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 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!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Hungry boys

This is the front half of Fidget, all fleeced up against the cold winds and chewing his daily feed, a mixture of pelletised and rough alpaca mix.
And these are the rear quarters of the same Fidget with a bushy tail and his rear 'elbows' bent in that funny way where they stick up in the air!
Faro enjoying his haylage on a frosty morning.  The two white boys, Fidget and Fergus like to lie down when they are eating their haylage.
Fidget (rear) and Fergus (front) both lying down, with Faro and Fyta - all enjoying their haylage breakfast.
Taken today, just after 8.15am with the boys in a paddock down on the right of the photo and a snowy Ben Wyvis in the distance.
And finally................a sight to hearten any gardener as the rhubarb starts to reappear through the cold ground.  The daffodils are also pushing up and we have a few snowdrops on display.  Springs-a-coming!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Carrots and parsnips

Nothing the boys like better on a frosty morning than a good nibble on some carrots.  Faro is always first in line with Fyta behind, followed by Fergus and way at the back - Fidget!
Fergus: "Ah c'mon mum, please can I have another carrot?!"
Faro, left, and Fyta picking the carrots off the frosty ground. It's always warm in the sunshine but very chilly in the shade.
Having demolished the carrot supplies the boys are getting ready to head back into the sunnier part of the paddock.
Some of the afternoons during the week have been really warm - sunbathing weather for Fyta in the sandpit with Fidget close to him.  Fergus and Faro are in the adjoining paddock.  Beaufort Castle is right in the middle of the picture, surrounded by trees.
Great interest being shown in the activities of the grumpy gardener today, just in case it's a swede he's digging up.
And finally................. not a swede, but some parsnips being dug up.  They are good this season having had plenty of frost on them.  Gardener - take a bow!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

White stuff's gone, green stuff re-appears!

The snow has all gone this week so the boys are pleased to have more green stuff around to nibble.  The nights have been frosty but the days have been lovely and sunny.  From the left, Faro, Fyta, Fergus and Fidget waiting for the humans to arrive mid afternoon with the feed.
These guys don't need watches to tell the time, they just seem to know when the grub will be dished up!
Fergus, photogenic as always, stands watching the human trying to work out of there may be just one more morsel of food available!
And finally.............mid afternoon, long shadows as the sun sinks and Fyta has a drink after his feed.  Only a few photos this week as we both recover from bouts of this nasty cold which has been doing the rounds across the country.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Fun in the snow.

We've had a covering of snow for most of this week, not massive amounts, but enough to disrupt the normal routines. From the left, Fidget, Fyta and Fergus keep an eye on neighbourhood dogs.
Faro (left) and Fergus get up close and personal when swede is on offer.  The lack of grass means that the boys are always on the lookout for tit-bits.
Fyta in front with Fergus behind.  The boys don't mind the snow at all but the fact that they have no green stuff to nible means they get a bit bored when they can't graze.
As the week wore on the snow got a bit thicker on the ground so the grumpy gardener had to swop spade for a snow shovel!
We find that by clearing a few 'lanes' across the paddocks and clearing an area of snow, this keeps the boys interested.  They really enjoy the grass even though it must be freezing cold so they probably get fed up with just hay and haylage to eat!
We also feed them sugar beet pellets soaked in water when we get a snow covering - again, it gives them something interesting to eat when there is no grass.
And finally..............Fyta showing off his new facial look after having his mouth in the bowl of sugar beet!