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 March 2012

Good weather bonus

Another week of marvellous weather with some of the afternoons feeling like mid-summer.  It's all a bit concerning when you consider that we are still in March and only just getting into Spring.  The boys are enjoying it, a bit of early sunbathing and rolling in the sand-pits is just up their street!  These first 3 shots were taken as the sun was going down at the end of another lovely day.  Fergus is curious as always, as he thinks the camera might be worth eating!
Faro (front) with Fyta behind and the other boys enjoy the setting sun before sleeping out under starry skies.
The grass is getting quite bare in this paddock but the boys start nibbling all around the fence line to try to get more.
Taken this morning as another lovely day dawns and the boys settle down to haylage breakfast.  As always, Faro is alert and keeps a watchful eye on the photographer to 'protect' his herd.  The rest of the guys are more interested in breakfast!  There is a particularly colourful Flowering Currant bush in the mixed hedge behind the boys.
After breakfast Wee Eck follows Faro into the adjoining paddock.  Eck is starting to show small patches of grey hair in his coat just as his father Gotit had.  His black fleece also has ginger/red outer guard hairs and the tips of his ears are ginger.
Gaucho-boy
And finally - here is the Flowering Currant, looking and smelling beautiful.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

New grass and happy walkers

Another week of good weather, frosty at times with a cold wind but plenty of sunshine too.  We penned the boys one day this week so that we could do a bit of nail trimming.  Fidget did very well (unusually) and stood still whilst his were cut but Fergus was in one of his moods, arguing with the others in the pen so that by the time it was his turn he was not up for a pedicure.  We'll have better luck next time.  We also opened up the third 'top' paddock this week to give the boys some new grass.  This is the paddock which is boggy at the bottom due to a dodgy field drain, so it has to be sectioned off.  This photo is of the boys getting excited because they know that they are going onto new grass. Lots of humming going on.  Faro (left), Fyta and Gaucho are here with Fidget in the background.
Twenty hurdles in place with only a few to go.  The boys are getting ever more excited with Robbie walking back and forth and in danger of losing his trousers as the work rate gets to him!  Gully is not bothered - he just wants into the new green stuff.
At last it's time for the boys to be let into the paddock and you can see the excitement as Fyta, Fergus, Rufus, Wee Eck and Gully come charging through the gate.
Yippee, new grass at last!
Now the boys can check out the temporary fencing with the boggy ground on the other side.
Silence!
And finally.......we had a visit yesterday from a lovely group of walkers with Floris their leader,  who came to meet the  boys during an all day trek around the area.  The boys were on their best behaviour with Wee Eck pleased to show off his prominent dental work and Fergus (as usual) giving a display of how to demolish a turnip!  I managed to show some of the boys' spun fleece which I hope added to the group's knowledge of 'pacas.   Lovely weather for a visit as the boys were dry and not covered in mud as usual, and great to see so many smiling faces despite, perhaps, aching limbs.  Haste ye back folks!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Super pooper scooper

Please note that only the most modern technology is used at Tigh Mhor for paddock cleaning!  This is it, cutting edge poop patrol kit, with built in backache and moaning husband but runs quite cheaply on coffee!  Faro is quite indifferent this time to the work of the patrol, but depending on his mood he often walks up to the 'cleansing operative' and nudges him or lifts his hat off his head as if to say, "Leave it!"  He can be quite persuasive, following the patrol around and giving frequent nudges and 'in yer face' looks, but then next time he won't bother at all.
The rest of the guys completely ignore the poop patrol which can be seen parked, top right.  Fidget and Faro are out of this picture.
And this is what it's all been for - a barrowload of goodness!  Looking more like a barrowload of grapes (!), this was the 3rd load in a week and is destined for the composting area of the garden.  These boys really are 'sooper poopers!'
'Hunkey-dunkey' (Duncan) looking majestic but a bit dishevelled in the high wind this week.  He is in top form now that Spring is almost here, chasing his three hens around - frequently!  We've had several cockerels over the years and they have all been characters.  Our last one, Horace, used to come out of the henhouse first each morning, then go back in and chase the hens out - really funny watching the hens come flying out one after another.  Duncan is more gentlemanly in his approach - he waits until they are all out then he starts the morning chase.
This is Tiddles  who is 9 years old and was one of a brood we bred ourselves.  She is still in excellent condition, looking lovely in her new Spring feathers although she no longer lays eggs.  That doesn't stop Dunkey giving her a chase several times a day however, but at her age she tends to lie down and 'brace for impact!"  At night all 3 hens are on the perch with him, and Tiddles was under his wing a couple of nights ago.
These are Woad plants (Isatis Tinctoria) which I hope to use later as a natural plant dye.  The plant gives a blue dye by tearing the leaves and soaking in water - sounds easy but there is a bit more to it than that.   If successful, I hope to use the dye with some of the boys' white fleece.
And finally........I suppose you could say that this a is a black and white photo!  Fergus is on the left and Wee Eck is on the right.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

I love alpacas!

The cowl scarf neck warmer is the latest thing to come off the knitting needles with white(ish) fleece from Fidge and brown fleece from Rufus.  The hat was knitted and felted some time ago with a crocheted band added and I used a mixture of fleeces for this.
Another view of the unsmiling face!
It's a lovely but cold day here and we went out to the paddocks to see if the boys had finished their sugar beet.  Looks like they've been there and eaten it all and only the bowls remain!
It was not long before the boys come to see what was going on, led as always by Faro the boss, who likes to be the first to check out whatever is happening.  He is followed by Fergus who just wants to see if there is anything else to eat!  Rufus is behind Fergus.
Gully in front with Gaucho (left) and Faro behind.  Behind them lies the veg garden, almost ready for the first dig over before Spring.  A dusting of snow appeared over the hills again last night, so it is pretty 'nippy' today.
The grass is well cropped at the moment but the boys seem to like that.  They will spend hours nibbling away at nothing it seems, but they can obviously get at small shoots and blades of grass.
And finally..........I couldn't resist putting up another photo of Gully with his inquisitive look - and the usual piece of moss sticking out of his mouth!