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, 30 August 2015

Enjoying the summer.

We're having better weather now that it's late summer, the harvest appears to be underway in most places but when visitors arrive, it's sure to rain!  You can't keep this 'paca away from his carrots!  Fergus knows that visitors mean carrots.
We had a midweek visit from friends Alison and Brendan who left their alpaca boys up in Easter Ross for the day and came down to visit our gang. We took the opportunity of penning the boys so that we could trim the back nails of Fergus and Fidget, the first time they have been done since shearing at the end of June.  
Here they all are, having just heard the suggestion, "Let's pen the boys and do some nails!"  Faro on the left is not bothered as his nails are OK, Fyta looks slightly concerned, but the white boys Fidget and Fergus know that this means them!  You can see in the background the grumpy gardener's new veg plots taking shape.  The right hand one has been completely dug over and rotovated with the 'Mantis' now and the turf is being stripped from the second. 
It's a hard life having to be penned - time to chill out now.  Fyta wallows in the water tray whilst Fergus waits his turn.  There obviously had been an argument before the photo was taken as Fergus has his droopy bottom lip, 'spitting gob' on!
The scene today in the rough paddock, in warm sunshine but under threatening skies as the boys take it easy after their feed.  Fyta (right) is just getting down on the rolling spot.
He is soon joined by Fergus and the pair of them lie like this, facing the sun with their eyes mostly closed for half and hour, just enjoying life.
And finally...........'Red Hot Pokers' (Kniphofia) although not the same variety as the type from early summer which have bright red points with yellow flowers underneath.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hot weather - at last!

Captured on the mobile phone, the moment Faro decides it is too hot to keep his head up and he decides to dunk his neck in the water tray!  He loves having water on his head and neck.  Fyta and Fergus are in the sand pit behind him.  Schoolchildren returned to school in the Highlands this week and the sun has been shining most days for a change!  Typical eh?
We penned the boys mid-week to give them a check over and also to rub Neem oil on various parts of their anatomies.  The oil stinks and the flies don't like it but more importantly, because it is an oil it lasts a lot longer than a spray on the animals.
Faro (left), Fyta, Fidget and Fergus in the catch pen awaiting application of the smelly stuff!  We also gave Faro a mineral drench as he is still very 'picky' with his supplement feed (Camelibra and Fibregest) and sometimes won't eat it at all.
Another lovely day this week and with magnification you'll be able to see the boys lying in their field shelter (middle of the picture), out of the sun and away from flies.  Apart from Fidget that is, who is sun-bathing on the grass, doing his own routine as always.
Another week, another project for the grumpy gardener.  Since moving from our last house we have had no veg garden and the plan is to strip the turf, dig over a new plot before the frosts come then fence it to keep Roger the Rabbit and his mates from demolishing the produce next season!  Most of the land here is on a slope and is very stoney so when the going gets rough, the grump gets going!  The boys are in the distance in the rough paddock.
And finally..............Crocosmia 'Lucifer', a beautiful colour of red.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Hay and visitors.

At long last a break in the wet weather mid-week meant that the farmers hit the hay fields in a frenzy of activity.  On Thursday we collected 31 square bales from Karen & Dave Robertson in Beauly and returned with them to the hay store.  That should keep the boys happy for the next year!  The boys were interested to know why the vehicle and trailer were parked in their paddock and the photo shows, from the left, Fergus, Faro, Fyta and Fidget.  Lots of flies about at this time and Faro is rubbing the top of his head on the grass to get rid of the beasties.
A closer inspection of the trailer by Faro (left), Fyta and Fergus revealed that it only contained a load of hay - no carrots or other goodies there then!
Yesterday evening, just as the sun was beginning to sink in the West, we had a visit from 6 lovely Swedish tourists who were on a short visit to the Highlands and staying with a neighbour. The boys were very well behaved and ate the carrots offered. Fergus was quite happy for everyone to stroke him and even Fidget stayed close.  Usually when the carrots are finished they wander off, bored with humans, but not during this visit.
Fergus soaks up more attention whilst the rest of the group take plenty of photos.  We also managed to have a rummage through bags of fleece and have a look at the spinning wheel and knitted garments.  It was a 4.30am start for the group this morning as they drove to Aberdeen airport to fly to Schipol then on to Sweden.  Lovely to meet you all, hope you'll come back and see us all again and hope you got home safely.
A lovely crisp morning today as the boys start their day.  Faro is in front of his chums, from the left Fidget, Fyta and Fergus.
After the water troughs have been cleaned and re-filled, Faro fancies getting sprayed with the hose.  He had his legs sprayed and under his chin, which he likes.
And finally........... this 'Bear's Breeches' (Acanthus spinosus) is in full colour at the moment.  Handle this plant with care as there are very sharp needles hidden just under the leaves and flowers.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pesky flies!

Apart from an odd sunny morning during the past week the rest of the days have been dull, windy and sometimes quite wet.  Still very little hay being cut locally so that tells it's own story.  The paddock grass is growing thickly this year, probably because of the amount of rain we've had.  The boys are enjoying rolling as can be seen by Fidget's normally white fleece.
Fyta is not keen on flies and usually spends long periods in a field shelter if weather conditions are attracting them.  The grumpy gardener has been doing a bit of ditch clearance with his trusty spade this week, as can be seen on the other side of the fence in this picture.
We penned the boys this week at one stage as the flies were making their lives a misery.  We gave them all a spray but especially at the back of one of Faro's legs where there is a small bald patch which the flies had started to gather around.  The boys are not keen on having their legs sprayed so we have to pen them first before they see the hand spray otherwise they scatter and penning them takes ages. 
Fergus in front.  He seems to have been rolling on the same spot as Fidget.  Fyta is standing behind him.
The four boys in the rough paddock.  We topped a couple of paddocks this week with the tractor mower because the grass is so thick.
And finally.............through the Lilys and the Ox Eye Daisies you might be able to see the boys in a distant paddock - with a bit of magnification!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Boggy bits.

Better late than never with the weekly blog - it's a Tuesday Post rather than the Sunday Post! We've had computer problems for a couple of days but hopefully all is now resolved.  Faro continues to improve, eating better and now charging around the paddocks every now and then.  We had a poop sample checked by the Vet lab and it was all clear for worms but the blood sample taken earlier when he was really ill showed that he was low in cobalt. The selenium level was OK. As cobalt is important for the working of the gut perhaps this deficiency is what was behind his recent low form.  We're now working out a regime with the vet to ensure that his mineral levels remain correct.  In the mean time, here he is leading the morning charge when it looks like the gate to the rough paddock is going to be opened by a human.
After the gate comes a boggy section which requires a bit of thought by the boys before crossing.  Faro leads, then Fergus, Fyta and Fidget brings up the rear.  They seem to tip toe over the boggy bit as they try not to sink! 
Fidget - last as always but he knows the other boys are safely across so he'd better get a move on.
When there are flying beasties about, or it is raining heavily the boys take to their cafe and chill on the hay, or chew the cud.
We had a lovely visit from Annie Grace and her mum and dad, Evelyn and David.  Annie came to see the boys last year and has been keen to say, "Hello" to them again.  Faro gets a carrot whilst Fyta waits patiently for his.
Now Fyta gets the long awaited carrot and Annie is happy with her visit!
And finally............we've been trying a variety of plants in the boggy area to see which ones will survive and grow  successfully.  This Astilbe is growing well and is very colourful.