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, 26 August 2012

Mucky boys and wasps.

We note from the various UK blogs that rain has featured widely during the past week.    We have had our fair share but I don't think as much as some parts have had.  We are always interested to discovered what the boys will do during rain - they always run to the shelters during heavy rain and often take cover when it is just wet and miserable.  Then during wet weather when we think they will be inside, they are grazing happily, absolutely soaked and dripping.  Perhaps this is to allow the rain to wash their coats occasionally, who knows?  One thing which invariably happens when they are wet though is that they will go and have a good roll in the shelter dust or a muddy patch.  I decided to take some photos of the 'mucky pups' and was met at the gate by Fergus, above who was pretty certain that the camera was carrot flavoured and would be worth eating!  Fergus's motto is, "If it looks interesting and doesn't run away  - it can be eaten!"
Muddy Fyta
Muddier Fidget - who is doing his own interpretation of 'Stomp' - or is it 'Riverdance?!'
Faro has been rolling in the dusty shelter
As has Rufus
Wee Eck just wants to show off his dentistry again - but he's also been rolling in the dust.
And finally...........it's been a 'waspish' sort of week.  We usually have 'wasp events' in the summer but it is normally Robbie who discovers their nests - just before being stung!   Earlier this week however I could feel something crawling up my leg under my trousers, between knee and thigh.  I hit it, obviously not hard enough because I then felt the sting and was surprised to see a wasp dropping onto the ground from under my trouser leg.  The wasp was immediately jumped upon as my leg started to swell beautifully.  It took a couple of days for the swelling and the heat to subside from the sting area.  Now we have discovered 3 different wasps nests in the ground around our land, all have been scrapped away, the nests destroyed although the wasps are still trying to rebuild them.   What could this be?  At first Robbie felt it might be a very big adventurous rabbit but I was not convinced and checked the internet - and there was the proof - a badger!  We do have a number of badgers in this area and apparently the animal is well known to seek out wasps nests, and destroy them as they feed on the larvae and young wasps.  Wow!  The photo above shows the remains of one nest (under a gooseberry bush!) and still with some irate wasps flying around.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Lying low

Here's a sharp contrast in colours with Wee Eck in front and Fergus next to him and Rufus looking in the opposite direction.  This Eck/Fergus configuration is different for these two because normally Fergus will not let Eck anywhere near him.  However, the reason that the boys are lying down is because there was a very strong wind blowing with extra strong gusts, despite the lovely sunshine.  We know that the boys get startled by gales or gusty wind, it's as if they don't understand what this 'thing' is which is pushing them!
Fyta has also gone to ground with /Fidget in the background.
Gaucho
Fidget loves the sand pit!
One boy not lying down is Faro, he's on his feet and checking what is going on in the paddock.  He looks a bit confrontational, but he's not at all and is a lovely boy and excellent sentry.
We have a place in the garden where we keep 'spares' of some plants.  Here are Acanthus (Bear's Breeches) at the front,  the bright red flowers of the Crocosmia (Lucifer) behind,  Astilbe to the left with a white Buddleia in the background.
And finally...... in answer to the age old question, "If a bean's a bean - whats a pea?" Answer -  "A relief" !  (It's all in the spelling!)  At last the peas are swelling and mostly ready for picking.  Usually we end up with buckets of pods and the blanched peas then fill the freezers ready for winter (really good value veg!)  The dwarf beans and broad beans are now ready as are the carrots and onions - a lovely time of year!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sizzlin' hot

We've had a lovely week of 'summery' weather with the last few days being particularly hot.  Filling and refilling the water troughs and trays was a priority but in the end the hose reel was played out to get the boys cool.  Lots of sun bathing going on by the boys and on one occasion Wee Eck fell fast asleep whilst the other boys moved to the other paddock.  Eck is deaf so we gently woke him by walking past and when he did come to life he was completely disorientated.  He didn't know where he was, couldn't see any of the other boys and started panicking and running around the paddock by which time the other boys had seen him running around and they all ran to him!  Deep joy - Eck saw them and calmed down immediately! 
They really love having their 'undercarriages' sprayed before going off and rolling in the dust again!  Unfortunately they become quite boisterous, jumping and pushing as they try to get wet and I usually end up soaking wet, flat on my back - or both.  Time to call in the cavalry!
Well, at least one ageing cavalryman.................here Fidget gets a good cooling down from Robbie who gets the 'hot lips' treatment on his bald spot (sorry - bald expanse!)
Wee Eck gets into the water tray and sits down, Gully is watching him whilst the other boys get hosed.
Gully is not one of the 'pushy' boys, preferring to be in the background and it took him quite a while to get used to the water trays and use them.   Perhaps his sensitive skin has something to do with this.  He enjoys the spray now and jumps around kicking his hind legs in the air.
Fyta, the main water man - should have been named 'Hydro' - thoroughly enjoying the spray!   Interestingly, only one of the boys is not too interested in the water games, and that is Rufus.  You can see him the background, to the left of Fyta's head,  lying in his favourite sand pit and wondering what all the excitement is about! 
And finally..............yesterday we had a visit from young Matthew with his mum and dad, niece Pauline and husband Chick, during yet another roasting day.   Matthew and his watering cans are the centre of attraction for the boys.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A hard day's night (or two!)

The annual 'Tartan Heart' music festival held about a mile away at Belladrum finished before midnight last night in an eruption of fireworks.  Since Thursday the festival site has been a mass of tents and vehicles as 15,000 music fans came to enjoy themselves.  Friday and Saturday were glorious days with blazing sunshine so sun cream was  much in demand instead of the usual 'midge cream!'  The boys have enjoyed (sorry -'endured') constant music and an ariel display by a couple of smoke trailing planes yesterday afternoon, then the late night fireworks.  Today saw a return to normal summer weather - drizzle - and the thousands of fans making their way home,  giving the boys an opportunity to chill out and catch up with some shut-eye.
Whilst the herd 'chills',  Faro is still alert running towards Robbie (photographer) with his tail up and ears back to check out the camera.  He does not enjoy the camera being pointed towards him at close quarters.  Rufus looks on from the background.
The mixture of rap, soul, R & B, rock and traditional music didn't phase Wee Eck too much - he's deaf!
Gully is just about to give a big yawn - he was disappointed not to have heard his favourite group - 'Bananallama!'
And Fyta continued to yawn and yawn - he'd obviously been up 'movin and groovin' for two nights!
And it shows!
And finally.........at long last the two days of warm sunshine started to get the onion bulbs to swell in the veg garden.  There is plenty of growth in many of the vegetables but onions and peas in particular need the sunshine to make them swell.  The parsnips are behind the onions in this picture . Soft fruit such as strawberries and rasps were slow to come on this year but I've already made some blackcurrant jam, and it's delicious!