About Us

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Wokingham, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Easter-Wood Alpaca Stud is a family-run, BAS-registered Alpaca breeding enterprise, located in the Royal County of Berkshire. Sheila and Jeff Easter set the company up in mid-2008 when they purchased their first 5 Elite Australian Alpacas.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Fleece samples and retail therapy...........

Having read Debbie's blog at Barnacre Alpacas, I was minded to comment on what to do with our fleeces. Having had the remnants of last years fleeces from our elite herd, we have now added this years total of 21 to it. Sheila and I will certainly do something with the Australian elites batch but the remainder will be sold in it's raw state since processing it isn't cheap!

We took a sample of each of the Australian's fleece and sent them off to Yocom McColl early this month. The results were good and we are looking forward to sampling the males crias we have had this year. With their pedigree, we are expecting high quality but we will see!

Yesterday was a "bitty" day on the farm as we had to address an urgent retail need!! We are attending two forthcoming weddings and you know what..............we both do not have anything to wear!! Anyway a quick trip to the local town resolved the problem and Sheila purchased a stunning outfit (she looked really good) and I decided to go for a "bog standard" suit. I am sure it's a bloke thing but I do not enjoy clothes shopping at all.

We are planning to visit one of our local agricultural shows this Sunday. It is always a well organised show and we are very much looking forward to it as we didn't get there last year (too busy at Easter-Wood). Lets hope the weather is kind to us.

Be back soon.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Rain, rain and yet more rain....

Yesterday was not a good day for us. It literally poured just about all day thus preventing us from getting on with the some of the various duties around the farm but hey ho, that's UK weather for you!

Whilst feeding the girls and boys, I did have my usual contest of fending off some of them who would give the impression that they haven't been fed for a week!! There is always a handful who insist on "plunging" their heads into the feed bucket before I have had a chance to grab a handful of Camelibra/Fibregest and place it into their relevant feed troughs. Champion of all is our "Midnight Saphire", a young solid black out of "Cambridge Centurion" who blatently ambushes me on the way across the paddocks to the troughs! She will cut across my path and suddenly halt in front of me thus enabling her to "attack" the feed bucket I am carrying! But of course along with this behaviour, you can't help but warm to their individual characters/personalities!

Let's hope for better weather for Thursday..........

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Ice Cool Lad in action again!

Following the failure of her holding pregnancy to EPC Cambridge Neptune, we decided to put EPC Cambridge Olympus to Cambridge Ice Cool Lad yesterday. It was a decision which quite frankly made a lot of sense to us as ICL has such a great track record and produces fantastic progeny! Both Sheila and I were frustrated that Olympus didn't hold but to delay her mating meant that we were going to experience another late-born cria again. We are eagerly awaiting the spit-off results!

We continue to count down the days to our Inquiry and it is now exactly two weeks today for our "showdown" with Wokingham Borough Council! I will try not to get too emotional about it but it never ceases to amaze us as to why councils take it upon themselves to often prevent any form of rural enterprise development. You would have thought that in this time of economic uncertainty, they would try to encourage such businesses instead of going out of their way to stop it!! Sorry, I started to get angry again!

Following the birth of our Miss Moneypenny, we will be mating her Dam with Cambridge Ice Cool Lad today. Whilst she is dark fawn, it will be interesting to see what resultant colour her cria will be.

Finally, we are looking forward to Karl & Lisa's visit to us again on 9th August where we will all be "mucking in" for a busy husbandry session. We have planned to conduct a couple of spit-off's, some toenail clipping and Dectomax vaccinations. As usual, we will all share the excitement and enthusiasm to start their own Alpaca Breeding enterprise.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Embracing our new lifestyle..............

We are fortunate enough to benefit from a plethora of wild life here at Easter-Wood. Following a decision to be a little frugal with our food bill, we discovered a considerable number of mushrooms growing in the paddocks and as I cannot ignore such a gift, I harvested them and subsequently enjoyed a delicious meal enhanced by fresh field mushrooms!! Can't get better than that or can it?...... I had already noticed that there were many pigeons gathering in the fields each late afternoon and so had considered that therin lies another tasty meal! My chance came when Sheila, whilst topping the bottom paddock, called me to say that a pigeon had been attacked by a sparrow hawk and was somewhat worse for wear. She suggested that I despatch the poor creature and put it out of it's misery to which I duly obeyed. Guess what? I had pigeon breasts for tea that night. No reason not to live off the land!

I also have an eye on the rabbit population right now as a food source. Not only are they becoming a real nuisance in creating huge holes in the paddocks, they are also undermining our fences. So later this summer, I will be culling a few of these for the freezer!

That's enough of our "Return to Nature" stories so back to the Alpacas................I sent off some sample fleeces from our Elite whites to Yocom McColl in early July and subsequently receive the results back a couple of days ago. They are very detailed and I was impressed with the reports. The only problem I had though was that they do not accept Credit Card payment and as they wanted the invoice paid in US dollars (not surprisingly), I was faced with a bank charge which represented nearly an additional 50% of the original value of their invoice!! Anyway, it is good to get an accurate measurement of their fleeces. I guess that it will be of more value for our "boys" once they are mature enough to be put to service.

Our Miss Moneypenny continues to improve her strength and is now literally full of energy and "bounce". We spotted her doing her regular late afternoon "run-around" yesterday and was delighted to see her "pronking" along the fence line with the others in the adjacent paddock. Wonderful sight!!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Onwards with the Maintenance!

Promising myself to rid the paddocks of three days of Alpaca poo, I set about with the trusty "Trafalgar" yesterday and managed to clear the lot!! Phew, it was hard graft as the weather, whilst not searing sun, was nonetheless rather warm and I reckoned I lost at least a stone in weight!! I cannot praise the Paddock Cleaner enough actually and I thank Rob Rawlins at Wellground for suggesting this purchase way back in June last year.

We are lucky here at Easter-Wood as we have a significant amount of woodland at one end of the farm and it serves as an ideal woodland management project where the Alpaca poo is put to good use. I don't know if anyone has exploited the commercial value of Alpaca poo but it seems like the ideal composting material and since it has no odour, I can't help thinking that there is an "offshoot" business opportunity here!!

Our little Miss Moneypenny continues to grow and gain strength daily now so, touch wood, we could be well "out of the woods" with her soon!! When we first started to bottle feed her, she became accustomed to our presence and the only problem with this is that she now runs and greets us whenever we come into her paddock. Mum doesn't seem to mind too much but she keeps a close eye on her all the time. Despite the fact that we acknowledge one should not get too attached to the Alpacas, we still do have our favourites (don't we?)!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

A look back.......................

Looking back this week, we really get a a good feeling of progress despite the issues of planning and the council! As relatively new breeders, we are constantly reminded of the fantastic support we receive from fellow breeders and the goodwill they extend to you.

When Sheila and I first "plunged" into this wonderful world of Alpaca Breeding, we didn't expect that it was a bit like joining a large family. We recognised that our learning curve would be steep even though Sheila had comprehensive experience of animal husbandry but as far as I was concerned, my business knowledge was in IT and not agriculture. Notwithstanding however, I am delighted to report that the first year of running Easter-Wood has been an absolute joy! We have learnt so much and now that we have completed our birthing for this year, we are eagerly preparing for next years plans of sales, marketing, showing and subsequently further developing our business. Thanks to all who have helped to make it possible.

One of the major benefits that we have recognised is the building of our new barn in March, without which we would have almost certainly lost one or maybe two of our Cria this year. As previously mentioned in an earlier blog, a couple of our births this year were definitely complicated in as much as the delivery was either premature or the cria became stuck during the birth or the reluctance of mum not wanting to feed her new offspring! Still, it's a great opportunity to gain the experience in a short time frame.

For the coming week, we are planning to get Ice Cool Lad working on three of our maidens who should now be ready for mating since they are 14 months old. One of the things that we are fully satisfied with is Ice Cool Lad's experience and subsequent "track record". He just gets on with the job and simply knows the "ropes" so well.

Miss Moneypenny, who was our latest and somewhat premature cria, is making good progress and has developed into a rather energetic and "greedy" little baby. That is very satisfying for us as she spent the first 3 days of her life being bottle and tube fed!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Cria photos and an update...........................

Yesterday, I was looking to update our Cria photos and so, armed with my trusty SLR, I ventured out amongst the squally showers and "snapped" a few of our 2009 Cria. I have to say that all have really come on a great deal and their fleeces have grown so much! Must be the wet weather!

The photo above is "Miss Moneypenny", our premature girl. She is certainly looking better now!

This photo is of "Navigator" who is a Cambridge Neptune boy and the first of our male Crias this year.

Here is a close-up of "Polaris", our Accoyo Remarque male.

To the right is a photo of "Sundown" our third male Cria out of Accoyo Killawasi.

Here is "Metisha" our first Cambridge Neptune female.

On another note, some of you will know that we have had an application in place with our local Council for our Alpaca Breeding enterprise for over a year now. The local councillor in our ward has taken it upon himself to prevent us from residing at our site and since it is imperative to live with our herd, we have decided to take it to a Public Inquiry. This is taking place on 11th August and I will update this blog with the outcome!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Recent Cria from Cambridge Ice Cool Lad...

Just a short posting today................I have today received an email from Roger Mount at Snowshill Alpacas who very kindly enclosed some photo's of another of "Cambridge Ice Cool Lad's" offspring whom he mated with his own "Cambridge Chocolate Button" last year. The result is this beautiful girl whom he has named "Christabel". She is a stunner and we are all hoping that she goes on to make a name for herself on the Show circuit!

I have attached one of these photo's of her with mum.

Whilst I don't really want to labour our current challenge with our "early bird" whom by the way, we have called "Miss Moneypenny" (her ear tag is 007) but today it looks much more promising as she is now feeding from mum, albeit in small doses. We are sure that by the end of the week, we will have forgotten how worrying it was!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Early Bird is still not out of the woods!

What a weekend this is turning out to be.............first we had a premature (35 days early) female cria born on Friday afternoon and then just as we thought things were beginning to return to normal for her, we had to call in the vet today as it was clear she was weakening. Although she was of a good weight and looked healthy on Friday, she just doesn't seem to naturally feed off mum!

Today, we gave her a boost with a stomach feed and will keep up the nightime vigil again until she regains strength enough to feed from mum!

Meanwhile we are delighted that all of our other cria's this year are literally full of health and it amuses Sheila and I to witness their evening "run around".

This week we will be conducting some important "spit-offs" and the results may well determine who will be next in line for a mating!

Off now to start our first of the evening "duties" for the "early bird".

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Not everything appears as it seems.....

No sooner than Sheila and I had felt our early born cria yesterday was pretty well text book delivery, we then had a long night of bottle feeding as she doesn't seem to know what to do at the "milk bar"! After providing her the powdered Colostrum (this in itself was a challenge), we then had to express mum's milk as it was clear that mum was a little distressed as a her udder was becoming increasingly larger!

The cria is slowly getting the hang of what she should be doing at the "milk bar" but it is proving to be a slow process. Such is life............

Well, I am now off again to give our little "early bird" another feed.

Friday, 10 July 2009

An unexpected arrival...............

Whilst I was out on a dental appointment today, I had a call from Sheila announcing that the cria we were expecting in mid August had decided to make an appearance today!!

The lovely "Fedora" was not going to hang around for the wet weather to descend upon us this weekend and so chose today to deliver a beautiful white girl from the mating with Rural Alianza Don Pepe from Wessex late August last year.

Despite this, she appears to be very strong with a healthy weight.

She is our last birth for this year and so we continue our mating programme until late summer.

Looking back on this our first year of business, we reflect on how lucky we have been having our fair share of challenges this year. It can only be seen as beneficial as the exposure of difficult births, cria death, etc makes us better breeders in the long term.

I am going to sign off now as the hungry blighters need their feed for the day!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Technology comes to Easter-Wood

Well we can now report our day to day activities using a Blog! Even having spent most of my working life within the computer industry, computer technology is still a little hard to get to grips with (could be the age of course)!

Whilst we have had a good summer in terms of additional cria, we have not had an uncomplicated birth yet! Our first year of business has been a fantastic learning experience both with it's highs and lows. Our core herd of Elite females have produced some wonderful offspring for us with 2 males from Neptune and Remarque (pictured above right), 1 male from Killawasi and a female (pictured below) also from Neptune.

During the last 2 months, we have regularly welcomed Rob and Lesley Rawlins from Wellground Alpaca Stud Ltd as we are actively utilising their stud services with "Samson", "Close Encounter" and "Buckingham" doing their bit with our girls! Both Sheila and I are really looking forward to seeing their resultant offspring.

Easter-Wood also has a busy mating and "Spit-Off" programme ongoing this year where we are using our jointly owned Herd Sire; Ice Cool Lad. Not only does he have a terrific track record of success, he certainly knows how to charm the females!

I am now off to finish re-organising the Barn as we are soon to have a hay delivery.