Field day bigger than ever

Kim CousinsCountryman

Interest in hobby farming seems to be increasing, if this year's Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day is anything to go by.

The field day was bigger than ever with an estimated 5000 visitors filing through the gates.

Field day secretary and food and wine co-ordinator Penny Morgan said the Experience Gidgegannup committee was thrilled with attendance on the day.

"It was so good to see it buzzing like that, it looks like we finally got the mix just right. The interest in growing produce and animals is definitely there," she said.

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Midland Poultry Society, which had a display of rare birds at the field day, drew a steady stream of visitors through the chook shed.

Society secretary Noelene Teague said it was a busy but rewarding day for the club.

"People have been buying and selling birds, there's been a great deal of interest," she said. "We don't have all the available varieties here but there are more than 50. There has been a regeneration. People are into vegie gardens and chooks are a part of that."

Alpacas are also favoured by small landholders.

Gwyn Bell, of Eversprings Suri stud, had alpacas and several fleeces on display.

She began farming alpacas 12 years ago. "I got into alpacas because I like unusual animals," she said.

"Alpaca is a drier fleece (than sheep wool), it doesn't have lanolin. Suri is like silk, it doesn't crimp. It's also very light."

Gwyn has the fleece milled and turned into yarn, which is either left in its original colour or naturally dyed.

She knits but said she was more interested in weaving. "You start progressing from knitting to weaving," she said. "I didn't really take to spinning though."

Also on the agenda for alpaca breeders was meat production, with tastings available on the day. "It has to come," Gwyn said. "We have so many males."

Jarrahdale orchardists and first-time Gidgegannup stallholders Jan and Ross Jones brought along 300kg of mandarins, selling all but a couple of kilograms.

"People ask you all sorts of things," Jan said. "They want to know about fertiliser and water use. You've got to be area specific though - we've got good soil (for mandarins).

"People also like to try the fruit, especially the kids."

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