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, 30 June 2013

Crop circle time again.

Having watched Kate Humble's programme on alpacas from Peru we can relax in the knowledge that our boys have a really comfortable existence here - as elsewhere in UK with other owners.  Back to more mundane things here and common to all of us will be the poo pile areas on which the grass grows much thicker and higher than the rest of the paddocks.  All very well but a bit of a test when it comes to trying to keep the paddocks clean.  The three areas can clearly be seen front, middle and bottom of this paddock - even though the photo is not of the best quality.
Our solution to this problem is either the strimmer, or more often, the sit on job!  The noise doesn't scare off the boys, they are just curious about this new machine which makes more noise than the  daily visit from the Poop Recovery Vehicle wheel barrow with the squeaky wheel which the grumpy gardener pushes around!  Gully having a look at the sit on.
The boys watch the action from a safe distance.
The mower makes short work of the longest of the grass.
The result of the cut though is that from a distance it looks like crop circles in the paddocks.  Still, it keeps the passing tourists amused!
Elsewhere, down at the boys' steading the Pied Wagtail brood have finally taken to the air - well, almost.  This youngster got itself trapped behind a barrier but was soon helped to freedom by a friendly human, much to the delight of mum and dad wagtail who were creating a din nearby.
And finally............ the Weigela bush on the right has been in this position at the side of the drive  for around 12 years  but this is the most flowers we have ever seen on it.  Perhaps like some other plants, Hostas for instance, it has benefitted from the longer, colder Spring.  A tree heather is in the background with a flowering cherry on the left.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Midge madness

The weather during this past week has gone from 'very hot' with no midges to 'balmy' with millions of midges!  We know from experience that for a couple of weeks after shearing the boys are very sensitive to anything landing on them, especially on the underside, near the all important 'bits!'  The boys have spent long periods in their shelters trying to get away from the biting hordes, or dipping in the water trays or just running about trying to avoid them.  These photos were taken in the early morning when it was damp from overnight rain, and warm.  Faro has one foot in the tray but is soon nudged out of the way by Fyta who loves the water.
Then along comes Fergus who is also being driven mad by the flying beasties and wants to take over the water tray.
The result as all alpaca owners will recognise is the 'heads in the air' stance and spitting at the sky!  Wee Eck has also arrived at the tray for a bit of a splash.
There goes Gully, trotting off to the shelter and trying to avoid the midges.  He has particularly sensitive skin and he will often remain in the rear darkness of the shelter until the wind rises or the temperature drops and the midges disappear.
And there goes Rufus - he's had enough of the midges too!
Now it's all too much for Gaucho so he heads for the shelter.  Meanwhile Rufus attacks the midges which are attacking his undercarriage (don't try this position at home!)
Another change round and Gaucho and Fyta are dunking again!
And finally...........after all the rushing about, dunking and midgie avoidance, best place to go is into the steading and settle down to some hay.  Front to back - Wee Eck, Rufus, Fyta and Fidget.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Just lazing about.

Not one for having his photo taken, Faro rarely presents a decent pose.  Like all the other boys though he seems very relaxed this week following their shearing last weekend.  They have spent the week lazing about in the sun and clearly enjoying not having their heavy fleece on.
Wee Eck looks completely different now, much less of a 'bruiser' and more like  a wee boy!  The baby tooth at the front steadfastly refuses to move, but it causes him no problems.
Rufus looks more of a 'lean, mean, eating machine' now with his heavy coat discarded.
Speaking of 'eating machines' - here is Fergus!  Of course he knows that the trough is drinking water, but when a boy wants to splash himself, any water will do........
Much better to get into the water tray and scoop up the water onto the belly with the right foot.........
Then run to the nearest sandpit and 'dunk' the under-carriage in the cool sand, look cute and eventually..........
A very nice human will bring a handful of hay to chew.    Simples!!
And finally..........Gaucho gets down to have a close look at Hunkey Dunkey in the adjoining chicken  run.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Poor wee souls!

It's the time of year when the alpacas go from looking great in their thick fleecy coats to this image which leaves you saying, "Ah, poor wee soul!"  Yep, shearing time again and this year the weather has been with us in the north and the animals have all been done.  This is Gully looking a bit dazed and forlorn after losing his coat.
A few minutes earlier this was the scene as shearer James Dixon (right) and assistant Martin prepared to give Gully a 'short back and sides.'  James and Martin arrived at 10.00pm on Friday,  dusty and tired after a busy day's shearing in Banffshire, but a shower, cold beer and meal soon restored them!  'Up and at it' yesterday before 8.00am, our boys first then Beauly, Muir of Ord, Dingwall, Kildary then Croy before heading back to Aberdeenshire - these guys certainly put in the miles - and effort.  
Gaucho being prepared.
Faro (left) having been the first to be sheared tries to reassure his pals that it's 'easey-peasey' and nothing to be scared about - (they don't really believe him!)  So thats shearing for another year, almost as stressful for humans as it is for the animals, but thanks to James it is all over quickly.  Thanks again James!
Elsewhere in the garden things are going ballistic with the hot weather bringing on plants, grass and weeds at an astonishing rate after the extra-long winter.  'Himself' was about to give the orchard the first strimming of the season but was under strict instructions not to cut the bluebells which are growing in profusion, everywhere.  Rabbits and bunnies are making the 'Grumpy Gardener' even more tetchy as he frets over whether there will be any cauliflower plants left in the veg garden after the furry little 'b's gain entry! 
And finally..............one very good thing this year is the numbers of House Martins which have arrived with the Swallows.  There are dozens of them flying around the garden, landing on the tattie patch and picking up soil to mix with saliva to make their nests.  They've decided that our new house would be a good site for their new nests and here are two of them flying up to the apex of the window 'eyebrow', sticking on more mud then flying off for more.  

Sunday, 2 June 2013

At last - sunshine!

At last we have been getting some decent weather, several days of sunshine last week which pleased the boys no end as they could sunbathe!   My sister Mary, her son Gary, daughter in law Maryann and grand-daughter Hannah were on holiday from Norfolk and got the best of the weather.  Here, the boys come to the gate led by Faro and Wee Eck to meet the visitors.
Maryann meets Faro and the boys.  This was a new experience for Maryann who has not been up close and personal  with alpacas previously.
Hannah met the boys over 2 years ago on her last visit so she had to renew her friendship.
Fergus is always intrigued by children and gets up close to check out Hannah - and see if she has any food to offer.
A hot day means the rolling areas are dry and dusty - just the right conditions for Gully to show off his under-carriage, with his pal Gaucho nearby.  The boys are due to be sheared next Saturday so hope the weather stays warm for them.
And finally...............the Scots pines look exotic at this time of year.  This old tree sits just outside the front gate and has lots of young cones on it at present.  Have a nice week.