About Us

My photo
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.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mite treatment.

Hi Folks. One of the things that is currently bothering us at the moment are the mites that have targetted some of our Alpacas and in particular, three of our Australian girls. I have reported it before and we previously used such treatments as Dectomax mixed with Sudacrem and also Eprinex wiped onto the effected parts. As they didn't seem to have much impact and following some recommendations from other breeders, we decided to use a little garlic powder mixed in with their camelibra and fibregest supplements. We tried the mixture yesterday and all was fine but today, one of the girls who spent a fair amount of time lapping up the remnants in the feed bowl, had an adverse reaction to it as we suspect she overdosed on garlic! She spent the next 30 minutes trying to rid herself of the mixture and as we were not expecting such behaviour, we were a little worried to say the least! Close observation followed and upon recovery she was soon busy grazing again.........Phew! Next time, I will reduce the portion of garlic and make sure they do not lap up the powder remains.

We are looking forward to this weekend as a close friend of mine will be visiting Easter-Wood for the first time. Colin and his wife, Jane are coming over from Singapore where they have been living for close on 20 years. Sheila and I went over to see them in 2000 and whilst we have met up with Colin in France last year, we haven't seen Jane since 2000. It will be great to catch up again!

Another date in our diary is the veterinary talk by Gina Bromage in a couple of weeks time. This was set up by the Southern Alpaca Group and if the Fibre meeting is anything to go by, it will be a well received and most enjoyable day. Sheila and I attended the fibre day back on the 20th September at Meon Valley Alpacas and we were very impressed with Karen and Peter's Alpaca farm. We picked up many tips and met some very nice breeders. All in all, a very pleasant day out with us even having lunch in one of the Alpaca paddocks!

Will be back soon with more news.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

This and That!

Good morning folks. Apart from the routine work, things around the Easter-Wood farm have been fairly quite of late. We now have a further two hens that are laying and the extra eggs are always welcomed.

Today, Sheila and I will be treating a couple of our special Australian Alpacas against the dreaded mite! Two of them in particular have suffered with mite attack all summer long and as a result their ears, in particular are raw and looking painful.

The paddock cleaning is always in full swing and whilst the trusty "Trafalgar" earns it's keep, I seem to suffer from backache these days after a two hour stint with it! Anyway, I have to attack another paddock with it today but it is a neccesity and we will not compromise on cleanliness!

I have just come across this photo I took earlier this year showing our two first born boys to the Easter-Wood Stud. The one on the left is that of "Polaris" from his Sire "Accoyo Remarque" and on the right is "Navigator" from his Sire "EP Cambridge Neptune".

We are looking forward to next years cria following some "special" matings, promising yet again some particularly stunning progeny.

Well I am off now to get started today as the time has flown and I am already behind!!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A day trip to Wellground!

Today was our much awaited and overdue trip to see our old friends Rob & Les at Wellground Alpaca Stud. It was good to meet up with them and to catch up on some news over a smashing lunch at their village pub. It is a while since Sheila and I have been out together as our public inquiry is still going on but we took the opportunity whilst our daughter, Gemma looked after the Easter-Wood farm.

Our lunch however, actually became a bit of a banquet as both Rob & I decided that three courses were the order of the day for us two but Les & Sheila were the sensible ones and resisted the starters!! Actually, it was a lovely meal and I am pleased to announce that Rob appears to be back to his old perky self with plenty of humour coming to the surface until that is, upon our arrival back at Wellground. We were greeted by the sight of their living room being totally awash with tiny white polystyrene balls which used to be the filling for one of Rob's (bean bag) cushions, curteousy of one, very guilty boxer dog!! Poor Les spent alot of time vacuuming them up.

We did manage however to get a good look at their new cria and wow, what results they have had this year!! Sheila and I were really impressed with the quality of the cria's fleece in terms of definition, frequency of crimp and density even though they are still only a few weeks old. We are hoping for similar results from some of our girls who have had earlier matings with Samson, Buckingham and Close Encounter this year.

After a cup of "Kenco" on the decking and some previously cut fleece inspection, we headed back to Berkshire. It was a lovely day and it is always a real pleasure to meet up with them.

Well I am feeling tired now so will turn in for the night but will be back again soon.

Friday, 18 September 2009

A late Blog!!

Well it's been a week since my last blog!! Can't believe time has gone by so fast.

We have been busy this week in getting prepared for the Autumn/Winter! Frightening isn't it! All the winter feed is in and stored, machinery has been cleaned and we have even moved the chicken coop to a spot in the paddock which is always dry! We are still only getting a single egg a day.... Just have to be patient I guess! The Alpacas have now got used to sharing their field shelters with the hens who are really inquisitive and spend ages just scratching around looking for "tit-bits" including a couple of small toads which two of them managed to find under the coop.

With the recent cold nights, it won't be long now before we will have to supplement the Alpacas diet of grass with hard feed and we shall be also trying haylage this year. This week saw a particularly heavy bout of rain and whilst the fields are certainly in need of it, it also seems to herald the approaching winter and until we get our log cabin built, we will again, be exposed to the cold weather with it's consequences!

With respect to our Public Inquiry, the date of 21st October has been set for the final "summing-up" day and as you may well expect, we are very keen to get this over with!

We are both looking forward to this Sunday when we will be visiting Meon Valley Alpacas where the Southern Region Group have arranged for a "Fibre Day". I know that Sheila will almost certainly want to start spinning the fleece that we have from this years shearing so with a bit of luck, we should be able to start offering our own Easter-Wood garments in our product line in due course.

We are also looking forward to seeing Rob & Les at Wellground Alpaca Stud next Tuesday as we have not had the opportunity to see them since Rob had his unfortunate "encounter" with one of his Studs. Still, he sounds in "fine fettle". Eventually, we will also be visiting Karl & Lisa from Willow Bank Alpacas following a number of aborted attempts to do so!

Oh well, I am off to do some "poo-picking" again so will be back soon.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Another day of Paddock maintenence

Yesterday was a busy day with the routine "poo picking" again. This time it was the paddock where we have been keeping the largest part of the Easter-Wood herd and with 15 Alpacas doing what they do, there was a fair amount of "poo" to clear and after 3 hours, I was finally finished. If I had to use a bucket and spade, it would have taken me a month at least. It is always a pleasure however to look out at a clean and tidy paddock, even though it is fairly short-lived!

The chickens are getting used to their new home now but there is still only one of them that is currently laying! Interestingly enough, she produced an egg the other day that was twice the size of her regular egg and because of it's size, she decided that we would have to wait a couple of days for her next egg!

Our grass has almost ceased growing now and the paddocks are looking decidedly sparse and with the recent delivery of our hay for this year, we will soon be supplementing their feed with the occassional hay.

We are also planning on picking up Cambridge Ice Cool Lad again soon as we are looking to have him mate a few more of our Alpacas as it appears that some of them have not taken during their previous mating. The worry is of course that late matings will produce late cria and therefore we are hoping that our friends, Jo and Ann Hempsey of Chase End Alpacas and co-owner of Ice Cool Lad will have finished with him for their matings this year.

With the main birthing/mating activities all but over for us this year, we are trying to arrange a day to visit both Karl & Lisa at Willowbank Alpacas and Rob & Les at Wellground Alpacas. We have previously attempted to visit them but something has cropped up and we have had to postpone our trip. Must do this during the next couple of weeks!

Well, it is a fairly uneventful blog this time round so hope to have more interesting news for you next time.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A new day and new chickens!

Good morning all. Well, after the previous trauma, we have now purchased three new hens and hopefully, the resultant acquisition will culminate in a regular supply of eggs! We are obviously all too aware of what can go wrong with any livestock one keeps or breeds!

Whilst conducting routine maintenance, I had a need to access the top of the barn and whilst up there, I had a completely different view of the farm (of course I would, I hear you say!). We have worked hard over the last year in making sure that the paddocks are in as good a condition as possible for the Alpacas and viewing them from above (so to speak), drove this point home.

Here is one of the "aerial" views:

One of the advantages of having a woodland border around your farm, is the abundance of wildlife that we encounter. I have spoken about this before but it is always a real pleasure in encountering new species. Today was no exception when I found a snake skin which had been shed by its owner and almost within a meter, I noticed a fairly young grass snake basking in the sunshine. I tried to get a picture of it with my mobile camera but as soon as I ventured closer, it smartly disappeared into the undergrowth.

Anyway, nothing noteworthy to report on our Alpacas today so I will bid you all farewell and will be back soon.

Monday, 7 September 2009

A bad day at Easter-Wood!!

Yesterday was a bad day for us as one of our dogs, a small rescue dog that our daughter purchased four months ago, freed herself from her leash and coller and promptly went on a killing spree with our newly purchased chickens! I was alerted by her escape when our Alpacas sent out warning shrieks and when I spotted the empty lead and coller, my immediate thoughts became a nightmare as I began to fear the safety of the Alpacas! I found the dog over the corpse of one of the chickens and subsequently found another dead chicken within a few metres of the first. After a headcount, I found only 4 of the original 8 and came to the conclusion that the other 2 had fled. We felt absolutely gutted and after locking the four of them in their henhouse, both Sheila and I searched the area ouside of the farm to see if we could find them to no avail.

The only good news that day was to come later when I conducted the routine evening check of the Alpacas................I discovered the missing two chickens happily feeding from their feed station outside their henhouse. I was extremely relieved to see them and I ushered them into the safety of the coop for the night.

We have to learn from this tragedy and so certain things will have to change from now on, needless to say, the security of the animals will have to take priority!

On a lighter note, I have taken this opportunity to publish a couple of photo's of Miss Moneypenny who continues to get up to some mischief!!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The hens are laying!!

Hi folks. A major announcement!...............our chickens have started laying!! Yesterday we were thrilled to find an egg in one of the nesting boxes and further more, this morning, we noticed that one of the hens was settling into one of the nesting boxes in preperation for another egg laying session and sure enough, after a couple of minutes, she delivered an egg! Two eggs in two days.....wow! I guess the others will get round to it in due course.

After my comments about the Alpaca troughs getting filled with rain water, Rob Rawlins at Wellground offered a very simple solution..........drill holes in the base! Couldn't have been more simpler so thanks Rob for the advice.

We have noticed that the grass growth seems to be really slowing down now and on our routine paddock inspections just lately, we have identified even more Ragwort growing. It is a constant battle to eradicate this weed as the root system is fairly comprehensive and spreads underground only to "pop" up several feet away from the original plant.

At this time of year, we have a significant rabbit population and the damage they are doing to our paddocks is getting quite serious now. Mind you, a number of them have contracted that nasty disease, Myxomatosis and when found with obvious signs of the disease, they are humanely despatched.

Yesterday was a day for some chain saw and brush cutter work. I decided that one of our paddocks at the bottom end of Easter-Wood was in need of some serious hedge and bramble clearing so after a 2 hour stint, I am pleased to be able to report that all of the encroaching hedges and brambles have now been neatly trimmed! I suppose it is a bit like spring cleaning really as it always feels good when this sort of maintenance has been completed.

We still have a problem with mites on the ears and over the eyes of some of our girls and tomorrow, we will be applying some ointment that our vet sent over to us in the hope that this will erradicate the symptons. We will also administer another dose of Dectomax just to be sure.

Well, I am signing off now but will return soon.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A quite week so far!

Good morning all. I am afraid it has been a fairly quite week this week with little to report other than the routine work. We did however plan to visit our friends, Karl & Lisa at WillowBank Alpacas in Leicester yesterday but unfortunately, Sheila was not feeling too good and we postponed the trip until another day. Mind you, the weather was abysmal so we probably saved ourselves a good soaking!

The chickens we collected last week are settling in nicely even though I thought we were going to lose a couple of them yesterday as they had managed to fly/jump up onto the fencing which encloses their run. As they have had their wings clipped, I didn't expect them to be capable of getting onto the top of the fence!

Our Alpacas always appear not to like the heavy rain and whilst they race to shelter once it starts, they seem to then ease up and bask in the torrent!! I find this a little odd! During the feed run yesterday evening, amidst the heavy downpour, all of them were quite content to lie down in the open paddocks rather than seek the cosiness of the field shelters. Most bizarre!

One of the other problems that we experience when it unexpectedly rains is the fact that the empty feed troughs fill up with water and despite our best efforts in remembering to inverse them once they have finished their feed, we always seem to forget. Consequently, our Alpacas have to wait until we drain off the water before giving them their feed/supplements. This leads to squabbles amongst themselves as they jockey for the best positions once we start to dish out the food!

With the weather promising to be good today, it means that we can get on with some general paddock cleaning without the fear of getting soaked.

Will be back again soon.