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, 29 January 2012

Frost and floods

Wee Eck this week covered with a dusting of early morning frost.  Gaucho is in the background.
Having been outside all night, all the boys are frosty but Eck's black fleece really shows up the frost.
Gaucho is a pretty laid back sort of Alpaca and this shot confirms it.  Whilst  most of the boys are feeding up on their feet, Gaucho is lying on his spot, a pile of haylage by his side,  just enjoying the early morning view.
Always on the lookout for food, Gully (front) and the boys are milling about in the hope that grub is on it's way! 
Having dug a 35m drainage trench at another part of our muddy land Robbie decided to start another  trench in front of the field shelters to try to redirect the water which build up in this area away to another part of the paddock.  This one will be 25m long, have a 4" coily pipe buried and covered with stones and end up in a 'sump' at the far end.  After that the bottom paddock shelters will need re-draining and the present pipe replaced with 6" piping in an effort to move the huge amount of water which builds up in that area.  We have found that over the years the rainfall has increased in this part of the world, showers of rain are now heavy downpours and flooding becomes a problem - especially for the animals.
Just as if to prove that all these guys do is eat, here they are this morning, tucking in again!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bleak mid-winter

Here's a sight to lift the spirits in the bleak mid-winter!  A bunch of Snowdrops in our back garden surrounded by Daffodil bulbs which are just breaking the surface.  With the appearance of these flowers and the lengthening daylight it is a sure sign that Spring is on it's way.........hopefully!
In the meantime the weather continues to be foul - high wind, lots of rain and sleet but very little snow - a complete change from this time last year.  The boys make full use of the field shelters , especially when hailstones fall - they just do not like them!  Rufus in front, Fyta and Fergus at the rear with Gaucho taking things easy with his tub of hay.  Photo taken at dusk just as yet another squally shower hits.
Breakfast time and the boys are still squelching around in the mud.  Faro (front) , Gaucho, Rufus and Wee Eck.  One funny incident happened this week when the boys were eating their sugar beet from their bowls.  A strong gust of wind came along and several of the bowls were blown away on the icy ground, pursued by indignant alpacas!
Rufus, a big strong lad but even he had his head down, squinting through his eyes before dashing for the shelter  when the hailstones started!
Gully does not appear to be getting any cleaner even though he has been out in lots of rain.
Nearby in the chicken run,  Hunkey Dunkey is sharing his breakfast with half a dozen Blackbirds,  as well as Dunnocks and Robins.  Unfortunately before the camera is organised most fly off, except one Blackbird intent on filling up!
And finally........ the hay is lasting better this winter with 23 square bales still stored.  The past two winters have seen shortages of hay generally but that doesn't seem to be the case this time.  Still a few months to go, so hopefully this lot will last.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Lily pays a visit!

As we were going to have a visit yesterday from old friends Dorothy and Barry and one of their grandchildren, Lily, we thought the boys would at least try to spruce themselves up a bit.  Instead there was a mass rolling session in the mud.  The result, as worn by Gully here made him less then cuddly!
Grandad Barry supervises whilst Lily feeds Fyta and Fergus.  Lily was keen to meet the alpacas again having met them last year for the first time.
Wee Eck gets the bowl to himself.
Wee Eck (L), Gully (M) and Fergus get some tit-bits.
Fidget (L), Gaucho (M) and Rufus wait their turn for a bowl.  Gaucho has his trademark piece of grass or moss in the corner of his mouth - he's never without it and reminds us of an old sailor chewing his tobacco!
All the boys enjoying their haylage earlier yesterday morning.  The last few days have been bright and sunny, but quite cold and the nights have been very frosty - conditions which the boys like.
And finally........'Hunkey-Dunkey' looking good in his new feathers watching over his three hens.  The old Rowan tree in the background is beginning to look a bit sad and will probably get a trim up soon to encourage new growth. The two chicken runs stand on the site of a very old croft house and the Rowan tree was always planted nearby to keep the witches at bay - a tradition which is still maintained today.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Red eyes and jigsaws!

It's nice to be greeted at the gate each morning at haylage time by a friendly face!   This is Fergus and the following shots show him and his pals about 8.30 am today and still in the dark.  Apart from the wet and dishevelled look most of them also have a touch of the red eye from the camera flash - scary!
Fyta with Fergus behind and Rufus at the rear.
Gaucho, not his best pose, but loving his haylage!
 Gully looking really scary (but also enjoying his haylage!)
Mud, glorious mud - a sight most UK bloggers are used to this winter.  This is the view from the steading door, but it is repeated throughout the paddocks.  I can't recall seeing the ground so wet and muddy during our 16 years at Tigh Mhor. We moved the boys from the top paddocks to the lower ones to give them bigger shelters and slightly drier conditions.  The coming week is due to be drier so that should give the boys - and the muddy paddocks - some respite and a chance to dry out.
And now for something completely different..........we usually work away at a couple of jigsaws during the Christmas break - anything for a bit of relief from the re-cycled TV programmes!  This one was a bit of a challenge, 1000 pieces with all the curly edges and cut outs, but a lovely picture.
Much more fun at only 500 pieces was this 'back to front' jigsaw - wasgij - where there is no image on the box lid to work from only a picture of lots of people staring at the scene which you have to make.  As you can see, the scene which was revealed was of a lot of workmen doing their version of 'the full Monty!'