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, 26 June 2016

Neverendums!

Well, a momentous few days for the country this week but the boys don't seem worried about any referendum outcomes - as long as the price of feed doesn't go up!  They are all fleeced up now with shearing hopefully taking place this coming Thursday.
We don't have a set 'feeding area' for the 4 boys, we call them to the side of a paddock and let them get into their bowls.  We are usually accompanied by a Sparrow or two and especially a 'Hoodie' Crow, all of them ready to pick up any bits of feed which the boys have spilled. From the left, Fergus, Fyta, Faro and Fidget.
Fergus (right) likes to hoover up his own feed then try and muscle into Fyta's bowl. Fyta usually kicks his bowl so that the feed is on the ground which is an invitation for big Fergus to help himself.  This can often result in plenty of heads in the air, camel noises and the occasional spitting!
The view looking down from the house with Fyta and Fergus in the field shelter watching Faro at the water trough.  Fidget , as usual is inside the shelter at the back.  Looking at the hill in the distance you may see the line of very high electricity pylons which is the controversial Beauly to Denny line taking power from the north and feeding it to the south of Scotland. Controversial because of the height of the pylons when the local population wanted the line to be buried.
The sun setting at exactly 1000pm on Thursday as the polling stations closed!  The boys are already in their shelter.
And finally........... Day Lilies (Hemerocallis) of which there are a number of varieties.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Topping time.

There's no denying that summer weather does something for the herd!  In our case because of all the rain what it does is turn Fidget, a white boy, into this dirty colour above.
Earlier in the week during a break in the weather we decided to 'top' two of the paddocks to get rid of the buttercups and some thick grass.  As it has been so wet the grass is lush and if it's not topped it becomes a real problem later to cut. The boys were in their field shelter when the noise of the mower brings them out to see what is happening.
Day two and the remaining paddocks get topped, all except the two 'rough' paddocks facing where the boys are grazing. The ground is too steep for the mower there so the Grumpy Gardener attacks it with a strimmer!
At one point a horse and rider pass on the road so this provides something worth investigating by the boys!
Looking like 'butter wouldn't melt', Fidget (left), Faro (rear), Fyta and Fergus lying down in front.  They love to lie down and roll on the piece of bare ground which is in fact the line of the new field drain we had installed across the land last year. No chance of grass growing there as it is now a rolling spot.
We have lots of 'Red hot pokers' (Kniphofia) out in flower at present attracting a variety of birds to the flower heads.  In the background is the red Euphorbia ('Fireglow').
And finally............regular readers may remember we posted a picture of the Gunnera plant on our 8th May blog when the crowns were uncovered after the frosts had gone.  They looked then like a bunch of coconuts on the ground, but look at the growth from those crowns now - waist high!  They love wet soil so all the recent rain has been a bonus for them, and when it doesn't rain, they get a daily hose down.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

In the pen again.

During one of the better days this week we decided to pen the boys so that Faro and Fidget could have a drench and to trim some nails.  Faro gets a regular drench but we decided to do Fidget as well as a boost because he seems to slow up quite a bit when he has all his fleece on.  It's the same each year before shearing, then once he's sheared he's back to normal.  Having called the boys here they are plodding up the slope towards the pen.
The boys all go to the pen quite willingly although Fidget, nearest to the camera, can sometimes hang back and needs a push on the bum to go in!  There is a certain amount of humming always as they wait to find out what procedure the humans are going to inflict.
Fidget gives the humans a worried look but Faro behind him knows that it's drench time and nothing to worry about.
We drench Faro first then let him out of the pen, then drench Fidget.  As you see, he doesn't think much of the taste and later eats hay to get rid of it. Whilst penned we trimmed the nails of Fergus which grow at an amazing rate, so even though they will be trimmed at shearing in 3 weeks time, we decided to keep them in order.  The boys have also been having their Verm-X granules with their feed this week.  The boys are now 10years old and we got them exactly 9 years ago this week - better change the header to this blog!
Our house has become very popular with the House Martins this year.  We usually have one or two nests, this year we have five so all the relations must be on holiday too!  There are two nests in this photo, one was from last year and is occupied again and the new one is attached to it and you can see Mr & Mrs Martin posing for photos in their new abode. Amazing that these wee birds fly all the way down to Mediterranean countries and beyond for winter then come back to the same area in Spring.
And finally...............we have large clumps of Bluebells at the far end of our land adjoining the road.  They make a lovely sight especially since Whins (Gorse) and Broom are later in yellow bloom this year.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Woodleigh Lodge Alpacas and more!

To Woodleigh Lodge Alpacas near Inverness on Monday to see Wendy and Paul and their beasties.  This is Dottie and she's almost one year old and so called because when she was born she only had one 'dot' of white behind one heel.  Now though she's grown more white dots and she's a lovely girl.
Also present are Babe (left) and stud Sam with Pru in the background in the other paddock.  Babe is due to give birth any time now so there are high levels of excitement at Woodleigh Lodge.

Sam and Babe looking at Dottie in the next paddock.  Wendy and Paul also have chickens and a fish stocked pond which attracts Herons unfortunately.  Lovely to see you again folks, thanks for the hospitality (the Grumpy Gardener is still enjoying the cake!) and see you on shearing day at the end of the month.
Another day, another camera! We've been having difficulty with our old digital camera recently so bought another little one mainly for the blog photos.  Here are the 4 boys in the rough paddock, from the left Fidget, Fyta, Fergus and Faro.
These photos were taken in the evening as the sun was dipping and the boys are being led (middle of the picture) to their overnight paddock. In the foreground is the current layout of the new garden with Grumpy's veg plots.  Nearest plot has onions and leeks, next one with the canes is for peas and beans, the next one for cabbage, cauliflowers with a couple of rows of Swedes and the furthest away has early, 2nd early and main crop tatties - and a row of parsnips.  All we need now is for the sun to keep shining to give us some growth.
The boys looking for some hay before bed.  From the left, Fidget, Fyta in front looking into the hay bag, Fergus behind and Faro.
Fergus getting a neck rub and being told that he's a "very good boy!"  Fidget is behind, watching but not interested in neck rubs!
And finally.....................we have loads of small bunches of this flower around the garden crevices.  They are called Erinus and have a lovely, tiny purple flower.  We brought them with us from a previous garden to our last house and after nearly 20 years there, brought some up the track to the new house.  They spread easily but do not flower for long.