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 July 2013

A damper week

Another summer's morning and the boys queue up at the gate to be let into the top paddocks.  Faro presents his usual alert stance with his tail in the air checking that the approaching human is not a threat to his disinterested pals who carry on chewing grass!
Gully warns Fyta to keep out of his personal space, with Gaucho behind and Fidget lying down chewing the cud.  Through the fence on the left is the veg garden and the boys often line up there in the hope of something tasty being thrown over for them.
Only one thing for an alpaca to do first thing on another hot day and that is to have a cooling bath.  Wee Eck decides  it's for him!
The gentle Rufus who tends to keep a low profile in the herd - until Wee Eck winds him up then the pair will moan and groan at each other with their heads in the air.
The hose has been in action several times over the last week as the temperatures soared but the last couple of days have given us thunder and torrential downpours.  Thats a nice change for the boys as it's been weeks since we've had rain and they do like getting soaked now and again.
We found this juvenile swallow lying dead at the front of the house having apparently flown into an upstairs window.  We have literally dozens of swallows and house martens flying around the house and sitting on the tiles this year, but it is still unusual to have a flying casualty from this species.  He was given a dignified burial in the garden!
And finally........... in the veg garden, early tatties have been dug up in the foreground with second earlies ready now.  The next plot contains swedes for the boys this winter, behind that is the cauliflower and winter cabbage plot for the humans and in the background is half of the expected pea crop - the rest of the crop was demolished by bunnies/mice/birds. Two small rabbits have found their way into the veg garden (again) so 'himself' is going slowly demented trying to get rid of them! Have a good week.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

It ain't 'alf 'ot, Mum!

Probably the best thing to do in this hot weather is to flop amongst the buttercups - just like Fidget.  He enjoys his own company sometimes and likes to watch the rest of the herd from a distance.  It's been a busy week of water carrying and hosing down of animals because it's not often in this part of the world that we have day after day of sunshine with no rain!
We had a visit from near neighbour Marion along with Anne this week.  Anne and husband Archie have two alpaca boys, Bo and Paddy as well as other animals but this was the first time they had come to see our boys.  Another hot day with troughs, trays and sand pits all in action as the boys tried to keep cool.  Here, Marion tries to get Gully to turn around for the camera - no chance!
Favourite spot in the heat, especially after getting a soaking in water is one of the dusty rolling patches, recently enlarged by someone who wanted 'divots' for the garden at the new house!
Another day, more heat and another chance for Fyta to get a splashing.
Flies and other beasties are a problem for the boys at present.  We penned the boys at one point and sprayed them with Barrier healthcare fly repellent and that does seem to keep the flies at bay for a while.  On another day we tried (unsuccessfully) to spray them again in a paddock and all that happened was that they ran off and formed a sort of protective circle.
Down in the chicken compound, the birds are also feeling the heat and spend long periods either in the shade or spreadeagled out in the sun.  The black-currants have now ripened and Hunkey Dunkey and his hens enjoy having a handful thrown for them to find.
And finally...........following on from Jayne at Zanzibah Alpaca's recent blog photo of her roses, thought I'd post this shot of one of our multicoloured blooms.  Is anyone else finding that this year, probably due to the weather, their flowers and bushes are more colourful and lasting longer?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A busy week.

This is something which was probably going on around UK this week - hosing down the animals.  It's been a surprisingly hot week, day after day of blazing sun, a real change for this part of the world. The hot weather also  coincided with lots of other 'happenings' such as tarring of the car park at the new house and picking up the 52 bales of hay for storage.  In this photo, Rufus is sitting in the background with Fergus snoozing in the grass and the rest of the boys trying to get the spray on their undercarriages. 
Part of the hay load, 23 bales still in the trailer and the other part of the load ready to be barrowed to the steading.   The temperature was 29 degrees when we were picking the bales from the hay field so it was hot work.
Fresh hay is a big attraction for the boys so when the barrow gets to the steading there is no shortage of volunteers to try a mouthful or two before it gets stored.
OK boys, form an orderly queue - meals on wheels has arrived!
Faro (foreground) with Fyta behind, take the opportunity to grab a mouthful.
Barrowing of the hay was made much easier this year because of the help Robbie got from our two old friends, Ken and Sandy, who were spending a few days with us.  So much for a restful holiday folks, but thanks for your help.  We also had a visit from Wendy and Paul, alpaca owners who have moved to the Black Isle near Inverness.  Forgot to have the camera ready during their visit, but nice to meet two more 'paca fans.
And finally..........Boris the bear was on the move this week from Tigh Mhor, up the track to the new house (Fassach Beag.)  As Calum was on site this week with the digger it was an ideal opportunity for Boris to 'bear' the indignity of this mode of travel.  He now stands at the new house, overlooking his old domain.  

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Phew -it's hot.

As we seem to have been doing nothing but complain about the long winter and cold weather, we'd better do the British thing and complain about the hot weather now!  It's been pretty hot some days but looking at the weather charts, you folks in the south of the country must be melting by now in the high temperatures.  It's great to be wearing T shirts and shorts again though!  This is Fergus 'taking on water' and as he sucks it in, it's possible to watch the level of the water go down!  Next stop is the rolling area to get covered in dust.
Most of the boys like to get out of the strong heat sometimes and 'chill' in the shelters.  From the left, Faro, Fyta, Wee Eck and Gaucho in the background.
Next door in the steading, three of the boys keep out of the sun.  From the left, Rufus, Fidget and Gully.  Of all the boys Gully stays longest under cover in the heat due to his sensitive skin.
Time for Wee Eck to top up with water and he likes to drink out of the top of the watering can, if he is able.  This time the can is empty and he spends some time pushing it around and trying to lift it.
But he soon realises that this is the watering hole!
An early morning shot of the Verbascum plant which at over 6 feet in height stands guard at the entrance to the Keder.   We didn't plant it there, it just appeared last year and this year has really shot upwards.  Inside and growing well are broad beans (Sutton), French climbing beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, the vines and an olive bush.
And finally.......... a colourful corner of the car park with a variegated Rhododendron (left), day lilies, red-hot pokers and the poisonous blue aconite flowers at the top left.   Have a nice week, hope the sun keeps shining!