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, 12 February 2011

Check it out, boys.

Robbie was topping up the sand pits today and this was the cause of great interest amongst the boys.  All except Faro of course who was standing a short distance away having checked out what was happening and decided it was pretty boring!  Gaucho is sniffing the sand and shortly after this, Fidget (far left) got into the sand pit for a closer inspection.
Echo (Wee Eck) has been the subject of much scrutiny by us this week.  We have suspected that he may be deaf when on one or two occasions he did not appear to hear us, but this week he was grazing completely on his own in a fold in the land which hid him from view.  When we found him only about 30 yards away, we called loudly several times and he carried on grazing, then suddenly he looked up, saw the herd was missing and ran towards us.  We now know he is not hearing things and explains some of his actions and reactions.  For instance, he frequently barges into the middle of the herd oblivious to the groaning, moaning and general gnashing of teeth going on around him.  He is only a wee chap so often the spitting goes over his head, literally, then he realises it's being directed at him and he spits back.  He obviously misses the audible warning signs going on all the time when the boys are in close proximity to one another.  The fact that he is deaf makes absolutely no difference to us of course as he is a real charmer - and a bandit! 
Here is Wee Eck with our other deaf boy, Gully, behind.  If you look closely at his front left foot, there is a white patch at the back.  Some alpacas carry the 'white spot gene' which is connected to deafness.  So, does Wee Eck carry this gene and is that why he is deaf?  He has black eyes and is solid black colour otherwise, but Gully has blue eyes which can be associated with deafness.   The Alpaca Vet, Leo Van Merwijk explains the 'blue eyed white' (BEW) alpaca condition very well in his June 2009 blog (www.dierenarts-en-alpaca.blogspot.com) and there is a link to a scientific paper on the subject.  I mention all of this because alpacas are well known for hiding physical ailments or abnormalities - obviously hard wired into their system so as not to appear to be the weak animal to any interested predator!  We know from Gully's behaviour that deafness is very hard to detect sometimes in an animal within the herd - we have to look very hard for a sign in him that he does not hear because he covers it so well.  Clearly, Eck is obviously also good at hiding his inability to hear as we spend a lot of time with our animals and we've only just managed to confirm it.  Wonder if anyone else has an alpaca within their herd who might be deaf and it has not been discovered?  Interesting!  Robbie is always saying that Wee Eck won't do as he's told - now we know why........he can't hear him!
I've crocheted this curly wurly scarf from Fergus (white) and Ardo Gottit (black) fleece.  I carded the two fleeces together before spinning them to see what it would look like.  I'm pleased with the result.   On the right is a ball of Gaucho's spun fleece and I've made a label for it.
And finally............the boys are having a nocturnal visitor in their field shelter.  Mr (or Mrs) Rabbit is becoming a pain in the rear end burrowing holes in the ground!  We blocked one hole with a boulder two nights ago only to discover this morning that the rabbit had made a hole right next to it and scrapped away all the earth and straw as shown above.  The rabbit is either not scared off by the boys in the area  or it's a very big rabbit and the boys are scared!!

8 comments:

  1. You obviously know your animals very well and watch their behaviour....so you have noticed Wee Eck and his behaviour...which easily could be missed.....in a larger herd. Lovely scarf.....Jayne

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  2. Just to echo Jayne's comments...it is lovely that Wee Eck has such a loving and caring home...Bless him!

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  3. very interesting about the deafness Shirley - do you have a sandpit as a rolling pit because your 'soil' is too rocky, or too muddy?

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  4. Hi Dave, We have the sand pits because the boys just love to roll in the sand. It's also quite cool on their bellies on a hot day, so they like that. They certainly keep cleaner in the sand pit than in the mud! Shirley & Robbie

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  5. Good point, sand is much cleaner than mud!

    The black and white looks really nice together and I love your curly scarf. I want to do one but have only ever found crochet patterns, so how do you knit it?

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  6. Hi Debbie To knit curly wurly scarf
    Cast on 15 stitches
    1st row - knit across all 15 stitches
    Nest row - knit 2 - turn knit back 2
    Next row - knit 4 - turn knit back 4
    next row - knit 6 - turn knit back 6
    Next row knit across all 15 sts
    repeat above on other on other side
    You can make the scarf as long as you like
    If you want it wider/thinner add/deduct 4 sts always leaving 3 in the centre.

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  7. Hi Debbie

    The black and white scarf was crocheted, my mistake but knitted ones are nice too. They are very popular.

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  8. Hi Shirley, Bev from Lane House Alpacas here. I've been enjoying your blog for some time, my favourite little guy is Wee Eck, I think he may be like our smallest, and youngest by a whole 5 weeks, Noah.
    We were wondering what your sand pits were used for?

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