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, 28 March 2010

Alpaca mathematics

You can always tell when something of interest is happening and especially if humans are approaching the paddocks - the boys give their undivided attention.  Alpaca maths state that 'owners + visitors x well behaved Alpacas = a handful of goodies!'  In this case the welcome visitors are Lorna Renshaw and Sandy Donaldson of Ardo Alpacas and the goodies are swedes (turnips/neeps!)  Lorna and Sandy know our boys well having raised them at their Aberdeenshire farm.  They haven't seen them for 7 months since they delivered Gully and Gaucho to us last summer.  Lorna serves on the National Welfare Committee of the British Alpaca Society (http://www.bas-uk.com/) and is very involved with the Scottish Regional Group, Alpaca Farmers of Scotland (http://www.alpacafarmersofscotland.co.uk/) so it was good to catch up on all the wider Alpaca news.
Lorna has great fun with Fergus as he enjoys nibbling the swede.
Sandy entices Fyta with a slice.
Aaahhh - miss you Mum!
And after all the excitement, time to lie by the pool in the sun!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

HAIRCUT AND PEDICURE

Now that the snow has gone it was time this week to pen the guys, trim some fringes and nails, and put cream on Faro's bald spots. This shows me herding the boys using two white sticks (curtain rods actually!) which we've done since recommended on Julie Taylor-Browne's course in 2007 (http://www.carthveanalpacas.com/).  White painted garden canes would also work very well.  With a small herd one person can guide them successfully by this method and the boys do not challenge the sticks, in fact as soon as they see the sticks being brought out, they know where to go!
 
The boys are moving to the side of the field, then they are led to the corner and into the catch pen.
Robbie is in the pen and the boys are haltered using Zephyr halters which we find more substantial than other makes.  Faro has a couple of bald spots on his ankles and lower legs and we treat this with cream.  He has also been shaking his head and we think he may have some mites on his external ears so fly cream seems to be doing the trick with them.  He has previously been treated with Spot On and Frontline following a skin scraping by the Vet which showed mites, and we are monitoring him and the others.

What better after a trim-up than to chill out in the sand pit in the Spring sunshine, just like Gaucho (left) and Fergus!  After this the boys were moved to the bottom paddocks and to (some) fresh grass, much to their delight.  We note now with some grass around that they are eating less haylage and sugar beet.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Find the boys - and find the time!

This shot was taken this morning, Sunday, and shows that the snow is slowly melting.  Dotted around the two paddocks are the six boys - can you spot them all?  This photo is looking in a westerly direction over the two field shelters, over our house then away towards Cannich, Glen Affric and the Glen Strathfarrar range in the distance, in the cold looking clouds.

Just to show that I haven't been hibernating all winter during the snows here are some items I have made.  These are two felted handbags, the one on the left is from Fidget and has a button fastener hand made from a Birch branch by Robbie. This bag was knitted then felted. The bag on the right is from Fergus and has a needle felted Alpaca image and felted button fastener.  It was felted from carded fleece.
The curly-wurly scarf on the left is crocheted from Ricardo (Ardo Alpaca).  The middle brown, crocheted curly wurly scarf is baby Alpaca from Hamish (Ardo Alpaca). The scarf on the right is a knitted bubble scarf with tassles taken from a free pattern on the internet (http://www.berroco.com/) and is also from Ricardo.  The knitted white head band is from Fergus and also has a Birch button fastener. I found the basic idea at http://www.knitty.com/.
The hat at the top left is from Fidget, it is knitted and felted and the turquoise colour was achieved by using natural dyes. The top right hat is of mixed fibres from all the boys, spun at random and crocheted, then felted.  A crocheted flower from Faro is attached.  The bottom hat is from Ricardo and is knitted and felted. Three knitted flowers from Faro, Hamish and Fidget are attached.  The basic idea for this hat came from the current British Alpaca Society, 'Alpaca' magazine.

Friday, 5 March 2010

"A word in your ear,Mum"

These shots were taken yesterday, Thursday, and show the depth of snow still with us.  Faro is making his feelings known about the lack of grass! 
Due to the depth of snow we have again had to dig trenches so that the boys can walk about and sometimes find a bit of grass.
Yesterday was a lovely, sunny day but none of the snow shifted due to the very cold nights. Fergus, Gully and Gaucho can be seen lying in the trench soaking up the sun.
 Fergus facing the sun and loving it!
 Gully showing how deep the layer of snow is.  Today the temperature has been much higher, there was no frost last night and the snow now feels 'mushy.'  A thaw is under way - at last!