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, 30 January 2011

Anticipation

We gathered up the boys this week into the catch pen.  You can see the the anticipation on their faces - or is it dread?  We didn't have to use the long white sticks to guide them into the pen as they almost went in of their own accord, clever boys.  Faro who is at the very front of the photo is the least comfortable in the pen, always anxious to get out so when we've finished doing our work with them, we lead him out first.  He is then completely relaxed.
The halters are now on, at the last hole of the fastener due to the thickness of their neck fleece. The three guys in the middle are Fidget (L), Fyta in the middle and Gully (R).  Fidget is the least happy to have the halter fitted, but once it's on, he's fine.
Here is Rufus, halter fitted and (almost) ready for a wee walk and getting a neck rub with the back of my hand.  I always use the back of my hand for neck rubs.   I've noticed that Rufus is now quite relaxed whilst having his halter fitted whereas when he first arrived last year he usually tensed up, although never refused the fitting.  As he's settled into the herd he's become more dominant, pushing and shoving himself into the group and spitting into the air if he's not happy with the others.  He's a lovely chap though and when he gets a bit above himself Wee Eck comes along and brings him down a peg or two!
Fyta eating his sugar beet.  I've been trying to capture on camera something which only Fyta does in the herd.  If another animal comes near his bowl when he's eating, he puts his right foot into the bowl as if to say, "This is mine" and if necessary, will overturn the bowl.  He frequently does this but never when we have the camera handy........one day!
And finally.........a long shot from a dip in the field showing the boys on the sky line in their paddock with the snowy Beinn in the background.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Better weather

We paid a visit last week to friends Ian and Angie who have recently become alpaca owners!  They have four, Bianca  and Coco and their cria,  Twix and Honey.  They are lovely animals and have settled down well and have discovered an instant liking for sliced carrots!  Angie now has the task of deciding what she will do with the lovely baby alpaca fleece which she will have after this year's shearing.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Colourful hats and wellies come to visit!

Today was the first day this week that all the snow has melted and most of the sheet ice has gone.  The boys have spent the week sliding around the paddocks, an alarming sight when four legs go in different directions at once!  Quite dangerous for humans to walk on too and I note from other blogs that some of you have experienced similar conditions.  The ground is still frozen solid but at least the grass can be nibbled.   Due to the conditions we didn't get to clipping Fergus's nails - next week for sure.  Fergus is in the front of this picture with Wee Eck (L) behind and Gully (R) behind and Rufus and the other boys at the back.  They've been out in the squally conditions all day so they are pretty damp!
We had a visit today from old friends Dorothy and Barry, daughter Emma and just 4 of the grandchildren.  Snazzy wellies and hats were on display and essential against the cold whilst plenty of 'happy snaps' were taken with the boys.
Gaucho, Rufus and Gully have never seen such a gathering of Peruvian hats and ponchos!
Emma Louise (L) is wearing a Fergus curly-wurly scarf but still seems to be feeling the chill.  Fergus, Gully and Rufus are looking for more apple slices which they've just been fed by the visitors.
And finally........Grandad Barry with (L) Hannah, Lily, Emma Louise and Lucy with Grandma Dorothy on the extreme left, recording a memorable visit to see the 'pacas.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Swede time again.

Gaucho (left) and Gully, two pals who arrived here during summer 09 waiting with the other boys this afternoon, for their bit of daily swede.  These two lovely boys who are not yet 4 yrs old,  still like to play together and do a bit of neck wrestling.
Also waiting to use a bit of turnip floss is Rufus.  We've still got a wee bit of snow here and the temperature isn't getting much above freezing today.
Rufus with Wee Eck, a suitable case for James Dixon's dental skills at shearing time this year!  Eck continues to be the bandit of the herd, smallest in size but afraid of none of the others, especially Rufus the biggest boy with whom he often has arguments.  Eck loves to muscle into the other boys' food bowls, and if he is told off, he sulks!  He growls and moans like blazes though when one of the others tries to pinch his food!
This is what the've been waiting for - a bit of (frozen) swede to gnaw.  They love it, and it keeps their teeth lovely and clean.  From the left, this is Fyta, Faro and Rufus.
And finally.........the long shot, looking west to a snowy Strath Glass.  All the boys have their heads down, chewing their swedes.  Fidget (front, right) looks like he's been enjoying a roll in the muck - as usual!  The boys will have their Verm-X granules during the coming week and if the weather permits, we'll do a bit of nail clipping and halter work (I can hear them groaning already!!)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year to everyone - best wishes for 2011.

Some mornings at this time of year, the light is really beautiful.  This was taken on Boxing Day at 8.15am, and the 'light show' lasted for about 10minutes whilst the boys were enjoying their breakfast haylage.  This is looking in a south easterly direction, over the hill to Loch Ness, then over the Grampian Mountains and beyond.
'Beefy Boy' Fergus looking to add to the poo pile as the 'light show' ends and daylight breaks.
Left to right, Fyta, Fergus and Fidget, 3 of our original 4 boys who have been together for  nearly 5 years.  They know each other well but that does not stop them having a bit of 'argy-bargy' when it comes to sorting out bed-spaces in the shelter and invading each other's personal space!  Fyta and Fergus are avoiding eye contact, heads in the air and spitting/snorting/grunting in the air as warnings to each other.
Two minutes later, male egos satisfied, they settle down to chew the cud.  If you magnify this shot you will see Fergus has a droopy lower lip as a result of his spitting.  The inside of the shelter shows that the boys are quite happy to try to build a poo pile in the middle area - but they have no chance with Robbie carrying out his regular 'poop patrol' duties !  Several minutes after this photo was taken, Rufus came along with a look which said, "Move over the bed a bit"....... 
And then there were 4!
And finally.........Christmastime TV has to be viewed sparingly in our opinion, so for something completely different from the normal pastimes of spinning, knitting and crotcheting we got stuck into a 1000 piece jigsaw.  It just got bigger and bigger, starting on the jig saw mat, moved to the bigger coffee table then ended up on a large piece of chipboard on the kitchen table - should have checked the dimensions before we started!  It took our spare time over 3 days to complete, we took the photo, then broke it up and put it back in the box.  What was that all about, eh?!
This is 'sair heed' day in this part of the world following last night's celebrations - hope your 'heed' isn't too 'sair' today.  Enjoy!