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, 23 July 2017

Hay time again.

I'm opening with Fidget this week, looking a wee bit lost here as he stands waiting for the rest of the gang to get up one morning.
We've enjoyed some good weather this week, but also some wind and rain! This long range shot shows Fidget lying on the grass with the other three boys in the sand pit.
Another sand pit shot, but closer this time.  Fidget is still on the grass and Faro is now lying flat in the sand pit between Fyta (left) and Fergus.
The grass cutting operation might have been quite noisy but the boys don't seem to bother at all.  We know that as long as they know what a certain noise is, they are quite happy to tolerate it.
Wednesday evening and we had a call from Karen and Dave Robertson at the Beauly farm shop      (www.robertsonsfarmshop.co.uk) to say that the first of this year's hay crop was being baled and ready for collection.  We were first there and loaded the trailer under a 'big sky.'  Karen has three alpaca boys as well as lots of other animals in her 'pet farm' which she runs alongside Dave's big farm and the farm shop.
Home with a load of 25 square bales.  The boys sampled a little of the new hay and were pleased with the result.  We still have a few bales of last year's hay to finish off before they get started on the new hay.
And finally............ we had four very nice Norwegian tourists visiting locally so they paid a visit on the boys.  Fergus (left), Fyta and Fidget are photographed whilst Faro has wandered off.  Hope the rest of your holiday is going well folks, lovely to have met you - come back and see us sometime! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dust bowl time again.

We've enjoyed reasonable weather this week so it was time to change the boys from one field shelter to another.  Here they are, wondering what the human is going to get up to when a dog starts to bark - instant attention, except Fergus who sees something else of interest.
Now they all want to know what Fergus is looking at, forget the distant dog, this looks more interesting............
No problems, it's only Cupcake who has decided to get up on top of one of the field shelters to see what is happening here.  I magnified this shot and counted 18 sparrows in tree behind Cupcake!
So the other shelter has been closed off to stop them going into it and they will use this one to bed down in for the next month or so.  Cupcake is still on top, looking down as the boys start rolling about and creating plenty of dust.
The ritual of the boys rolling in their new shelter always happens, it's as if they are meeting an old friend.  The far away shelter is now closed off, the middle one (with Cupcake on top!) is left open and the nearest one is where they bed down and where their hay buckets are available to them.
Faro - I think we should have called him 'Dusty' after a rolling session.  They do enjoy getting covered in dust and muck, these boys.
And finally............with the good weather the Grumpy Gardener has managed to cut most of the paddocks leaving large squares of longer grass for wildlife use - and for Fidget to lie in!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Neem application and a Fleece Day.

After the boys have been sheared we always keep a sharp eye on them in case they have any small cuts which attract flies.  Fidget has a couple of little lumps on his skin which usually get nicked whilst he's being sheared and sometimes they bleed slightly, which really does attract the flies.  We penned them to inspect them and here is Fidget getting a neck rub to calm him down.
This is one of the lumps which was nicked and had a scab on it.  I put Neem oil paste over the area and that keeps the flies off.  Neem doesn't smell too good so the flies give it a miss.  Fidget especially does not like being sprayed so this works well for him.
Fergus also in the pen but with no cuts to check looks as if he is saying, "Don't come near me with that smelly Neem!" We always let Faro out of the pen first if we are handling the other boys - he becomes over-protective of his pals!
Fergus (front), Fidget (middle) and Fyta in the pen having been checked over and waiting to get out.
On Saturday we travelled over to Elgin, Moray to attend a Fleece Day run by Carole and John at Auld Mill Alpacas (www.auldmillalpacas.co.uk)  They have a wonderful mixed herd of around 70 alpacas of various colours and markings and with several of this year's cria in attendance. It was a very interesting day with spinning, weaving, felting and skirting all on the menu and it was good to meet some old friends, including Mabel and Imants of Highland Alpacas at Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.
There were several 'milk bars' in operation whilst we were there - a lovely sight.  The animals had all been sheared by James Dixon a couple of weeks ago, on the day before he sheared our boys.  Thank you for a great day out Carole and John, for your hospitality and for the promotion of alpacas which you do so well.
Thought you might like to see the height to which our Cardiocrinum Giganteum (Giant Himalayan Lily) has grown this summer.  Considering that there is nothing of the plant to be seen until around March, eight feet of healthy growth is to be applauded!  The Lily has some lovely flowers on top of course but we almost lost the complete plant yesterday during a gale but the Grumpy Gardener saved the day by tying the plant to the fence!
And finally................. here they are in all their glory!  They won't last too long and they don't appear every year, but they are beautiful whilst they are with us.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Shearing day

Shearing day was on Thursday and it dawned cloudy and threatening to rain.  The boys were due to be sheared at 1230pm so we put them into a field shelter around 1000am just as the first drops of rain fell.  It wasn't long before camel noises and spitting started in the shelter and this photo shows Fergus with his spitting mouth on!
The boys didn't have too long to wait for the shearers and this was the last photo of them with their winter fleece on.
It's always funny to watch the expression on their individual faces as they see their pals for the first time minus the fleece.  We knew that when Faro emerged naked that that would get the interest of the others - just as  Fergus (left) and Fidget demonstrate.
And here he is - delighted to be free of the heavy fleece and running about all over the paddocks and being a real 'Jack the Lad!'
James Dixon assisted by Ginny did an excellent job of shearing.  This is Fyta about to get the short back and sides treatment.  This is the 10th time the boys have been sheared so they know the procedure, although they don't like it too much.
Neighbours Claire and Mike came to see the shearing in operation, pity about the rain outside but at least it was nice and dry in the shelters for the boys - and James!
And finally.............. with their winter coats off, the boys enjoy the freedom.  Fidget in particular feels the weight of the fleece on him and before shearing often lies down to eat instead of standing.  After shearing he's back on his feet and running around.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Warm days

Here is Fyta imitating a camel again - trying to get the human to turn on the hose so that he can get a spray first thing on a warm morning! Thankfully however we have not suffered the very high temperatures that those in the south have had to contend with.  With the boys not yet sheared we are careful to ensure that they do not over-heat.
Here he is again, indicating to the human that it can't be hard to turn on the water from that yellow hose and give the under-carriage a spray!
That's ma boy!  Faro keeping an eye on everything going on in the paddocks, especially when there is a photographer around.
Faro once again with Fidget who had been dunking himself in a nearby water tray during a warm morning.
Fergus - after a wet night and looking a bit portly (it's an optical illusion!) and in need of a good shearing which thankfully is due to take place this coming week.
As the sun sets and casts long shadows, Fidget lies in the longer grass and settles down for the night.
The Gunnera plant continues to grow with the leaves now standing at over five feet tall.  Not a plant for the smaller garden obviously!
And finally............just for a change from alpacas we were asked to feed our neighbour's two pet lambs today.  These guys can really drink - the contents of the bottles disappeared in seconds!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Big beasts!

Here's the latest implement  to help the ageing Grumpy Gardener keep the sloping paddocks in trim.  It's a Grillo, with 'forward' and 'reverse' gears as well as some other features which keep the buttercups under control.
In a nearby paddock the boys are not bothered by the machine noise or by the sweating human at the controls!  Fergus and Fidget are in the sand pit whilst Faro and Fyta are lying nearby.
All finished, time to clean the machine and put it back in the garage for another day.  The boys have not moved from the adjoining paddock!
It doesn't take them long though to come to the freshly cut paddock just to try it out - and they look quite satisfied by the results.   These lovely Irises are all out in flower at present.
We always try to keep some uncut grass within the paddocks, not only because some of the wild flowers look lovely but Fidget loves to lie in longer grass!
And finally................another big beast of a machine which we use to keep the grass in check but with a smaller beastie (Cupcake) in the driving seat!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Getting into summer

Feed time again and the boys, three of them anyway, come to the gate.  Fidget is the straggler who is a little way behind the others.
Fyta's fringe - thick, long and crinkly.
Fidget's fringe - thick, long and even crinklier!  A few too many buttercups in this paddock I think.
Faro with Fidget behind.  The boys have been on Verm-X granules all this week with today being their last dose for this month.
Quite a bit of rain this week, so whilst the humans take shelter inside the field shelter, the boys stand at the door looking in!
These Iris flowers still maintain a bit of colour although they've been soaked and blown about by weather in the last week.
And finally..............Friday morning and Cupcake has been up all night with the humans watching the election results - and it shows!