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.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Do I look like a Camel in this?

Gaucho presenting his best camel-like features! Fergus just behind him and Rufus is in the background.  Not a lot to report this week, sunshine has been in short supply, plenty of rain, gale force winds and dropping temperatures.  Oh dear, winter is coming again!
Gaucho in profile.  We have had him for just over a year now and he is well settled into the herd. Gaucho is 3 yrs old.
Fidget, one of our original 4 boys who has been with us for over 3 years.  Always the one to hold back but he knows exactly what is going on around him and doesn't like to be 'crowded'.  He's got a lovely nature with humans but won't stand any interference from herd members.
 
Rufus, who has been with us since July this year. Still a bit of a 'hummer' but the longer he is here, the less he is humming.  Likes to scoff his own bowl of supplement then quickly move on to the others, which doesn't always go down well with the other boys.  Spends most of his time on the edge of the herd but, like the rest of the boys, can now tell feed times without the need of a watch and queues up patiently, and on schedule!
And finally............ siesta time.  Wee Eck (front) with Fergus outside the shelter and Fyta (L) and Faro (R) rummaging in the hay buckets behind!  Eck came with Rufus, but unlike Rufus, he settled into the herd immediately and now competes with Faro the guard to be the first to do things, see things and eat things!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Dyeing to learn

Yesterday I attended a one day workshop 'An introduction to dyeing using natural dyes made from local plant materials' run by Pat Forbes and Ada Grant of the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (HGWSD) of which I am a member. We each had to take 8 - 10 small skeins of spun white wool/fleece so I used Fergus's for the purpose.  We dyed the skeins using a number of plant materials and the above shows my results (L to R) (1)Mushroom (Cortinarius) then dipped in an ammonia bath heightening the colour, (2) Buddleia leaves, (3) Marigold, (4) red cabbage then dipped in an ammonia bath, (5) Golden Rod, (6) Buddleia flowers, (7) Tree Lungwort  and (8) Onion skins.  All the plant materials can be found in the garden or countryside at this time of year.  An Alum Mordant was used (a Mordant allows the fibre to take on the dye) on all samples except the Tree Lungwort and the onion skins.  The samples shown above were still damp when the photo was taken but are brighter now that they have dried.  
These are some of Pat's samples which she brought to the workshop showing some of the lovely colours which she has achieved by using natural dyes.  The HGWSD can be found at http://www.hgwsd.co.uk/ and the Guild organises workshops, displays, events and exhibitions.
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is almost upon us and the apple trees are producing their fruit.  This means that the boys can have their daily apple tit-bits for the next few months until supplies run out.  Here are Wee Eck (L) and Faro asking for another slice of apple.  Interestingly when we started giving them apple a few days ago the older boys remembered the taste from last Autumn and started chomping on the apples straight away.  Wee Eck stood watching the other boys chewing and couldn't work out what they were eating!  Once he had had his first piece however, there was no stopping him.
Here is Faro (L) having to wait until Wee Eck eats yet another slice of apple.  In the background is Rufus, totally uninterested in apples at present but very interested in the good looking Alpaca he sees when he looks at the reflection in the window!

And finally.......in the evening we usually give the boys some hay and, like other meal times, they know when to queue up!  Here they are looking into the steading door knowing that at any minute the hay will be forthcoming.  Wee Eck is in the doorway (he's very nosey!), Faro is behind with just his head showing, Fyta is in the middle with Fergus behind and Gaucho is at the rear.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Lovely weather.

We have had a week of gorgeous weather here, plenty of daytime sunshine and lovely sunsets to follow.  This shot was taken mid week, early evening, and shows aircraft vapour trails being blown around by high altitude winds whilst at ground level it was windless!  Flight paths to/from USA are high above us here so dramatic sky views of the planes and their trails are quite common.
You may need to enlarge this photo of the boys at the bottom of their paddock lying in the sun just across the fence from Freda, Lola and wee Hamish.  The alpacas and cattle seem to enjoy each other's company and often when the cattle move the boys will follow them along their side of the fence.
The sunshine also brings out the butterflies onto the various Buddleias we have around the garden. We have blue, purple, dark purple, pink, white, a trailing variety and an orange 'globe' Buddleia all of which attract lots of bees and flying insects to the garden.
Same Buddleia, but with more butterflies.  Unfortunately we are not up on butterflies and moths so don't have a name for this type of butterfly, but I guess the big circles on the wings should give us a clue!  Answers on a post card please........or maybe we need to look up the internet.

More haltering and leading yesterday with Rufus (R) still very wary.  Eventually by tying two leads together to make them longer he got the idea and walked (hesitatingly!)  Also shown are Fyta (dark trousers), Faro (brown), Fidget (white) and Gully near the gate.  Fidget had his front nails clipped and he was very good - 3 years ago he used to rear up and kick for these sessions.  The photo was taken first thing in the morning and the early mist can still be seen in the background.

And finally...........at the end of a lovely day, Gully comes out of his field shelter where he has been hiding from Midges, and enjoys grazing with his chums at sunset.  Again, a vapour trail can be seen in the sky.