We attended the “Focus on Fiber” day up in Hastings this weekend, and I must say it was rather encouraging. While the people doing small-scale “home craft” style production was nice, I was more interested in the growing attempts at commercialization. Apparently a couple of high-country Merino stations are now starting to add groups of alpaca wethers in with the merino, with the goal of providing a mixed wool/alpaca fiber product.
Even more exciting was an R&D project to produce a 60 meter bolt of Suri fabric (done in 5 meter sections with different processing techniques) which is to be sent to Italy for the high-end suit producers to examine. This project has relied on government seed money for the R&D, and as the speaker said, if we have a change in government, we lose that. I hope the audience of farmers understood that. National, the “party of the farmers”, will cut all the agricultural R&D money. (But we know that “conservative” parties have really lost any touch with reality in their ideologically-driven need to hand out tax cuts to rich people).
The drive back had one exciting moment. As we came over the crest of the Rimutaka Hill we hit rather heavy rain. Then we realized that the rain had a high snow/slush percentage. Yikes. I am glad I was taking the road slowly, as on one corner we lost traction and started sliding. Turn into the slide! After a few harrowing seconds fishtailing back and forth, we got the car back under control. Just second before on the other side of the crest we had passed a fresh hole in the fence where a car had gone through the night before (they had not yet removed said car from the tree it was wedged in). The Rimutaka Hill can be an exciting place when the weather is bad.