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, 20 August 2017

Just another week

Fyta (front) and Faro have just enjoyed their daily feed, Fergus and Fidget  are still eating, and the humans are still around!
Fergus has finished his feed and is clearly happy with life as he enjoys having his back scratched.  He is not always so accommodating!
Lots of windy, rainy weather this week and this shot shows the boys lying down avoiding the wind.  It also shows Fidget (right) keeping his own company, as he often does.
Last week I mentioned Fyta's cut above his right eye.  That appears to have healed up well and thankfully caused him no real problems.  He is back to 'dunking' his feet in the water tray.
Fergus never misses an opportunity to take a handful of hay.  It doesn't matter if he's been eating hay a lot, offer him some hay and he will always take it!
And finally.............a mixture of summer flowers including Lily, Verbascum, Sun flowers, Gladioli, Sweet Williams and Liatris

Sunday, 13 August 2017

More visitors - and Fyta's eye

The weather has been pretty good this week and Fergus took advantage of the sunshine to relax in the sandpit.
We welcomed at the beginning of the week another contingent of relatives from Norfolk who met the boys just as it started to rain.   Carrots were on offer and as usual Fergus was not shy in coming forward for some.  Hope you enjoyed your holidays folks - same time next year then?
Just before our visitors left we fed the boys and noticed that Fyta had blood around his right eye.  It didn't put him or the others off their feed - just as well as this week they are getting their Verm-X granules  mixed with their supplement. We put Fyta and Fergus in the pen and washed Fyta's eye carefully.  There was a lot of clotted blood to remove but the cut on his upper eye lid was clean so we decided to keep a check on it.
Faro and Fergus commiserate with their pal Fyta regarding his eye injury.  We don't know how he sustained the cut but probably by pushing his nose through the Ryelock fencing.  There is no barbed wire in use here.
Next day Fyta's eye was clean and has remained that way for the remainder of the week - thankfully, but we keep checking it to make sure.
Another lovely day and the boys hit the sand pit again - well, three of them do, whilst Faro keeps grazing.  The massive bulk of the Ben Wyvis plateau can be seen in the background, topped by mist.
And finally..................the Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is on display in all it's glory at present.  Yesterday, Robbie met two French tourists holidaying here and introduced them to the boys.  Unfortunately he did not have his camera with him but the couple enjoyed meeting alpacas for the first time.  Hope you are enjoying your holiday in Scotland and the Highlands in particular - haste ye back!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The guard

Faro on guard!  He likes to make sure that his pals are quite safe if a human is around.  Normally in the open paddock he is not bothered but if the boys are in a field shelter then he gets protective and tries to get between the human and the boys!
Fergus (front) and Fidget in the shelter, trying to wake up.   We're not sure if it's just our boys but they are really slow to get going first thing in the morning.
There has been plenty of rain this week, heavy at times so the boys have spent quite a bit of time in the shelters.  Fergus has been rubbing his nose on the wet ground again!
Fyta, nearest camera loves the shelter at this time of year because after the shearing he can feel if any flies are on him, and he doesn't like that and goes inside.  Heavy rain drives all of them in at the moment since their coats have been sheared off.
In our wee orchard the apples are growing well - these are Bramleys.  Plenty of rain this summer as well as lots of warm weather have given us good crops of soft fruit.  My blackcurrant jam is particularly nice this year - according to the grumpy gardener!
I love the colour of these 'Discovery' apples although it does remind me that the best of the summer has passed and autumn is on it's way.
And finally.................the Belladrum Tartan Heart music festival took place over the weekend about a mile from here with over 15000 welly-wearing people attending.  Thursday was mixed weather, Friday and it rained most of the day but yesterday the sun shone all day.  Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders were one of the headline acts this year and when the music finished just after 1100pm yesterday, the customary fireworks display started.  The last fireworks to light up the sky are always two hearts - clever eh?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Family visit

There has been quite a bit of sitting around in water trays and the sand pit this week as the boys enjoyed the sun.  Fergus is on the left waiting his turn in the tray whilst Fyta has no intention of giving up his place.
We welcomed some members of my family from Norfolk to the Highlands last week, in glorious sunshine.  Fidget tends to keep his distance in these situations but the other three boys take an interest in the visitors. Far, front left is just 'taking on water' from the trough.
With a bit of encouragement, Fyta can always be relied upon to put on a show of 'dunking his bits' in the water tray.
Completely dunked now, much to the amusement of the humans! Faro (front) is above such displays of frivolity and prefers to do his dunking when nobody is around.
We were not quite so lucky in getting Fyta to perform another party trick - that of picking up the watering can and throwing it!  He started to do it, then got bored with the idea.
Plenty of animal action in our neighbour Chris's field next door with cattle and Jacob's sheep in the nearest field and three Tamworth pigs in the far away field.
And finally.................plenty of growth in these flowers this year.  Bear's Breeches in the middle (front), with Ox-Eye daisies in the rear and Lilies and Gentian on the right.  There is an Inula on the left.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Hay time again.

I'm opening with Fidget this week, looking a wee bit lost here as he stands waiting for the rest of the gang to get up one morning.
We've enjoyed some good weather this week, but also some wind and rain! This long range shot shows Fidget lying on the grass with the other three boys in the sand pit.
Another sand pit shot, but closer this time.  Fidget is still on the grass and Faro is now lying flat in the sand pit between Fyta (left) and Fergus.
The grass cutting operation might have been quite noisy but the boys don't seem to bother at all.  We know that as long as they know what a certain noise is, they are quite happy to tolerate it.
Wednesday evening and we had a call from Karen and Dave Robertson at the Beauly farm shop      (www.robertsonsfarmshop.co.uk) to say that the first of this year's hay crop was being baled and ready for collection.  We were first there and loaded the trailer under a 'big sky.'  Karen has three alpaca boys as well as lots of other animals in her 'pet farm' which she runs alongside Dave's big farm and the farm shop.
Home with a load of 25 square bales.  The boys sampled a little of the new hay and were pleased with the result.  We still have a few bales of last year's hay to finish off before they get started on the new hay.
And finally............ we had four very nice Norwegian tourists visiting locally so they paid a visit on the boys.  Fergus (left), Fyta and Fidget are photographed whilst Faro has wandered off.  Hope the rest of your holiday is going well folks, lovely to have met you - come back and see us sometime! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dust bowl time again.

We've enjoyed reasonable weather this week so it was time to change the boys from one field shelter to another.  Here they are, wondering what the human is going to get up to when a dog starts to bark - instant attention, except Fergus who sees something else of interest.
Now they all want to know what Fergus is looking at, forget the distant dog, this looks more interesting............
No problems, it's only Cupcake who has decided to get up on top of one of the field shelters to see what is happening here.  I magnified this shot and counted 18 sparrows in tree behind Cupcake!
So the other shelter has been closed off to stop them going into it and they will use this one to bed down in for the next month or so.  Cupcake is still on top, looking down as the boys start rolling about and creating plenty of dust.
The ritual of the boys rolling in their new shelter always happens, it's as if they are meeting an old friend.  The far away shelter is now closed off, the middle one (with Cupcake on top!) is left open and the nearest one is where they bed down and where their hay buckets are available to them.
Faro - I think we should have called him 'Dusty' after a rolling session.  They do enjoy getting covered in dust and muck, these boys.
And finally............with the good weather the Grumpy Gardener has managed to cut most of the paddocks leaving large squares of longer grass for wildlife use - and for Fidget to lie in!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Neem application and a Fleece Day.

After the boys have been sheared we always keep a sharp eye on them in case they have any small cuts which attract flies.  Fidget has a couple of little lumps on his skin which usually get nicked whilst he's being sheared and sometimes they bleed slightly, which really does attract the flies.  We penned them to inspect them and here is Fidget getting a neck rub to calm him down.
This is one of the lumps which was nicked and had a scab on it.  I put Neem oil paste over the area and that keeps the flies off.  Neem doesn't smell too good so the flies give it a miss.  Fidget especially does not like being sprayed so this works well for him.
Fergus also in the pen but with no cuts to check looks as if he is saying, "Don't come near me with that smelly Neem!" We always let Faro out of the pen first if we are handling the other boys - he becomes over-protective of his pals!
Fergus (front), Fidget (middle) and Fyta in the pen having been checked over and waiting to get out.
On Saturday we travelled over to Elgin, Moray to attend a Fleece Day run by Carole and John at Auld Mill Alpacas (www.auldmillalpacas.co.uk)  They have a wonderful mixed herd of around 70 alpacas of various colours and markings and with several of this year's cria in attendance. It was a very interesting day with spinning, weaving, felting and skirting all on the menu and it was good to meet some old friends, including Mabel and Imants of Highland Alpacas at Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.
There were several 'milk bars' in operation whilst we were there - a lovely sight.  The animals had all been sheared by James Dixon a couple of weeks ago, on the day before he sheared our boys.  Thank you for a great day out Carole and John, for your hospitality and for the promotion of alpacas which you do so well.
Thought you might like to see the height to which our Cardiocrinum Giganteum (Giant Himalayan Lily) has grown this summer.  Considering that there is nothing of the plant to be seen until around March, eight feet of healthy growth is to be applauded!  The Lily has some lovely flowers on top of course but we almost lost the complete plant yesterday during a gale but the Grumpy Gardener saved the day by tying the plant to the fence!
And finally................. here they are in all their glory!  They won't last too long and they don't appear every year, but they are beautiful whilst they are with us.