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, 29 June 2014

Shear delight!

Shearing was scheduled for yesterday (Saturday) so on Thursday the boys were moved down to the bottom paddock with the bigger shelters in readiness.  The boys are unaware of the imminent move and laze around first thing in the morning - whilst Faro remains standing and alert.
Faro is a very intelligent creature as we've mentioned before, he watches everything that goes on and often knows what we say.  Whilst the boys were lying down in the last photo,  Robbie said to Faro, "Okay, go on, go to the gate" and off he trotted and stood looking over the gate knowing that they were being moved!  Great excitement then as the herd run skip and jump through two paddocks before getting to where they should be.
We put the boys into the open steading overnight Friday as rain was forecast, and sure enough it did rain.  First thing on Saturday morning it was drizzling again when James Dixon started to shear.   First up is always Faro and here he is, standing naked in the cold drizzle telling his pals to "Man up" for the short back and sides!  The boys preferred the human words of comfort and TLC though.
Four sheared and four to go. From the left Fidget, Gully, Gaucho (rear) and Fyta don't look exactly excited by the prospect of a haircut do they?  Eight alpacas under cover overnight does lead to a messy floor though.
Fyta goes for the all over trim by James who is helped by his wife Kym (left) and assistant Serena.  As always Team Dixon did a great job not only for our boys but the other small herd owners in this area.
And after the haircut comes the reward of lying in the sandpit in the sun which has just come out, with none of that thick fleece to get in the way!  Rufus is on the other side of the fence.
And finally................Fergus smiles in contentment now that a weight is off his shoulders!  One final comment and that is that we find that when the boys have been sheared they roll around a lot and rub themselves along the fences and against fence posts, obviously enjoying the feeling after their fleece is removed.  This does mean that they are more prone to nicks and scratches and we found today that Fidget has a small nick on his skin and flies were settling on it.  We sprayed it with maggot oil immediately then followed that up with the spray-on antiseptic and it now looks dry.  Although alpacas are not prone to Fly-Strike, it can happen so the presence of flies near the smallest wound requires attention. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hose down time

We had a couple of sizzling days this week amidst the other wet days so we got the hose out for the boys.  All of them like having their bellies sprayed but Faro also enjoys the spray being played over the end of his nose.  It's obvious that he likes it because when you stop he nudges and pushes as if to say, "More please."
Faro gets the treatment on his nose whilst Fergus in the foreground waits for his turn.   Shame about the sun hat boss, a hankie with the four corners tied would be more appropriate!
Faro (left), Fyta (middle) and Wee Eck get their noses sprayed.   Rufus is in the background watching, he likes his under-carriage and legs to be soaked but draws the line at get his nose sprayed!
There is the usual melee around the water tray when the hose is in use, with plenty of shoving and pushing going on.
Best pals Gaucho (left) and Gully just soaking up the rays.  Gaucho is standing in the water tray as usual.
Another day, another one of Fyta's tricks involving food bowls!  After he's finished his own supplement he'll pinch other bowls and carry them off or tip them over with his nose or foot - anything to get another morsel.
And finally - the Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia) are all out around the garden attracting bees and birds alike.  These are growing next to the chicken compound and you'll probably be able to see Hunkey Dunkey and some of his hens in there.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A quiet week

The boys have been grazing the new paddock this week and lying about when the sun comes out. The grass is pretty rough but they don't seem to mind, it was topped a few weeks ago but clearly needs doing again.  The herd grazes unconcerned whilst Faro (foreground) as always is alert and watching the humans!
This shot just had to be taken!  The blackbird on the fence post had been flying and landing a few feet in front of me for some time.  When I stopped to take a photo he got onto the fence post right in the middle of the photograph to pose!
We've had quite a bit of rain again this week, quite a 'muggy' feel and with the odd 'slots' of baking sunshine.  The boys use their shelters a lot in this weather - they don't like it when the midge is around!  Fyta (left) and Fergus staying out of the way of flying beasties, above.  We also had a very pleasant and unexpected visit from three ladies this week, two of whom were on holiday from London.  They were intent on tracking down Tigh Mhor Alpacas and eventually were successful.  Hope the views of Loch Ness after your visit to the boys made up for the dodgy weather ladies!
When the sun is really hot the chickens lie on the ground and fan out their wings and tails to keep cool.  Hunkey on the left had just had a long drink from their bowl then he too flopped on the ground to cool off.
And finally.............we've had lots of beautiful sunsets this week including this strange one on Wednesday evening.  Have a good week.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Visitors out for a spin.

Black (Wee Eck) and white (Fergus) with heads only inches apart - a very unusual sight here as Fergus does not get on at all with Eck!  Perhaps it was the nice grass or something but normally if Eck comes anywhere near Fergus then Fergus starts snorting and spitting in the air.  Fergus doesn't realise that Eck is deaf and apt to crash around the herd taking no notice of audible or visual warnings from the others!
We had a lovely visit early in the week from Tooty (in the green) and her sister Freda.  The ladies are very interested in spinning and the boys made them very welcome.  Freda lives on her croft on the west coast and we've tried to convince her that the local scenery would be greatly enhanced by a few 'pacas!  We look forward to news of success with spinning alpaca fleece.
Visitors mean carrots so the boys are all very approachable.  Fergus in the foreground likes to demonstrate his highland dancing steps in the hope that he'll get extra rations!
We've had lots of rain again this week and Fidget decided he would stay out in it, day and night then have a mega- rolling session.  Just to remind you that he is a solid white boy............  Good job the shearer isn't due for another couple of weeks!
Gully (left) and Wee Eck.   We penned the boys so that we could spray some anti-mite oil on some feet, clipped a few nails and cut off some of Gully's fringe as he was having difficulty seeing, especially when the fringe is wet and plastered over his eyes!
And finally...............the Laburnum tree is in full blossom this week and giving off a heady scent.  We've seen an increase in honey bees already this year, so after a couple of years of hardly seeing any, thats a good sign for the summer.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Dust, mud and rabbits.

Weather wise, we've had a better week with a couple of days being really hot.  The water trays were in regular use by the boys who get soaked underneath then run to the field shelter to roll in the dust.  Here are Rufus on the left with Wee Eck whose face is covered in dust.
Gaucho also had a rolling session and this is him having a breather afterwards!
All summer long now Fidget will have his 'welly look' which he gets from lying in the water tray with his front legs tucked under him.  He then goes to the nearest rolling spot to get the mud applied and the 'wellies' are the result!
A bit of an atmospheric shot taken first thing in the morning looking up the slope with Faro on the skyline. 
And here's one to get the Grumpy Gardener even grumpier.  The rabbits are everywhere this year and it's a constant battle to keep them out of the veg garden.  This one, which Fyta is smelling had been digging a big hole in the paddock and started carrying mouthfuls of grass to line the inside.  This is obviously mum getting ready to give birth.  The rabbit was completely at ease with the boys and at one stage 3 of them were smelling it all at once whilst the rabbit carried on digging!  The gardener put an end to that, filled in the hole whilst the rabbit was off collecting grass and put a concrete block over it!
The hose was reeled out during one very hot day to give the boys a spray of their under-carriages.  Here's the gardener getting a slightly reluctant Gully to join in the fun.
And finally.....the House Martins are busy nest building.  This one is building with it's mate under the eaves above the bedroom window whilst another couple are building under the eaves above the cathedral windows.  Lovely to watch but there are piles of unused mud dropped under each site so not the best place to sit and have morning coffee in the sun - unless you want to be mud bombed!