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 December 2014

Christmas week pics.

Christmas week started with a visit from four lovely tourists from Singapore who had traced Tigh Mhor alpacas through the internet.  It was the first time that they had seen alpacas and the boys seemed to impress!  From here the group set off to travel north to Caithness and spend Christmas there before returning south. Nice to have met you all, hope you enjoyed your holiday in Scotland.   Haste ye back!
A few photos for you taken during Christmas week which turned out to be bright, sunny but quite frosty during the nights.  This is Gully (front) and Fyta behind checking out some crows marching across an adjoining paddock.
The hefty Fidget as always wearing his inquisitive face!  He's well pleased at present because he is getting his favourite haylage as well as hay.
Wee Eck.  With the ground frozen most mornings it is chilling to watch the boys pulling up lumps of frozen grass and chewing it.  Brrrrr!
Gully (left) and Fidget enjoying the bright, winter sunshine which helped to dry their fleeces which had been wet since the previous week.
Rufus (front) and Gaucho survey the bare paddock.

And finally..............it wouldn't be Christmas here without a couple of jig-saws being done.  This is the first, a pleasure to make with loads of details and colour.  I'm working on a very difficult one at present which I hope to complete before 2015!  Happy New Year to everyone when it comes.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Walkies and worms!

To all our blog readers!
We had  another welcome visit from friends Alison and Brendan this week, hoping to get a bit more practice in at alpaca handling.  First thing then is to get the herd into 'the alleyway' and direct them to the catch pen at the top.
As normal Gully has to drop a load of beans before he gets involved with any adventure training!  Fidget is standing next to him.
Now they are all in the catch pen, waiting and humming! From the left (front) Fyta, Fergus and Fidget with Gaucho and Gully at the rear.
Alison has an in depth conversation with Gully giving him very good reasons why he should be a good boy and "Walk on."   And it worked!
Wee Eck with the head collar sticking close to Gaucho and you can almost hear him saying, "Hey Gaucho big man, tell them I don't want to go walkies today!"
"He disnae wan tae go so he's no gonnae go! Beat it!"
And finally...........we had a visit yesterday from neighbours Kate and Derek with children Rebekah, Bella and Ben, all well wrapped up against a cold wind.  The boys appear more interested in Ben's hat but he got his own back and asked the question of the day as he held a wriggling specimen in his hand, "Do alpacas eat worms?!"  Nice one, well done Ben - hope you all enjoyed the 'paca experience.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A bit of white stuff

If the TV news is to be believed we've all had a bit of wild weather this week, some folks more so than others. We had a couple of days of gales mid-week followed by some of the white stuff and ending up with lashing rain and gales again today.  Gully here is unimpressed by snow because he can't get at his grass!  If you magnify the photo you will see his lovely long eyelashes.
Wee Eck also likes to get his nose into the snow.  With this wintry weather comes  the need to bulk up their rations and a square bale of hay soon disappears down eight long necks!
This photo was taken just after 8.00am when the boys are all at the gate waiting for the human to arrive and dish out the haylage.
"Mmmm, thats nice" appears to be Fidget's expression.  Not only are the boys quite wet but they are also still having a roll in what was the dust bath - now the mud bath, as demonstrated by Fidget!
There is always one fella wanting to have his breakfast in peace and quiet away from some of the more 'pushy' boys. Fergus likes the human to put his haylage into his tub away from the rabble - and of course the human obeys!
By 1100am the humans start to fret that the animals will be starving (!) and so the sugar beet is dished out.  We use the pelleted sort, either soaked overnight in cold water or over a shorter period in hot water.  Fergus (second left) can be seen looking towards the field shelter where he expects his bowl to be placed - and of course the human obeys!
And finally..............Robbie removed an old cupboard from the inside wall of the hay store and in doing so thought at first that these brown lumps were mould.  On closer inspection of course they turned out to be hibernating bats and magnifying the picture shows their wee leggies and feet gripping onto the chipboard.  By the time Robbie had organised something else to cover them the bats had shuffled off to another dark corner of the store to resume their snooze. Wonder if both bats woke together or one woke the other up, in any case they moved on.  The Grumpy Gardener now has a new name.....................Batman! 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Casting long shadows

A series of early morning photos of the boys with the low lying sun in the south east just about clearing the trees and casting long shadows.  Away to the west the dusting of snow on the hills has become a bit more pronounced as the week has gone on.  The boys prefer this type of clear, frosty weather to the recent mists - don't we all? 
Fidget with his hefty girth - not fleece, more like body mass!  Gaucho is behind him.
Fyta - always interested in whats going on and always on the look-out for food. Now that the much colder weather has arrived, breakfast for the boys is haylege which is a nice change from the drier hay which is always available in their buckets.
Quiet boy Rufus who is never pushy about anything. On the extreme left are Faro  (rear) and Gully.  You can tell by the 'heads up' stance that there is a slight argument going on!
Gully is always interested in the camera.  He's a tall, slender boy but does not put up with other alpacas invading his personal space, although he gets into their space frequently at feed time!  Standing behind him and looking more like Trigger the horse is actually Fyta the alpaca! 
Faro looks as if he is giving a seasonal rendition of 'Silent Night' here!  He's actually got something momentarily stuck in his teeth which he soon clears.
And finally...........the 'Corkscrew Hazel' (Corylus 'Contorta') has at last dropped most of it's leaves following an overnight frost.  Although catkins are not normally due to show until around February this one has lots of catkins already, probably as a result of the recent mild weather. This contorted tree is described in one of my gardening books as 'a curiosity rather than a thing of beauty.'  Thats a description that can be applied to a lot of things!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Misty eyed and visitors

Everyone's favourite boy here, Fergus, giving his big-eyed pleading look for something juicy to eat to take his mind off all the mist we've had (again) this week!
Two minutes earlier he had been giving the Grumpy Gardener the pleading look through the fence leading to the veg garden.  You can almost hear Fergus asking for a bit of neep (swede.)
Soon all the boys are enjoying a bit, Faro is in front with Rufus standing behind him.
Wee Eck is determined not to let this bit of neep get the better of him!  Normally they just nibble them on the ground.  Fidget is behind.
Today has seen glorious weather and we had a lovely visit from sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Sheila and Jim and some members of their family.  The boys thought that Christmas had come early as carrots and grapes were being dispensed!  OK folks, time to turn around and smile for the Grumpy Gardener please...........
Thats better!  From the left me, grand-daughter Heather, son Colin, great-grand children Chloe and Cameron, Jim and Sheila.  The sky has been clear and blue all day so that will mean a frost tonight which the boys will enjoy.
And finally............. there have been some large skeins of geese flying south this week, sometimes they can't be seen in the mist but they can certainly be heard!  These are 12 swans, also heading south and 'honking' loudly as they fly.  Have a nice week.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Almost 'mist' the boys!

Another misty morning!  This has been a week of heavy mists and dampness, not really the kind of weather the boys enjoy too much.  Faro is at the front of this group as they come to investigate what the human is up to.
The boys always have hay in their shelters throughout the year, but they also like the occasional handful of hay thrown on the ground for them first thing in the morning.  Sometimes they are not interested in this but if one boy starts eating, then the herd joins in!
Gaucho looks darker than normal with his damp fleece.   Rufus is in front of him with Faro, Gully and Fyta behind.
Give this guy a handful of hay and he's happy!  Fidget - showing his piercing black eyes and pink top palate!
We paid a visit to Dalneigh & Bona Church Guild in Inverness this week to give an alpaca talk to an audience of enthusiastic ladies organised by Pru Wilson.  Thank you for the warm welcome ladies and your interesting questions - and of course for the tea and home bakes at the end!
And finally.............at the end of this damp week, an eerie picture of the misty cobwebs all the way around the fencing.  The flies don't stand a chance do they? 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Frosty morning and visitors

We've had a mixture of rain and mist this week but on one particular morning it was very frosty.  Trying to get a photo of Wee Eck's frosty ear tips proved difficult - you can just see them against Rufus's body.
Eck refused to face the camera so I had to get another photo of the back of his head!  The frosty ears show up a bit better.
Back to thumping the water troughs again to get rid of the ice!
We had a very nice visit this week from Alison and Brendan who have recently moved from the south and bought an 8.5 acre croft in Easter Ross with the intention of having some alpacas as company.  They have featured in a previous blog in May when they were here on holidays but this visit was all about getting to grips with haltering, toe nail clipping and feeding habits.  At least the rain held off for the sessions.
Every well behaved alpaca should get a grape for being a good boy.  Alison is deep in conversation with Fyta who just wants another grape! Thankfully the boys were quite well behaved for their visitors and even though they have been on their Verm-X granules in their feed this week, still managed to show how to clean out their feed bowls.
And finally..............Fyta investigating the inside of the hay store.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Tip Toe through the mud!

Each morning over the past couple of weeks the boys move from their overnight paddocks into an adjoining 'rough' paddock.  They go to the gate automatically when Robbie appears in the morning and this is Faro leading the way as always, waiting to go through.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of rain we have had recently the path between the paddocks has become very muddy and whilst some of the boys walk/run through it with no problem, some are reluctant to get their tootsies wet! Fergus in the foreground and Rufus have no problems with mud and walk across.
Gully on the other hand is always dubious about this boggy land and tip-toes across like someone walking and trying not to get their shoes wet!
Gully is across and now only Fidget to go.  Being a heavier boy he sinks a couple of inches in the mud and is normally less than impressed with the idea of moving paddocks!
All safely across, so time for heads down and some grazing the rough stuff!
This photo of Fergus was taken at sunset at the end of another very rainy day.  He does have a second ear by the way!
And finally...........the birds are enjoying the Sorbus berries (foreground) and the holly berries behind.  There won't be any left by December at this rate.