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, 30 October 2010

What's up, Doc?

Fergus giving the photographer the quizzical look so familiar of alpacas.   He has a brown mark on his right cheek which his mother 'Ardo Canna' also had and which distinguishes Fergus from Fidget, our white boys, when they've been sheared and we have difficulty telling the difference between them for a while! 
We've had more visitors staying with us this week, and this time from Norfolk.  The boys must be the most photographed herd anywhere!  Here they are looking at the strangers coming into their paddock and it's interesting that they group together as if for protection - with the exception of Fergus of course who prefers eating to guarding!  We've had a lot of visitors coming to see the boys, apart from friends and family we've had over 20 people who are interested in alpacas coming to see them during this summer alone.


This is Hannah taking a photo of an approaching Fergus with Wee Eck also getting in on the action.   Hannah panicked a bit after this as all the boys advanced towards her so she ran behind her father and granny who were standing nearby!  It will be interesting to see if Hannah's photo comes out OK.  The boys are always very curious about children, possibly not being able to understand who these 'wee people' are.

And finally........... someone needs a manicure after all the spinning, knitting and crotcheting!!  These are wrist warmers which I've crotcheted from Fidget's fleece.  These are quite easy to crotchet but I think I will extend them next time and make them into mittens.  

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Uh oh - snow!

As soon as I appear in the paddock with the camera, Wee Eck appears as if by magic!  He loves to pose for  photos and usually ends up licking the lens.  He's got the biggest ears in the herd and he likes to show off his dental arrangements when he can.  His father Gotit, also has protruding teeth and he looks, and acts, a lot like him.  There are two very black eyes under the fringe somewhere but you have to get up close to him to see them!

The first snows of the winter appeared on the Beinn this week and this together with the lovely autumnal colours makes for a good shot.  We moved the boys into the bottom paddocks this week so Rufus takes an opportunity to pose in front of a different backdrop.  Rufus continues to settle into the herd, eating apples as if they were going out of fashion, and he does not hum as much now.  He is 'pushy' with his food though and once he finishes his bowl of supplement he tries to muscle into other bowls - unless the owner is Fidget who takes no prisoners when it comes to his food!

Looking north this time. Behind Gaucho is snow covered Ben Wyvis, a Munro at 3432 feet, but you may have to magnify this to see it.

The boys grazing in the early morning sun.  Looking west in this photo.  After taking this photo the boys were penned and we did some vitamin/ mineral drenching and nail clipping.
And finally........I felted this small bag this week from Gotit's fleece (Ardo Alpacas) and I needle felted the red Merino wool flower onto it.  The centre of the flower is fleece from Gotit and Fyta.  I've added some sparkling beads onto the flower.  The handle is adjustable and the fastener is a felted ball.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Pampered boys

This week we had niece Judy and daughter Amy visiting from Cornwall.  This is Amy feeding Wee Eck his apple slices with Fidget behind.  Amy is wearing a knitted headband secured at the back with a handmade birch button.  I hand spun and knitted the garment from Fergus's fleece.
This is Judy also feeding apples to the boys with Fyta (L), Eck in the middle and Faro (R).  Judy is wearing a curly wurly scarf which I hand spun and knitted from Fergus's fleece.
Judy and Amy also made some jewellery using felted alpaca fleece and marino wool linked with wooden beads.   Amy is wearing the necklace which she made.
The boys like a bit of personal attention from time to time and here are Fidget (L) and Fergus  licking the bowls at the end of supplement feeding time and looking for more.
And finally.....at the end of a busy week of posing, being hand-fed and generally pampered, the boys get stuck into their  daily bowls of supplement yesterday.  With 8 boys having a bowl each it's a good job we don't have 20 boys or we would run out of bowls!  They have had their Verm-X granules added to their feed all week and next week we will get dung samples prepared for testing at the Vet lab.  We had a short visit from Lorna and Sandy of Ardo Alpacas yesterday as they were in this area and they dropped off a camelid drench for the boys.  With more visitors due to arrive from Norfolk at the end of next week, the boys are looking forward to even more personal service! 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A busy week

On last week's blog we started with a photo of Fidget absolutely covered in mud.  Just to show that he can be a nice, clean boy (after several showers of rain) here he is again looking like butter wouldn't melt!

We've had a busy week, mostly alpaca related.  We visited Liz a friend who lives near Nairn and she has 4 boys, Ragnar and Hector who are both 10 yrs old and Hamish and Torquil who are 2 yrs old.  Liz has owned Ragnar and Hector for 8 yrs, as well as other alpacas,  and took delivery of the other two boys this year from Ardo alpacas.  This photo shows Hamish (left) and Torquil under the crab apple tree.  Now, our blog readers will know that we give our boys slices of apple daily at this time of year as our wee orchard provides us with more than enough apples.  Liz though goes one better because she shakes the branches of the crab apple tree, the apples fall to the ground and her boys start eating them!  Thats what Hamish and Torquil are up to in this shot and it really is great to see the boys 'hoovering' up the fruit.  The 4 boys get on very well together despite their age differences and Liz says that her old boys are much calmer and approachable now that the young boys are with them.   

We had a very interesting visit this week from Jane Tyrer who is a vet as well as an alpaca breeder in South Africa (www.harmoniealpacas.co.za).  This is Jane giving our 'beefy boys' a professional look over.  She is finding quite a difference between the size and colour of her alpacas to those she is seeing in UK.  On the whole her herd is taller but UK alpacas seem to be generally heavier, apparently.  Jane is very interested in fleece and spinning and she brought along some scarves and waistcoats made from her animals' fleece and they were really lovely.  Accompanying Jane was Isobel Scott (www.naturally-sheepish.co.uk ) who taught me to spin so you can imagine that the conversation was intense and most enjoyable and could have gone on all day!
And finally........ this week has seen lots of fine weather and hot days so the boys were up to their normal tricks in the water trays.  Robbie had just scrubbed and filled the trays when Fyta decided he would take over with the brush!  Fidget is on the left and an amused Fergus on the right.  Wee Eck, our black boy is behind with Gaucho at the rear.  The coming week promises to be busy as we welcome my niece and her daughter to the Highlands.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Rain and rainbows

We've experienced quite a bit of rain recently and some alpacas just love to get themselves into a mess on the wet ground.  This is Fidget,  having got himself thoroughly soaked then proceeded to roll in the dry dust inside the field shelter!  Not such a cuddly boy when he looks like this!
Last Wed evening we had a heavy shower of rain followed by strong sunlight from the West.  The result was a perfect double rainbow but unfortunately I could not get the whole arch in one photo.  Wee Eck as always likes to be the first to check out the camera so his black face and prominent ears usually appear at the front of our photos! 

The cattle at the other end of the rainbow - but no pot of gold (unfortunately!)

Some of the boys getting into a 'Spot the rainbow' mode.

And finally.... I've been busy spinning and crotcheting recently and these are  3 curly wurly scarves I've made.  They are each about 130cm in length.  The outer one is Fergus's fleece and the contrast colour has been achieved by dyeing green (sage).  The middle scarf is from Gully (fawn) and Gaucho (brown) whilst the inner one is from Rufus (dark rose grey) and Turkish (light rose grey).  Turkish is from the Ardo alpaca herd.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Scotch mist

Lots of mist and fog around over the past week or so with one or two stunning days as well.   Here are the boys having been moved to fresh grass in the top paddocks.  Due to the amount of rain we've had, a lochan (small loch!) has appeared at the bottom of one paddock so we fenced it off to stop the boys getting into the water and making a mess.  Before we could get the fencing up Fyta was paddling happily in the water generally splashing around and looking for an opportunity to lie down in it!!  The fencing can be seen behind the boys.
Here is Fidget looking over the fence at the water wondering if he should attempt a leap into the lochan!
And here comes Wee Eck wandering through the mist and wanting to join the fun at the new oasis!
And finally.....Hamish is growing into a big strapping chap and not in the least concerned about howling gales, torrential rain or thick mist.