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 December 2013

All about ewe!

Another stormy week weather-wise, although we haven't fared too badly and haven't lost our electricity during recent storms.  Candles and torches were at the ready around Christmas day but weren't needed, thankfully.  Hope you are all OK in your particular 'neck of the woods' and haven't been affected by the dreadful flooding.  This is a long range shot of the boys, bunched together with Faro in front, all facing the 'threat.' Click on the photo for enlargement.  Tigh Mhor is behind the hedge.
Well, more of a 'flock' than a 'threat' but in fact it was the sheepdogs, all 5 of them which were causing the boys to be on guard.  Our neighbouring farmer is presently training two young dogs under the guidance of three older ones so this causes a bit of commotion in the fields and keeps the boys alert.
A shot of a rather scary looking Gully as he watches the sheepdogs through the fence!
Fidget is interested but unperturbed by the goings on in the nearby field.  I think a nail clipping session is on the cards for you, Fidgey boy!
Some of the other boys look pretty wet after the rain with Fyta and Fergus beginning their heads in the air, grunting and posturing camel-routine in the background.
And finally...............The completed Christmas jigsaw, all 1000 pieces.   Have a great Hogmanay everyone when it comes, mid week.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Winter Solstice has passed!

The Winter Solstice has been and gone - deep joy, the daylight will start to lengthen again shortly!  These photos were all taken at 3.00pm feed time so you can see how dark it becomes.  Add to this a bit of cloud cover or shower of rain and it just adds to the gloom. It's been a stormy old week here, not helped by the fact that 'himself' has been under the weather too with 'man-flu.'  But Gaucho is doing his best to give everyone a nice Christmassy smile and cheer everyone up!
Rufus front with Fyta behind.  Rufus is not keen on gales or strong winds.  Most of the boys put their backsides to the wind and when they get pushed by the wind Rufus often jumps in the air and kicks out as if someone/something has touched him unexpectedly.  He turns around and there is nobody there and I swear, looks puzzled! Silly boy.
Just as feed time finishes a heavy shower of rain and sleet descends, sending the boys scurrying en-masse to the nearby shelters.
Looks like an 'Away in a Manger' moment with Faro (left), Fyta and Fergus! The 'red-eye' effect from the camera at least shows where Faro is in the dark.
The boys get organised to get out of the sleet and make themselves comfortable for the night.  Spot 'red-eye' Faro in this shot.  Extreme right - scary eh?
And finally............we have two of the non-prickly variety of Hollies in the garden and the one on the left is a variegated type.  Around end of Nov/early Dec they are covered in berries but by the time we would like a few for decorations the Blackbirds have made sure that they have gorged the lot!  Ah well, their needs are greater than ours, for sure.  I feel a Christmas jigsaw coming on now, better clear the table!  Robbie and I and all the boys wish all our blog readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Bunny girls and hippies

Problems with blogger.com this weekend so couldn't get the blog organised yesterday.  Sorry if you missed your 'Sunday Post!'  This photo shows Fidget at the far end of the paddock away from the rest of the boys.  He does this from time to time, wanders off to be on his own for a while before returning to the herd.  There are lots of rabbits in the rough ground at that end so he probably has a bunny-girl lined up!
Fergus has taken to being a hippy with a flower in his hair (well, it's a beech leaf actually!) It's been on there for days and he resists all attempts to dislodge it. The Grumpy Gardener says to leaf it alone as he is clearly branching out and  barking up the wrong tree!!  He always gets to the root of the problem.......
More gales in the last week accompanied by driving rain.  The boys get in behind the high hedge for protection when the strong winds start.
The stormy weather at least gives us some spectacular sunsets - this was taken about 3.45pm on Tuesday.
And finally.......... a layer of snow adds interest when we try to work out which animal or bird leaves tracks.   These are the boys' tracks but we have lots of rabbit tracks everywhere and a fox when he comes calling. Have a nice week.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Stormy - but the show goes on!

Fergus looks less than happy on the morning after the storm!  We had powerful gales here all through Wednesday night accompanied by lightening, and most of Thursday was grim.  We lost our electricity for around 12 hours, but apart from that we suffered no real damage.  Plenty of large girth trees have been blown over in the area and we were left with a covering of snow for a couple of days.  We kept wondering how the boys were faring during the darkness and storm and at daybreak they were moving around the paddock in a group - a sign that they were not too impressed!  Normally in high winds they get close to the hedge and lie low so I suppose thats what they did. We lost electricity again today for a couple of hours and 4 Scottish & Southern Electricity vehicles have just gone racing up the nearby hill, so clearly they are still having problems.
As usual things are one big yawn for Fyta.  You'll see that 'himself' clears some grass for the boys when there is a covering of snow otherwise they just get bored with the white stuff!
Gully is always up for a photo!
Not much grass in this paddock to keep them amused!
Sugar beet time again and the boys love it when grass is hard to find.
 We had been invited to give an alpaca talk on Friday to the Senior Citizens Association in nearby Beauly.  The after-effects of the storm didn't put 10 hardy souls off coming although parts of the town were still without electricity from Wed night!  The ladies were a lovely audience and we had plenty of laughs and interesting questions and the promise of a visit from them to see the boys - when the electricity comes back on and the weather gets better!  Thanks for your hospitality ladies - lovely to meet you all.
And finally...........Fergus - "No callers today, thank you, I'm resting after the storm!"

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Peek - a - boo and quince!

I'm not sure how much detail you can all see on this photo but Faro is in the top paddock, looking through the fence and wondering where his supper has got to!  Just behind him, there is another wee head. Peek -a- boo!
There he is - Fergus, leaning over Faro's back and also looking for his food!
As if to say, "Come on, come on - hurry up with the food" the boys are now pressing against the fence.
It's as if these guys are all starving - they really enjoy their food.  Gully is in front, Fergus and Rufus behind the gate and Faro and Fyta at the rear.
The boys get so excited at feed time that Rufus often spits in the air whilst in the middle of the throng.  This has the effect of putting several of the boys off their food in the bowls so we overcome this by tipping the feed into the lids.  Fyta (top left) and Wee Eck are eating it like this as they don't like the smell of Rufus's spit on their bowls.
It's a long wander down to feed the chickens at the bottom of the garden, then back up again to the top paddocks for the boys.  Most of the leaves are off the trees now so 'himself' will have a job with the rake next week.
And finally..............quince!    These are from the Japonica bush and there are loads of them lying on the ground.  Hard as rock but the blackbirds give them a peck when they have lain on the ground for a while.  More snow at the end of this coming week apparently - stay warm!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The winter chill

We were well warned by the Met Office to expect snow on Monday, and they were right. Unfortunately the local council lost the plot so no gritters were in the area - typical.  The boys are in the middle of this photo, in front of their shelters although they are hard to see.  Another snow shower is seen rapidly approaching from the north.
Time to get some haylage into the system to bulk the boys up - although Fidget doesn't need any more bulking up!  His pink top plate is clearly seen in this photo for students of camelid dentistry!
Gaucho is pleased to get haylage as he is not keen on frozen grass.
Rufus, with Fyta as his rear.
Gully always looks a pretty picture.
By Wednesday all traces of the snow had gone and the boys were able to get back to grazing properly.  Also in the picture are some of our neighbour's sheep and the 'pacas are always interested in what the flock get up to.
And finally.............yesterday a delivery van arrived, not bearing a parcel just the driver bringing his wee daughter to see the boys.  This was taken from the new house and you can just see the boys looking at the little girl on the other side of the fence.  Nice!  Finally, finally a word to cheer up an avid blog reader - Sue from deepest Northants who is just recovering from a recent stroke.  Enjoy, Sue!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

New grass again

Not too much happening for 'pacas this week.  Having given them their Verm-X granules last week we decided to change paddocks this week.  After the usual running and jumping about with excitement at new grass the boys soon settled down to graze.  Fergus here enjoying the fresh paddock.
Now that the boys have moved into the top paddocks they are directly under the new house.   As normal, all the boys have their heads down except Faro the guard on the extreme right of the picture, who keeps an eye on the human's activities!
Gaucho on the left and Fyta
Rufus with Gully in the background
Fidget smiles for the camera!  All the boys have big eyes of course but Fidget's really stand out because his big , black eyes are surrounded by pink lids.
Down with the chickens now and they also had a change of hen-house for the winter. Hunkey Dunkey is in the middle here surrounded by his five hens as they all enjoy their daily Digestive biscuits (honestly - they love them!) The moulting has stopped now and their new feathers have come in just in time for the winter.  The chicken on the left with the upright tail is 10 years old now, fit as a fiddle and with excellent plumage.  We've noted over the years that when they moult, the chickens seem to be shy, hiding away as if they know that they don't look their best - Hunkey looked like he's been dragged through a hedge backwards!  Once their new feathers come in they are back to their perky selves though.
And finally.............4.40pm, Friday - sunset!  The sun had dropped behind the hills and this beautiful sunset started off bathing everywhere in a 'yellowy' colour.  By the time I'd got the camera, everything had gone pink!  The picture doesn't really do justice to the rolling, high altitude clouds reflecting the light.  Snow's coming this week - wrap up well!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

It's swede time again.

Brrr, it's been a cold week with lots of frosty mornings then rain and sleet.  Fortunately there have also been nice sunny days and this is Gully enjoying a bit of November afternoon rays!
There is a reasonable dusting of snow on the hills now, so with the colder weather the boys' hay is being supplemented in the mornings with haylage and the occasional swede.  The boys are aware that there may be goodies in the bowl I'm carrying, so come up to see what is on the menu.
It would have to be Fergus who is the first to sample the swede!  He prefers to nibble at it when it is held by a human - he can't seem to get at it if it is on the ground.
"Have you washed your hands before feeding me swede, Boss?" Fidget as always holds back until the last moment then his curiosity gets the better of him and he accepts it.
Rufus looks as if he is spitting in the air as a warning but in fact he is chewing an awkward piece of swede.
Faro keeps an eye on what is going on.  He enjoys his swede too.  Yesterday we had a visit from  a nice lady called Ann who is a member of the Highland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers who wanted to have some fleece for spinning.  She left with fleece from 3 of the boys so that will keep the wheel spinning for a while.  Unfortunately we forgot the camera when we went to say, "Hello" to the boys but hope you enjoyed the visit Ann.
Wee Eck looks as if he is grubbing for worms!  In fact he has a piece of swede on the ground which he is wrestling with.
And finally..........on Remembrance Sunday these falling Acer leaves remind me of poppies.  Take care, have a nice week.