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 April 2011

Messing about.

Nice weather this week, frosty first thing until the sun gets up, then really nice.  It gives the boys an opportunity to laze around or mess about in the water trays.  Faro keeps a wary eye as usual on the photographer whilst his pals Fyta and Gaucho play in the water.  Gully is on the far left and Wee Eck on the right.  This week we put a dung sample into the Vet Lab in Inverness and have since had the 'all clear' for fluke and worms, which is good news.  We do this dung analysis twice a year.
Still watching the photographer, Faro is in front of Gaucho who is now in the tray.  It's taken Gaucho a wee while to venture into the water but he's now doing it.
Fergus is lying by the tray with Fyta in it as usual and just about to pick up the watering can!   Fyta has a habit of picking up watering cans, hay buckets and feeding bowls and depositing them in other parts of the paddock.  He loves Robbie's work gloves and pulled one off and ran away with it on one occasion.  Fyta was one of our original 4 boys, four years ago and initially he was very wary of us, always holding back.  Now he's always on the front line when something new is going to happen and loves to play.  Faro and Wee Eck are looking on.
Boss-man playing with Faro in the key of G!
After a fairly hectic event last night at a neighbours to celebrate the royal wedding in the Highland tradition, it was a kilt swinging, bagpipe and fiddle playing, Gaelic singing session with a slightly slurred rendition of 'Mhairi's Wedding' and rounded off with various eightsome reels and the 'Dashing White Sergeant' - it was good to relax in the veg garden this morning and clear the head!  Some of the veg plots have been planted up and others wait for rotovation with the excellent Mantis rotovator.  The early tatties are well advanced in the Keder polytunnel so we are looking forward to the first tasting.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Easter everyone!

This is Gully with Fergus behind him.  We've had him for nearly two years and for some time we had to use different creams  and 'Ruggle-it' on his ears, between his front legs and on his belly because of bald patches.  The skin on the inside of his ears in particular was dry and 'crusty' looking.  Now the inside of his ears are nice and hairy and we haven't had to use the cream for some time although we keep checking him.  He's a lovely boy, blue eyes and a bit deaf and  light fawn in colour with long eye lashes.
First thing in the morning and it's chill out time for the boys with their individual piles of haylage  (we're on the last bag!)  They always look totally relaxed like this although Faro, 3rd from left, remains alert with his tail flicked up in recognition of Robbie taking the photo.  Faro is one of those alpacas who is very choosy with his food, will not push and shove in the queue and is easily distracted when eating his supplement.  During the past couple of weeks or so he has decided that he does not want his supplement, taking only a mouthful then carries on grazing, whilst all the other boys empty their dishes.  We're keeping an eye on him and he's had a mineral drench today but he's grazing well and does not seem 'out of sorts.'
Time for a catch pen check-up today and here are, from left, Fergus, Gully and Fyta all with that "Here we go again" look on their faces!  Fergus was not in the mood for nail trimming today although we persevered - only for him to 'cush' continually.  Some days are diamonds etc.......
Same catch pen, same look of resignation!  From left, Fyta, Wee Eck (look at his one tooth showing!) and Gaucho.
And finally..........Pansy Potter lounging around the conservatory.  She's 15yrs of age now so she's ageing gracefully and does tend to sleep a lot.  She keeps her distance from the boys who when they see her are all immediately 'on alert' and run towards her at the fence line.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

A busy week.

Here's a lovely piece of seasonal marketing - Easter chocolate slab, all the way from the Island of Coll!  Clever eh?  This was given to us by Gill and Ian who were visiting Inverness from the island, and being alpaca addicts, really needed a fix.  So far I've been able to keep Robbie away from the chocolate, but with Easter fast approaching I think I'm onto a loser.
Here are the bearers of the lovely chocolate gift, Gill and Ian, soaking up the 'paca atmosphere whilst the boys enjoy the last swede from the winter veg garden.  Fyta is at the front, Fidget behind Ian and Faro and Rufus at the side.  The weather just about held during the visit and didn't stop Fyta getting into the water tray for a splashing.
Gill and Ian managed to get some hands on work carried out with the boys in the catch pen which everyone enjoyed.  Faro is being led by Gill here, going off in a westerly direction - probably towards the ferry as she tries to sneak off home with the brown boy!  Ian and Gill live on a lovely island, have croft land with a beach and are just dying to get their own 'pacas.   Just a matter of building their house first, then a field shelter........or vice versa if Gill gets her way!  Spinning and felting are two of Gill's hobbies so there was plenty to look at and sample.  A lovely visit and the pair are now experiencing 'paca withdrawal symptoms back on Coll!
More visitors this week with a flying visit from Lorna and Sandy of Ardo Alpacas who were in the area making a delivery to a new owner - congratulations Deborah!  Here we are with the boys getting re-acquainted with their old Mum & Dad.  Wee Eck's transitional teeth are causing some amusement with one large tooth still in place whilst the other one was acquired recently by a tooth fairy.
Faro gets a kiss from Lorna whilst the other boys line up for their one...........all except Fergus who lets nothing get in the way of food! 
And finally.........Rufus!  Often a bit of a 'hummer', like Fergus, but a lovely boy who has settled down well with us over the last 9 months.  Apart from visits this week I also attended an afternoon course on 'Animal communication and animal healing', run by Louise Wallace at Dingwall.  The course was very informative and included alternative therapies which I find very interesting.  Happy Easter to all bloggers when it arrives!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

This is more like it!

This is more like Spring weather - at last!  Like most of UK we've had some lovely weather this week, a bit misty sometimes before the sun burns it off, but by afternoon it is really warm.  The flowers and plants are opening up and the bees are out and about.  This 'over the fence' shot shows some of the border colours, then over Robbie's veg plots waiting for some spade action, to the paddock at the far side where some of the boys are lying in the sun.  We moved them this week from the top paddocks to the bottom two paddocks so that they can enjoy the fresh grass.  We've had them in the catch pen, trimmed a few nails, snipped a fringe and had their halters on to give them a little 'walkie.'  We've also had a visit from a gentleman who writes articles for the local community newspaper, so we hope to see our fellas in the local 'Boy's Own' soon!
Much to the delight of some of the boys the sunny weather meant that it was time to get one of the water trays out.  As soon as it was on the ground and almost before we could get water into it, Fyta had got down to cool off his (remaining) bits!  He loves this and Fergus also loves the water - here he is waiting for Fyta to clear off.
Yeeeeeeesssssss!  Fergus gets his turn.  He likes to stand in the tray and flick the water backwards and upwards between his legs.  He stands there whilst I flick the water for him too.  Faro has a different approach - he likes to stand in the tray then bend down, get his top knot dripping then stretches out his neck so that I can flick water under his chin.  Spoiled?  My boys? - Never!
Fyta stands in the increasingly muddy water with Faro watching the photographer, Fergus behind and Rufus in the background.
And finally..........Gaucho tries the new grass with Wee Eck further away and Fidget at the bottom of the paddock, keeping an eye on sheep in the adjoining field.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Drookit!

March went out as it came in - with a gale and plenty of rain.  In fact we've had a real mixture of weather in the last week from warm sun, gales, rain and last night a dusting of the cold white stuff reappeared on the hills.  All 4 of our field shelters for the boys are permanently open and they choose when they want shelter.  Sometimes they will be out grazing in the pouring rain and think nothing of it then sometimes it will start to rain and they all run in, in a long line.  Hailstones have them running for cover every time!  Here are Fyta (left) and Fergus having put up with lots of rain deciding that they will take a bit of shelter and chew the cud!
Standing in the rain and looking suitably 'drookit' are Gaucho (left), Gully (centre) and Faro who has bent down and flicked up his tail in recognition.  The water has built up at the bottom of the paddock again but the temporary fencing is keeping the boys out of most of it. 
Faro with his tail flicked up again, the only boy to do this.  He does not like the camera being pointed at him, unlike Gully (left) who will pose all day!  Rufus and Wee Eck are in the background.
And after all the rain comes a little bit of sun and Fyta takes advantage of it.  Shortly he will start to sunbathe, lying on his side with his belly facing the sun.  Rufus is grazing behind him.  We're going to put the boys in the other two paddocks next week which will be a pleasant change of grass for them. They've started looking over the fence and humming, so they obviously want a change! They will also have daily Verm-X granules mixed with their food all next week and we'll do a Vet lab check of their poo later in the month.  Deep joy!