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 January 2015

Green stuff - at last!

We've waited all of this week to try to get some photos without snow on the ground!  The snow had frozen on the ground last week and refused to budge.  It disappeared on Thursday then re-appeared on Friday but today it's mostly gone.  Good job too as the boys were getting a bit fed up of hay and haylage with none of the green stuff on offer.  Faro in particular always wants some grass if he can get it.
Rufus and Wee Eck in a corner of the paddock where the snow was still lying.  They like to keep an eye on a neighbour's sheep.
Here they are again, best of pals who love an argument before settling down next to each other!
Gaucho with Fergus and Fidget behind. Gaucho is a quiet boy who never gives us any problems.
Gully, big pal of Gaucho and always inquisitive.   
And finally..............the Daffi bulbs are beginning to put in an appearance, poking through the frozen ground.  Always lovely to see these and the snowdrops putting in an appearance early in the year.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

It's winter after all!

It never rains but it pours, if you get my drift.............!  After the hurricane like winds last week, Mon and Tue were very wet with lots of sleet and flooding all around.  Then Wed at 8.00 am it was all change for a dumping of snow. Once the footpaths were cleared it was time for the boys to get dug out.
They much prefer this sort of weather to the sleet and rain, and they know they will get extra feed because the grass is covered!
We always try to help a little by clearing snow from in front of their shelters.  The snow is also a great excuse for them to totally mess up the inside of their shelters.
Haylage goes down well with all the boys.  We clear a big circle on the ground and lay out 8 bundles of it which they scoff quite quickly.  At present they are getting haylage twice a day with hay being topped up when required.  They do need water too of course as it must be pretty hard eating just hay and haylage. 
And when there is snow on the ground the bowls of sugar beet are dispensed  at 1000am.  I wish we could have got a photo of all the boys with their black mouths after eating beet!  This is Fidget.
This is Fyta getting up to pranks again.  If he fancies another boy's food after his own, he doesn't argue or barge in - he just picks up the bowl and walks off with it!   Gaucho is the loser here.  Rufus and Fergus are in the background.
And finally..........we found our 'alpaca crossing' sign which has been hanging at the top of the drive for years.   Last week's wind put paid to it and this is all thats left. Unfortunately the grumpy gardener has been suffering from  a bad case of man flu sine Thursday so we're praying that we don't get too much more snow before he's better.  The forecast is for a very cold week ahead - so wrap up, keep warm.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Stormy weather.

Thursday night of this week will not be forgotten in a long time!   Howling gales, no electricity and no sleep as the whole of the north of Scotland wondered if their collective roofs were going to stay in place.  We lost our greenhouse, our main gate will never be the same again and the black polythene on the veg plots beloved by the grumpy gardener was draped around various hedges! Considering the amount of damage caused especially to local trees we've been lucky. We got our electricity back on Fri morning only to lose it again on Fri evening but as I type this there are still thousands of people who are without power, late on Sunday afternoon.  A major concern for us was how the boys would react to the extreme weather and the first four photos show that they were fine although they all looked a bit bewildered.  This is Gaucho with Faro and Fyta behind.
No chance of big boy Fergus getting blown away, should have used him to anchor the greenhouse!
Fidget always looks bewildered anyway!
Rufus was a little more anxious.  We know that he does not like being pushed by strong winds so what he must have thought of the Thursday night gales can only be guessed at.
Robbie's initial inspection by torchlight early on Fri morning did not reveal this large birch which had come down over our fences from our neighbour's field but it was discovered an hour or so later.  At this stage it was a tangled mass of branches and to the right, out of shot are another 4 large trees also uprooted but thankfully staying on our neighbour's side of the fence.  The initial work with the chain saw cut a path and got rid of the pressure on the fence.
By the end of the day only the main trunk remains to be felled, the chain saw is red hot and Robbie's arms are hanging from their sockets!  So still plenty of sawing to do but the consolation is that we now have next winter's log supply sorted.
And finally................this morning's scene with some overnight snow, as the boys come to greet us and tell us they are ready for their breakfast.  If you've been affected by the storms this week, hope you are OK and that you have suffered no damage to your property. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Another week, another year!

Happy New Year everyone!  Is it just me or do the years really pass quicker the older one gets? The boys don't seem to bother about the passage of time - as long as their feed is there on time each day, there is plenty of hay in the buckets and the water is regularly changed then they are happy chappies.  Whilst the rest of the herd tucks in, Faro comes to check out what the photographer is up to.
Nothing better than seeing all the animals getting stuck into their feed.
Taken today in bright sunshine but a bitterly cold wind this is Gully asking if there are any more carrots. Fidget (rear, left) is chewing his carrot and Fergus is looking on.
Wee Eck just likes to show off and prove that he can get a lump of carrot into his mouth at the same time as he is chewing a lump of grass!
Over the past couple of weeks the Grumpy Gardener has been laying manure on all the veg plots and covering them with black polythene as he intends only using a couple in 2015 - running two gardens is a lot of work so priorities now exist........anyone want to buy a house this year by the way?!  This photo was taken when the overnight frost was still heavy on the ground.
And the second festive period job was to re-stack the compost bays.  The furthest away on the left and covered with polythene is the oldest, the contents of the right bay were shovelled into the middle bay and that is now covered in polythene.  The empty bay is now not so empty after several barrow-loads from the daily 'bean-run!'
And finally....................the last jigsaw of the festive period (honest!)  Colourful but a bit tricky ensuring cross eyes sorting out the shades of blue and purple.