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, 31 August 2014

Gully and a visitor from America

Humans coming down the track towards the paddocks means maximum interest from the boys - just in case there are 'foodie bits' going!  Gully is usually somewhere near the front, inquisitive look on his face, nostrils wide and nose twitching.
The object of the interest is Robbie's school pal Sandy (left) who always tries to pay us a visit on his annual trip to Scotland from the US.
Human-watching, from the left are Gaucho, Gully, Rufus and Wee Eck
Gully is a lovely-natured boy.
The weather first thing this morning was lovely and it was one of those occasions when the boys seemed to be socialising with each other.  They were all close to each other, several eating hay from the same buckets and with very few complaining noises.  Normally these guys like their own ample space and rarely share a bucket of hay, even with their best pal!
A Red Admiral butterfly resting on a gate this morning.  Lots of colourful butterflies around the garden just now - they are lovely to watch.
And finally.............whats a beefy guy supposed to do after a big breakfast with pals in the sunshine - but snooze?!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

"Halt - who goes there?"

We always smile when we surprise the herd by appearing unannounced and Faro does his macho bit!  He presents the biggest profile he can with head, ears and tail up and does a wee gallop.  The rest of the boys take little notice but Faro, on the right of this picture is alert.
This is the 'ears back' stance when he stands working out what the humans are up to.  As you see, the rest of the boys take absolutely no notice and let Faro do his guarding duties!
Gaucho (left) Fyta and Fidget.
We often refer to Fyta as 'Smiley Fyta' because he has a dark mark on the left side of his mouth which often gives the impression that he is smiling.  See?
Gully (left) Rufus and Fergus
The peas and broad beans are ready for picking and this was the first lot to be shelled, blanched and put in the freezer.  We'll pick some more next week.
And finally...........we said, "Cheerio" to Hunkey Dunkey and his ladies this week as we re-homed them with Wendy and Paul at Woodleighlodge Alpacas on the Black Isle.  Now that we've moved house, the chicken compound is quite distant and we decided to re-home them rather than just move them a bit nearer.  Dunkey will be thrilled as they have moved to 5 star chicken accommodation and 3 new hens have been added to his harem!   

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sun-bathing and Swallowing!

We've often mentioned Fidget's habit of doing his own thing, staying slightly apart from the herd and lying on his favourite spot tucked in behind the fence at the top paddock.  Here he is doing just that!
Amongst the heavy downpours this week we have also had some lovely sunny intervals and time for the boys to catch up on their sun bathing.  This photo is of the top paddocks and Faro spots the approaching human so runs to the gate with his tail up.  He can be seen in front of the nearest field shelter.
Here he is checking out the photographer!  He is still showing his shaved section at the bottom of his neck from where a blood sample was recently taken by the vet.  All of the wide variety of tests on his blood and faeces proved negative. Faro is eating all of his daily supplement now so that pleases us but he is still depositing 'dumplings' rather than 'beans' so things have not yet settled down in his digestive system.
Someone has to keep an eye on the human whilst the herd soaks up the sun!   Rufus is lying in front with Wee Eck and Fergus behind and Gully, Fyta and Gaucho in the background.  Fidget is out of sight behind the fence on his favourite spot!
It may be late summer but this Lily has opened up to show lovely colours.
And finally.................just for Jayne of Zanzibah Alpacas who loves swallows - these two guys were sitting in the woodshed waiting for Mummy Swallow to arrive with some food.  Imagine their surprise when instead, the grumpy gardener arrived with a camera!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Belladrum and Ruilick

Friday and Saturday saw the Tartan Heart Music Festival (www.tartanheartfestival.co.uk) being staged at Belladrum, a couple of miles from us here. Friday proved to be very wet but the 16,000+ welly booted music fans didn't seem to mind especially since the day's acts were closed by Tom Jones!  Saturday provided a lovely day and evening and the festival was brought to a close by Razorlight then a firework display around 11.00pm.  It was a moonlit night and we could see the boys in the paddocks below us charging about and pronking as the fireworks lit the sky.  Sunday morning was lovely and sunny but all that pronking and jigging comes at a cost and the boys had a long lie to recover!  Gaucho and Fyta above have a snooze.
Breakfast was a leisurely outdoor affair in the sun which a kind human had organised.  Wee Eck (left), Gully and Gaucho enjoy their hay from their buckets.
Faro and the rest of the boys are just around the corner.   We continue to keep a close eye on Faro, he's now eating his daily supplement plus plenty of grass and hay so we hope that he will put on some weight, although he is still leaving 'dumplings'  instead of beans on the ground!  The lovely weather only lasted until 11.00am yesterday then the rain just got heavier and heavier as the remnants of Hurricane Bertha hit the Highlands.
By the time yesterday afternoon came around it became a very wet visit to see the new cria at Graham and Kirsty's Ruilick Alpacas above nearby Beauly.  Here are Flynn, Archie and Astrid all posing whilst the mums get stuck into their feed, behind.
And these are last year's cria - Merlin on the left with Chocolate.  They are both lovely boys with Merlin being the more inquisitive of the pair.
Here we are enjoying a wet but lovely 'alpaca afternoon'.  Men (from left) Robbie, Paul (Woodleigh Lodge Alpacas) and Graham and (front) my niece Judy up on hols from Cornwall, me, Wendy (Woodleigh Lodge) children Dillon and Bethany with mum Kirsty.  Merlin and Chocolate looking on.  Thanks for the welcome tea and cakes folks!
And finally...............in the veg garden, the broad beans are looking good.  Behind them are several rows of peas so a big shelling session will be underway soon to fill up the freezers.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Blowing hot and cold.

We've gone from roasting hot days this week to very cold days and we were even persuaded to light the log burner in the kitchen yesterday evening.  Like everyone else in the north we have had lots of rain and wind during the last two days then periods of really warm sunshine when the boys just get into sun bathing mode. A few photos from early mornings and this one shows Gaucho in front, Gully making faces in the middle and Fidget at the rear.
Wee Eck getting up close.  He doesn't like being touched or stroked but he enjoys coming up and smelling the human's hair or hands.
The early morning graze with all heads down - except Faro of course on the extreme right who remains alert.  We finished giving Faro his 10 days course of antibiotics but so far are seeing no difference in the state of his soft faeces.  He continues to eat plenty of grass and hay and is eating a half measure of supplement so we're happy with that for now.  We'll try some probiotic later in the week to see if that will help the microbes in his gut to function better, but  there are conflicting views on the efficacy of this treatment. 
There is always a straggler when the herd is on the move - and it's often Gully.  Here he is catching up with the rest of the boys as the go to another paddock.
About 6 months ago we gave an alpaca talk to the Beauly Senior Citizens Club and they expressed a wish to visit the boys "when the weather gets better!"  True to their word 24 of the ladies arranged to visit us whilst they were out and about on a bus run on Friday.   Unfortunately it was a very rainy day but a good time was had by all.  Many thanks for the gifts of carrots and apples for the boys ladies, and they continue to enjoy them every day since your visit.
Down in the chicken compound Hunkey Dunkey and his hens continue to enjoy their summer.  
And finally..........all this wet weather with sunny intervals is doing wonders for the Gunnera  plant which still continues to thrive in a normally dry part of the garden.