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 April 2012

Caught in the act!

How is a gardener supposed to have any raspberries left on the canes when this happens?!  Earlier this week we thought we might move the boys into the orchard area where they have never been before and there is fresh grass.  This required a certain amount of 'corridor' building with hurdles which did not go exactly to plan.  In the end we abandoned the plan as there were just too many green temptations for the boys as this shot shows.  Gaucho is grabbing a mouthful of rasp shoots whilst Fyta in the background is helping himself to the brambles (blackberries).  Hopefully there will be no reduction in the amount of fruit later in the summer for jam making!
Here he is again, cheeky monkey, helping himself to the juicy new shoots on the rasp canes.
'Boss-man' Faro, alert as always, this time keeping an eye on the chickens through the wire mesh.
Boo!  Faro (Left) and Wee Eck silhouetted as they look over the gate. 
We had some really wet and miserable weather at the early part of the week but the last two days have been glorious. The nights have been very frosty which suits the boys.   This shot was taken this morning about 8.30.
Fyta (left), Fergus (middle) and Rufus soaking up the early morning rays to melt the frost on their coats.
And finally.........the boys have an added attraction this week.    We have started a new build house on one corner of our land and within viewing distance of the boys.  Not sure yet what they will think of their owners' new house but the forthcoming building activities is sure to keep them interested. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Visit to Auld Mill Alpacas

It's not often that we are out and about so yesterday was a real treat for us.  Carol and John of Auld Mill Alpacas (www.auldmillalpacas.co.uk) organised an 'alpacas at home' get-together for alpaca addicts at their farm near Elgin, Moray.  Above, and from the left, are Angie and Ian (who have 6 boys and girls), Carole and John (at the rear), Liz at the front who has had alpacas for 10 years (currently 4 boys), Sandy and Lorna (rear) Ardo Alpacas (hundreds of mixed camelids!!), me at the front then Finlay with his mum Lucy of Coire Alpacas ( lots of pacas! ) Carole and John previously owned Cairndinnis Alpacas before moving to Moray and changing the herd name.  They currently have a mixed herd of 35 pacas, plus around 15 on holiday from Campsie Alpacas in Stirlingshire!  Absent from the picture are Sorcha (Lucy's daughter), Bill (John's brother) and Robbie who took the photo.   Carole and Lorna are secretary/treasurer and Chair respectively of the Alpaca Farmers of Scotland regional group of BAS.   There was a reluctance to move out of Carole's lovely warm kitchen, away from the coffee and table loaded with goodies and out into the chilly breeze of the paddocks. 
Carole identifying some of her herd to Sorcha and the rest of the group
The lovely Eartha at the front and mum-to-be behind (sorry Carole - forgotten her name!)
This is Salome who has a beautiful face.
Some of the young girls acting a bit coy!
This is young Archie with the mottled fleece and distinctive face markings with his two pals and in front of their 5 star accommodation.  Carole and John have done a power of work at the farm since their arrival fencing all of their paddocks and having field shelters built - this is a great alpaca venue and will be wonderful when all of their plans are fulfilled.   Thanks Carole, John and Bill for a great afternoon seeing all the beasties and enjoying your warm hospitality.
And finally...........just before setting off for our farm visit yesterday a cheeky red squirrel appeared at our back door and was looking in through the conservatory.  This was unusual because our cat,  Pansy Potter was outside too and this shot shows her looking at the squirrel who is helping himself/herself to the bird nuts on one of the feeders (you might need to magnify this picture).  Shortly afterwards the squirrel dropped from the feeder and ran off, followed for a short distance by Pansy, who in her advancing years prefers to watch the action rather than take part in it!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Resting boys and growing plants

The boys having a lie down at the end of the day, after their feed  and before the sun sets.  Reminds me of  a scene from  Western movies where they form a loose protective circle facing outwards!  The boys were all lying down but as we approach Faro (background) the alert guard, automatically gets to his feet.  Gully (front) does the same but the others remain down, including ..............
Rufus, who is just a few metres away from the group.
A typical Faro pose, whilst the other boys are generally disinterested, he focuses on the activities of the humans!
Small part of a very large amount of wood sawn up as a result of last week's fallen Birch. These are some of the branches but the trunks sections are huge and very heavy.  Still lots of sawing to do before  it is all cut to logs.
A quick peep inside the Keder polytunnel.  The early spuds which were planted a couple of weeks ago are now growing on.  At the far end of the spuds are Coriander and Rocket herbs from last year which I am still using in salads.  There are two vines at the bottom which have begun to shoot and out of sight on the right plots, we have planted some early carrots and dwarf beans.
And finally...........  some of you may remember the Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum) which grew to 8 ft in height last summer and produced amazing trumpet like flowers?  We separated the off-shoots  and replanted them but this is the remaining part in the boggy ground and surrounded by Dock leaves!  It is about 1 ft tall at the moment, looking very healthy and growing but we are unsure if it will shoot up again as it did last year - after all, it took 4 annual attempts before finally rocketing.  The book says it will take 3 - 5 years before the off-shoots flower again, but we've often found gardening books to be 'wide of the mark' for growing in this part of the world.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

That was the week that was!

This was the scene which greeted us at our back door at 7.30am on Tuesday last week.  We'd only just brought out the garden table and chairs the previous week due to the lovely weather!  It's not unusual to have 'lambing snow' at this time of year, but it was the dramatic change from the previous week's record breaking high temperatures which was the shock.    The met office gave out an 'amber warning'  for this dumping - I wonder what a 'red warning' would bring?
The boys look a bit confused by it all - one day they're all sunbathing with bellies facing the sun, a couple of days later they are trudging around looking for feed.  Wee Eck  is in front here. 
Over the past 4 winters we've noticed that the boys get bored when snow is on the ground because they can't get at the grass.  We usually clear a few pathways which allows them to nibble and they become very adept at following the paths and not walking on the deeper snow.
Distant neighbour Ron who has previously written an excellent article on the boys for the local newspaper rang to arrange a visit for his family who were visiting for Easter.  This was on Thursday and the snow is still lying although areas have been cleared for the boys to nibble.  Fergus, as always, suspects there may be food around when visitors are here!
Naomi and Evan enjoyed seeing the boys.  Faro (left), Gaucho and Gully are behind.
Wee Eck just loves a bit of individual attention, with Fergus, Fyta and Rufus behind.
And finally........the down-side of this amount of 'heavy' snow, as opposed to the 'fluffy' type at this time of year is that it damages such a lot of the plants and flowers - flattened daffodils are all around.  Many bushes and shrubs, especially buddleia, around the garden have snapped.  This camellia was flattened and had to be severely pruned two years ago and now, just as the blossom appeared the snow has turned brown the edges of the flowers once more.  A large birch tree was brought down by snow weight as were many big branches so Robbie has been like a man demented with his chain saw!  The up-side is that we will have plenty of hardwood for the log burner when it dries out.  The snow has all melted now so hopefully this is the last 'snowy' picture until next winter!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Fun in the sun.

The water trays which we normally use in summer months have been brought into service early due to the sunny weather.  Inevitably this causes arguments between some of the boys as they try to get ownership!  Here is Fyta standing in the tray and refusing to budge for Fergus who starts huffing and puffing and snorting in the air, watched by Wee Eck (right) and Rufus behind. 
More water is soon needed in the tray as it becomes muddy - and Fyta still refuses to let any of the other boys have a paddle.
Fergus decides to play the waiting game by lying down but still spits and snorts at Fyta who tries to disregard him.  Rufus has a rear quarter itch in the background!
At last Fyta moves and Rufus grabs his chance of getting into the muddy water.  More watering can action required please Robbie!
Faro gets up close and personal with the water carrier!
Whilst there was plenty of action going on at the watering tray, Gully (front) and Gaucho were having their own game in the sand pit.  There was some serious 'neck wrestling' and a bit of spitting going on just before this photo was taken, but these two guys are best pals and often have a bit of rough and tumble with each other.  We are going to have a nail clipping session with Gully later today - that should be fun!
And finally........this lovely Japonica faces south and is in full bloom at present.  It has a vibrant red colour, quite unlike the reds of other bushes or flowers.  The veg garden is in the background with the Keder greenhouse top left.  Early potatoes (Rocket and Arran Pilot) and Early Nantes carrots are planted in the Keder and we'll put some more tatties in outside this week - if the snow stays away!