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 5 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.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

End of year post.

We've had a return to snowy conditions as have many of you in UK.  If you have alpacas or other animals hope they are all OK in this weather.  Fyta is not concerned by the snow - as long as the food keeps coming!
Here are all four of the boys tucking into their bowls of sugar beet.  The overnight temperatures have been down to around -5 degrees with very clear moon-lit nights.
'Big Man' Fergus, following the human with the snow scraper hoping that more grass will be uncovered - even though it is frozen!
As the sun goes down Fyta and Fidget are nibbling at the areas of cleared grass.  The clear skies once again an indication of sharp frost to come.
The nights are cold but the days are sparkling in the sun. This long range shot shows from left, Fidget, Faro, Fyta and Fergus inside the field shelter.
Regular blog readers will know that we usually have a few jigsaws 'on the go' over the festive period - makes a change from poor TV programmes!  This is a 1000 piece festive scene.
And finally................ some 'paca themed Christmas gifts which I received - a year planner, a note-book and a pair of lovely socks!  Robbie and I wish all blog readers a very happy New Year and best wishes for 2018.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

A Christmasy theme

A seasonal greeting to all blog readers!
Keeping up the festive theme Faro decides on a little bit of personal decoration - pity it wasn't tinsel.
There is something of the nativity theme in this photo with all the boys doing their best to recreate 'Away in a Manger!'
The snow has all gone now, thank goodness, and the boys are able to enjoy their grass again.  This is Fyta (left) and Fergus who is looking at a jogger on the nearby road.
Fidget always manages to look off-white, especially when it has been raining and he he's been rolling around!
This pastel drawing of 'Haughty Henry' was drawn by our friend Sandra who sent it to us in the form of a Christmas card.  Lovely isn't it?
And finally..................Helleborus 'Christmas Rose' which is on full display despite being covered in snow and ice last week.  Hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

It's still wintery here.

Yet another set of snowy photographs, I had thought that by now the snow would have melted, but no such luck.  Still, it makes for some interesting snaps including this one of Faro - just keeping an eye on the photographer as always!
Whilst the snow has persisted we've continued giving the boys their daily sugar beet which they really enjoy.  Fidget loves to make a mess of his chin when he's 'slurping' from his bowl!
Fyta is finishing off his bowlful but Fergus (as always) has finished first and fancies getting some of Fyta's rations.  He didn't succeed!
Fergus surveying a snowy scene from the comfort of the field shelter.  This winter we have noticed that Fergus is preferring to stay under cover rather than wander around the paddocks in the snow.  At 11 years old he has probably seen all the snow he wants to!
We've often said that the boys get bored when the grass is covered by snow and they will not scrape the ground as sheep or deer do to get at grass.  As the Grumpy Gardener has no garden to look after at this time of the year, he always 'volunteers' to scrape some grass for the boys.
It really is funny to watch the boys follow in a line as more grass is uncovered from under the snow. Faro is in front, followed by Fergus, Fyta then Fidget.
And finally..................crop circles used to be in fashion a few years ago - now it's snow circles to keep the 'pacas happy!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snow fair!

You'll be able to tell the weather conditions for most of this week from the photo!  Storm Caroline brought us high winds at the beginning of the week followed by the white stuff!  Fidget is left wondering where all his green grass has disappeared to.
The boys make good use of their shelters when the weather gets rough.  They are quite happy to lie outside on a clear, frosty night but when snow starts falling they go under cover.
Viewed from inside the shelter, three snow clad boys survey the scene - Faro (left) Fergus (nearest)  and Fyta.
Drinking water is essential in wintery weather, firstly because the troughs often freeze over, especially at night and secondly because the boys are eating a lot of hay and haylage instead of grass and so get thirsty.
We've also been feeding sugar beet this week.  We use the pellets which are soaked in water before being dished up.  The boys really like it in this weather but ignore it if there is grass to be had!
Faro is a slow eater and always last to finish any feed.  Fergus looks as if he is pleading for a second helping - which he does not get!
This photo was taken this morning as the boys wandered over to the furthest paddock in the strong sunshine, probably hoping to find some grass.  A helpful human gets out his snow shovel later and shifts some snow to give the boys a taste of their grass.  Pampered or what?  Incidentally, we had an email this week from a Taiwanese family who visited the alpacas during 2014.  Teng-Wei and his family enjoyed their visit then and subsequently posted photos of the boys, and details of their visit on their blog back home in Taiwan.  I know you all read this blog Teng-Wei, so greetings to you and your family from Tigh Mhor alpacas in a very snowy Scotland!  Hope you'll visit us again sometime - after the snow has gone!
And finally.............. this photo was taken during a snow shower and shows the top of the south facing gable end of our house where the House Martins built two nests.  It's always the case that the Sparrows inhabit the nests over winter then get chased out in the Spring by the returning Martins.  During this week's gales one of the nests was completely blown down whilst half of the remaining one was blown off.  This left a very irate male Sparrow making his displeasure known from the remains of the nest!  

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A more normal week.

This has been a much less cold week than last week but as you see from the photo, there is still frost around.  Faro is standing in front of the garden which the Grumpy Garden has cleared up for the winter - only leeks left to eat.
Faro again with Fidget.  Although the boys don't seem to mind the snow too much, they much prefer to have the grass to nibble.
The boys are also having apples and carrots on alternate days.  We had a good crop of apples this year so they are enjoying a variety of names, Discovery, Norfolk Royal and Katy. In this photo are Fyta (left) and Fergus with Fidget in the background.

Faro also enjoys apples and carrots and here he is sniffing out a piece of carrot on the ground at the top of the rough paddock.
I don't know why this photo turned out so dark, a pity really because it shows Fidget making his camel noises as a warning to Faro who is close by.  Hope you can make it out.

And finally................no blog is complete without Fyta making faces at the camera.  I'm sure that he thinks the camera is either carrot or apple flavoured!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Thats another fine mess...................

The earlier part of the week saw heavy and continuous rain so the boys got a proper soaking so we decided to change their field shelter before the really bad weather sets in.  We use two shelters in rotation and the unused one has hurdles in front to stop entry.   When the boys see the humans about to remove the gates they make a dash inside to start rolling in the dust!  It happens every time.
The dust flies and the boys get plastered in it, rolling over and over.  It's a if they are pleased to be home!
Thats another fine mess that Faro's got himself in - you wouldn't want him jumping on your bed in that state!
After all the fun and games the boys come out into the fresh air for a breather.  In the middle, Fergus gives meaning to the saying, " If a beans a bean, what a pea (pee!) - a relief!"
The temperature dropped considerably from mid week onwards and this was the result on Friday morning.  The snow wasn't deep but it was lying on top of ice which is never good.  The boys have got hay buckets in their shelter, they've had one handful of haylage but would quite like another.
Ah, bless!  The patchy snow is still around as I type this but the main hazard once again is ice making walking on roads and pavements quite dangerous.
And finally.................on Friday morning conditions in the ice were treacherous and caught out our neighbour Dave as he attempted to drive up the track.  Thankfully no injuries and only scratches to his car.  Fortunately he is very mechanically experienced and with the use of his hand winches, he and the Grumpy Gardener got the car back on track soon afterwards.  The boys in their nearby paddock enjoyed watching the humans sweat a bit!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Haylage days.

The morning and late afternoon haylage feeding sessions are always enjoyed by the boys.  This is Faro with a mouthful!
Fyta enjoys the long strands of juicy haylage too -  and likes pulling faces!  Fidget is in the background.
And Fergus as usual eats anything, but he does like his haylage.  The boys still have their four hay buckets in the shelters but the haylage seems to be a welcome addition for them.
Fidget also enjoys haylage but on this occasion he didn't want to pose for the human.  The boys just have a handful of haylage each, twice a day and that seems to satisfy them.
Fyta, Fergus behind and Faro, all enjoying a chew behind the tall hedge which is an excellent wind break for them.
The Grumpy Gardener has now cut back the Gunnera for the winter and covered the crowns with the big leaves to keep off the frost.
And finally..................no reminder necessary about the drop in temperatures and wintry weather recently.  These are our local mountains and the snow line is getting lower all the time!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Wintry - and a visit.

Fergus - he knows where to go when the weather gets a bit rough.  He can stay inside keeping dry watching the other boys  outside getting wet!
A bit of magnification needed for this shot but it shows just how the weather has been this week - snow on the hills and frequent squalls coming in.
The sun has shone too however but the next heavy shower is approaching from a threatening sky to the north west.
Fidget is quite happy with wind at this time of year because it blows plenty of leaves around and he enjoys chasing and eating them!  We've started feeding haylage to supplement the hay for the winter and the boys really enjoy this - unlike the Verm-X granules which they've had in their feed this week!
Yesterday we paid an enjoyable visit to the Black Isle to visit Wendy and Paul at Woodleighlodge Alpacas.  Here are Dottie (left) and Bonnie their two pregnant girls who are keeping a wary eye on the humans.  Wendy and Paul also have dogs, a cat, chickens, and ducks - and fish in their garden pond so they have plenty to keep them busy.
And finally..............you'll need to magnify this shot, but it's worthwhile.  Whilst most of us are happy with a variety of little garden birds, Wendy and Paul feed visiting raptors on their bird-table.  Here, a female Buzzard is eating on the table whilst a male sits on top of the straw bale behind her, waiting his turn!  As well as Buzzards, Kites are frequent visitors to the birdtable.  Well done on keeping all your beasties and birdies well fed Wendy and Paul  - as well as visiting humans!