OUR SMALL HERD
Our original 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, 29 May 2010
Thought we'd put in a couple of photos for the horticulturally minded amongst you! This shot is taken from the vegetable garden looking west over the boys in the lower paddock and away towards Beinn a' Bha'ach Ard and shows a new dusting of snow on the tops this week. Also in the middle of the photo is the steading, the roof of which we nearly lost due to snow weight in the winter. The roof has now been completely re-enforced with new rafters. The early tatties are shown in one of the plots but this week the frost nipped all of the shoots which then turned black. They are now beginning to grow again.
This photo, looking north was taken later in the day with the boys at the fence line looking at cattle in the adjoining field. Robbie has been hard at work over the past few days getting the veg plots ready for planting. Some veg is already in, but due to the cold weather planting has been delayed. The Keder greenhouse (a cross between a greenhouse and a polytunnel) can be seen at the centre left and early tatties, carrots and dwarf beans are well advanced inside. We've even had a few strawberries and grapes are forming on the two vines (don't hold your breath for the vino just yet!)
And finally.............. a real delight to show you a photo sent to us by Lorna & Sandy at Ardo Alpacas. It shows four of their boys looking over the fence at four of their Llamas. The boys, L to R, are Goals (the brother of our Fyta), Liam, Gottit (the sire of three of our boys) and Turkish. Gottit and Turkish were with us for about a year before going back to Ardo Alpacas, but they did leave their fleece behind for me to spin. Turkish is a beautiful rose grey boy and I've crocheted and knitted scarves from him.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
We have enjoyed pleasant weather over the past few days, not nearly as hot as further south in UK, but with plenty of sunshine. The nights can be quite misty which means the boys have a covering of dew on them which they then convert to mud on their favourite rolling places! Its lovely to see them gathering around their water trays and troughs after their breakfast haylage. Here Fyta is on the left, Fidget is lying down, Fergus is in front with Gaucho behind him and Faro at the rear, and a dirty Gully on the right.
Fergus is warning Gaucho not to get into 'his space' here. No spitting, just lots of grunting and squeaking noises from Fergus and his head thrown back - audible and visible warnings!
Status Quo! Note the early morning mist and cloud on the hills behind.
Not so much a 'gaggle', more a 'hum' of boys - in more ways than one as they are damp and dirty - especially Gully in the foreground.
and finally....... this is Pansy Potter, also enjoying the early morning sun at the back door! She is 14 yrs old and is still getting over the loss of her life long pussy cat pal Flo-Jo a couple of months ago. Pansy doesn't go near the boys because they congregate at the fence watching her any time she goes near them and this spooks her a bit.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Not too much happening here over the past few days, except that the temperature is going up, so thats welcome. The boys are all fleeced up and all the water trays have been deployed now. Just a few more weeks before James Dixon arrives. Whilst everyone else's blogs show expectant owners all over the place on tenderhooks as they await their cria, we have none of that here of course with our 6 gelded boys! So we'll show you a few pics taken recently. This is Fidget, one of our original boys and now nearly 4 years old. A bit of a bruiser is Fidget who guards jealously his food and personal space, but he's a lovely chap all the same.
Gully is our deaf boy, a lovely fella and coming up for 3 years of age. We've had him for almost a year and he has settled down well within the herd with his pal Gaucho.
And this is Gaucho in front of the field shelter in the bottom paddock. He's slightly older than Gully and arrived with him. The pair are really good pals and are always chasing each other and neck wrestling.
It's that pesky hen pheasant again! Fyta and Faro saw the bird landing in the paddock and chased it into the corner. They didn't touch the bird, just watched what it was doing before it escaped (again) through the fencing!
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
We didn't expect that during May we would be driving through blowing snow along the Moray Firth getting to Zanzibah Alpacas, or repeating this on the way home! The car journeys were the bad parts of the day, the good part was the bit in the middle when we spent time with Jayne and all her animals. We had a great time meeting all her girls and boys, young and old, and a variety of other beasties of whom Noah would have been proud! This shows Jayne and I leaning on the farm gate, as you do, with her girls on the left of the picture and the boys on the right.
The suitably dressed 'dynamic duo' with Duke (facing away) and his young pals.
Here are all the girls lined up for inspection by the boys in the opposite field!
All the girls are queueing to have a word in my ear, led by Minstrel. Jayne has such a mix of lovely fancy coloured Alpacas as this photo shows. They were all very well behaved but Jayne and I begged in vain for a cuddle from Minstrel, normally her party trick. Apart from looking at all the animals in this lovely countryside of rolling hills, we spent time on the electric spinning wheel, looking at all the lovely things Jayne has made and discussing uses for fleece (as well as eating lovely soup and cake and drinking tea!) The wind was a bit raw for the time of year and the sleet and hail showers didn't help, but it just made for a memorable day.
And finally...................Norris! What a cracker he is and not at all phased by being in the midst of tall boy Alpacas. A great day, see you soon at this end for a return visit, Jayne - and thanks once again!
Sunday, 9 May 2010
It's been a lovely sunny day today although the wind is still cold. The forecast says that we should expect snow showers on the hills over the next couple of days! Great! Fergus felt the heat, so was lying with his chin and neck in the water tray. He also stood in it, marking time and giving himself a splash. Whilst nice and wet he went to his favourite rolling place to get nice and muddy.
And this is the result!
Time for more splashing, from Mum this time and hoping obviously that his belly will get wet to cool him down. After this he went for a roll in the sand-pit so he was one mucky animal by the end of this!
The dung sample result from the Vet Lab last week indicated that no worm treatment was necessary, so this is good. In the meantime we will continue with the monthly Verm-X granules.
We are looking forward to visiting Jayne and her lovely fancy animals at Zanzibah Alpacas tomorrow.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
The boys are always interested when they hear the 'clip-clop' of horses' hooves on the road above our house. They often move from paddock to paddock following the horses along the road. Here is the Cavalry getting 'eyeballed' by (L to R) Fidget, Faro and Fergus - you may have to magnify the page to see the horses though.
Today it was time for the 'Poop Patrol' to carry out it's work (Robbie, actually!) and you will see the rather old fashioned equipment employed, being inspected by Fyta. Both Fyta and Faro regularly check out the barrow when the poo is being shifted, probably wondering why humans do this! The boys do produce plenty of the stuff, and it is clear from other alpaca owner blogs, that they have similar experiences. We have looked at and priced mechanical 'pooper scoopers' but find it hard to accept the cost, so have stuck with a barrow and hand cleaners. Time consuming probably, but still does the same job. Anyone out there got any experiences they want to share of mechanical paddock cleaners? Is the cost justified - do they do a better job, is a hand pull version better than the hook-up version for small paddocks?
Once the dung is collected, we store it in dumps until we use it on the garden. We built a basic three part storage area with older dung (1 year +) on the left, newer dung in the middle ( 6 months +) and the 'working pile' on the right. The left pile is under polythene sheeting, the middle is under old hay and the right pile is open. Once the oldest heap is used, all the heaps move to the left rotting down as they go. In the background is Beinn a' Bha'ach Ard (Hill of the High Byre.)
A closer shot of the two older dung piles and in the distance is Ben Wyvis with (yet another) fresh dusting of snow from last night! These dung heaps must have the best location in the Highlands! We've also delivered dung samples to the Vet laboratory in Inverness this week for routine checking, so we await the results.