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, 25 April 2010

New grass - and feet again!

This week we moved the boys from the bottom paddocks (right of picture) to the top paddocks and this shows the final three racing through the gate, led by Gully, then Fidget and lastly Gaucho.  The boys then proceeded to race around the paddocks, jumping and playing and it is obvious that they love having  a change of paddock. Whilst the grass is still quite poor the difference in the grass colour can be seen in the picture.  Behind me is our organic vegetable plot and Keder greenhouse which survived the winter whilst many polytunnels in the area  collapsed due to snow weight. There is still a little snow on the hills and we have not had the sunny weather this week which has been enjoyed by those in the south of UK.
Time again for some nail trimming and it is interesting to note the different types of nails on the different animals.  These are Fyta's feet showing the typical black nails which only require trimming once a year at shearing time.  These black nails are really hard and robust.   Fyta is white with black 'trousers' and has a narrow base stance.
 
This is Faro and he also has a narrow base stance and has an annual trim of his black nails.
This is Fergus, who like our other white boy Fidget, has a wide base stance and nails which require regular trimming.  The white boys have light coloured nails and as can be seen, it's time for Fergus to have another trim as they quickly bend inwards and under the foot pad.  The nails of Fergus and Fidget are not as hard as the black nails of the other boys and are a different shape.  The black nails are more 'tent shaped' whilst the white nails are narrower and longer.  Fergus stood quite still to have this photo taken but Gully & Gaucho cleared off as soon as the camera was pointed at their feet!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Spot the Pheasant.

We were with the boys in the paddock yesterday when they spotted a movement in the adjoining paddock.  Fyta, Faro and Gaucho all look intently at what turned out to be a hen Pheasant.  For the past couple of weeks we have had a cock Pheasant and two of his hens spending time around the paddocks and local fields.  The boys can see them from quite a distance and they usually watch them closely.
This time the boys started to run towards the bird with Faro in the lead as usual.  If you magnify the picture you will see the Pheasant in the adjoining paddock near the far fence line.  The boys then ran round the fence, through the gate and followed Faro in hot pursuit!  The bird found no difficulty in escaping through the Rylock fence leaving six disappointed boys.
Here are the disgruntled boys returning from the fruitless chase, led by Fergus.
Fyta, Faro and Fergus then get commiserations from Mum!  The grass is still struggling to grow so we will move them next weekend to the other paddocks where the grass looks more promising.  In the meantime the boys are still looking for their daily (sometimes twice daily) haylage.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Portion control!

It's always nice to see the boys enjoying their haylage first thing in the morning.  We give them a large handful each and very soon they lie down in front of their individual pile and chew contentedly.  The boys enjoy their haylage as the grass has got a long way to grow before it will satisfy them.  Yesterday and today have been lovely days so the boys tend to face the rising sun as they tuck into their breakfast. Our two hen-runs are in the background housing Horace the cockerel and his 7 hens.
The individual portion extends to their daily sugar beet in the late morning and their supplement later in the afternoon.  We put their portions into bowls so that we know that each boy has had their individual portion.  We tried trough feeding and various other methods but this usually resulted in either spitting or some boys getting double rations and some boys getting only a little.  Good job we don't have a big herd or we would have to buy more bowls!  This shot is of the boys having their sugar beet and Gaucho being coaxed to "eat up like a good boy!"
Happy bunnies with heads in their bowls!
"Please sir, can I have some more?"     Having eaten all his beet, Fergus manages to get some on his nose and all under his chin giving him a passing resemblance to Salvador Dali!
And finally...............following all the snow we've had, this scene in our garden gladdens the heart!   A mixture of Primrose, Primula, mini Daffodils and Heleborus - but maybe a spot of weeding is called for now!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Worm's eye view

After all the snow, it's hard to see what the boys find to eat on the flattened, dead grass.  However, it is clear that there are new blades of grass growing which they are enjoying.  Fergus and Fyta are intent on nibbling everything they see!
Today we put the boys in the catch pen again so that we could do a few more nails and put some cream on Faro's bald spots on his ankles.  Following the last application of cream, these bald spots do seem to be improving.  The boys were not exactly in the right mood for any work today as they had been lying around when we decided to call them to the pen - and they took off in the opposite direction! (Mental note: don't try training when the students are chilling out!)  Plenty of 'humming' in the pen and Fergus was not too co-operative when his back nails needed trimming.
Gaucho with Fyta behind.  He was much better today when the halter was put on and taken off, but he still does not like going for 'walkies.'
After the nail trimming, the boys 'walk the walk' in what we call the 'alleyway' and this is Faro being led.  This alleyway was created before we got the boys but in readiness for them coming so that there would be a double fence barrier to stop leaves, especially Rhododendron, blowing into the paddock from the garden (to the left.)  The prevailing westerly wind blows in the direction of the paddocks and we have many Rhoddie bushes around our garden.  We have trimmed them back but they have grown even quicker, so the threat of blown leaves still exists.  After flowering this year we are going to remove them completely.