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 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.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Autumn colours.

Another week of very nice weather with only a small amount of rain.  Most days have been sunny and warm but when the sun sinks behind the hills about 4.00pm it gets very chilly. The boys enjoy being in the rough paddocks during the late afternoon as they can catch the last of the sun. From the left Fergus, Fyta, Faro and Fidget taken yesterday afternoon.
Faro seems to be a lot livelier at present, eating 2/3rds of his supplement every day and the 'beans' have firmed up considerably.
Autumn brings falling leaves and the wind carries them into the paddocks.   They are mainly Ash, Birch and Willow  and Fyta (left) and Fidget have set about 'hoovering' them up.  
This photo was taken early this morning when the boys saw a covey of 13 red legged partridges in the garden.  We usually see a couple of these partridges every year about this time walking around the paddocks (apparently they prefer to walk often instead of flying - unless disturbed!) but we've never seen 13 in one group before. They have been with us for about a week now often walking up the track in a long line.  The birds are  in the middle of the picture, next to the fence but even with magnification it may be difficult to see them.
After the partridges the boys set about harassing Cupcake the cat who can be seen 'legging' it out of their way!
Another lovely sunny afternoon today with Faro and Fyta doing the posing.  Lovely autumnal colours around the trees at present.
And finally..............adding a splash of colour in the garden is this Blueberry (Vaccinium) bush, protected by chicken wire to keep Roger the rabbit and his pals at bay!