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, 31 July 2016

Fidget and the feline

If he's in the mood for it, Faro will stand for a neck or chin rub.  This was on a lovely evening earlier this week when we went to sort out their hay buckets and water troughs.  Fidget is in the background.
Eagle eyed as always, Fidget spots something moving in the garden.  Faro is unconcerned at this stage.
Fyta is in a nearby field shelter and sees that Fidget has gone on 'alert' and is now charging towards the fence line!
Aha..............'Cupcake' our resident boarder and owned by a neighbour had chosen to follow us to the paddocks.  Fidget seems to have other ideas about allowing cats into his paddock!
Cupcake appears more relaxed now knowing that the big white fella can't get at him through the fence!  Shortly after this he wandered off leaving Fidget still looking over the fence at him.  Faro is just out of shot having arrived to check out the feline threat.
And where was Fergus when all this excitement was going on?  Chilling out with his hay bucket as usual!
And finally................. these are Inula plants, over 6 feet in height with lots of orange coloured flowers, looking a bit like mini-sunflowers.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A good week for ducks!

Fyta looks a lot happier in this sultry weather now that he has been sheared. He's spent a lot of time in the water trays this week - it's his favourite pastime!
Like most of UK, Tuesday was a scorcher here and the boys were looking for a hose-down first thing in the morning.  After that they retired to the sand pit area.  This photo indicates how hot it was with Faro lying down, he is not a sunbather normally but the heat was getting to him.
All four boys got into the sand pit as the day wore on but clouds started to appear which took the edge off the heat.
Later in the day and the boys are still flat out - especially Faro and Fergus.  The clouds were really beginning to gather and by the early hours of Wednesday morning we were into a prolonged session of thunder and lightening with heavy rain. We could see the boys in the shelter by the light of the lightening flashes, all lying down so we knew they were taking it in their stride.
Wednesday morning and the thunder was still booming around the area and we had one particularly heavy downpour.  This photo was taken at the back of the house and the rain is so heavy it is bouncing off the car-park.
The weather has settled down again now and the boys are taking it easy - especially Fergus who likes to 'chill' on the rolling spot.
Faro and Fidget in the rough paddock.  Faro is alert as always with Fidget enjoying a lie down amongst the buttercups.
And finally..............regular blog readers will be beside themselves wondering how Grumpy's gardening efforts have worked out this summer.........(!).  After a slow start in the veg plots things are beginning to take on a burst of growth, thanks no doubt to the frequent rain showers and the occasional sunny periods.  The boys are near the sand pit, top left of photo.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Boys in clover.

It's not every day that Fidget looks this alert! He is always dragging along behind the other three boys and has got himself separated from them.  They are only a few yards away from him.
Here they are in the next paddock.  We've topped some more grass this week, between the rain showers.  We try and keep a small square of longer grass available in each paddock as they like to lie in it when (if!) it gets hot.
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Faro, looking sleek after the recent shearing. His 'cooling patches' on the rear ankles are quite pronounced against his darker colour.  He has had a watery right eye for a few days so we are keeping a check on that.
This is Fergus on the sloping rough paddock.  The only thing which keeps him from looking for food is a neighbour's dog - which is what he is looking at here.
Fyta looking thoughtful! We've had a really mixed bag of weather this week including gales one day so not at all like summer.
A nice photo of Fergus (left) and Fyta amongst the clover (and buttercups!) in the rough paddock. These two boys are certainly of the 'laid back' variety!
And finally............Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis) with blue Cat Mint below and Crocosmia 'Lucifer' coming into flower above.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Visits during a wet week

Inside looking out on another wet day, Fyta left and Faro.  It's been a rather wet week with plenty of opportunity for flies and other beasties to be landing on the newly sheared boys, who then take to the field shelter for relief.
In the shelter are Faro, Fyta and Fergus with Fidget still outside in the rain.  Fidget scratched himself this week on the right shoulder and the flies soon congregated on the blood so we penned the boys and sprayed the scratch with an anti-fly strike liquid. Now that their thick coats have been sheared off it's easy for scratches to be collected by the boys.
Earlier in the week we paid a short visit to Woodleigh Lodge alpacas near Inverness to see Wendy and her new cria, 'Buster' - that's him at the front left with his mum 'Babe.'  Behind him is 'Dottie' who was born a year ago to Babe and 'Snow' the stud in the background.  Granny 'Pru' is just out of the picture.
Mum and her son and daughter all looking very well and trying to avoid the drizzle and rain. Last year Dottie was born just before shearing and this year Buster put in an appearance before the shearer arrived too.
Yesterday we paid a visit to Carole and John at Auld Mill alpacas near Elgin, Moray (www.auldmillalpacas.co.uk) who were having an 'alpaca experience' open day at their farm.  There were lots of fleece related activities for guests to experience as well as things to see.  These are some of the lovely mums and cria of the Auld Mill herd.
Fleece skirting on the table was just one of the many activities to be enjoyed in the barn.   Also in attendance were spinners from the Highland branch of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who added to an interesting programme for visitors.  Thanks for your hospitality Carole and John, a very interesting 'paca-day.
Dodging the showers we started lifting the first of our early tatties today and they look good enough to eat!  These are Arran Pilot variety.
And finally...............couldn't resist this shot of a honey bee on a Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) flower.  We are seeing a lot more bees this summer which is great even though the weather has not been too kind to them.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Shear delight

It was shearing week in the north with the usual human anxiety of daily (then hourly!) weather watching as the weather has been a bit hit or miss.  I thought I'd get a few snaps taken of the boys with their heavy coats on before James Dixon, the shearer, arrived. This is Faro looking down on the humans which he likes to do!
Fidget looks like he could do with a good short back and sides and fringe trim.  For a couple of weeks before shearing Fidget often lies down, either resting or eating the grass around him.  He's done this for years then once his coat is off he is on his feet most of the time like the others.  We think that he probably suffers more than the others from the heat of his coat.
Fergus looks the real deal when he is fully fleeced but he does enjoy a good haircut!  Before shearing he spends lots of time by the water troughs and trays so he is obviously affected by the heat.
Fyta facing into the wind.  He also loves the water, especially the water trays in which he lies for long periods when fleeced up.  During the past couple of weeks we've hosed the boys' undercarriages on really hot days and they all love that.
Shearing day and Fyta gets the full treatment from James, assisted by Andy. It was Andy's birthday when they were here and he had to take all the jokes about having to work on his special day.
All over for another year with sighs of relief from humans as well as 'pacas!  Faro in front with Fyta behind him.  The weather has been chilly and showery since the shearing but the boys don't seem to mind at all, disappearing into a field shelter if the rain starts to go horizontal!
And finally..............James and Andy spent a couple of days shearing around this area before heading further north to the Orkney Isles.  One small herd to be sheared was that owned by John McKenzie (right) the founder/director of the new community owned Glenwyvis distillery situated on the heights above Dingwall (www.glenwyvis.com  and  www.facebook.com/glenwyvis).  John and the Glenwyvis team have raised over £2m in share capital for the project and building work begins next week at this magnificent location.  John's alpacas feature in some of the advertising and this will be included in an article he has written for the BAS quarterly magazine due out shortly. On the left of the picture is Andy, with James in the middle.  Have a nice week.