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, 18 December 2011

Boys, bobbles, birds & cat!



This is the normal sight at the gate for the 8.00am feed of haylage!  Wee Eck with his prominent dentistry waiting to pounce on his pile of feed, with Faro and Fyta behind.

The weather has been less stormy this week but the temperature has dropped further.    Each morning the ice has to be removed from the water troughs and by lunch time it is normally frozen over again, albeit with thinner ice.
The clear frosty nights are enjoyed by the boys who spend them lying out in the open.  This is the site of melted patches in the frost which we normally find in the mornings!  At least when the weather is like this the boys go to the toilet outside - when they are bedded down in the shelters, the morning requires another poop-patrol!
Like many bloggers I find that knitting takes up a lot of spare time during the long evenings.   I've just finished a hat and maxi scarf with big bobbles, courtesy of Fidget's fleece.  Interestingly I've been using some of his second cut fleece and it has knitted up OK although smaller sized needles might have been better.
Have you noticed the horrendous cost of bird nuts these days - apparently the Chinese are buying them up wholesale and getting oil from them.  Can you believe that?  We have a bird table at the back of the house which operates like a mini Heathrow with hundreds of arrivals and departures during daylight hours.  Normally a feeder full of nuts will last several days and the one on the right of the table with a Blue Tit on it shows the 'normal ' level.  The feeder on the left is a lot emptier because of the Coal Tit inside!  He/she does what Coal Tits are famous for and that is that they carry the nuts off and store them in various locations around the garden to be eaten later!  The feeder has a 'dodgy' top so the Tit pushes it aside, drops in, pinches a nut, flies off and stores it and within a couple of minutes has returned to repeat the procedure.  It had emptied the feeder a couple of hours later!  We should call him/her ' Tesco Tit' as I'm sure it is running a store for the birdies around here!
And finally.......our ageing pussy cat, Pansy Potter who is now 16 years old.  She is slowing down quite a lot these days and prefers to spend most of her time under the radiator in the kitchen where it is nice and warm.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

'Gael' force winds!

Bit of a stormy week just gone but no damage done thank goodness.  We lost our electricity for nearly 24 hours but don't you just love those electricity linemen when the lights come back on?!  We find that snow on the ground means a lot more work with the boys.  They get bored quickly when they can't get at the grass so we tend to make a 'track' through the snow in the paddocks so that they can have a nibble.  Unlike sheep and deer who 'paw' at the snow to get at the grass, the boys don't seem to do that at all - wonder what your experience is with them?  This is Rufus having some cold grass to eat!
Morning haylage time and Gaucho likes to lie down and enjoy the moment!
Fidget looking a bit wet and dirty.  On Thursday, as a prelude to the gales, the ankle deep snow melted very quickly helped by heavy downpours of rain and sleet and this flooded parts of the paddocks.  All our hay, straw etc stored in the Steading is on pallets so survived the water flooding over the floor.  The boys were wet, dry, wet, dry all week as the weather changed but were none the worse for it.  They had Verm-X worming granules in their feed all week with Gully the only one who takes a bit of coaxing to eat them.
In the hen house, Dunc was being a bit of a 'Jessie' and refusing to leave the comfort of his surroundings and venture out into the snow!  The cold did not stop him feeling a bit amorous however and having chased the two brown hens out of the door he turned his attention to the Maran.  Here he is 'cock-a doodling' like a cockerel possessed with the Maran ready to close her eyes and think of Scotland!  We've had half a dozen cockerels over the years and every one of them has hated snow and ice but Dunc has taken it personally and has only ventured out today now that the snow has gone.
We mentioned Faro's left eye in last week's blog.  Repeated saline bathing failed to stop the 'gunge' from coming out of the eye socket so we applied Orbenin ointment which we'd got from the Vet.  Pleased to report that his eye is now a lot cleaner and drier.
And finally......... snow or no snow, when you've got to go - you've got to go!  Scruffy looking Fyta doing the necessary with equally scruffy Fidget and Gully looking on.  The snow has now cleared so the 'poop patrol' will take longer than usual today I think!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Hurdles and snow

The boys are still in the top 2 paddocks at present but due to the very boggy area in the 3rd adjoining paddock we haven't allowed them in there.  We have plans to get some drainage organised but in the meantime we decided to buy some more sheep hurdles to allow them onto at least part of the affected paddock.  The grass there hasn't been touched since summer so there should still be some goodness in it.  Here are Gaucho (right) and Fidget (rear) waiting to get into the new area of grass. Fyta's black 'trousers' are on the left!
Also waiting at the gate (from the left) Fergus, Rufus, Wee Eck and Fyta.  A certain  amount of spitting had been going on just before the photo was taken - you can probably tell!
Fyta (left) and Fergus enjoy some fresh grass in the sectioned off part of the paddock.
After a long day in the howling gales and driving sleet the boys settle down after their late afternoon feed watched over by Faro (left) who is on permanent sentry duty!  Pity about the shiny eyes on the photo.  Speaking of eyes, Faro has had a runny left eye this week so we've been penning him and bathing his eye with warm saline.  It has improved greatly but we're keeping a close watch on it.  He has had this winter problem before, especially when it is very windy.  Antibiotic cream has not really helped in the past.
It's been a fairly wild week weather-wise with 3 days of continuous gales.  The snow started to appear mid-week when this photo was taken and the hills started to take on a blanket.  Today, the snow is falling thick and fast as I type this and the next couple of days don't look much better.  The boys will be looking to pack in as much haylage and hay as they can now as their new grass  - after all the fuss with new hurdles - is now covered in snow!