Nickelby At Darnum

Angela Betheras - the alpaca lady behind the business

Farm NewsAngela Betheras1 Comment

I would like to introduce myself to you as often when you come onto a site you are just not sure if you can trust it and if you are like me, you wonder, who is behind this business?

Well it is l! Ten years ago I purchased 67 acres at 308 Darnum Shady Creek Road and suffice to say the place was pretty empty.  As I tell visitors, there was no water, no power, no buildings, no tracks or driveways and the property consisted of 4 large paddocks with run down fencing.  Oh and there wasn't a house. There still isn't a house but that is a story for another post when I tell you about my adventure of building yurts and pods!

So prior to purchasing my 67 acres of nothing I had a B&B in the next town and only had 12 acres. I had two cute cottages in the garden and I built a photography studio in my garage and there I operated Angela Betheras Photography which I had previously run in Melbourne.  I was starting my alpaca journey in 2004 and up until 2005 I was commuting every day to the city because I was the International Supply Chain Manager for Coles Myer Ltd.  So my customers were Kmart, Target, Officeworks, Myer, Coles, BiLo and the list goes on. My team in Melbourne, Hong Kong and Shanghai basically bought in about one ship a week full of stock.  We were extremely busy!

However I finally had enough of the city life and thought it was time to make my home completely back here in West Gippsland where I grew up.  I grew up in Labertouche and rode my horse to school.  We had 19 students and one teacher.  The memories are fabulous, my maths and English were shocking!  

So in 2007 I stumbled across this property which I now call home as I was driving around killing time before turning up at a bride's house to start her wedding photography as I was early as usual. I walked around the property on a Friday afternoon and had purchased it by Friday night. I am known to be a little bit impulsive!

So my journey started with building the shop and studio and to kick start my marketing and trying to get people to come off the highway and pay us a visit.  March 1st 2018 will be our 10 year anniversary so watch the events page to see the party celebrations, it should be a big month (or 2)

I manage the business and the farm on my own but sometimes when you come you will meet my wonderful mother who often helps out or minds the shop when I have to go to a meeting.  She sold the family farm a couple of years ago and moved into the town so enjoys coming out to spend some time on mine and I put her to work!

So if you are passing, come in and visit, see the shop or if you can't make it then have a look at the online shop.  Everything is shipped from the lovely Darnum post office down the road and Julie makes sure everything gets off safely.

Until next time when I tell you about the fun I have had starting my yurt building and what my house will look like when I am living in the round!

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Angela & Miss Pasty

From Paddock to Rack

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We hear so much the catch phrase of "from paddock to plate" in marketing these days but here at Nickelby At Darnum we have another take - "from paddock to rack", clothing rack that is.  Whilst many alpacas are destined for the meat market these days as it is a growing market, Nickelby Alpacas are grown for their lovely soft bouncy fleece.  It is nearly shearing time yet again, certainly not my favourite day of the year, however to immerse myself in the bags of wonderful fluffy fibre is rather joyous.  The hard part is finding a spot to store it as I work through it all.  You see, I keep my fleece to use in my garments.  I either spin it myself or possibly felt some of it or when I am organised, which I have to be very soon, I send it to boutique mills run by other alpaca breeders to turn it into yummy yarn which I then use to make the garments which I sell under the label of "Nickelby Designs".  I dye all my own yarns which is lots of fun and often when you visit you might often see skeins of yarn drying along the fences.  I weave my fabric Saori style (watch for future blogs when I talk more about this) and then cut it all up! Not out of frustration but because of design.  I make my fabric into garments, yes I do lots of scarves and wraps, however unlike many, I sit at my sewing machine and turn the lengths of fabric into clothing.  A process I just love.  So next time you are in the area, pop on in and have a look at what I produce, feel how soft and lovely alpaca is and be tempted to take home a piece for yourselves.  If I exclude the 12 months the alpacas take to grow the fleece, the making of a wrap or a scarf which has been spun and dyed, woven and washed. The entire process has taken over 12 hours for each one but more on the process in future blogs.

With Christmas coming up if you are looking for that unique gift for someone special which made right here in Australia then please take a look at our online shop.  Until next time.....

Has Winter really left us?

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What is going on with this weather? We had an extremely dry Winter and now the sky has opened up and the rain just won't stop coming down.  However that hasn't stopped us here, well it has stopped us a little, certainly the alpacas are finding it hard to poke their noses out from the shed and shelters where they run to when the heavens open but in the shop, whilst we can't mow the lawns for fear of sinking, we are welcoming many brave people who are happy to rug up and come and see what is going on.

Lots is going on, we have our new website with a clearer view of our online shop.  Which has been fun to build but I don't there is any way I can get everything up on line so what you see is really only a representation of what we have.

My SAORI weaving is proving to be very popular and I now have scarves in the beautiful Town & Country Gallery in Yarragon and at the La Trobe Regional Gallery in Morwell and watch this space as some of my work will be making its way to Melbourne in the coming weeks.  All very exciting so keep an eye on the website to find out where.

Also a new initiative which is already taking off is our "Ladies Who Lunch" so why not think about having your next girls day out here at Nickelby At Darnum.  Everyone seems to have a great time when they do.

So you might be thinking that with Winter over and Spring is really here, well soon, that there is no need to look into alpaca garments, you can just wait until next Winter.  Well did you know that because alpaca is a hollow fibre and is lighter than wool and breathes beautifully then it is perfect all year around.  Especially the wraps.  Our Nickelby Design range will also be using 100% Australian cotton in our range for Spring/Summer to also give that added Summer feel so don't write alpaca off just because the weather is getting warmer. The nights can still be cool and as we are happy to ship overseas it is always Winter and cold somewhere!

So we hope to see you up here soon on your travels around our beautiful region and if you can't make it then check out our online store and see if there is anything which takes your fancy.

From the alpacas and me, stay safe and keep humming (for those who don't know, that is how alpaca's speak!!!)