OUR SMALL HERD

Our four boys came from Ardo Alpacas in Aberdeenshire. We are not alpaca breeders and have our boys purely as pets. Our experience is that you don't need to be a breeder and that a 'batchelor herd' can give much pleasure to the owner. We have 8 acres including our big garden and grazing for the boys, 15 miles north of Inverness, Scotland. I spin, knit, felt and crochet with the fleece from the boys.

Clicking!!

Just a reminder that clicking on (most) of the photos will show them greatly enlarged.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The good weather continues.

Starting this week with Fyta with his nose in his bowl eating his daily feed.  Still plenty of frost and ice on the ground earlier in the week.
Here is the full compliment of hungry boys, all getting 'stuck in.'  Faro, front right, continues to enjoy his feed much more these days.
Another day, another carrot!  Faro and Fyta, nearest, are more interested in a cat in the distance but Fergus and Fidget would much rather enjoy another carrot!
I'm not sure what happened with the camera with in this shot, but it's turned out a ghostly colour - although Faro looks unconcerned.
A couple of photos taken this afternoon as the sun was beginning to set, another lovely day but it's going to be a frosty night.
Fyta strolls purposefully across the paddock intent on finding out what the humans are up to.  The boys are beginning to fleece up well now ready for the winter and you can see the folds in the fleece at the base of his neck.
And finally................having put some skirted fleece in the basket ready to spin, Cupcake decided it would be an ideal place to have a snooze!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Another frosty one.

Regardless of the fact that the boys have hay buckets permanently full in the field shelter they still like to get a handful straight out of the hay shed.  Faro is waiting patiently for his!
Faro and his pal Fyta enjoying some hay early on yet another frosty morning - we have had plenty of them this week.
Round the corner in the field shelter Fergus at the rear pulls strands of hay from the basket whilst Fidget helps himself from a hay bucket.
This was taken after two mornings of ice on a water trough but by the end of the week the pile of ice had grown considerably as the day time temperatures sometimes did not rise much above freezing - regardless of the sunshine!
The sun is up and Faro (front) and Fergus are grazing.  Faro appears to be uninterested in the photographer but even though he is facing in another direction, he is keeping a close watch on what is going on.
The view that the boys were enjoying from the top paddock this week - hope it reminds them of their homeland.
And finally...................after a summer of massive growth, the two Gunnera plants have now succumbed to the frost.   During the summer the plant was over 8 feet tall with some leaves bigger than golfing umbrellas, but now it has gone to sleep.  The Grumpy Gardener has cut all the leaves back and laid them over the crowns.  A layer of straw will complete the winter blanket.  The boys can be seen near their shelter in the adjoining paddock.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Fine weather and a visit.

The boys have enjoyed another week of fine weather with trees not yet ready to drop all of their leaves.  From the left Faro, Fidget, Fyta and Fergus.
There have been wintery blasts too as this photo shows with snow appearing on the mountains.  Fyta (left) and Fidget in the rough paddock.
Couldn't leave out a pose from the other two boys, Fergus and Faro, although Fergus probably thinks there are carrots at the end of the photo session!
Faro continues to eat all of his pelleted food now plus a small handful of alpaca mix.  We're pleased about this.  The boys have been on their monthly dosage of Verm-X all this week too.
We had a lovely visit from Alison and Brendan of Seafield Alpacas at Portmahomack, Easter Ross and Fergus seems to be more interested in Alison's alpaca cardigan than the carrots on offer.
Perhaps it's the fact that Alison spun and hand knitted the cardigan mainly from Fergus's fleece that he can sense but she incorporated coloured bands from Gully, Gaucho, Rufus and Wee Eck who were her original herd.  You're wearing friends for life there, Alison!
And finally...............here's a bottle you won't find up in the Andes with the boys.  This is home brewed by Brendan and Alison and will be ready in time for Hogmanay.   Slainte!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

"Grub up!"

This is what happens when an alpaca doesn't want  his nails cut!  Fidget has got into the habit of 'cushing' as soon as he realises that his feet are going to be touched.  Stroking his leg for a while certainly helps and we were able to do three feet but his front right remains firmly 'out of bounds' to the nail clipper.  Another day!
We had penned the boys so that Faro could have some cream applied to mite damage on his rear legs - he was then released from the pen and can be seen in the background.  Fyta looks pensive about what might happen to him, but he just got a check over and a good neck rub and told he was a "good boy!"
The daily feed is a big deal for the boys and here they are today waiting for the humans to bring down the bowls of goodies to eat.  From the left Faro, Fergus, Fyta and, far from the madding crowd as usual - Fidget! Faro continues to enjoy the pelleted feed we give him since changing from the alpaca course mix.
At this time of year the boys like a handful of hay after their feed.  There are four full buckets of hay in the field shelter all the time but they usually leave them until overnight. Faro is not so impressed by the cameraman's alpaca fleece hat!  
Fyta gets his chin tickled as he munches a handful of hay - he likes that. This is the first square bale of this year's hay being used, up until now we've been finishing off last year's hay.
Our neighbour has just put some Jacob's sheep into an adjoining field and they make a lovely change from the Cheviots or Texels we are used to seeing around here.
And finally...............despite the bitterly cold weather at present this Acidanthera has managed to burst out into flower this week and there are a few others ready to follow.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sentries, Belted Galloways and a pumpkin!

Making a very good job of his duties as gate guard and sentry is Fyta, although he is never as alert as his pal Faro who really is the herd sentry!
Here is Faro on the left with Fergus, but whilst he may be having a rest from his sentry duties, he is still alert and checking to see what the human is doing.  Meanwhile Fergus struggles to keep his eyes open!
More lovely, autumnal weather this week, a joy for alpacas and grumpy gardeners alike!  This is looking north across the paddocks with Ben Wyvis topped with cloud, in the background.
Another day, early morning looking north again but with Fidget looking for a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!

Midweek we travelled to nearby Dingwall, joined up with Wendy from Woodleigh Lodge alpacas and visited the alpacas at the Glenwyvis distillery site at Scroggie Farm. Although it was a very windy day and the skies looked threatening it did not rain and we were able to say "Hello" to owner John's three boys. These boys featured in an article in the summer 2016 (issue 66) of the BAS alpaca magazine.
Apart from his alpacas John also keeps Valais Blacknose Swiss sheep and belted Galloway cattle and this calf has been weaned and enjoys being with the 'pacas.  His mother is only yards away on the other side of the fence to the left and kept a wary eye on the human activity.  All lovely animals and enjoying having panoramic views over Ross-shire.
And finally..............'Cupcake' the cat does not look overly impressed by the grumpy gardener's efforts at lantern making for halloween!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Lovely autumnal weather.

The four boys have just had their daily feed supplement and will shortly lie down and let it settle.  They have also had their monthly dose of Verm-X granules in the mix during this week.  We've been feeding Faro a granulated feed over the past 3 weeks and he is enjoying it much more than the alpaca course mix.  Long may that continue as he is a 'picky' eater.
The glorious autumn weather has continued this week with lovely sunny days and chilly nights.   The boys have a backdrop of the mountains and the changing colours of the leaves.
This picture tells it all about how Fidget often likes to do his own thing in the herd.  The boys all have a lie down but he likes to be on his own sometimes.
This Llama was one of three at a wildlife park near Inverness which we visited this week.  There are also 4 female and 4 male alpacas at the park.
Edible alpacas - what next!  The Grumpy Gardener likes home made shortbread with his morning coffee so I bought a cutter  which certainly adds interest to the morning cuppa.  I bought the cutter through www.thealpacashop.co.uk
This photo was taken this afternoon of Fergus in front, Faro in the middle and Fidget at the rear.  Fyta was nearby.
And finally................this lovely weather has meant that many flowers are still in bloom, including the sunflowers and this one has a Bumble-Bee feeding on it.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Penned again

Time to get the boys into the pen again, this time to get some anti-mite spray onto Faro's legs but also to do a bit of nail clipping.  Faro has suffered a bit of mite damage to the fleece on his rear legs.  We've previously treated him but recently the problem seemed to have flared again although the other boys are unaffected.
Like most alpacas Faro doesn't like his feet or lower legs being touched so applying cream can be a problem, but it is easier with a spray.  Fyta is also in the picture.
We always put all four boys into the pen together then release them one by one once they have been dealt with.  Sometimes there is a bit of spitting and 'huffing and puffing' between them as they are rubbing against each other and that was the case this time with Faro and Fergus.  Faro has been released after getting his spray and Fyta is waiting to be checked over.  Fergus and Fidget both had several nails trimmed although Fidget immediately 'cushes' as soon as his front feet are touched.
Once out of the pen, Fyta pulls a face at the humans!
Because they have been spitting, Fergus and Faro go to the hay store and munch some hay to get rid of the awful taste!  They will often walk around for several minutes with a mouthful of hay, not chewing, just waiting for the taste and the droopy lower lip to go away!
A dull scene today as the boys graze on the sloping rough paddock.
And finally................a bit of colour in the garden from this Kaffir Lily (Schizostylis).  We've also noticed that the strawberries are flowering and forming fruit again - in mid October!