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, 26 March 2017

Another lovely week

When the weather is nice sometimes it's good to lie down and eat out of the bowl! Fyta, Fergus and Fidget all do this but we've yet to see Faro eating his feed whilst lying down.  When the feed is finished Fyta has a tendency to roll the dish over with his nose as if checking to see if there is any more!
Fidget has scoffed his feed and now hunts around the dish to see if he has dropped any morsels.  All the boys are well fleeced up now as can be seen in these photos.
Fergus gets his thick fleece checked.  The sun is beginning to rise in the sky and the temperature is on the up, so the boys are beginning to sunbathe more.
Faro does not have the heavy, thick fleece that the other boys have but his is a lovely colour.  We're very pleased with his eating regime these days as he clears his bowl every day now, such a turnaround after years of 'picky' eating.
We've had a lovely week of weather - the Grumpy Gardener has even been cutting the grass - and March isn't finished yet!  Only a slight dusting of snow on Ben Wyvis in the distance. The boys are taking it easy in the sun here with Fergus in the sand pit at the rear.
The cavalry has arrived in a neighbouring field!  Our neighbour Kerry has moved 'Blue' (left), Eric (middle) and Otis into this field to give their normal paddock a break and to recover, after winter.  In front of the barn in the background are two Tamworth pigs - gilts, who will shortly be introduced to 'Boysie' the resident boar! These guys are certainly a spectacle for inquisitive alpacas in the nearby paddocks!
And finally.................sunset on Friday, with the sky glowing in a variety of colours assuring us of a lovely day to follow on Saturday.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Alpaca talk during a quiet week.

Fyta boy, looking good on a breezy day earlier in the week. He's a lovely boy, great nature and always inquisitive.
See what I mean ?  Here he is at the fence with Fergus looking to see if there are any more carrots on offer!
They've been joined by Faro and all three of these guys are carrot lovers.  These photos were taken on a very damp day, but they didn't mind the weather.
Trailing behind as always is Fidget.  If he gets excited by food he will trot and jump around, but for carrots.........nah!
Fergus will wait patiently for the very last carrot in the bowl.  Faro and Fyta in the background.  You can see Fergus's long eye lashes on this photo.
On Thursday we went to Dingwall to give an alpaca talk to the Phoenix Club members.  We were last with them over three years ago and we were asked to return and update everyone about 'the boys!'  It was a lovely afternoon, thank you for inviting us again Ann and members,  and of course thank you for the welcome 'cuppa!'
And finally......................more Spring flowers emerging!  These mini-tulips have emerged in the last week as have lots of mini daffs.  The larger daffs are taking a little longer to emerge.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Nails and the ageing boys.

Fyta (front) with Faro behind - two buddies who follow each other around  The boys are 11 years old this summer and we've had them for 10 years so they know who their friends are!  The veg plots can be seen in the background, empty apart from some leeks, parsnips and sprouting broccoli and now awaiting Spring.
Big Fergus getting a pat after finishing off his share of the carrots.  The boys have been on Verm-X granules this week with their feed.
Fidget - in upright mode and devouring some haylage.  Like the other boys he enjoys his food - perhaps a little too much judging by the size of him!
Fidget - in horizontal mode and deciding yesterday that he did not want to have his nails trimmed - again!  All four boys are herded into the pen, Faro and Fyta are released and Fidget and Fergus, both white boys, are in line for nail trimming.  Fergus was as good as gold and all nails got trimmed.  Fidget however assumed the cush position, so no chance of a trim.
Fergus is in the pen on the left with Fidget and Fyta is waiting for him outside on the right, with Faro. 
We tried a different tack with Fidget and moved him from the small catch pen (top of picture) into the bigger 'holding' pen.  This time he did not cush and we were able to get two nails trimmed, which is a start.  It is likely that he now associates the catch pen with nail trimming and knows immediately to cush.  Moving him to the bigger pen confused him about our intentions, so we'll try this approach again.
After the nail trimming session, Fergus (left), Fyta and Faro enjoy some haylage.  Fidget has cleared off to an adjoining paddock in the huff!
And finally................. I just finished knitting this scarf a couple of days ago.  It is made from Fyta's fleece which I find is getting less soft as he gets older. I find that all the boys have coarser fleece now that they are older.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Changing seasons

Faro, looking good on a sunny morning earlier this week.  He is feeding well these days which is a  great relief for us as he has been a 'picky' eater of his supplement feed for years.
Fergus, also looking good but no chance of him going on a diet any time soon - he loves his food too much!
This is the type of scene which makes any alpaca owner's heart skip a beat - is he 'down' or just sunbathing?   In Fyta's case, he just loves to flop, getting his belly facing the sun and enjoying it!
See?  He's keeping an eye on the photographer all the time and even manages a grin for the camera,  cheeky chappy!
We had two old friends, Alan and Kath stay with us for a couple of days and we had lovely weather, especially on Friday which was glorious. But this week the boys have had all four seasonal weathers to deal with, with sun, rain, wind, frost and snow.
It rained all day on Saturday, then this morning over a couple of hours we had quite a dump of snow.  By mid afternoon it was mostly gone and we were basking in warm sunshine once again!  Wonder what the birds, bees and plants are making of this weather?  This shot is looking down over the veg plots and garden.
And finally.................. these mini Daffs are making a cheery appearance through the snow adding a bit of colour to a corner of the garden.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Visitors - including Doris!

On a bitterly cold and windy day we had a lovely visit from Alison and Brendan of Seafield Alpacas in Portmahomack, Ross-shire.  For the boys, visitors = carrots and they were not disappointed.  Fergus gets his share here.
Fergus (closest), Fyta and Fidget all enjoy the carrots.  Sorry about the weather Alison, every time you come to see us we have to be wrapped up from head to feet!
Faro wants to get into carrot-chewing mode and stands in front of Fyta (left) and Fergus. The grass in the paddocks is well cropped by now, although there is plenty of it, the boys still enjoy alternative 'goodies.'
Dog alert - as soon as nearby dogs start to bark, the boys all focus on them, just in case they are a threat.
Mid-week, whilst storm Doris was creating a bit of chaos further south we had to deal with her snowy edges, plunging us back into winter routine.
"What?!"        Snow means sugar beat for the boys with Fergus and Fyta at the rear and Fidget getting his face covered as usual!
And finally................what are alpacas to do if the snow is covering all their grass, they've had their sugar beet and their buckets are full of hay and haylage - just go for a lie-down in the shelter!  We would like to mention Mike and Mary of Greenside Alpacas in Cumbria (www.greensidealpacas.co.uk) who have been most helpful in supplying us with Camelid Complete Feed which we cannot buy locally. Our boys love this feed, especially Faro whom many blog readers will know has been a source of concern for us over the years with his irregular feeding habit.  We've been feeding Camelid Complete Feed for over six months and he now eats it all and looks for more.  What a bonus - thank you Mike and Mary for all your efforts in getting the product to us in the snowy north!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A dusting down

We're still seeing plenty of overnight frosts which is good because a glorious day normally follows.  This was Tuesday morning and the boys had shunned their shelter overnight in favour of lying out under the stars on Monday night.  The frost on Faro's back tells the story!
Tuesday was a glorious day and as the sun rose Faro can be seen on the left in one paddock with Fergus and Fyta (bottom right) in another.  When Faro sees us from a distance he usually stands erect, lifts his tail and has his ears upright.  If we call his name, his ears go down.
Yesterday was 'shelter change' day for the boys when one shelter is closed down to be cleaned out and they bed down in another.  As always when they get into the new shelter they want to roll - Fyta on the right is just getting down for a roll.
It doesn't take Fidget long to settle down under the hay basket and start nibbling the long strands.
 Just as the other shelter is getting cleaned out, the boys want to have some fun and Fyta has another roll!
But Faro is the boy who can really create a dust storm in the shelter!  They all love rolling about in the dust  as we will discover at shearing time when the dusty fleece comes off.
And finally.............a few snowdrops are appearing around the garden but the crocuses are still struggling to bloom.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Cushy time in the pen

Uh-oh, time to go in the pen again.  We wanted to do a check over of the boys but in particular some nail trimming of the two white boys, Fergus and Fidget.  All the boys go in the pen at first.
Faro (left) and Fyta are released after a check over.  Fyta is usually quite calm in the pen but Faro gets restless so better that he is outside - as an observer!
Fergus has had his nails clipped and he's been very good - all 8 nails clipped this time! Fidget on the other hand immediately 'cushes' as soon as he realises we are going to touch his feet. We've tried him with the head collar on and without wearing a collar but he still cushes.  Faro is outside the pen and probably encouraging him!
We spend quite some time stroking his legs trying to de-sensitise these areas but it doesn't work and we give up eventually.  Nail clipping is acknowledged to be a difficult procedure if the animal cushes so we will spend some time with him just stroking his legs.  For years we had no problems clipping his nails then for some reason Fidget has decided he does not like it.  Fergus is still in the pen with him, supposedly to keep Fidget company but a spitting match starts.
And this is the result - not a happy bunny wearing a smile but an alpaca with a green mouth who has been spitting!
And finally................'Cupcake' watching all the shenanigans going on in the nearby pen - he doesn't look too impressed!