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.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

As the snow still lays thick all around we are obviously going to have a white Christmas tomorrow.  Temperatures were down to -9c this morning so were obviously colder during the night. At Aviemore, not many miles away,  the temperature dropped to -16c last night and the forecast is for it to be another cold night tonight.  The boys were covered in frost this morning but seem to be doing OK in the cold.  We cleared some snow to reveal the grass and they were delighted with this.  The top photo of me with some of the boys was taken just before the really heavy dump of snow.  Can't resist putting up another shot taken from the house looking up the drive, following the heavy snow. I'd like to wish all my blog followers (Debbie in USA, Joyce in France, Rolf in Norway and Iain and Ann on the Isle of Lewis), all family and friends, and alpaca lovers everywhere, a very happy Christmas.  Take care and have a lovely time.

Monday, 21 December 2009

White stuff

In my last post I showed a summer photo - now we are in the depths of winter!  Over the last two days we have had significant snowfalls - a real knee high dump which is likely to stay with us and give us a white Christmas.  Top photo is of Gaucho looking for more hay having already consumed one lot of haylage, and to examine the camera.  The other photo shows Gully in front, with Fidget behind and Faro the brown fella at the rear.  Several of the boys have been running around and jumping in the snow so they obviously like it.  Unfortunately there is no grass for them to graze and unlike sheep, we find that the boys do not scrape the ground to find any.  They are using their shelters a lot but still manage to look wet most of the time.  We change their drinking water daily, remove the ice and snow, and find that they do drink it probably because eating nothing but hay, haylage and their supplements, makes them thirsty.  The weather forecast indicates that this cold spell will last for several days.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sand (s)pit



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!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Rug hooking & cold weather

Whilst we were at the Feil Maree in Dingwall during the summer (see older posts) we met a lady called Brigitte Webb who is a rug hooker and was interested in using alpaca fleece in her work.  We gave her some fleece and she sent us a gift of a piece of rug with an alpaca image hooked into the rug.  It looks great (see picture above) and even has a fleecy 'bonnet' and I have it displayed in  my alpaca workroom. Brigitte can be contacted on brigitte @hillhousestudio.co.uk . The weather has gone quite cold here over the past few days with -7c last night and barely above freezing during daytime.  There was more than an inch of ice on their water buckets this morning. We've started feeding the boys haylage to supplement their hay as grazing is difficult for them.  They have their daily ration of Alpaca Mix as well as apples and a turnip now and again!  The two youger boys, Gully & Gaucho held back from the haylage at first but after watching the older boys, got stuck in too!  The boys have two large field shelters to choose from and they go in when they want to. They like the shelters and use them often but during clear, frosty nights they like to sleep outside and are usually covered in frost in the morning!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

All muck and magic

One by-product of Alpacas (and all animals) is their dung and we use this on our organic vegetable plots.  The dung is stored for up to a year before being spread although can probably be used sooner. It is mixed with their old straw bedding.  The parsnips (photographed) have been terrific this year, both in size and taste.  The second photo shows some of the veg plots with the parsnips in the foreground and turnips (swedes) and leeks in the background.  Cabbages are at the rear left with a dug over plot rear right.  Two new strawberry beds are at the rear in front of a composting area.  Whilst it can be hard work collecting and barrowing manure, it clearly gives some beneficial results in the garden.