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, 26 June 2011

Whisky with rain water!

What a week for shearing!  On Monday, James & Kym arrived after shearing on Skye, did our boys and  3 other small local herds then moved on to Jayne at Zanzibah.  We got the best day of the week as Tuesday turned out to be a dreadful day although Zanzibah were sheared as you will have seen from Jayne's blog.  The weather for the rest of the week stayed wet with sunny spells.  This played havoc with James's shearing list and he will be returning to finish off those he could not shear.  I think we all know how differently many of the alpacas behave as soon as they are sheared as they look different, and perhaps smell slightly different to each other after the fleece comes off.  This is Faro, herd guard, immediately after shearing when he strutted his stuff around the paddock.
The rest of the boys are in the catch pen waiting to be sheared and can't quite understand why Faro looks so different.  Faro paraded in front of them for quite a while as if to say, "It's OK guys, it's me - honest!"  Then as each boy in turn was sheared there was a lot of smelling of each other and quite a bit of spitting until things settled down.
No chance of mistaking Wee Eck, even after shearing, with those big radar scanner lugs and his shiny tooth!
What a poppet - Fergus!
Gully looking a little bewildered shortly after the clip - but he soon recovered and was running around with the others, jumping in the air, high kicking with his back legs and obviously pleased to have his fleece off.
Rufus has ended up looking rather elegant after the clip.  He had his protruding teeth seen to and his fighting teeth snipped but he didn't enjoy that part of the procedure.  Within minutes however he was grazing peacefully with the others. 
And finally....... as we have a bachelor herd we can't compete with all the lovely cria photos from the other blogs.   However, friends Angie & Ian had a visit from James on Fri morning but unfortunately the animals were too wet to shear.   Coco (mum) had a due date some time in July, but 2 hours after James had visited she decided that as shearing wasn't an option and the rain had stopped, she might as well give birth to Whisky.  This is Angie and Ian's first alpaca birth, so well done you two and Coco - and welcome to Whisky country  -  Whisky! 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Shearing is nearing!

It's an alpaca's life, lying in the sun, soaking up the morning rays!  Fyta is a real sun lover, getting down and pointing his belly at the sun whenever he can.  It's always a bit heart-stopping seeing an alpaca like this initially, as many of you know, and it's always a relief when the animal lift's it's head to confirm that it is OK.  Fyta is lying here next to Gaucho with an assortment of hay buckets thrown around the shelter - also the work of Fyta!
Heads down, grazing time again.  The cloudy sky was the first sign that heavy rain was about to descend .  We still have a section of this paddock 'fenced off' as the large pool of water refuses to budge - normally by this time of the year it is completely dry but we've had so much rain over the past month that it is still there.
Rufus (left) and Gully grazing head to head.  The boys are due to have a visit from James the shearer on Monday afternoon so their thick coats will soon be in bags!  When this photo was taken this morning they were all nice and dry but would you believe they are now soaking after another day of rain.  The forecast is a bit better for tomorrow (Sunday) which I hope will give them a chance to dry out, if not they'll have to be inside tomorrow night to make sure they are ready for their Monday perm.  James will do the small herds in this part of the world before heading along the coast to Jayne at Zanzibah to do her lovely beasties.  On Tues and Wed he will be in Moray and Aberdeenshire shearing bigger herds and we hope to catch up with him again then.
And finally........... an update on Duncan (Hunkey - Dunkey) the Buff Orpington cockerel we were given recently.  He's settled in really well with his three hens and this is a shot of him with one of them, 'Buttercup.'  We bred her ourselves with several others 8 years ago, so she is doing very well.  Her mother was a Sicilian Buttercup breed, well known as 'flyers' and this little girl can still get over an 8 feet high enclosure with no problem!  She is still laying as is another of the trio who is also 8 years old, and the third is a Maran who is 5 years old, so they must be happy hens for sure.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Early ablutions

Fyta loves water, as did his mum,  Ardo Pie.  Here he is getting ready for the morning ablution.  The boys have just over a week to wait before James arrives to shear them.  Fortunately the weather hasn't been excessively hot this year, the sun only very hot on occasional days and often cooled by wind or clouds.  The boys are grateful for this but it will still be a relief for them with their coats off.
It looks slightly undignified, but he knows what he is doing.
Almost there now.
Thats it - now for a soak!
Gully is not over keen on water and he doesn't get in the water tray at all.  Here he is with his pal Gaucho behind in the shelter.
The veg garden continues to work it's wonders.  This photo was taken early this morning with the mist just beginning to clear in the background.  The peas, runner beans and broad beans in the middle plots are doing well with the tatties behind them also growing.  The brassica (cabbage, cauliflowers etc) are growing slowly as are the two plots of swedes which are for the boys during the coming winter.  The poly tunnel is producing lovely early tatties and baby carrots from thinning will start this week.  The wee plants have had to put up with some horrendous weather since they were planted, but once they get going, they soon catch up.
And finally.......the fact that we are going through peanuts by the sackful just now is down to this little fellow and his pals!  We have families of Blue Tits like this, totally unfazed by humans at this early stage in their lives plus Sparrows, Siskins, Green Finches and Woodpeckers devouring the nuts as if they are going out of business!  We also have a red squirrel who loves peanuts but he's harder to photograph with our modest camera as he's shy and keeps his distance.  If the RSPB wonder where all the Sparrows have gone from the south, they're here in our hedge!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Lazy bones

The boys are not the earliest of risers in a morning and are usually still lying in or near their shelters around 8.00am when we change their water and hay.  Occasionally they are up early for a spot of grazing, but they drift back, lie down and get on with cud chewing.  All our shelters face east with the back of the shelters against the prevailing westerly weather.  This means that on most mornings, especially sunny mornings the boys can be found in the shelters, lying down, facing the rising sun, eyes closed and slowly chewing the cud.  A peaceful picture but one not easily captured on camera because as soon as we appear, they get up and start moving around.  Here are some of the boys having an early scratch and stretch!  Only then do they get on with the serious business of grazing.
'Bonnie boy' Gaucho with his dark eye surrounds, gets up and is ready for another day.
Wee Eck can be slow to get going, and being deaf, he takes his lead from what the rest of the herd get up to.
Any opportunity to pose for the camera suits Fergus, with Fyta behind.
And finally.........even though this looks minuscule on the photo, it is actually adult size.  May was such an awful month for bad weather I spent some time knitting this waistcoat.  It is Fidget's fleece, chunky spun with a hand made birch button.  It knitted up quite quickly.