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, 25 September 2011

Queue jumper!

It's been a wet week but this morning dawned bright, and a bit chilly and autumnal.  Not the sort of morning for midges and beasties to be flying around, but they were about - and the boys knew it.  When the beasties are about the boys either use the water trays, the sand pits or the back of the shelter - or a combination of all three, to get out of their way.   Fyta was first to trot up to the tray and dunk his feet.
This seemed like a good idea so the other boys gather round, Fergus (left) with Gully grazing behind, then Wee Eck (note his teeth!), Rufus, Gaucho and Faro looking over the hedge.
It's not long before Fyta is nudged out so he gives the water trough a try........
He's back into the tray but by now Fergus has decided to get the deckchair and towel out for a bit of poolside sunbathing whilst Wee Eck and Rufus work out how to tackle the '4 in a tray won't go' problem.
Not one to bother with queueing for anything, Wee Eck shoo's the other boys away and gets in!  Rufus is not happy about this and the pair start moaning and groaning at each other and showing their visible warnings - noses facing up in the air, ears back, teeth showing - this will lead to spitting if one or the other doesn't move!  
Now this is a first for Rufus - we've never actually seen him standing in the water tray before.  He and Wee Eck joined the herd just over a year ago and whilst Eck is always in the thick of the herd action, Rufus is much more reserved and usually to be found on the edges of the group.  Over the past year he has become much less of a loner and more willing to participate in the herd's activities, although he can be troublesome at feed time (as last week's blog describes!)  We've often seen him watching the other boys going into the tray but he's never been bold enough to try it himself.  Well done Roofie!
But the last word goes to Eck, who perhaps because of his deafness, is rarely deflected from what he wants to do - he just pushes forward and goes ahead and does it!  So having moaned and groaned and got rid of the competition, he now has the tray to himself for a morning soak.    Result!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ladders and 'boys from the green stuff!'

This has been a week of mixed weather, some days very wet, some very windy and wet but on Thursday it was glorious.  Now that the wasps pose less of a problem, we've been trying to get our very long hedge cut before the winter.  The routine is always the same, the rain stops, out comes the orchard ladder and up come the boys to check it out.  All except Faro (front) that is who prefers his guarding duty of checking out the photographer.
Although they've seen the ladder many times, it still needs to be thoroughly checked each time it is erected!  From the left, Fyta, Gully, Fidget, Wee Eck and Gaucho.
'Ol blue eyes' Gully with Fidget behind.
Gaucho with Faro, Fyta and Rufus behind.
As soon as the next heavy shower of rain comes on the boys bolt to the field shelter - no point in being  wet when with  little effort you can be perfectly dry!
Fergus (front) and Rufus sheltering from the rain.  Rufus looks like 'butter wouldn't melt'  but he got a severe telling off on Wed at feed time.  Just occasionally, when the feed arrives, he will spit at all the boys around him as if to shoo them away from the food.  It certainly works because his spit smells horrible, all the others can't eat, then they start sneezing.  Rufus started sneezing too, his mouth full of green stuff but that didn't stop him eating!  All the others stand around, unable to eat and looking at him as if to say, "What's he like?!"  One particularly smelly mouthful hit Robbie on the back of the head (tee he!) ensuring that Rufus got the pointed finger, stern look and "Bad boy, Rufus" routine !
Best pals ( despite the halitosis), Rufus (left) and Wee Eck lie down whilst the rain pours down outside!  We also had a flying visit yesterday between the showers from Lorna and Sandy of Ardo Alpacas, where all the boys came from.  They seem to know Lorna each time she visits and gather around her, something they don't do with any other visitor.  Perhaps the fact that she was feeding them a grape or two from the greenhouse had something to do with her popularity this time!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A couple of heavyweights and a hungry rabbit!

Not one for missing out on any food, this is Fergus in the foreground, sporting a healthy girth!  A mention of  slightly heavy 'pacas from Barbara at Beckbrow Alpacas (www.beckbrowalpacas.blogspot.com)) in her recent blog has prompted me to display our heavy twosome, both white boys, so perhaps it's in their genes.  In the background is Fyta, with black trousers which just about get around his waist!
White boy No2 is Fidget who also likes his food.  Here he is having just polished off his feed, he hears a dog barking at the neighbouring farm so gives the possible threat his immediate attention.
Some of the other boys pick up the noise and assess the threat.  All except deaf boy Wee Eck at the front who hears nothing and in any case prefers to have his photo taken!
A head shot of Gully having just had his feed.  In the background a serious discussion ensues as Wee Eck decides to clamp a plastic lid in his mouth and give it a good chewing!
And now, the pesky rabbit!  Some years we have serious amounts of rabbits in the area, and some years we seem to have none.  This is a bad year for them and try as we do to keep them out of the garden, especially the veg garden, we often fail miserably.  One wee bunny continues to manage to hide and escape from the veg garden but whilst there manages to create this type of damage to the Savoy cabbage.  The older plants are in the background but the rabbit prefers the younger plants at the front.  He/she has also given serious chew-time to the carrots, broccoli and cauliflowers.  Fortunately the swedes being grown for the boys have not yet been attacked.  We've tried all the nice ways to get rid of it (leaving the gate open and 'shooing' it out), but to no avail.  Eventually  the blunderbuss will have to get used if it doesn't decide to emigrate soon!
In an effort to beat the rabbits we planted some cauliflowers (right) in the Keder greenhouse.  They have grown huge leaves due to the warmer growing environment and the heads are only now beginning to become large and white.  This is really an outdoor vegetable, but at least we've beaten the bunny!   The remainder of the carrot crop are on the left and the two vines are at the bottom end.
And finally the score...............Robbie 1,  Rabbit 0!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ready, steady - GO!

A change of paddock and new grass coming up for the boys any time now.   It's almost as if they sense what is going to happen!       Ready.........
Their suspicions (and hopes) are raised when mum arrives and starts fiddling with the gate.  Steady.........
GO!!      Yippee, here we go then with the charge being led by Faro, naturally,  then Fergus, Fyta, Wee Eck, Gully, Fidget, Gaucho and Rufus standing back being a bit suspicious of what is going on!   After this the boys go running and jumping around the paddock, checking out and rolling in the field shelters then settling down to a bit of grazing.   We've been changing paddocks around every 5 weeks during the summer so that the boys can get the best of the grass.  
Next morning it's lie-in time in the shelters - (it's lie-in time every morning in the shelters!) with Fidget (left)  Fergus (back) and Fyta lying down and Faro on his feet and guarding!  This shelter has an opaque sheeted roof which makes it lighter inside.
Next door things are stirring - just!  Gaucho (left) and Rufus (back) are lying down whilst Gully (middle) and Wee Eck are up and about.   Wee Eck has had his head in the hay bucket and is sporting his 'adornments'.  This shelter has a dark sheeted roof, making the inside much darker and preferred by some of the boys when the insects and midges start biting as the insects don't seem to gather in darker places.
There is more than enough room for the 8 boys in 2 shelters although they can often congregate in  just one, but they do also like to spread themselves around.  No point in having 'pacas if you can't spoil them eh?  You can see the effect the different roof sheeting makes to the inside of the shelters.
Faro calling time on the photographer again - I think his expression means, "Shove off now!"   He too has had his head in the hay buckets to achieve his morning 'adornments!'