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 5 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, 14 October 2018

Not the cleanest of boys..........

It's always obvious when Fidget wants his feed as he tends to stare directly at the human with the bowl - just like this!
You can see from this photo and the previous one that the boys are a bit damp and dirty looking.   We've had a fair amount of rain recently but thankfully, nothing like the amount some areas have had in Wales and parts of England.
When it rains, Fergus usually manages to get his wet nose into the dust of the field shelter - and this is the result!
At the end of a very wet day on Friday the boys were pleased to get into their shelter and the hay buckets.
All except Fidget that is who wanted a handful of hay outside before going into the shelter for his bucket.   Spoiled or what?! 
The boys on one of the sloping, rough paddocks, facing into quite a stiff breeze which was blowing at the time the photo was taken.   The leaves are all changing colour on the trees now and more and more are dropping.
And finally.............it can't all be bad when we are still getting roses blooming in the garden. Although it's been wet and windy this week it has also been very mild for the time of year so there are still flowers around.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

An autumnal week

Looking down on the boss!  Faro interested as always in what the humans are up to, tail up and being macho.
The four boys, from the left Faro, Fergus, Fyta and Fidget.  It has been a week of very mixed weather from lovely sunny days to gales and lashing rain.  Must be Autumn.
Another picture this week of Fidget doing his own thing, lying down in one paddock whilst his pals are all grazing in the adjoining paddock.
Looking down on the boys again.  The undulating land around here means that the boys have plenty of opportunity to run up the slopes...........well, Faro and Fyta run up them whilst Fergus and Fidget tend to slowly walk up them!
Like everyone who has apple trees, this year has produced a bumper harvest for us.  We can't give them away as everyone has so many.  At least the boys benefit from the surplus as they are all getting an apple a day at present.  It's a change off the carrots!  This is Fergus, filling his face as always.
And Fyta also enjoys being hand fed with apples.  Faro will eat off the ground or from the hand - as long as there are apples, he is happy!  The boys have been having their Verm-X granules in their feed this week .
And finally.............whilst most of the other flowers and plants are dying off at this time of year, the Nerines come out to give great colour.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Windy weather

There's a certain amount of confusion amongst the boys in this picture, caused by the very windy weather we've been having. The photo doesn't convey this but the sun is shining brightly and the wind is blowing at near gale force.
When it gets very windy during daylight the boys tend to 'go to ground' in this spot which is lower then the surrounding paddock and the wind normally coming from the left of the picture (from the west), blows over their heads. Clever boys!
I've often mentioned that Fidget normally keeps himself slightly apart from the other three boys and this photo taken earlier in the week shows this quite dramatically.  Fidget is on the left of the picture, sunbathing at the side of the shelter whilst the other three are on the right of the picture, some distance away!
Looking uphill at the boys who are looking downhill at the human, watching what he is doing!  From the left Fyta, Faro, and Fergus and Fidget who are both lying down.
Time for a walk to another paddock to try some grass there, as well as a favourite rolling spot. Fidget will follow at his leisure............!
And here he comes, better late than never!  He mostly follows the other three but there are times when he strides out across the paddocks and the others follow him for a change.
And finally...................this is our neighbour's lovely Labradoodle, called 'Lexie' who is staying with us for a few days.  She and the boys all know each other well but that doesn't stop the boys from being wary when Lexie, or any other dog or cat for that matter, is around.  Incidentally, we were delighted to have our 'Reader's Story' about our wee herd printed in the current edition of the Alpaca magazine, on behalf of the British Alpaca Society (BAS) of which I am a member.  There is also a very interesting article about friends Carole and John's Auld Mill Alpaca business near Elgin, further along the Moray Firth coast from us here - well worth a read.   

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Line out

Early evening and the sun is beginning to sink - already!  The human appears and the boys know that it is hay time, so they line up led by Faro, then Fyta, Fergus and Fidget bringing up the rear as always.
Always one to have a bit of fun, Fyta looks like he is starting a conga here - "You put your left leg in........"Actually, he's having a good scratch!
At the hay store Fergus is never shy to let you know that he is ready for his hay.  Given half a chance he would get into the store with the bales I think!
A handful of hay keeps the boys occupied whilst the hay buckets are replenished in the shelter for overnight consumption.
We continue to keep a close eye on Fidget's condition.  He is still eating and drinking well and behaving quite normally although he still takes some time to go to the toilet. The white boys, Fidget and Fergus need to have their nails trimmed soon, that will be about 3 months after the shearer trimmed them.  The other two boys have theirs trimmed annually.
A silhouette of Faro on the left with Fyta as they watch the sun go down and more rain clouds come rolling in.  It's been a pretty windy and wet week.
And finally..................there are still a few colourful Gladioli in the garden - but not many, with most flowers dying back for the winter. The House Martins and Swallows have all flown off on their migration now and we can see and hear skeins of geese, high in the sky and flying south.  There was a dusting of snow on Cairngorm further south at Aviemore on Thursday this week - brrrr!  Still plenty of tourists around and we had a lovely couple from Lincolnshire visiting the boys this morning - hope you've enjoyed your stay in the Highlands, have a safe journey south later folks.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Grub up!

The boys get their feed supplement around 3.00pm daily, it's been that way for around 11 years so they are well used to the routine.  Any time from around 2.00pm onwards they start to gather in the paddock in which they get fed with Fergus in particular keeping any eye out to see if any humans are approaching with a basket! They are in the middle of the picture, behind the gates and beyond 'the orchard.'
And this is the normal welcoming party for the humans at the gate! They get fed in the same order, Fidget first ( right), Fergus second (left) then normally Fyta next (middle) and Faro last (rear.)  The boys know the feeding order too!
Each boy has a bowl containing the feed (Complete Alpaca Feed) to which we add Verm X granules for worm control, for a whole week on a monthly basis.
Fidget (front) and Fergus (rear).  Fidget always looks for a little more feed when his bowl is empty, staring intently at the human - and he has always been like this since we first saw him as a cria at Ardo Alpacas.
Fyta giving one of his 'butter wouldn't melt' looks although he is a mischievous and playful boy, especially with his pal, Faro.
Faro, always slightly aloof and alert.  It's been a cooler week for Faro and his pals as Autumn is now really with us.  It's been windy with a little rain and we are beginning to see the leaves change colour now.
And finally.....................aren't friends wonderful?  Claire and Mike visited this week and Claire presented me with this beautiful cushion which she had made.  Thank you Claire, it's lovely.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Morning has broken.......!

First thing in the mornings is always a struggle for the boys - getting organised for another day of grazing takes a while!  Here they are waiting at the gate deciding whether to stay in one paddock or move to another.  Fyta (second left) looks particularly tired - almost hungover!

It's maybe just the way that Fidget is standing but it looks as if he should have had another hour in his bed!
Once they wake up however it's 'head down' as they start grazing - from the left Fyta, Faro, Fidget and Fergus.  They have been taking their Verm-X granules with their feed during the past week.
The boys are at the bottom left of this picture of a Rowan tree (Mountain Ash) in the garden.  Plenty of berries on all the Rowans this year but this particular tree keeps getting nibbled by a small Roe deer which finds it's way into the garden.
Fyta (left) and Faro, two big pals waiting at the fence for some apples.  They really enjoy them so it's a change from the carrots which they normally get.
Fergus also waiting for more apples - "C'mon boss, just one more wee apple for me!"
And finally............. a sad story to end.  This young House Martin was one of many flying around the house but unfortunately this one hit the patio window.  It made an attempt to fly again but just got weaker and died later - now buried in the garden!  Aaah.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Changeover performance.

Faro (left) and Fyta spot the Grumpy Gardener pushing a barrow holding a rake and pitch fork near their field shelter and realise that something is afoot.  Faro in particular is very intelligent and knows all the moves that humans make and is quick to respond.
He leads the other boys, Fidget (left), Fyta and Fergus up to the field shelter where he knows that they are going to have a change of shelter and go into the one which has been unused for a couple of months.  The routine is: human removes the gates then alpacas dive into the shelter and roll about as if they have found a long lost friend!  This performance goes on every couple of months or so when shelters are changed over and is really funny to watch.
See what I mean!?  Fergus and Fyta are already rolling about with Fidget and Faro about to get involved too.
Now they are all having a great time, dust flying everywhere and Fyta (rear, right) jumping about in joy.  Happy days!
Shortly afterwards they follow the human to their old shelter which will get cleaned out.  They stay on the outside of the gates - watching!
It's been a tiring day so far, all this rolling about makes a boy just want to sunbath on a lovely day!  Fidget faces his belly to the sun for maximum effect, Fergus is ready to do the same whilst Faro and Fyta graze.  For most of this week the weather has been lovely and warm here.
And finally.............I mentioned in an earlier post that we have a great crop of various apples this year.  This is the dessert variety, 'Discovery' which do not store well so need to be eaten  - the boys will help out there!