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, 27 December 2015

A Christmas carrot (!)

If we appear in front of the boys with a white bowl, they know it's carrot time.  If we hide the bowl then you get that look which says, "I know you are hiding them from me!"  Faro gives the look, with Fyta behind him.
Fyta (left), Fergus and Faro still waiting patiently for the Christmas lunch of illusive carrots. 
"Okay, okay - enough of the jokes already on Christmas morning - make with the carrots, human!"
And whilst three boys wait at the fence, Fidget keeps his distance, always last in line, but he does get his carrots too - eventually.
Carrots finished, back to the grass.  You can see from Fergus (closest) and Fidget (furthest away) that they boys are pretty wet this week as we've had lots of rain.
And this was taken today - a much sunnier scene although Fergus (behind)  is now multi-coloured because he's been rolling in the mud.
And finally................ blog readers will know that we usually have a jig-saw on the go at Christmas.  This  1000 piece one entitled 'I love gardening' was sent to us by a niece and is full of detail (some of it quite rude!)  A Happy New Year when it arrives to all blog readers.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmassy scenes

We think the boys have been on the Christmas plonk by the look of their shiny eyes!

Monday and Tuesday this week started with a drop of the white stuff, not a great depth but enough to give the boys that quizzical look trying to find some green grass! Fergus in front, then Fyta, Faro and Fidget at the rear (as always!)
Fergus wanting reassurance that this snow would not mean any interruption to his food supply.
We know that the boys will not scrape the snow for grass so a friendly human usually scrapes some away to let them get at grass (well what else does a Grumpy Gardener do on a snowy day?)
Snow on the ground also means sugar beet rations!  For some reason Fidget always manages to cover his chin in the stuff.
S'no fun for Roger the rabbit in the white stuff, always close by usually chewing on a stalk of haylage.
By the end of the week, temperatures were almost balmy (certainly 'barmy!') and the snow had disappeared.  Neighbours Claire and Mike came to say "Hello" to the boys and dish out the carrots.  Here is Fyta forgetting his shy nature and devouring his ration. 
And finally...........who needs an artificial Christmas tree when nature gives us this?  Hope all our blog readers have a really lovely Christmas - wherever you are.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Into the catch pen.

Time to put the boys in the pen again this week, mainly to give Faro (above) his drench but also to check them over and do some nails.  This is the usual scene when we go to the paddocks - Faro runs to the fence to check us out whilst the other three boys hang back.
Fyta waiting to go into the catch pen.  The boys are very good at going into the pen (usually!) and as soon as we get the white sticks out to guide them they start walking towards the pen.
Fidget waiting to find out if he is going to be handled today - he was!  We clipped some rear nails but he was not up for front nails being cut and kushed.  Ah well, another day, another nail!
Fergus (front) with Fyta who looks as if he has only one ear!  We managed to get a few of Fergus's nails cut before he decided he wasn't having any more of it.
After penning, time for a roll in a field shelter.  Fidget leads the way and Fergus followed shortly afterwards.
And finally....................BOO!  Fergus doing his impression of Shrek for the photographer, with Fyta and Faro behind.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Wintry weather once more.

We still had a covering of snow to contend with at the beginning of the week so sugar beet was on the menu for the boys.  They do like their beet when there is little or no grass to be had.
Fyta demonstrates how to empty a bowl successfully.  The beet we use is the pelleted sort which is soaked overnight to become mushy.
There is a down-side to sticking your nose in a bowl of mushy stuff though, as Fidget amply shows. 
By the end of the week the snow had disappeared and 'Desmond' paid a visit with gales and plenty of rain. We are always relieved during foul weather to see the boys make their way to a field shelter for some hay and lie-down which they did frequently this week.  We've been watching the TV  broadcasts of the serious flooding in Cumbria and Northumberland and we hope that Beckbrow Alpacas and Barnacre Alpacas with their owners Barbara and Debbie with the respective families and many alpacas, are safe and well.  This photo shows Faro galloping towards the supply of carrots on offer!
You'd think these guys were never fed as Faro and Fergus charge up and down the fence line waiting for the carrots.
And finally...........even Boris the bear got a covering of the white stuff.  The gale force winds don't bother him though, he's too heavy to move!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Keep eating, boys!

In one corner of the field shelter are Fyta (left) and Faro enjoying their hay and haylage first thing in the morning.  It's interesting that the boys have their same feeding routine, they each go to the same bucket/basket to start with, then when they've eaten their own share they will go looking for more in other buckets if they are still hungry.
In the opposite corner are Fergus (front) with Fidget behind and Fidget is always at the back with his bucket. The other three boys are often to be seen lying in the doorway, facing outwards, chewing the cud and Fidget is always at the back facing his bucket and chewing!
Mid-week and we visited Killearnan church hall on the Black Isle to give an alpaca talk to the Killearnan Tuesday Club where 16 members attended.  They were a lovely audience who asked some interesting questions about alpacas.  The greater number of the audience are shown above, sorry that the Grumpy Gardener couldn't get you all in on the one shot, folks!  Thank you for inviting us and for the coffee and pancakes!
We've had a further dusting of snow during the last couple of days, pretty wet stuff making the boys look very dirty.  Carrots were on offer today and this is Fidget guarding a couple of slices.
Guess who has had his head in the mud?  Fergus looking like he has been chasing worms again but pleased with his new hair style.
Faro loves carrots and swedes and will carry on eating pieces when the others get fed up of it.
And finally...................I believe that this is a multi-layered toadstool (poisonous) growing out of a tree stump, but can't seem to identify it from any of our reference books.  Answers on a post card please........!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Roger and the boys - and some snow.

Three of the boys were playing 'hunt the bunny' one day this week with Roger rabbit.  You'll need to magnify the first couple of photos but Roger is seen here in the middle of Faro, Fyta and Fidget.  Fergus was grazing at the bottom of the paddock - he's vegetarian!
Fidget and Faro have lost interest in the wee furry thing but Fyta still wants to get up close and personal.
Too late - Roger legs it out of the paddock!  Roger is almost a year old and sleeps under the car at the back door, under the trailer or somewhere close to the house.  He doesn't seem to mix with many of the other rabbits around, he's quite tolerant of humans and only makes enough damage in the garden so that the Grumpy Gardener isn't compelled to load up this Blunderbuss!  Wonder how Fyta would fancy some Whippet training?
On Thursday the temperature dropped and we had a dusting of snow.  Here are the boys, first thing in the morning after having eaten their hay and now looking for some haylage.
Winter means haylage for the boys and they do enjoy a handful, mornings and late afternoons. We've bought in a bag of sugar beet but we'll wait until the weather gets really wintry before starting on that.  We also penned the boys this week to check them over, give Faro his drench and to trim Fergus' and Fidget's nails.
Fidget - "Please sir, can I have some more hay - the bucket's empty?!"
And finally - lots of geese on the wing this week, mostly flying south ahead of the colder weather.  We saw 14 swans flying in an extended line, also heading south but there are many other smaller groups on the move too.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

It's been windy, man!

Like most areas of UK we've had a bit of a stormy week for which we have 'Abigail' to thank!  A couple of days of high winds which always sound worse during the night, together with plenty of rain.  After one night of particularly high winds these were the boys just getting going first thing in the morning, left to right Fyta, Fergus, Fidget at the rear and Faro.
The rain and sleet has left the ground very soggy with some surface water  around - this is a test for the new land drainage we undertook and we're quite happy with the results.
The boys have been spending most of their time in the 'rough' paddocks, grazing through the rain but getting into the shelter when the sleet starts.  This has been the week for their regular dose of Verm-X granules mixed with their supplement and we've also started feeding haylage as well as their hay.
Feed time is always keenly anticipated by the boys, especially during inclement weather.
Soggy ground means plenty of fun in the rolling places and Fyta here displays his camouflage look.
A bit of a 'King of the castle' shot looking up at three of the boys in the rough paddock.  Fyta is standing directly behind Faro with Fergus on the right.
And finally.............amid all the rain and sleet one day the sky cleared for ten minutes and this was the view from the house looking west to the snow on the Strath Glass mountains.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A visit and a talk.

Yesterday we drove north to see friends Alison and Brendan and their growing herd of boys at Portmahomack near Tain.   They had three of their own, have recently acquired another two from Ruilick Alpacas and are looking after a further two for a while -  a real mixture of colours and ages and all getting on famously together.  From the left are Gully, Eck, Archie, Merlin, Chocolate, Flynn and Rufus.
We were entertained for some time by the boys having a bit of 'rough and tumble' - all except Rufus, who being a more mature chap, prefers to eat his grass and keep out of the way!
Time for a chase around the paddock with a bit of neck wrestling thrown in, and with wee Archie in the thick of it behind Chocolate at the front.
Looks like a bit of a scrum here and Archie is still in the middle somewhere.  Eck is doing a flanking movement on the left before jumping into the melee.
Now the big boys show how it's done with Gully (left) and Merlin sizing up to each other.  It was really good to see the boys mixing and playing so well together Alison and Brendan - just got to get your Muscovey Ducks to do what they are told now and go to bed on time eh?
Earlier in the week we had been invited to give a talk on alpacas to the Muir of Ord, Ross-shire WI meeting.  It was lovely to meet the 22 members who attended.  Thank you for the interesting questions ladies - and of course for the tea and home bakes!
And finally...............always providing a splash of colour at this time of year are various bunches of Nerines spread around the garden.