Cute as a cria!

Rita Soares with one of her five new alpaca babies (crias) enjoying life at Harcourt's Campo Verde boutique alpaca stud. Photo: Eve Lamb

Welcoming five new baby alpacas into the world on her farm has added a dash of joy to the past two globally troubled months for Harcourt’s Rita Soares.
Ms Soares and her partner Anthony Crane have Harcourt’s Campo Verde small boutique alpaca stud and are registered breeders with the Australian Alpaca Association.
With about 30 alpacas on the property, the successful births of five new baby alpacas – known as crias – over the two months from April this year has been a delight for the couple amid the coronavirus gloom.
“I had been wanting to do an open farm but when the COVID started …” Rita says.
Instead she decided to give the online world a go in her efforts to share valuable insights into caring well for alpacas – and using their fleece and fibre.
Her first two live stream Facebook sessions – one featuring a farm tour and the other focussing on using alpaca fibre for knitting and crochet – gained an eager audience.
Her third and most recent webinar, held about a week ago, focussed on gaining alpacas’ trust and featured NSW expert in the field of alpaca training Alicia Anderson, who is a CamelidDynamics trainer.
It went down a treat among those eager to learn more about the beguiling animals that originate from South America and have been domesticated over thousands of years.
“We had 41 participants,” says Rita, already planning two more webinars for this month.
She foreshadows that one of these will again focus on alpaca fibre or yarn and knitting with it – something Rita is personally passionate about.
She’s also particularly passionate about educating people on caring well for alpacas – including aspects like the need to manage males and females in separate gender groups to avoid potential serious harm.
The other webinar planned for this month is expected to focus on training alpacas and working with their psychology, with Alicia Anderson likely to again be invited to feature.
“There’s a lovely community of alpaca owners and they’re willing to help people because if someone’s interested in the animals it’s important to have mentors,” says Rita.
She pays plenty of homage to the local area’s other closest alpaca studs, naming Millduck Alpaca Stud and Dandura Alpacas – both at Harcourt North, and Surtierra Alpacas at Chewton.
“We do have these well established alpaca studs within our area,” says Rita who together with Anthony began establishing Campo Verde just over six months ago.
And while COVID-19 has ruled out the open farm day plan just for now, Rita says she hopes this might be able to happen at a later date.
“Hopefully once the pandemic has eased I can have an open farm.”
In the meantime her foray into online alpaca yarn sales has been going great guns.
“I started selling the yarn several months ago and that’s going really well. I’ve sold out of three colours.
“Our philosophy is to tread lightly on the earth, raising our alpacas and land with love and organic principles.”

Eve Lamb
Journalist and photographer Eve Lamb has a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) degree from Deakin University and a Master of Arts (Professional Writing) from Deakin University. She has worked for many regional newspapers including the Hamilton Spectator and the Warrnambool Standard, and has also worked for metro daily, The Hobart Mercury, and The Sunday Tasmanian. Eve has also contributed to various magazines including Australian Cyclist.