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 July 2012

A good dusting down

On Thursday evening we got the call from Karen Robertson at the Farm Shop to say that husband Dave had got hay cut, dried and baled and it was ready for collection on the field.  We hooked up the trailer and and headed for nearby Beauly and loaded the first 26 bales (4 in the back of the 4 x 4 and 22 in the trailer!)  Got back home, dropped the hay in the drive, grabbed a cup of tea then returned for a second, identical load.  By that time the sun was setting as the photo shows but Dave and his team were still baling and stacking.  Back home again and as rain was forecast for overnight and Friday, we barrowed the initial 26 bales down to the steading and got them stacked, finishing at 11.15pm.  We left the second load in situ until Friday morning then, dodging the rain showers, got all 52 square bales safely stacked and secured in the steadings ready for winter feed.   Job done!
In anticipation of the hay arriving and in order to give us room to move the bales, we had decided to move the boys from the bottom to the top paddocks this week.  It's been another week of changeable weather from very hot to soaking wet.  We penned the boys one morning so that I could rub some fly cream on Faro's ears as he had some 'wee beasties' biting them.  I took the opportunity of rubbing some 'Ruggle-it' on Gully's chest which has dry skin on it and some on a bald patch on Wee Eck's ankles.  Gully's ears have cleared up now after I'd rubbed the cream on them about 10 days ago.  this photo shows the usual charge by the boys onto new grass when the gate is opened.  Fergus is in front with Faro just behind.
We know exactly what will happen when the boys get into the new paddocks within minutes they will be rolling in the dust as if they are greeting an old friend!  For this reason we leave laying bedding straw until this performance is over!  Gaucho is the first one in for a roll watched by his pal, Gully.
Gully's turn for a roll watched by Wee Eck and Rufus whilst Gaucho chews on new grass.
Gully is up on his feet so now it's Wee Eck's turn with Rufus just getting down on his knees in readiness.  Fergus has arrived to watch what is going on and queue up for a roll!  Gaucho is still enjoying the grass.
Now the dust is really flying as Wee Eck gets into his routine with Rufus and Gully watching and Fergus getting down on his knees for his turn.
Aaahh - thats better!   Wee Eck parades his new 'camouflage' look.
And finally........once the rolling routine is finished, time to enjoy the sunshine again.  Our new house is slowly taking shape above the paddocks.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A summer evening

There have been relatively few evenings this summer where it has been lovely and warm right until around 10.00pm when the sun is setting.  Thursday was a lovely day and the evening turned out to be pleasant and warm too with only a few flies to bother the boys!  Normally we put hay in their buckets during the evening and they like to help themselves.   Fyta (left, above) has a thing about lifting them and throwing them around and here he is with Wee Eck having lifted and dropped the bucket, startling Eck.  We didn't manage to get a good shot of the bucket mid-flight unfortunately regardless of how many times we tried.
As ever, Faro is watchful, checking on the activities of the photographer.  Gully is in the background.
Further up the paddock are Rufus (front), Fergus and Fidget in the background.  Fergus is nibbling at the grass as he lies in the sun and we find that lots of the boys do this - even eating out of their bowls whilst lying down.  They appeared very contended doing this.  At this time of year however with loads of flies around, the boys will often lie down to stop the flies getting underneath them and this seems to work well for all of them.
Gully has sensitive skin and hates flies!  When they are around he often goes into a shelter, eats his hay or lies down and watches the herd from there.  
Faro stops the annoying flies getting underneath him.
And finally..........at the end of a lovely day, a lovely sunset.  At this time of year the sun sets in the north west around 1000pm but in mid winter it sets in the south west about 3.30pm.  We are already beginning to see the daylight shortening - unfortunately.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

It was 0830hrs yesterday on a cold summer morning when Robbie started his  round of 'things to do' in the paddocks.   The boys had decided on a long lie as the weather wasn't too favourable and here are the first five: Fergus and Gully at the back, Wee Eck in the middle and Gaucho and Faro at the front.  Hay buckets empty and tossed aside and quite a bit of 'mucking out' to do - typical!  Usually Faro is up on his feet as soon as someone approaches, but he was obviously too comfortable to move.
Next door in the other shelter is Fidget (rear), Rufus and Fyta at the front.  Hay buckets emptied and moved of course, but none of the boys keen to get up and going.  We've had heavy downpours again this week and sunshine has been in short supply - wonder when this season's hay fields will be ready for cutting?  Will it be more expensive and will it be in short supply?
As the poop patrol gets into full swing, the boys start to emerge - this is Gully left and his pal Gaucho.
Gaucho again with the veg garden behind him and Tigh Mhor in the background.
Rufus looking quite spruce for first thing in the morning.
Morning ablutions and Fyta gets stuck into brushing his teeth!
And finally.............Hunkey Dunkey at the rear with two of his old hens, 'Tiddles' on the left and 'Delila' both of whom are nine years old.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Blooming buttercups!

Blooming buttercups - they drive us mad.  Anyone got a simple, cost effective answer to them which does not involve spraying?  We've put lime on the soil to no avail and we dead-head them as often as possible but still they spread.  During one of the sunnier, but cold days this week we got the mower out to do battle with the weed.  
The boys are wary of the mower, but not too concerned.  They do group together though, probably a protective move for the herd.
Fyta in the background, Rufus in the middle and Wee Eck in the foreground enjoying the grass and an occasional buttercup!
Fergus in the background watching the mower and Faro in front keeping an eye as always on activities affecting the herd.
Fidget (Left), Gaucho, Gully and Wee Eck keep the mower in view.
Almost finished and the boys join in the fun and run in front of the mower.
And finally..........a bunch of colourful Geraniums enjoy some occasional sunshine.  Hope you have not been too badly affected by the heavy rains in some parts of UK.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A visit to the farm shop


We had to go and buy some more square bales of hay for the boys this week as they have munched their way through all the winter reserve.  We thought that we would have plenty left after the winter but for the past few weeks during the bad weather they have taken to eating loads of hay.  Where better to buy our hay than at Karen and Dave Robertson's farm shop in nearby Beauly where they also run an excellent farm shop and children's farmyard (www.robertsonstomichfarmshop.co.uk) .   Karen and Dave have 3 alpaca boys as well as many other animals to delight children and adults alike.  Here are Fergus, Griff and Dougie keeping an eye on a group of children from a local nursery who were also visiting the farm that day.
This is Fergus who is the brother of Gully whom we own.  He is a year older than Gully but they look very alike.
Just look at these two characters who were 'Hee-Hawing'  from their paddock as we passed!
Three of the various goats at the children's farmyard which also has Highland cattle and a variety of different sheep on display
This Angora looks like it could make a lovely jumper!
There are 4 baby Pygmy goats born in May this year - Honey, Angel, Twinkle and Star.  They are all in this picture - one is top left coming off the log and one is on the coloured platform.  They really are cute and a real favourite with all visitors. 
And finally - this wee Pygmy likes the taste of rubber!  We had a lovely visit to see the various animals (and hens and ducks)  - thanks Karen & Dave.