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, 25 May 2014

One fine day

Yesterday (Saturday) was the best day of the week.  Whilst most of the other days had been overcast, rainy and cold, yesterday was a delight so we took the opportunity to move the boys to fresh grass.  This is Wee Eck waiting for the gate to open and showing off his latest head adornment.
Down at the other end of the paddock on his own was Gaucho, staring intently at the cows in the adjoining field ( I think he quite fancies his chances with one of the ladies with the long fluttery eyelashes!)
The boys go charging into the paddock - and fresh grass.
It's not long before Fidget decides to 'dunk his bits' in the water tray!  The sun was beginning to climb in the sky and the temperature was soaring.
Rufus is next into the tray, stretching out his neck and getting the underside of his chin well and truly soaked.  He was clearly enjoying himself as he swung his head and neck back and forth.
Last in is Wee Eck and by this time the water in the tray is beginning to look a bit murky so has to be changed.  It was a really lovely day and the Grumpy Gardener had his shorts on for the first time this summer so the sight of the off-white legs scattered the boys and stampeded the cattle in the nearby field!
And finally........... a Rowan (Mountain Ash) in full flower.  We haven't seen so many flowers on this tree or on nearby apple trees for many years.  Perhaps it was due to the past mild winter.  Have a nice week.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Visitors and feeding

This has been Verm-X week for the boys with the granules mixed in with their feed.  Gully who is lying down has already tipped the contents of the bowl onto the ground - he often does this when the granules are in his feed.  Behind him is Fyta who is intent on pinching whats left in the bowl!  This is Fyta's speciality - lifting the bowl away from the feeding 'paca and carrying it off!  Fyta knows that Gully guards his food closely though so has to wait his chance and you can almost see him weighing up his chances of success here.
Faro - always a 'picky' eater since he was a cria and over the last few weeks we've been keeping a close eye on him because he stopped eating his daily supplement.  He grazes as normal and eats hay as normal but for some reason decided that he didn't want supplement.  We've tried him with a range of feeds, Charnwood, Badminton, Camelibra, Fibregest but he walked away from them all. He sometimes does this when he gets new grass but comes back to the supplement after a few days.  We drenched him for worms just in case and some time later gave him a vitamin drench.  I'm pleased to say that he's started taking the supplement again over the past couple of days but still not in the quantity that he used to.
We had a welcome visit from Brendan and Alison this week, on holiday in the Highlands from Lancashire.  They had contacted us months ago saying that they were coming north, were interested in keeping alpacas eventually and wanting to visit.  So it was a pleasure to meet them and to arrange a little sunshine for their visit!
As always, once the treats have been dispensed the 'pacas get bored with humans and wander off.  Brendan and Alison weren't the only visitors we had this week as old friends Alan and Kath stayed overnight with us after a long trip over from Ardnamurchan on the west coast.  Unfortunately (and inexplicably) all 3 photos which we took of their visit to the boys were all blurred when produced - couldn't possibly have been the wine............  We'll have better luck on your next visit folks!
 
This photo was taken from the veg garden near the Keder polytunnel looking through at the boys on the other side of the fence.  They seem to know that there is nothing to eat in  the garden at this time of year but when the swedes are ready later in the year, they will line up along the fence in expectation of getting some.
The inside of the Keder with 1st early tatties nearest on the left and 2nd earlies at the back on the left.  Nearest on the right are dwarf beans, then carrots and a few cauliflowers at the end.  All the other cauliflowers are planted in the outside veg plots which is where they really should be.  The two vines are also growing on well again.
And finally............... a Peony bush with the flowers just beginning to open.  This one is tucked in behind the hedge and is over 8 feet tall.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Spring in the air.

It's always the same when something is happening in the paddocks - I never have the camera with me!  I did have my iphone though and was able to take a couple of distance shots as the boys pronked their way around the paddocks one evening.  I think Fyta started it (as he does!) by running around, standing in the water tray then running around again.  This got Gully going and as you can see, he does rather a nice pronk, springing in the air!  Faro is on the right of the picture determined not to join in!
Gully and Wee Eck running around - and still Faro refuses to join in.  This was one of those warm, damp evenings after a day of rain when the midgies begin to bite so that may have got them going.
Most of this week has been wet with some occasional sunshine.  Fergus (left), Fyta and Wee Eck looking suitably damp.
"Things to do, places to go" as a soggy Gaucho marches across the paddock.
Gully (front) and Fidget.  Gully takes up this stance when he is curious about something he has seen or heard.  He lefts his head, puts his nose in the air and sniffs continuously and will often not move for many minutes.
And finally..............the Swallows started to arrive at Easter and are now here in considerable numbers together with House Martins, and these clumps of Bluebells are appearing.  It's a lovely time of year - as long as it stops raining!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Still chilly.

After boasting in last week's blog that we'd had very little frost this winter, Tuesday night this week was really frosty for this time of year and several of the bushes in flower, Magnolia and Camellia in particular, turned from white and pink respectively to dark brown!  We just have to hope that the apple buds have survived the frost - they look OK - otherwise we will have a poor harvest again.  This photo was taken at 7.00am on Wed, frost was on the grass, ice was in the water troughs and Ben Wyvis in the distance had a new dusting of snow.  Faro and Gully are up and about but Fergus is still lying down in the shelter.
About an hour later the boys have moved to an adjoining paddock but prefer to take it easy at this time of day.  Note that Fidget is lying on his own again, at the bottom of the paddock and looking for bunnies, and the ice from the water trough still hasn't melted. 
This photo of Rufus was taken yesterday.  Always quite nervous here he is listening to dogs barking in the distance.
Faro - not a lover of the camera, keeping a close eye on the photographer!
Fyta getting his chin stroked as he and Wee Eck help themselves to hay.  Fyta, like most of the boys, generally doesn't like being touched but does like a 'chin tickle' now and again!
This is a Clematis at the entrance to the vegetable garden, and it's in full flower at present.  The frost didn't seem to have affected it at all.
And finally..........long term blog readers may recall that about three years ago we had a visit from Gill and Ian who live on the Isle of Coll and who were very keen to own alpacas.  There was just one snag and that was that they had to build  their own house first before they could give a home to 'pacas.  Since then, they got planning permission, built their own home and moved in late last year.  Very recently they have just transported Duncan, Dixie and Bruno to the island causing considerable interest and amusement at the ferry terminal and starting what we think will be a flood of visitors to see the 'pacas at their home.  This photo of Duncan at his new home on the island says it all - beautiful.  Well done on realising your dream Gill and Ian - we think there will be a few jealous bloggers out there!