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.


Just a reminder that clicking on (most) of the photos will show them greatly enlarged.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Alpaca Crossing

This 'Alpaca Crossing' sign is on our front gate and we ordered it on ebay from USA.  We already have a 'Cats Crossing' sign which our past neighbour Tracey bought when she was over in America some years ago.  The alpaca sign was quite cheap at £6 and with postage the total bill was about £12.  However, when the parcel arrived there was a VAT charge of £4.78 then a Royal Mail handling fee of £8 added!  We knew that there should be no added VAT (anything under £18 is VAT free) and wrote to HMRC who confirmed that a mistake had been made and a refund of the VAT charge would be forthcoming.  When VAT is applied Royal Mail automatically slap on a handling charge which we can't reclaim until the VAT has been reclaimed.  We've now been waiting for 5 weeks for HMRC to spark and they have told us that 'a cheque will be in the post' (heard that one before!!)  We then have to tackle Royal Mail for their refund.  Don't you just love it when the authorities make a mistake then you have to spend time, money and resources in getting your money back!  It's not the amount, it's the principle - and anyway, we love the sign! We bought it from johnnie@breedology.com and their service was excellent.
We moved the boys to the new grass in the top paddocks this week and haltered them in the pen.  Here is Gully getting cream applied to his bald spots between his front legs.  It's hard to tell from the photo whether he is impressed by this or not!  We've also had a report on our soil analysis which shows that lime is badly needed.  We had a visit from an Agronomist who also advised that all herbicides (which we dislike using) should be used with extreme caution and Alpacas kept off treated areas for several months. Lime should help to reduce the growth of buttercups which most people will know, can be poisonous to some livestock if eaten in quantity.
This is Rufus's third time on the lead and he is more accepting of it - but he is still not a happy bunny as you can tell by the look on his face.  Wee Eck still has concerns over the lead and hung his head most of the time but neither of the boys struggled too much so they are improving.  All the others accept the halters and lead, except Fidget who does not like his nose being touched, although once it's on, he's fine.
Yesterday was Day 2 of the Belladrum Tartan Hearts music festival which took place about a mile away from us. Over 12,000 people attended in good weather and we could plainly hear the 'boompa-boompa' music, the aerial display then the fireworks display later at night.  During the afternoon as the place was rocking, the boys were really impressed and totally excited by the music - not!  Even Glastonbury wouldn't put the boys off sun-bathing.
And finally...... these monsters make an appearance each summer and annoy the boys no end.  They are Horse Flies (we think - unless you know different!) and fortunately do not hunt in packs, just single insects.  They are much bigger than the average Bumble Bee and settle on the boys' backs or legs, much to their annoyance.  Flies and midges are common and the boys often avoid them by going into their shelters and we often spray them, which helps.   This beast is a different matter and whilst the normal flies and midges tend to go for the dark coloured animals, the Horse Fly lands on any of them.    


  1. Love the sign Shirley...definitely on the shopping list and thanks for the warning about red tape...can we ever escape it?!

  2. The Sign is Great! Looks cute on your gate! I would think the animals would like the music. Something different for them to listen too! I guess the new boys will eventually get used to their halters - some must take longer than others because they are just a little stubborn perhaps! lol Nasty horse flies. They would torture my horses in the summer. They are huge. have you ever been bitten by one? THEY HURT LIKE CRAZY!! LEAVE A BIG WELT! Your paddock looks so pretty and green. Boys must enjoy it!! I noticed you were wearing a sweater. Is is chilly there? What are your day time temps?? Enjoy your posts about the boys!! ...debbie

  3. Hi Debbie, Yes, the new boys will settle down soon and get used to their halters, they are getting better each time we pen them. Haven't been bitten by any Horse Flies yet thank goodness, but Robbie has had wasp stings. The paddocks look green because we have had quite a lot of rain during the summer, as well as sun. Daytime temp around 20degreesC, but some days it is a lot chillier until the sun gets going. Don't know how you survive your heat - although the swimming pool obviously helps! Take care.

  4. I have also fallen foul, of the VAT import Tax..I have recently....wait for it, bought a Medi-Dart Cross Bow !!....from the USA !!...I paid the price of the item plus P&P. Then I had a bill from Parcel Force of £65 ....for the handling charge....apparently it was paid by..them..and they would not release the item till I paid for it !!...so I know..what its like ! The boys look great..and the big bug !...Im not sure what it is !.....Jayne

  5. Shirley, your boys look grand, and it is obvious from reading your blog how much you are enjoying them. I have a great affections for Scotland and the Isles, so I'm delighted to see beloved alpacas there, also. Do you spin? I've learned, since acquiring our alpacas 5 yrs ago. We breed huacayas in Eugene, Oregon, USA, and are awaiting 3 cria in September. Meanwhile, halter-training the younger set is a familiar scene.
    Ann, Aragon Alpacas