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 December 2016

The Christmas blog

 A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all our blog readers - hope you all have a great time wherever you are.
The week started by putting the boys in the pen for Faro to have his drench and also for Fergus and Fidget to have their nails trimmed.  There is always a bit of anxiety and humming when the boys are penned so Fergus, left, and Fyta are being told that there is nothing to worry about.
This is Fergus's right foot and you can see that the right nail which always twists inwards, is in need of a trim. As well as a twisting nail, the 'quick' extends quite a way under his nails so we have to be particularly careful when trimming. I hold him in a loose 'neck-brace' whilst Robbie trims and Fergus complains!
Fidget unfortunately has started to 'cush' every time we try to cut his nails.  This has been happening over the last year or so but before that we had no real problem in cutting his nails.  He realises that if he 'cushes' that we can't get at his feet, which, like all alpacas, he tries to protect.
Trimming and drenching over, the boys follow Mum back to another paddock, pleased no doubt to be free again!
As the week wore on, the weather deteriorated with storm Barbara arriving.  We've started feeding haylage as well as hay and the boys thoroughly enjoy it.  From the left, Faro, Fergus, Fyta and Fidget behind.
The hail clouds roll in from the west, pushed along by Barbara but the boys are quite happy in the paddock.  When the wind gets really bad they 'go to ground' behind the hedge or go in their field shelter. Storm Connor arrived today with Santa!
And finally..............long suffering blog readers will know that we usually have some jig saws under construction during the short days and long nights of winter.  This year's Christmassy one was an effort - a bit too much red!  Have a lovely Christmas.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Visit to Seafield Alpacas.

We travelled north earlier in the week to visit Seafield Alpacas at Portmahomack in Easter Ross.  There, Alison and Brendan with dogs Milo and Casper and their chickens and ducks have a great time on the croft.  These are their boys, left to right, Merlin, Chocolate, Flynn, Wee Eck and Gully.
Gully, left, and Merlin with the croft fields stretching away behind them.  It was a clear day when we visited although the wind was bitter.
All five of the boys again and as always, Wee Eck's teeth stand out against his black fleece.
Carrot time for the boys with Alison.  Milo the dog is close by but the boys are unconcerned about his presence - they are more concerned about getting a carrot!  Lovely to see you all looking well, Alison & Brendan.
Back home on the ranch and three of the boys are on cat watch.   From the left, Fergus Fyta and Fidget with Faro up near the hedge eating hay.
Here he is, ears back in a typical Faro pose!  He continues to eat well at present which keeps the humans happy too.
And finally............Fidget raises a smile as he thinks about all the hard work to come this week for Donner, Blitzen, Dancer, Prancer and the other reindeer boys!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Daily routines

Overnight frosts continued into the beginning of this week and as usual the boys take a bit of time to get themselves going first thing in the morning. From the left, Faro, Fergus, Fyta and Fidget. Faro knows the morning paddock routines off by heart and will walk ahead of the human when the water is changed, the hay is dispensed and the poop patrol begun.  He goes to the closed gate waiting for the boys to be let into another paddock and of course the other three just follow him, as leader. 
In the early morning frosty gloom, Fidget enjoys some hay. He enjoys frosty weather and usually sleeps out under the stars when it is like this.
The boys love a handful of hay on the ground first thing in the morning and last thing before it gets dark. Their four hay buckets are usually empty in the mornings so there is obviously a bit of nocturnal feeding going on.
Faro is suffering from a 'runny' right eye at present, something he often gets during winter.  It's not serious and he allows us to wipe his eye with clean tissue.  We may have to use Orbenin in the eye if it does not clear up.  We've used it before and it works well.
Taken today, the boys wander up the paddock knowing that one of the humans has a tub of carrots ready to dispense!
And finally.................it's not often that we see roses in the garden at this time of year but the current warm temperatures during the last few days are playing tricks on plants and insects.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Intelligent thinking, boys!

An early morning photo from yesterday with the mist rising from the River Beauly which lies behind a fold in the land.  The field shelter is empty, the boys are already out and grazing.
They are in a nearby paddock - Fergus (front) with Fyta and Fidget in the next paddock on his own - as usual!  Faro is close by.   Interesting that they will graze going downhill, even on a sharp slope, but when they go to the toilet they always face uphill!  Think about it - that's intelligent!
It was a good, dry day yesterday with only a light wind so the Grumpy Gardener decided to burn off a pile of branches and whin (gorse) bushes.  The boys are in the next paddock, completely unconcerned by the smoke and flames.
Whats to do on a lazy, Sunday afternoon?  Well, as we're now into Winter apparently, but with warm sunshine on offer there is only one thing to do - chill!
You can almost feel the frosty chill creeping into this photo as the sun sinks behind a hill around 3.00pm and the boys are ready for their feed.  From the left Fergus, Faro, Fyta and Fidget.  Notice the brown marking on Fergus's right cheek - his mother had an identical mark.
And finally.............. I've been doing a bit more spinning lately and this all belongs to Fyta.  He looks white with black rear leggings, but his fleece looks grey when spun.  I've plyed three of the light and dark fleeces together.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The good weather continues.

Starting this week with Fyta with his nose in his bowl eating his daily feed.  Still plenty of frost and ice on the ground earlier in the week.
Here is the full compliment of hungry boys, all getting 'stuck in.'  Faro, front right, continues to enjoy his feed much more these days.
Another day, another carrot!  Faro and Fyta, nearest, are more interested in a cat in the distance but Fergus and Fidget would much rather enjoy another carrot!
I'm not sure what happened with the camera with in this shot, but it's turned out a ghostly colour - although Faro looks unconcerned.
A couple of photos taken this afternoon as the sun was beginning to set, another lovely day but it's going to be a frosty night.
Fyta strolls purposefully across the paddock intent on finding out what the humans are up to.  The boys are beginning to fleece up well now ready for the winter and you can see the folds in the fleece at the base of his neck.
And finally................having put some skirted fleece in the basket ready to spin, Cupcake decided it would be an ideal place to have a snooze!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Another frosty one.

Regardless of the fact that the boys have hay buckets permanently full in the field shelter they still like to get a handful straight out of the hay shed.  Faro is waiting patiently for his!
Faro and his pal Fyta enjoying some hay early on yet another frosty morning - we have had plenty of them this week.
Round the corner in the field shelter Fergus at the rear pulls strands of hay from the basket whilst Fidget helps himself from a hay bucket.
This was taken after two mornings of ice on a water trough but by the end of the week the pile of ice had grown considerably as the day time temperatures sometimes did not rise much above freezing - regardless of the sunshine!
The sun is up and Faro (front) and Fergus are grazing.  Faro appears to be uninterested in the photographer but even though he is facing in another direction, he is keeping a close watch on what is going on.
The view that the boys were enjoying from the top paddock this week - hope it reminds them of their homeland.
And finally...................after a summer of massive growth, the two Gunnera plants have now succumbed to the frost.   During the summer the plant was over 8 feet tall with some leaves bigger than golfing umbrellas, but now it has gone to sleep.  The Grumpy Gardener has cut all the leaves back and laid them over the crowns.  A layer of straw will complete the winter blanket.  The boys can be seen near their shelter in the adjoining paddock.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Fine weather and a visit.

The boys have enjoyed another week of fine weather with trees not yet ready to drop all of their leaves.  From the left Faro, Fidget, Fyta and Fergus.
There have been wintery blasts too as this photo shows with snow appearing on the mountains.  Fyta (left) and Fidget in the rough paddock.
Couldn't leave out a pose from the other two boys, Fergus and Faro, although Fergus probably thinks there are carrots at the end of the photo session!
Faro continues to eat all of his pelleted food now plus a small handful of alpaca mix.  We're pleased about this.  The boys have been on their monthly dosage of Verm-X all this week too.
We had a lovely visit from Alison and Brendan of Seafield Alpacas at Portmahomack, Easter Ross and Fergus seems to be more interested in Alison's alpaca cardigan than the carrots on offer.
Perhaps it's the fact that Alison spun and hand knitted the cardigan mainly from Fergus's fleece that he can sense but she incorporated coloured bands from Gully, Gaucho, Rufus and Wee Eck who were her original herd.  You're wearing friends for life there, Alison!
And finally...............here's a bottle you won't find up in the Andes with the boys.  This is home brewed by Brendan and Alison and will be ready in time for Hogmanay.   Slainte!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

"Grub up!"

This is what happens when an alpaca doesn't want  his nails cut!  Fidget has got into the habit of 'cushing' as soon as he realises that his feet are going to be touched.  Stroking his leg for a while certainly helps and we were able to do three feet but his front right remains firmly 'out of bounds' to the nail clipper.  Another day!
We had penned the boys so that Faro could have some cream applied to mite damage on his rear legs - he was then released from the pen and can be seen in the background.  Fyta looks pensive about what might happen to him, but he just got a check over and a good neck rub and told he was a "good boy!"
The daily feed is a big deal for the boys and here they are today waiting for the humans to bring down the bowls of goodies to eat.  From the left Faro, Fergus, Fyta and, far from the madding crowd as usual - Fidget! Faro continues to enjoy the pelleted feed we give him since changing from the alpaca course mix.
At this time of year the boys like a handful of hay after their feed.  There are four full buckets of hay in the field shelter all the time but they usually leave them until overnight. Faro is not so impressed by the cameraman's alpaca fleece hat!  
Fyta gets his chin tickled as he munches a handful of hay - he likes that. This is the first square bale of this year's hay being used, up until now we've been finishing off last year's hay.
Our neighbour has just put some Jacob's sheep into an adjoining field and they make a lovely change from the Cheviots or Texels we are used to seeing around here.
And finally...............despite the bitterly cold weather at present this Acidanthera has managed to burst out into flower this week and there are a few others ready to follow.