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, 28 April 2013

A 'quick' nail trim

Earlier this week we penned the boys to give them a check over,  put some cream on a wee bald spot on one of Faro's legs and a do bit of nail trimming.  Waiting to see what other joys we had planned for them above are Wee Eck and Rufus in the front and Fergus (left), Fyta and Gully in the background.
As we all know, the white Alpacas seem to grow their nails quicker than coloured animals but Fergus, whose legs appear above, has the added problem that his outer nails on all four feet turn inward.  Only the very tips of the nails can be cut in his case because the flesh under the nail (the ' quick') extends right up under the nail so we have to take a lot of care when cutting.
This photo shows more graphically, the turned-in nail.  Fergus was in good form and allowed the nail clipping with no problems, probably because we only kept Fyta and Fidget in the pen with him.  If Wee Eck is in the pen with Fergus and/or Rufus they wind each other up and the spitting starts!
After being penned, the boys then wander off up to their daytime paddock  following Fergus and Faro.  Gully brings up the rear.
Weather wise we've had a week of weather swinging between cold and colder, with the forecast saying that the coming week will be even colder still.  This photo was taken yesterday and it shows how little the grass has grown this year so far in the paddocks.  We are still feeding the boys their daily beet and hay stocks are steadily reducing.
More brown grass to contemplate for Rufus and Wee Eck who are in the sandpit on the other side of the paddock fence.
And finally............. Gully carries out an inspection of the poop patrol PRV (Poop Recovery Vehicle) or PSP (Poor Scotsman's Poover!)  Have a good week.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The joys of feed time.

A bit of an optical illusion here as the bowl seems so small - but this is caused by the size of Gaucho's head and top knot.  Reading Lisa's blog (www.one-perfectday.blogspot.co.uk) about feeding her herd down in Tasmania made us laugh.  Trying to get our boys fed properly, without aggro and the occasional spit (putting all the others off), can be a bit of a job too.
We tend to feed the boys their supplement by laying out their bowls in a large semi-circle.  Generally they will go to  their bowl in the same order - Fergus is first (but often pushed out of the way by Wee Eck), Faro is second(in a metal bowl!) and Fidget is always last!  Fyta almost always lies down to enjoy his grub like this.
Wee Eck standing next to Fyta often has to be coaxed to start eating (he just wants to be hand fed!) with the result that he is always last to finish and spends his time chewing, making camel noises, guarding his bowl and fending off approaches from others intent on grabbing his food!  Faro is also a very slow eater and if disturbed will leave his bowl so we try to make sure he is left in peace to eat (you can tell that these rugged mountain machos don't get fussed, can't you?)
Gully (left) with Faro.
Rufus with Hunkey Dunkey and his hens in the next enclosure.
Wee Eck is one of those alpacas with curly hair all over his face, over his nose and under his chin.  It's a hard job to see his black eyes amongst all the curls.
And finally............'himself' got the mower out yesterday for the first time this year and soon got it clogged with moss.  He kept complaining of 'achey-breaky' backache, but with views like this from the veg garden, whats the problem?  He'll be wanting sugar in his tea next!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Old pals act!

Two old pals posing for a photo - Gaucho (left) and Gully.  Always big mates but not beyond having the occasional argument and a bit of a spit - usually over food!
Showing off their ample top knots the boys are hoping that the camera turns out to be  a carrot in disguise.  Seconds after this shot the pair ran off, jumping on each other and playfully trying to nip each other's ankles.  Happy chappies! 
Keeping an eye on whats going on - Faro.
More old pals!  We had a welcome return visit from Albert and Tia this week and this time with young Jeff on his first visit north and his first close encounter with alpacas.  Nice to meet you Jeff!
It was pretty chilly on the day of the visit but Jeff was wrapped up warmly.  He left with a hat woven from Gaucho with the softest fleece, so that will keep the cold out too!
Yesterday afternoon Gully and Fidget had a nose to nose spitting match resulting in both boys with droopy (and dripping) bottom lips. When this happens most of the boys go and find some hay to hold in their mouths, probably to soak up the spit and smell.  If we are near them we usually throw a handful of hay and they quickly get the idea.  Gully knew what to do and went to the hay bucket - but none of the others will eat out of this bucket for a while because he will leave some smells!
And finally.............the other half of the spitting duo - Fidget!  We threw him some hay and he jammed more and more of the hay into his mouth then just sat there waiting for the hay to work it's magic - and for his jaws to start working again!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

What new grass?

In an effort to give the boys a bit more grass we moved them to the bottom paddocks yesterday.  There is very little new grass to be seen anywhere but there is a green(ish) shade to the earth in these paddocks so they will nibble at that.  Following the usual stampede and frolicking when they get moved to new paddocks the boys soon settle down to eat.  Here are Fidget (left) and Fyta with the rest of the gang behind and Wee Eck in the background looking at the chickens in their compound.
Gaucho trying hard to find a few blades of new grass.
Fyta (front) and Faro showing just how bare the paddocks are this year after a long winter.  Usually by now we would expect to see quite a bit of growth in the grass but the ground is just too cold this year.
At least the daytime temperatures seem to be rising (slowly) and we have had some sunny afternoons.  In front of the steading (left) and the field shelter are Gaucho, Gully Wee Eck and Rufus.
The 'eat as much as you can' diet is obviously working on the two white boys, Fidget (left) and Fergus.  Some nail clipping required again soon for these guys.
Wee Eck (left) following Fidget out into the adjoining paddock.  Behind Eck, on the other side of the fence are the three dung storage areas with the newest material on the right.  The oldest composted material is in the left area and that should have been barrowed up to the veg garden by now but 'himself' has been busy on other things lately. 
Hunkey Dunkey (rear) and his five hens are pleased to see the alpacas back in their bottom paddocks and here they are at the fence line looking at them.  The hens also enjoy a handful of alpaca feed with the boys at feeding time.
And finally..........it might have been sunny some days this week but just look at what 7.30am looked like today!  Five hours later and it is still snowing out there!  All the boys are under cover except Faro the guard who is roughing it outside in the snow - good man!