ON Tuesday, October 10, Traquair and Kailzie SWI welcomed Jean Macdonald and Stuart Ramsay from Velvet Hall Alpacas to this month’s meeting at Lodge St. Ronan’s No 856 Social Club (the Masons) in Innerleithen, writes Ted McKie.

Jean gave us a most interesting powerpoint presentation telling us about how they started with six male alpacas, later importing more from New Zealand. This included a pregnant female who went on to have a champion cria, as alpaca young are called.

They told us all about alpaca husbandry and how they need shelter because although they come from colder climates in Peru, they are not used to wet weather. They have wonderful thick soft coats which have to be sheared annually. Jean brought a selection of their wool which is very dry, not like sheep's wool, as alpacas come from the camel family.

The wool can be spun and used for knitting or felting. She showed us a picture of a lovely christening robe made from the wool.

Stuart then brought in two alpacas into the hall. Everyone fell in love with them. They are so gentle and calm and have the most beautiful faces and huge dark eyes.

Jean and Stuart take them to many venues like residential homes, schools, birthday parties and they have even been used as ring bearers at three weddings. You can take them for walks in the woods behind the fields where they have a very calming effect on people.

It was a great evening which everyone enjoyed.

Traquair and Kailzie Scottish Women’s Institute meets in the Masons every month over the winter and spring. For most gatherings we invite an guest speaker which makes for an interesting and often memorable evening. The next meeting is on November when we have a fireman, Craig Smith to talk about fire safety in the home. Everyone is welcome. Further details can be obtained from Dorothy McKie, phone 01896 830703.