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, 21 August 2016

Hot, hotter, hottest!

We've been complaining for weeks in this part of the world that summer was never going to arrive, all we were getting was rain and wind.  This week saw a real change in the weather, really hot most days and only Friday afternoon and evening were wet. The hose-reel has been in action daily, either to cool the boys, water the garden or both.  Here are Faro (top) and Fyta enjoying the sunshine.
This photo, taken at a distance shows Faro (left) dunking his chin and face in the water tray whilst Fidget lies in the grass.  Fergus and Fyta are cooling off in the shelter and keeping the flies at bay. Some days the boys spent hours in their shelter keeping out of the heat and away from the flies.
This was taken this afternoon and shows the boys reacting to yet another hot day.  Faro lies on the grass and the other three are in the sand pit. It has certainly been the best spell of weather we have seen for ages and we hope it will continue into next week.
Can't resist posting this photo of 'Cupcake', taken mid week as he tries to stay cool in the hot weather.
It wasn't all lying about in the sun for the humans however and the dry weather saw the tractor mower in operation Mon, Tues and Wed getting all the paddocks topped again.  The boys are completely at ease with the mower even though sometimes it is close to them.
Another picture I can't resist posting!  This time it's of a group of House Martins as they massed with others around the house in the early evening sunshine.  All the youngsters are flying now and the air is full of 'chirruping' birds!
And finally............. the hot weather has also caused many of the plants to flower in the garden.  This is a beautiful Oriental Lily which stands about 12 inches tall but has a huge flower.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Weather, visitors and visit.

This is what our weather has mainly been up to this week - thunderous clouds away to the west, rainbows, heavy rain, gales - and a bit of sunshine.  Not the best weather for summer.
There have been glimpses of the sun and the boys have enjoyed that and taken the opportunity of having a sunbathe occasionally. The boys have also had their monthly dose of Verm-X granules in their daily feed this week.
We had a visit from Robbie's sister Sheila, cousin Alvina with husbands Jim and Angus respectively during the week.  The boys have just had some carrots and this is Alvina deep in discussion with Fergus!
Angus tries hard to make an impression with Fergus by getting down to his level!  Fergus looks his usual well fed self - he should be nicknamed, 'Gastric!'
On Saturday we drove north to Portmahomack in Easter Ross to see Alison and Brendan at Seafield Alpacas.  Another blustery day with rain showers but good to see the 'paca boys plus dogs, hens, ducks and ducklings, all doing well. From the left the boys are Chocolate with Flynn behind him and Gully at the rear, Wee Eck and Merlin.  One of the dogs, Milo, is lying down behind us. 
I suppose the caption for this should be, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother!" Perhaps it's just a case of watching too much olympics this week for Flynn with Merlin on his back. Nice to see you both again, Alison and Brendan.
And finally...............some bright flowers, blue Cornflowers at the rear and Livingstone Daisies (Mesembryanthemum) which only open in sunlight, at the front. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A summer's morning

There's nothing quite like a summer's morning for the boys with the sun in the sky, the temperature just right and damp grass to lie on!  This is around 8.00am, a lovely morning and Fergus just can't get his head off the green pillow.
Faro knows that the first thing the human does in the morning is to open a gate so that he and his pals can get onto the rough paddocks, so he is always first in line.  Unfortunately his pals take a little convincing about moving from a comfortable position.
Eventually they all come through the gate but by the look of Fergus in the front, they are probably sleep walking!  Fyta (behind) dunked his feet in the water tray after this shot was taken.  Note the size of the Gunnera plant behind Faro, nearly 6 feet of growth this year so far.
Fidget also looks as if he has been dragged from his bed and stands blinking in the strong sunlight.
They stroll to the furthest paddock and lie down on the rolling spot - all except Faro of course.  Fyta is in front, Fergus in the middle (and dozing already!) and Fidget looks in the opposite direction which he often does!
Earlier in the week we visited Karen and Dave of the Tomich Farm Shop in nearby Beauly and loaded up with freshly baled hay straight off the field.  We put 28 in the trailer and two in the car so that should do the boys for the winter. There is nothing quite like the lovely smell of fresh hay - or the mess which it leaves in the back of the car!
And finally.............it's the time of year for vibrant colours.  These lilies were enjoying the early morning sunshine - just like the boys.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Fidget and the feline

If he's in the mood for it, Faro will stand for a neck or chin rub.  This was on a lovely evening earlier this week when we went to sort out their hay buckets and water troughs.  Fidget is in the background.
Eagle eyed as always, Fidget spots something moving in the garden.  Faro is unconcerned at this stage.
Fyta is in a nearby field shelter and sees that Fidget has gone on 'alert' and is now charging towards the fence line!
Aha..............'Cupcake' our resident boarder and owned by a neighbour had chosen to follow us to the paddocks.  Fidget seems to have other ideas about allowing cats into his paddock!
Cupcake appears more relaxed now knowing that the big white fella can't get at him through the fence!  Shortly after this he wandered off leaving Fidget still looking over the fence at him.  Faro is just out of shot having arrived to check out the feline threat.
And where was Fergus when all this excitement was going on?  Chilling out with his hay bucket as usual!
And finally................. these are Inula plants, over 6 feet in height with lots of orange coloured flowers, looking a bit like mini-sunflowers.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A good week for ducks!

Fyta looks a lot happier in this sultry weather now that he has been sheared. He's spent a lot of time in the water trays this week - it's his favourite pastime!
Like most of UK, Tuesday was a scorcher here and the boys were looking for a hose-down first thing in the morning.  After that they retired to the sand pit area.  This photo indicates how hot it was with Faro lying down, he is not a sunbather normally but the heat was getting to him.
All four boys got into the sand pit as the day wore on but clouds started to appear which took the edge off the heat.
Later in the day and the boys are still flat out - especially Faro and Fergus.  The clouds were really beginning to gather and by the early hours of Wednesday morning we were into a prolonged session of thunder and lightening with heavy rain. We could see the boys in the shelter by the light of the lightening flashes, all lying down so we knew they were taking it in their stride.
Wednesday morning and the thunder was still booming around the area and we had one particularly heavy downpour.  This photo was taken at the back of the house and the rain is so heavy it is bouncing off the car-park.
The weather has settled down again now and the boys are taking it easy - especially Fergus who likes to 'chill' on the rolling spot.
Faro and Fidget in the rough paddock.  Faro is alert as always with Fidget enjoying a lie down amongst the buttercups.
And finally..............regular blog readers will be beside themselves wondering how Grumpy's gardening efforts have worked out this summer.........(!).  After a slow start in the veg plots things are beginning to take on a burst of growth, thanks no doubt to the frequent rain showers and the occasional sunny periods.  The boys are near the sand pit, top left of photo.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Boys in clover.

It's not every day that Fidget looks this alert! He is always dragging along behind the other three boys and has got himself separated from them.  They are only a few yards away from him.
Here they are in the next paddock.  We've topped some more grass this week, between the rain showers.  We try and keep a small square of longer grass available in each paddock as they like to lie in it when (if!) it gets hot.
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Faro, looking sleek after the recent shearing. His 'cooling patches' on the rear ankles are quite pronounced against his darker colour.  He has had a watery right eye for a few days so we are keeping a check on that.
This is Fergus on the sloping rough paddock.  The only thing which keeps him from looking for food is a neighbour's dog - which is what he is looking at here.
Fyta looking thoughtful! We've had a really mixed bag of weather this week including gales one day so not at all like summer.
A nice photo of Fergus (left) and Fyta amongst the clover (and buttercups!) in the rough paddock. These two boys are certainly of the 'laid back' variety!
And finally............Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis) with blue Cat Mint below and Crocosmia 'Lucifer' coming into flower above.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Visits during a wet week

Inside looking out on another wet day, Fyta left and Faro.  It's been a rather wet week with plenty of opportunity for flies and other beasties to be landing on the newly sheared boys, who then take to the field shelter for relief.
In the shelter are Faro, Fyta and Fergus with Fidget still outside in the rain.  Fidget scratched himself this week on the right shoulder and the flies soon congregated on the blood so we penned the boys and sprayed the scratch with an anti-fly strike liquid. Now that their thick coats have been sheared off it's easy for scratches to be collected by the boys.
Earlier in the week we paid a short visit to Woodleigh Lodge alpacas near Inverness to see Wendy and her new cria, 'Buster' - that's him at the front left with his mum 'Babe.'  Behind him is 'Dottie' who was born a year ago to Babe and 'Snow' the stud in the background.  Granny 'Pru' is just out of the picture.
Mum and her son and daughter all looking very well and trying to avoid the drizzle and rain. Last year Dottie was born just before shearing and this year Buster put in an appearance before the shearer arrived too.
Yesterday we paid a visit to Carole and John at Auld Mill alpacas near Elgin, Moray (www.auldmillalpacas.co.uk) who were having an 'alpaca experience' open day at their farm.  There were lots of fleece related activities for guests to experience as well as things to see.  These are some of the lovely mums and cria of the Auld Mill herd.
Fleece skirting on the table was just one of the many activities to be enjoyed in the barn.   Also in attendance were spinners from the Highland branch of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who added to an interesting programme for visitors.  Thanks for your hospitality Carole and John, a very interesting 'paca-day.
Dodging the showers we started lifting the first of our early tatties today and they look good enough to eat!  These are Arran Pilot variety.
And finally...............couldn't resist this shot of a honey bee on a Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) flower.  We are seeing a lot more bees this summer which is great even though the weather has not been too kind to them.