May. To be counting its arrival in days rather than months is equally exciting and scary. So much to do and so little time. I'm getting a very good lesson in working on what I can and not worrying about the rest! 

Follow-a-fleece new candidate Smokey Dawson!
Our lease on our premises officially starts on 4th May however we negotiated early access for planning purposes so we will get the keys this Monday. Our kickstarter campaign has gone quiet for the last week or so but I'll have to restart the conversation early next week as we have only 9 days left to go. In celebration of making our minimum target we added two additional follow-a-fleece candidates Smokey Dawson (pictured) and Kali (a young black female).

For anyone in the neighbourhood, we will be at the Royal Bathurst show this Sunday, we are sponsoring our first show! 5kg processing vouchers will go to the Champion Huacaya Alpaca, Champion Suri Alpaca and the first placed Huacaya fleece. Hope to see you there!

Oh and I love this rain we are having, so thankful! If only I had known that all I had to do to get it to rain was for my dryer to break and to buy feed for the stock... I would have arranged that months ago!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Adagio in the news!

Its really exciting, we're in the news!

I'm enjoying our project coming to life and news articles are just one way its gaining momentum. I feel like a kid who had their photo in the paper!

We've had articles in the Central West Daily but I really love the one in the Dubbo Weekender! Kim Goldsmith (@kvgoldsmith) came to our place and interviewed me. She was lovely and has written a great story!

Dubbo weekender article here.
CWD article here.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Restful; at ease

I love walking around our property at twilight. I don't get to do it often with small children but today the stars aligned and I managed to get out. It is days like today that remind me why we named our property "adagio". Adagio, as an Italian musical term, means restful; at ease and that was just what I needed this afternoon. After trekking two children around from one boy's specialist appointment to a physio appointment for my wrist (that I've damaged cartilage in from carrying my very stocky 6.5month old around for long periods with my wrist in a less than optimal position) and a 3.5 year old with skinned knees that he has decided prevents him from standing, all resulting in less than required sleep for the youngest... I'm sure you've all had days like that! Anyway just wandering around and checking on things meant I cleared my head and am ready to face the world again. 

Produce from the neglected veggie patch... note the one and only strawberry from our mass of strawberry plants!

The chickens who were grumpy with me since despite their very large pen (shed as a house and penned in outside area large enough to house about 12-15 chickens not just our 6!), and large box of scrap greens from our local green grocer still refuse to lay eggs unless we let them out to wander through our grassy orchard area. I love our barnevelders but they have been terrible layers for us! Spoilt free loaders at the moment! That rooster is pretty though...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Adagio Alpaca Mills - sneak peek at our equipment!

We have a very talented and creative family member who filmed and then pieced together a video of Andrew's trip to Italy. The purpose of the trip was to inspect our now completed milling equipment before it is shipped and learn from the experts whilst he was there. The trip was invaluable, Andrew was able to put the equipment through its paces and test a number of assumptions and questions we had developed along the way. So enjoy the video of his trip, hope you have a good giggle as Andrew learns to spin with our spinner and celebrate with him when gets it working for the first time! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spotlight on Schumann

The alpaca I'd like to introduce you to today is Schumann. When we visited Jurustalle Alpacas we intended to select just one alpaca for our Follow-a-Fleece program. In discussion with Jurustalle alpacas before we went out into the paddock we got to see Schumann's fleece from last year and it was just gorgeous. We wanted it for ourselves! Between his fleece and a name like Schumann (to go with our musical inclination) we just knew Schumann had to be in the program. But then we met Gautier and we were torn. There was just something about Gautier that we couldn't leave him out! Then Schumann wandered over and he was just so classy to match his name and beautiful fleece. What to do!?! To that point we had only accepted one alpaca from each stud but we loved both! What to do??? We just had to include both! There was no other option! Check out our Follow-a-Fleece here if you are interested in finding out more about Schumann...

In other news, I was very relieved to have my father and step-brother visiting to help me remove this very cute but unwelcome visitor from the house!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Veggie patch has been kind to us

Despite the neglect this year, our veggie patch and small only 4 years old orchard is being very kind to us! We have had plenty of snow peas and zucchinis. 5 trees have given us a huge amount of apples, two shopping bags picked from one tree today! About half shown in the picture. 
Some of the apples have been huge! I couldn't quite find the right way to show their size, even this picture with the tea cup doesn't quite show it. The apple is bigger in every dimension!
Rather tasty too...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Follow-a-Fleece Spotlight on Captain Jack

Introducing… Captain Jack!
Captain Jack is the sweetie from Kyona Alpacas. Kylie and Fiona from Kyona Alpacas have a love for alpacas and produce the most wonderful felted items from their fleece! I've been lucky enough to go to two of their felting workshops, learn to felt and felting hats. We had such a great day learning from two such talented ladies! They are always at the Millthorpe Markets so drop by on the 22nd of March 2015 if you are in the area and say hello and see what they have handcrafted. Captain Jack is one of their young male alpacas that they are keen to share, if you'd like to follow his fleece, visit our kickstarter page.

In breaking news… Just a Gigolo is the first of our Follow-a-Fleece candidates to sell out! Don't miss out on Captain Jack…

Monday, March 9, 2015

Follow-a-Fleece Spotlight on Phantom

Phantom is the beloved stud male from Kienella Alpacas. You can just tell that this alpaca has character! His fleece is a natural black, alpacas are one of the few fibres that can be said to really be a true black. Check out their facebook page to find out more about Kienella Alpacas and Phantom in particular, there may be an extra photo or two there of him if you want to know more! They love their alpacas and like us their alpacas are beloved pets. All breeders love their alpacas and have a few that are considered pets however it is the small breeders that really have a relationship with each and every one of their alpacas. This is demonstrated very clearly as Scotty puts together a calendar each year of alpacas in Christmas hats. We were very fortunate this year to be gifted one! I'm sure you can imagine this alpaca in a Christmas hat! Perhaps Scotty might share some of his alpacas in hats photos if you are one of the lucky ones who decide to follow Phantom's fleece?

Kienella Alpacas very kindly agreed to release a few photos of Phantom in hats that featured in their calendar! Isn't he just gorgeous!?!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Follow-a-Fleece Spotlight on Gabriel (Snoop)

A hand knitted jumper or vest is always something made with so much love that you can feel it when you wear the item of clothing. From my experience of having yarn made from my alpacas, I have found that there is something extra special about the clothing that I have knitted for my children with our very own yarn. Knitting with yarn that you know where it came from and something about the animal and its life really is something special.
Not everyone has the space to have alpacas like we do, so part of our vision for Adagio Alpaca Mills is to be able to connect the end uses of the knitting yarn with the grows of the fleece. This is where the concept of Follow-a-Fleece came from. 
If you love the idea of knowing more about the animal that grew the fleece for the yarn and the people who cared for that animal check out our Follow-a-Fleece first run! It is one of the rewards on offer in our kickstarter campaign. If it is popular we hope to run a similar program in future years through our own online store when it is up and running. 

There are 10 alpacas in our Follow-a-Fleece first run. We would like to show you Gabriel (Snoop) today. Gabriel lives at Signature Alpacas in the Central West of NSW, Australia. She is currently very pregnant and if you are lucky enough to sign up to her Follow-a-Fleece you will get to see pictures of her cria (baby alpaca) when its born and you'll just have to sign up to find out why her nickname is Snoop!

A very big thank you to Retromummy who has mentioned our new business on her blog! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Adagio Alpaca Mills

There haven't been many posts here on my blog over the past few months, however it was for very good reason. Not only was my second son, Xavier, born 6 months ago but we have been working on a new business venture! New baby, new business, all at once, CRAZY!

As you can tell on this blog we love our alpacas and being able to make stuff from their fleece, we have decided to take that to the next level! For the past 2 years we have been working on a concept of Adagio Alpaca Mills and it is finally taking shape. It took a surprisingly long time to develop the business case and obtain funding but we did it and placed the orders on the milling equipment from Italy just before Xavie was born. Check out our website here.

Our milling equipment has now been manufactured and is about to be shipped! We should be operational in about 2-3 months time!

Whilst our bank has been awesome in funding us, there are a few small but critical things they were unable to fund such as our washing and drying facility. This will consist of sinks, a hydro extractor, drying racks and hopefully also an ultrasonic bath. So we have launched the adagio alpaca mills kickstarter campaign 2015

Be the first to have some of our yarn or check out our alpaca experiences!