Our original 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 5 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.


Just a reminder that clicking on (most) of the photos will show them greatly enlarged.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Gathering winter fuel!

At the end of a glorious run of sunny days, this was the scene on Friday as we went with the trailer  to nearby alpaca owners Dave and Karen's hay fields at Beauly for the annual uplift.  The temperature was around 30 degrees and Dave had the hay baling machines working flat out on round and 'square' bales.
One down - 59 to go!  Actually this was our second journey so we were on bale number 50 when this was taken - little wonder the old boy looks a bit fatigued!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch the boys are enjoying the excitement of the arrival of the mobile canteen.
"This is mine!"  Looks like Gully has got his supper sorted out then!
Fergus (front) and Faro surveying the scene.  This week, on the vet's advice we've started Faro on a  daily course of subcutaneous antibiotics which will continue for 10 days.  All tests so far have been negative and his faeces appear to be more formed.  Fingers crossed.
A long range shot of the boys on the right taking a lot of interest in a number of Highland cows in the field on the left of the picture.  There are a number of calves behind the trees with their mothers and two very noisy bulls also in the field so plenty of activity to keep the nosy boys occupied!  A little magnification might help with this picture.
And finally............all the sunny weather has helped to produce a reasonable onion crop again this year.  These grew on for a bit but were then lifted and are now drying out under cover.  A good decision as it is pouring with rain today.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Faro - and flies!

It was an eventful start to the week for Faro and the humans.  Following the report from Claire Whitehead at Camelid Veterinary Services Ltd and an initial visit the previous Friday from Douglas our local vet, Douglas returned on Monday for a more detailed examination.  This photo shows Faro in the middle and Gaucho on the right and the difference in the body mass is quite distinct. Faro has always been a thin boy but he has lost a bit of weight lately and his stools have been loose (looks like  dumplings!) giving the impression that food is not being digested properly.  He eats plenty of grass and hay but it is sometimes a struggle to get him to eat very much of his supplement, unlike most of the other boys. Douglas took a blood sample, got a fresh faecal sample, checked his teeth thoroughly and also took a scan of his internal organs.  The upshot is that with one result from the Edinburgh Vet Lab still awaited, nothing untoward is showing up!  The loose stools with the weight loss tell a different story so we will have a discussion with Douglas in the coming week once the Lab results are known.  Faro continues to look slightly sorry for himself and does appear to be lying down more than he used to, but no more than the other boys.  Thank you for all your messages of concern about him and we're watching him closely.
Here he is later in the week waiting with his pals at the gate into another paddock.  Gully is far left, then Wee Eck, Faro, Rufus and Fergus.
Fergus - waiting patiently at the gate.
When the gate is opened Faro charges off followed by Fergus, Fyta and Wee Eck.
Gaucho brings up the rear but he is in no hurry, just striding along in his own time!
Fidget likes to lie in the long grass at the edges of the paddock, it's probably cooler there and he nibbles the long stalks around him.  It also helps when there are all these flies and flying beasties around - none of the boys like them so we try to spray them now and again.
And finally.......... what are guys supposed to do when the heat builds up eh?  Gully (left) Rufus and Fyta hit the pit.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Woodleigh Lodge Alpaca visit - and more.

We paid a welcome return visit to Wendy and Paul at Woodleigh Lodge Alpacas on the Black Isle early in the week.  Sammy is on the left of the photo here with Baby and Prudence in an adjoining pen.  Baby has recently been mated with Sammy so great things are expected in due course.
Pru's paddock is nearest to the garden pond so she gets the best view of the water lilies and the various wildlife which comes around.
Baby is on the left here.  Paul does a great job in managing to shear the alpacas with just Wendy's help.  Not an easy annual task but one that Paul is committed to getting more experience at.
Wendy is an expert knitter and these are just some of the excellent items she has produced recently.  The wee chap in the middle (front) with the green hat is nestled in a doughnut!
This tooth pixie is my favourite however because on his belt he has a pouch which opens allowing a tooth to be deposited by a child!  Really clever stuff.  Thanks for a lovely day Wendy and Paul, for the terrific lunch and for the cakes which the Grumpy Gardener is slowly demolishing!
Later in the week we had a visit from old friends Alan and Kath, all the way from Ardnamurchan who had brought their three grandsons with them to give them a bit of history and culture around some castle sites.  Gregor (left), Jordan (middle) and Julian seemed to enjoy their first meeting with alpacas - before going back onto their ipads, tablets, iphones etc!  Nice to see you guys - keep up the drumming/baking, IT stuff and farming respectively!
And finally...........plenty of colour on the Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) this year.  It's been a busy old week here - had to get the vet to have a look at Faro, sent his faecal samples away to Claire Whitehead for checking and the vet will be back tomorrow to take blood samples.  More on him next week.  In the meantime, Robbie has a wasp's nest to deal with in the new field shelter and we're still waiting for the hay to be ready in Karen & Dave's fields.  Have a good week.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Lazy week and some pane!

It's one of those days, the sun is high in the sky and the only thing to do is just flop on the grass and enjoy the fact that there is no heavy fleece to contend with!  Only one thing missing - Faro......
Ah there he is, whilst the herd relaxes he keeps an eye on what the human is up to!
This is Gully (front) and his pal Gaucho sharing a bucket of hay.  Not all of our boys will share their hay - it often leads to arguments but these two manage it.  Whilst the boys enjoy the hay in the steading the rest of the herd has wandered off and are now two paddocks distant.
Gaucho and Gully suddenly realised that they had been left alone and went looking for the rest of the herd - and soon found them.
In the House Martin nest above the window we can now hear the youngsters chirping.  With a bit of magnification you might just see the Martin leaving the nest in a steep dive.
Some lovely displays in the garden this year.  Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia) is in front with  Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis) at the rear.
And finally.............something completely different.   When we were building the house we had problems with crows pecking out the rubber window pane gaskets and pecking at the window panes.  We tried various humane methods of keeping them off including this one, which works.  The plastic spikes are on a strip, taped to the sill and stop the birds from landing.  We left them on for several months and the problem stopped.  Recently one crow has started knocking on the windows again so we have had to re-introduce the protection.  I suppose you could say that it is a pane, sorry - pain!