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 October 2011

Carrots and rainbows

Rufus earlier this week as he waits for some carrot.  When he joined the herd last summer Rufus was quite shy and wouldn't come too close even at feed times.  He would never try carrots, apples or any other tit bits which were offered at first but was always interested in why the other boys were munching these strange things!  Since then he has grown to love any snacks on offer. 
Fergus on the other hand was never a shy lad when it came to food and here he is leading the queue for carrots.
If you enlarge this photo you'll see that Gaucho has a piece of carrot and is happily chewing it.
This trio, from the left Fyta, Gaucho and Wee Eck, all trying to get the piece of carrot on offer...Eck won!
Gully (left) and Gaucho.  These two boys joined the herd two years ago and are firm friends, often having a wrestle or nipping each other's ankles.  When it comes to food however they will still growl or spit at each other if there is any stealing going on from the food bowls!
Early one morning last week the variation of sunlight, shadow and the appearance of  a bright rainbow made for an interesting photo.  Pity about the limitations of our camera (and the male photographer!)
Wee Eck - "Rainbow?"      "What rainbow?"

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Sunday Post!

It's been a week of really dismal weather, lots of rain making the paddocks very muddy, gales, some sun and earlier in the week, a heavy dusting of snow on the hills.  This morning dawned brighter with Fidget up and about early on for a nibble on the grass.  He takes on this quizzical look when the camera is around, unsure if it's something to eat!
We've also had frosts this week as can be seen on Wee Eck's back. 
Gaucho standing near the catch pen and showing off his lovely colour.  It's good to see that the boys' fleece is now thickening up nicely for the coming winter.
Fyta and his Bermuda shorts!
Gully with his two-tone coloured top knot.
Next door to the boys in the bottom paddocks are the chicken runs.  Now that the weather has turned much colder, the birds have decided to moult and the chicken house is full of discarded feathers.  It happens every year and the hens start to look like a sorry bunch with one losing it's tail feathers completely.  'Duncan' doesn't look at his best now but he'll be resplendent in the new year ready to show off to his ladies.  The Maran (top left) is a young bird but the other two hens are now 8 years old and have taken on a new lease of life since Dunk arrived in early summer.
And finally........ adding a splash of Autumn colour to the garden is this Acer tree with the remnants of the Crocosmia (Montbretia) plants beneath it.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Visitors galore!

This has been a week of visitors, much enjoyed by the boys because they know there will always be some carrots and apples on offer!  Last Sunday we had a welcome surprise visit from Mabel and Imantz who have alpacas, Kune Kune pigs and various other breeds at their Aberdeenshire croft.  Mabel presented me with a bag of Hebridean sheep wool to spin and I'm finding it to be a totally different 'feel' when spinning.   Thanks Mabel.  Gully (left) and Fergus weigh up the chances of getting some goodies.
Is this looking at the finer points of male alpacas or just deciding that some members of the herd would do well on a Weightwatcher's  course?
Early in the week we had a visit from friend Iona, her two girls and their friends.  This was a first time experience of alpacas for the children who followed this up with a look at the hens.  Following a question from one of the girls Robbie was left explaining how the one egg in the henhouse arrived there and how it could end up as a chicken.  An interesting lesson in biology, although probably a bit scrambled!  Thank you for the chocolates girls - the photographer really enjoys them!
Mid week saw a visit from Dwynwen and her family from Inverness.  This was interesting because the family had previously seen the boys in their paddocks as they passed and Dwynwen got in contact to arrange a visit, not only to see the boys but to talk about spinning, fleece etc.  She is a terrific hand-knitter and designer with a very interesting blog     ( www.dwynwen.wordpress.com) which now has a feature on the boys and the family's visit.  The boys loved the carrots they brought - spoiled again - thanks folks.
Later in the week we had a visit from neighbour Joan and her two visiting grandchildren Ryan and Lisa. Again, a first introduction for the children to alpacas as well as a look at some of the fleece and garments produced.

They're behind you Ryan!  Faro (left), Fyta and Fergus get close for a photo!  Thank you for the home baking which you brought Ryan and Lisa - Robbie didn't leave much for me!

And finally, yesterday Heather came back to see the boys again - this time accompanied by the whole family and a bigger camera.  We mentioned Heather's last visit on our previous blog and the 'stash' of carrots and apples she brought.  This time there was even more apples for the boys to enjoy - thank you.  These boys have never been so spoilt.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cold weather snacks

Earlier this week we moved the boys to the bottom paddocks to give them fresh grass.  Great excitement as always as they ran into the paddocks and familiarised themselves with their new surroundings again.  Quite a miserable, rainy week but today the sun has come out.  Since last week we've been giving them a daily tit-bit of apples and carrots gifted to them by Heather (see last blog) but this has the effect of making them run to us each time we go in a paddock in the hope that we have more carrots and apples!  Fine in bleak mid-winter, but not necessary at this time of year so we try and change the time of day we give the tit-bits otherwise their in-built time clocks have them lining the fences looking for a snack!  Thats what this picture is all about with the snack-happy boys running up.
No prizes for guessing who will be first in line for food - Fergus - that well known belly-on-legs!  He was more than a little disappointed to discover that there was only a camera on offer, not a bowl of 'five a day' portions!
Line-out time as the guys realise there are no more snacks and they'd better get on and nibble the grass.  Nearest the camera is Fidget and last week we took a sample of his poo to the Vet Lab in Inverness because he has been a bit 'loose' in his motions of late - not runny, but not 'bean-like' either if you get my meaning!  Normally we send a 'pooled' sample from all the boys for analysis twice a year, but on this occasion we just delivered Fidget's so that it could be thoroughly checked.  We got the result earlier this week and were pleased that it was negative.
Gully looking for one of the dogs from the neighbouring farm.
Fergus was still not entirely convinced that the photographer did not have lots of apples and carrots stuffed up his jumper......................wrong,  Fergie boy!
Not sure if you'll be able to see the boys in their shelters with the hills beyond.  This was taken by Robbie on Thursday at 8.00am, on a very cold morning with a dusting of snow on the higher peaks beyond.  Hat and jacket weather again - already!
The boys were totally unconcerned by the cold weather as they snuggled up to their hay buckets which as always have been emptied then thrown and kicked around the place!  Faro is on guard outside with his tail up and Fergus prefers his own company in the steading.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A generous visitor

'Nosey Parker' Wee Eck knows when there are visitors around because he reckons he will get some tit-bits as well as having his photo taken.
We had contact from Heather in Inverness who wanted to come out, see the boys but also find out about spinning fleece.    She very kindly brought with her a large bag of apples and carrots for the guys and here is Faro looking for more apples which are his favourites!  Heather rides her friend's horse Henry so is used to feed times but this is the first time she has been up close and personal with alpacas.
Fyta next, always keen to smell the hand that feeds him!
And Fergus of course who will lick the very last morsel out of any food bowl around!  Thanks for the apples and carrots, Heather, they are going down a treat every day.  I was able to show Heather what I get up to with the fleece, through spinning, felting and knitting so I hope there was a bit of inspiration.  Good luck with your plans for spinning lessons! 
Fyta, never shy to have his photo taken, with Rufus in the background.
We've had some good weather this week so we penned the boys as we particularly wanted to trim Fergus's nails.  He and our other white boy Fidget need their nails cutting regularly, especially Fergus as he has the type of nails which grow curled, and if not trimmed would grow under his pads.  These are Fergus's front feet and the nails on the left of the picture show how they quickly curl under.  One of his back feet also has curly nails so this is the second trim since James and Kym the shearers were here at the end of June.  For a pleasant change Fergus was very well behaved and nails on all 4 feet were trimmed. 
And finally, Nerines growing nicely in the autumn sunshine earlier in the week.   The south of the country is basking in hot sunshine today again whilst here it is ..............pouring with rain!