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, 27 January 2013

All in the line of duty!

We've watched the television news broadcasts with concern this week again as  snow, and now floods, hit you guys in the south.  In particular, Debbie & Paul at Barnacre Alpacas in Northumberland  (www.barnacre-alpacas.blogspot.co.uk)really took a snow dump with sad consequences for some of their sheep. We've been really lucky so far this winter and have not suffered extremes of weather other than the bitter cold.  The set of photos here were taken yesterday with snow on the hills, cold wind but a lovely day for the time of year.  These photos also tell a tale of Faro who prides himself on being the sentry for the herd, a fact we've often mentioned before.  The photos are taken from our field adjoining the top paddocks, looking west and (you'll need to magnify!) the boys have their heads down going in one direction - all except Faro on the extreme left.  Not unusually he often does things differently, looking in the opposite direction, watching when the others feed etc
A similar shot as he looks about him at what might be behind the herd.
The boys are unconcerned by Robbie with the camera and carry on feeding.   Faro is  now making sure  that there is no threat to his pals by being on the higher ground over-looking them.
Fidget is in the front of the photo here but still Faro remains on the skyline watching what is going on.
And because Robbie is close by, Faro continues to look out for the boys as they continue to feed.   Faro has always done this and sometimes it can be a problem as he will not feed or  eat his supplement if there is any type of distraction e.g. dog barking, hens flapping their wings nearby - just in case there is a threat.  He is not timid in any way but nor is he aggressive and rarely spits or is confrontational in any way with the others.  Like feeding geese who always have at least one of their number looking around for potential trouble to the flock, the boys seem to be aware that Faro is always on duty looking out for them.  It's fascinating to watch.
Gully, one of Faro's protected boys who is a bit hard of hearing.
And finally...............Wee Eck who is deaf and benefit's from Faro's alertness - but is a real bruiser who is well able to stand up for himself!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cold - but sunny

Whilst many of you will have been affected by the snow in some parts of the country, we have escaped (so far) with only a dusting - but it's forecast for tomorrow!  It has been bitterly cold, day and night so the boys' thick fleece has been working overtime.  This is Fidget standing with the others waiting for a feed.
Being intelligent animals we've found during winters that the alpacas get bored when there is snow on the ground covering their grass.  They can mill around nibbling at what they can find but you can tell by their faces and actions that they want the landscape colour to change from white back to green!  Here they are hanging around the gate waiting for the human with their bowls of supplement.
There is a favoured rolling patch in one corner of the paddock and shortly before this picture was taken, Rufus (white face) had been lying on it quite happily - you can still see the dust on his nose.  Along comes Wee Eck (right) who wants the rolling space so he reverses into Rufus who has to get up and move.  Clever really because it means that if any spitting starts Wee Eck gets it in the bum instead of in the face!  He does this reversing thing and pushing with his backside quite a lot.  Gaucho is on the left of the picture.
Shortly afterwards, Eck is down followed by Fergus at the rear.  Fyta is in front with Gully at the rear.  No sign of Rufus as he has cleared off letting Eck get on with it!
Faro at the front, standing side on to the human, 'guarding' his pals!
We never seem to have the camera available for classic shots but here is Hunkey Dunkey on the perch with the Blackrock with the Bluebell and Light Sussex behind.  Shortly before this (and causing Robbie to run to the house for the camera), Hunkey had been standing on the perch with the Blackrock completely under his outstretched right wing with just her beak poking out from under the protection.  It really looked like he was protecting her - instead of her trying to steal his heat!
And finally...........we have had some beautiful afternoons during this week with warm sunshine, despite everything being frozen - including the sanded track down to Tigh Mhor.  This shot looks west to Strath Glass and Glen Strathfarrar and taken from the edge of the new house site.  Stay warm everywhere - have a good week!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Alpaca Avatar?

Not a very exciting week here being the first week of the new year, but plenty of tradesmen activity at the new house site.  We had reason to complain bitterly about the condition of the packaged haylage we received recently- it turned out to be very dark in colour, slimy to touch and smelling to high heaven!  Having previously complained about the product quality we got two free bales and these have turned out to be as bad.  As these bales come from the north of England via an animal feed contractor, we wondered whether the very wet weather in the south over the past months had anything to do with it.  Anyway, we've emailed the company and having dumped the two free bales will now get our haylage from another supplier. We've had a week of mixed weather and Gully pictured above has made full use of the muddy rolling space - even managing to get the underside of his chin messed up. 
Fergus, with Wee Eck and Rufus behind him and the hens in the background.   The boys had just had their supplement and Fergus likes to stand and wait to see if the human will produce some more for him! 
Gaucho.
When the weather is bad sometimes, the best thing to do is hit the shelters and chill!  Fergus in front, Gaucho to the left and Fidget at the rear.
Thursday night was particularly frosty yet the boys stayed out only coming to the shelters for feed in the morning.  Wee Eck showing his breakfast 'frosties!'
Gully (rear) and Fyta turning up their noses at the offending haylage.
And finally..............no, not an Avatar,  just a view of Fergus from the rear!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Drying out - at last.

 At last the boys have managed to dry out - thankfully we've had no heavy rain during the past week.  We did have to resort to deploying sandbags at the top of our track about a week ago when flooding from nearby land became a problem.  The grass is wearing a bit thin now though so the square bales of hay are not lasting too long.  This is Fidget in the bottom paddock with Tigh Mhor behind him.
This is Gully who is a real 'puddle-jumper' and does not like to walk through mud so will always try to avoid it or jump over it.  If he is forced to walk through mud he takes his time, watches the ground intently, placing his feet gently as if he doesn't trust that the ground is actually solid beneath him.
Faro (foreground) and Fyta, two old pals who were part of our first four boy herd.   Not a lot of grass here either but they do like to nibble at the tiniest blades of grass sometimes.
Rufus, with Gaucho behind and Wee Eck at the rear.  
The two white boys, Fergus (front) and Fidget who were the other two of our original four boys.   They have completely different characters, but then all eight of the boys have different characters from each other.
One characteristic they all have is that they appear to have great eyesight and can see animals (or humans) when they are hundreds of yards distant.  Wonder how Alpaca eyesight compares with that of other animals?  They will stand for ages watching a solitary crow or rook pecking at the ground several fields away.  Here they are watching some sheep moving in a far off field. 
And finally.............this is the third 1000 piece Christmas jigsaw to be completed.  Now we are all 'jigsawed out'  so the remaining puzzles will have to stay in a cupboard until the next spell of bad weather (or next Christmas perhaps?)  Yeah!