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.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Its not that we pamper our boys (much!) but they have a sandpit in each of their paddocks. During the winter they don't use them - but the rabbits do! However, during the rest of the year they love to just lie in the sand or roll about in it. Even on the hottest days the sand is cool, and after a feed they chill out. The photo (above) was taken shortly after the boys were sheared and shows Fyta (left) and Fergus - both showing off their cool haircuts. During the present freezing weather I think it is nice to see a summer photo. We are often asked if the boys spit. Alpacas do spit at each other, especially when there is food around. Our guys are no exception to this and often we hear a spitting noise then a fine mist flies through the air in the direction of another alpaca. Sometimes it is more than fine mist and lots of chewed up grass ends up on the back of an animal's head! This spit smells awful, like a really bad case of halitosis and if a human gets in the way, then a good wash or shower is needed. Unfortunately the animal which spits, and the spat upon animal end up being unable to eat anything for around 10 - 15 minutes. Their lower lips droop, they often have a drip of green saliva falling from the lip and they look thoroughly miserable. They look like the Donkey in the Shrek movies with their teeth bared and droopy lip! A couple of the boys go and grab a mouthful of hay and stand there waiting for the taste and smell to disappear before their systems allow them to chew and swallow again. Sometimes one of the boys will sneeze, and if it is close to one of the other boys, the same symptoms can appear. First time we saw this was on Fergus, a couple of days after we got the boys in 2007 and we thought he had been stung by a bee!
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Sunday, 22 November 2009
http://www.alpacaseller.co.uk/). About a week ago I put out a bucket of Camelid mineral lick for our boys, but as yet none of them has licked it! Our weather has been quite wet but the boys are happy to wander about in the rain and only use their field shelters when they want to. Our sheepish neighbours have now moved on to pastures new leaving the boys to look over the fence at an empty field, apart from an occasional visiting Badger and rabbits. We try to keep the Badger at bay due to fears of the spread of bovine TB which does affect Camelids.I've been making necklaces this week. The photo shows (left) a necklace of Merino and Alpaca felted balls. The middle one is Merino and Alpaca swirl. The necklace on the right is from Turkish and Gotit's felted fleece. I've also been spinning Ardo Hamish's fleece and it is brown and very soft. He is being sold by Lorna at Ardo Alpacas and can be seen on the Alpaca Sellers web site (
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
We put the boys into the catch pen yesterday and trimmed Gully's fringe. Alpacas are not too keen on having their heads touched so getting the fringe clipped, especially when the fleece is wet, is not easy! He also has a long term dry skin problem so I rubbed udder cream on his ears and between his front legs. He was as good as gold whilst this was done. The two white boys, Fergus and Fidget, had one or two nails each trimmed, and they also put up with it! The nails of white alpacas seem to grow quicker than coloured animals, and other alpaca owners have also found this. We always halter the boys in the catch pen as this gets them used to being handled, and we end our session with a wee walk - in Fyta's case this was a very wee walk! After a couple of yards he refused to budge, spreading his rear legs in the A shape and making it quite clear that he was not in the mood for walkies. Ah well, maybe next time!
Saturday, 24 October 2009
The boys are all well and enjoying getting soaking wet then rolling on the ground and becoming covered in mud! Not a pretty sight for any visitors. Gully's fringe is growing quite long as it was not fully trimmed when he was sheared so next time they are in the catch pen, it will be haircut time for him!
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
This weekend I attended the Guild's 'Small Felted Jewellery' one day course run by Isobel MacCallum Scott ( see Naturally Sheepish link)and the picture shows the ear-rings I made. I learnt how to make felt balls from Merino tops and hope to use the technique with alpaca fleece. We were also shown how to make necklaces and felted circles.
Our alpacas continue to settle down well with each other and the two new boys, Gully and Gaucho are now fully integrated in the herd. We haltered them at the weekend and Fidget and Fergus had their nails trimmed - and they were very well behaved (for a change!)
Monday, 5 October 2009
This weekend we visited friends Carole & John in Haddington, East Lothian to see their herd of alpacas - 21 in total - boys, girls and lovely cria. We were also able to see the excellent garments and items produced by Carole from her animals and sold on her Cairndinnis web site. We then crossed to Crianlarich, Perthshire to visit Ian and Debbie who have 4 boys roaming on their 6 acres around their Ewich House, set amidst dramatic Highland scenery. Home then via spectacular Glencoe on a glorious Autumn day to take some photos of sister in law Sheila wearing my crotcheted alpaca hat and scarf from Fyta's and Ardo Hamish's fleece.
On Sat 26th Sept I attended a felt making class held by the Highland Feltmakers Group, in Dingwall. I made a flat piece of felt from marino tops. I've been experimenting with felting the boys' fleece and was able to pick up some tips at this group.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Last Saturday I attended the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers knitting and crocheting workshop and learnt to do lobster braid as well as trying spinning from the point on the Great Wheel brought in by Gill of Artisan Threads. I also tried my hand at knitting with giant needles. Yesterday, I attended another knitting and crochet workshop organised by Gill and saw her many fleeces, wools and fibres which she had spun and dyed and all the many items she has produced from them. I came away with many inspiring ideas! (picture shows scarf I produced)At home Gully and Gaucho are settling in well with the rest of the herd.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
The Dingwall Rotary Club organised a one day festival on 5th Sept and our friend John Mckenzie took along his 4 'boys' (Wlliam, Luke, Joel and Jake) in the large trailer. I took samples of fleece, spinning, knitting and a spinning wheel for effect! We also had a display board showing photos of Alpacas, information, advice and where to see Alpacas locally. Our displays created a lot of interest and we made some useful contacts for supply of fleece for spinning and weaving to individuals. We also had some serious enquiries about owning Alpacas and hope to have some follow-up visits to the 'boys'.
Just to prove that Alpacas don't scare easily, the local pipe band paraded past the boys several times without incident whilst Shetland ponies in a nearby display pen were upset! John had wisely decided to keep the boys penned in the large trailer as this was their first 'outing!' His mother and sister worked hard all day with the boys spending lots of time with children who enjoyed a bit of hand feeding. The festival was very well attended and lots more people know about Alpacas as a result of our displays.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
We haltered the boys this weekend and found that Gaucho is still a little wary, especially when being led. Gully takes the halter well, and led well. Fergus halters very well but doesn't like walkies too much! The two new boys have settled into the herd now and we had an evening run around the field yesterday, Gaucho and Gully 'prancing' with all the boys in a long line. Had a visit from a friend today who has 4 alpacas and we hope to put on a small display locally at a market day on Sat 5th Sept 09. We hope that this will improve knowledge and the profile of alpacas in this area.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Another of our initial four boys, Fyta was quite reserved at first but over the past two years has developed into a lovely personality. His father is Gotit and is mother is Pie in Ardo of Edenbrook. He is a white boy with black trousers ('fancy.') Since Gotit left recently, we think Fyta will take over the leadership of the herd - reluctantly!
Arrived in Aug 09 with Gully to join the herd. A dark fawn boy who is still nervous but has plenty of spirit! After Gotit's departure, he quickly settled into the herd. Gaucho's father is Bozedown Orion. His mother was Ardo Chilli.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Arrived with Gaucho to join the herd in Aug 09. He is a deaf boy with blue eyes and Gaucho is his friend and sparring partner! He is light fawn in colour and is a lovely wee chap. Loves his food, already accepted into the herd and keeps himself in the middle of everyone (for protection?) Gully's mother is Bozedown Ariadne and his father is Bozedown Orion.
The last of our initial four boys, Fergus is the most laid back of the herd! Loves his food and his own company sometimes. Fergus's father is Bozedown Meteor and his mother is Ardo Canna. He is all white with thick fleece.