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, 20 August 2011

Feeding frenzy!

The boys love their feed supplement which they receive every day about 4.00pm.  By mid afternoon they congregate near the paddock gate in anticipation of the humans approaching with grub!  They have individual bowls as trough feeding does not work for us - too many arguments.  They had Verm-X granules every day last week mixed in with their feed and this is given on a monthly basis.  Here the boys have just cleaned out their bowls and Fyta (front) carries out a double check of all of them to make sure there are no morsels left!
Fyta (left) is getting very clear audible and visual warnings from Wee Eck to keep out of his bowl.  Eck is normally last to finish but refuses to budge from his bowl if any is left and will jump at any of the bigger boys if they persist in trying to steal his food.  Some of the boys, Faro for instance, will back off his bowl if any of the others approach and trying to make sure that they all get their share can sometimes be difficult.
Here is Fidget (rear) growling at Rufus and warning him not to come near his bowl!   Rufus often tries stealing food and if discovered and challenged takes up this pose of standing absolutely still, neck down, ears back waiting for the aggro to subside.  Fidget will not allow any of the other boys near his bowl - except Wee Eck who can't hear the warnings  and doesn't care anyway - and just pushes his way in!
Gaucho doing his happy camel impersonation after his feed!
Our friend Ken travelled up from London for a few days holiday and this was his first meeting with the boys.  Gaucho is wary but prepared to check out if there is anything in Ken's hand.  We had other visitors this week when two local ladies called to arrange a future visit by their ramblers group  The boys will enjoy all the attention that day.
So now we know what Ken really thinks of Fergus (front) and the other boys!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Windy days in the garden

It's funny how the animals decide to lie down as a group sometimes.  Often they prefer to be spread around the paddock with yards between each alpaca, then at other times they gather together.  When this photo was taken there was a very strong wind blowing and we've noticed that the boys often 'go to ground' during gales, so perhaps it's a protection thing.  Certainly other animals like cows and sheep seem to do the same thing in certain weather conditions.
Fidget (left), Gully (Front) with Fergus at the rear.  We had a lovely couple visiting yesterday from Skye and Fergus was on his best 'visitor friendly' behaviour getting plenty of neck rubs.  Yesterday was the best day of the week with plenty of sunshine whilst the rest of the week has been a bit of a wash-out, so the boys got to sunbathe for a while.
Fyta with Gaucho lying next to him, Rufus's head just appearing and Wee Eck in the background.  Whilst Fyta is not into neck rubs and stroking unless he's feeling very generous, he is perfectly at ease with us and we can walk all round him when he is down like this and he does not move.
An unusual pose from Faro who, being the guard normally gets to his feet when humans are around.  His tail is up in recognition however and he watches every move we make.  He's a lovely chap and he gets plenty of neck rubs and hugs from us because he does enjoy that.  
Now to things gardening.  Here are the maturing grapes in the Keder greenhouse, just beginning to turn from green to a ruby red colour.  They are already sweet to taste.  We are not quite at the point of taking off our socks and shoes and tramping them yet though!
At the edge of one of the paddocks is this Tulip tree (Liriodendron), part of the magnolia family and seen blowing in the strong wind.  They have a distinctive leaf shape and take 25 years to produce flowers!   It is steadily growing and we were a bit concerned that it may be harmful to the boys as they can try to nibble it through the mesh fence, so we keep it trimmed.  I checked on the internet and it seems that alpacas have been known to eat it without harmful effects - but we will still keep it trimmed! 
And finally.........this strange plant is in a shaded part of our garden.  We planted it several years ago, but as usual, the name tag has gone with the wind - ages ago!   We think that it is a member of the Trillium family and this year has produced these colourful seed pods looking just like big plums.  If anyone out there knows the correct name, then please let us know.  Ta.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rainy day routine

We're catching the heavy rain which many of you have had in the south.  Yesterday's TV weather forecast showed that Barnacre Alpacas (www.barnacre-alpacas.co.uk) in Northumberland were going to get a soaking (and they did!) before sending the downpours north into Scotland.  Thanks for that Debbie!  Here are Gaucho (front) and Faro looking out of the steading into the pouring rain.  It hasn't been like this all week though and we've had some good, warm  days.   We managed to get 48 square bales of hay during a good day from Karen and Dave who have 3 alpaca boys and who farm and run a farm shop at nearby Beauly (www.robertsonstomichfarmshop.co.uk)
Wee Eck(L), Fergus(M) and Rufus(R) looking out of one of the shelters into the rain and wondering whether it is  worth getting wet - again!  As always the hay buckets have been emptied and kicked/carried around the shelter.
Wee Eck does his dental flossing smile whilst Gully peeps around the door, with Fyta behind and Fidge in the background.  The boys are looking a bit sleepy this morning probably due to the fact that last night was the final one of the nearby Belladrum tartan heart music festival so 12 hours of throbbing music and a fireworks display around midnight would have interrupted their snoozing.  The festival has been a great success again with the 16000 tickets being sold out months ago, the weather has been pretty good - until last night when the rain arrived and the wellies proved their worth!  Eat yer hairt oot, Glastonbury! 
You have to get wet at some point and Faro leads the machos out of the comfort of their bed & breakfast accommodation into the rain.
Gaucho gets out in the rain for his breakfast.