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, 24 February 2013

Frost and dust.

This week has seen generally lovely clear and sunny days (except one day when everything turned white again!) and very frosty nights.  Watching the boys nibbling at frozen grass makes us shudder so a bowl of beet in the morning is always welcome.  The boys have also had their Verm-X granules daily in their feed this week.  Gaucho is in the front of this photo with Wee Eck close behind and Gully and Faro at the rear.
We also let the boys into one of the top paddocks this week for a change of grass.   We know exactly what will happen - they will take it in turn to re-acquaint themselves with the field shelters and will take it in turn to roll in the dust!  We don't put the straw down until the rolling is finished now.  Wee Eck is deaf so often has to watch what the others are up to before joining in - here he is watching Rufus having a roll.
Gully has joined in for a roll with Rufus, and Eck is still watching the proceedings carefully!
Rufus has had enough, Gully is getting down and dirtier by the minute and Eck is still making up his mind about joining in - which he did shortly afterwards.
Later in the week after a heavy overnight frost this was Wee Eck and Rufus, nose to nose moaning at each other as Rufus ate his haylage.  These two characters joined the herd together a couple of years ago and often argue, push and shove and spit at each other over food - then the next minute they will be lying side by side chewing the cud contentedly!  Boys, huh?  The frost really shows up on the fleece of the darker animals.
Down in the chicken compound Hunkey Dunkey the Buff Orpington is looking the real deal with his new set of feathers.  Behind him here is the Bluebell.
And finally...........we had lots of requests (OK, we had two!) to see the drive with the 20 tons of newly laid chips.  Every time the camera came out there was either too much wintry shadow, too much snow or something to spoil the long shot.  Anyway, this is the last few metres of the drive as it reaches the garage end of the house.  There is still about 4 tons of stones left.........now where can I get himself to lay that I wonder?  Have a good week!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Alpacas ahoy!

Just when we thought the weather might be changing for the better earlier this week we got a sharp reminder that it is still winter!  It didn't last for long however and the rest of the week has been milder.  Nothing like a dusting of snow is going to put Fidget off his haylage though as he munches on through the snowflakes.
Wee Eck, Rufus, Gully and Gaucho have a better idea about eating their breakfast out of the snow shower.
Laid-back Fergus has the other field shelter to himself and sits out the shower
This shot was taken from inside the steading and shows the boys looking out at Fidget still munching in the snow.  Wonder if they are thinking, "Silly boy!"
On Wednesday evening we gave a talk on alpacas to a lovely group of ex-mariners and wives at the Inverness branch of the Royal Naval Association.  There was plenty of interest in the subject and in the fleece and knitted items we'd brought along.  One member of the Association - Alex, photographed in the rear row (left) wearing the pullover - was so keen to learn more.............
...........that he came out to Tigh Mhor a couple of days later with his wife and daughter Donna to have a look at the boys.  Fergus of course (front left) is more interested in discovering whether there is any food on offer!  Nice to see you folks - and thanks to the RNA for the opportunity to talk about the beasties.
And finally.............over the last few days, someone (not me!) has been doing a job involving a wheelbarrow, shovel, 100metres of driveway up to the house,  20 tons of stone chips and backache!  'Himself' says that he's going to report me to Help the Aged and anyway he says he thought that Abe Lincoln abolished slavery years ago.   Cheek!  No tea for him tonight then.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Must have 'mist' something!

We've had a couple of days of very misty conditions recently.  This paddock is where the boys should have been but at the very top I can see something.......
Here they are, soaking wet and nibbling at the sparse grass.  Faro (left), Rufus (front) and Fyta with Fidget in the misty background.
Gaucho (left) Wee Eck in front with Fergus behind.
Fidget looking suitably damp in the 'Scotch mist'!
It's either a fencing strainer with ears and legs or it's Wee Eck playing peek-a-boo!  In fact he was chewing on the strainer which some of the boys do from time to time.
The trees at the bottom of the paddock look a bit ghostly in the mist
And finally...........all is not lost in this 'dreich' weather as our first Snowdrops have started to appear.  Before we know it we'll be back to T shirts and shorts!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Wind swept and hen-pecked!

Not a lot happening here over the past week - except the gales.  Our shed door was smashed beyond repair, chicken's arcs were overturned and the conservatory roof was saved with minutes to spare.  A large birch tree was brought down in a neighbour's garden requiring lots of effort and the chain saw to clear it.  The boys tend to lie low during gales.  I think that heavy gusts tend to spook some of them when the wind shoves them, they jump but there is nobody near them!  This is Gully with his pal Gaucho behind (left) displaying his splayed legs and Wee Eck behind (right). 
Heads down for a nibble - (left to right) Faro, Gaucho and Gully in the foreground with the new build in the background.
Gaucho likes having his picture taken and will stand for ages looking into the lens.
Heads down again,  it's supplement time!  When the bowls are empty they tend to blow all over the place watched in amazement by the boys.
Fyta is the only boy who dumps his feed on the ground to eat. He will take a few mouthfuls from the bowl then he either kicks the bowl or nudges it over with his nose then eats off the ground.
Meanwhile, in the chicken compound the birds are all looking good with their new feathers in place for Spring.  Hunkey Dunkey in the middle keeps an eye on the hens stopping them from arguing with each other and will peck them on the top of their heads once if they don't behave!  Hen pecked or what?
And finally.............only one hen missing from the last photo and it's Delilah who has gone into the adjoining compound to get away from the amorous Hunkey!  She's 9 years old and is in great shape, lovely feathers, upright tail and a fluffy bum and still able to fly over the 8 feet high fence with ease.  She's a big pal of Hunkey but not so keen on his intentions when he drops a wing and starts the pre-mating dance, so she goes into the other compound and leaves it to the three new hens to get some experience in that department!