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.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Drainage issues, Husbandry and the Build!

The rain hasn't ceased throughout the week and into this weekend apart from a brief respite during Saturday. Our ditches which surround our farm are beginning to steadily fill which is a cause for some concern. Both the north and south ditches actually merge in one corner of the farm and then are supposed to drain out into one of the abundant streams that criss-cross this part of the countryside however, a large supplier of aggregates and cement are currently excavating shingle from the land almost adjacent to our farm. In their wisdom, they decided to install a very small pipe to take this water under a road that they have built for their earth moving trucks and as aresult, have considerably reduced the flow of water from our ditches. Needless to say, I have spoken to their team and I expect to see them installing a larger pipe! We will see if this happens as we do not wish to see our alpacas knee deep in water!

During the brief respite from the rain yesterday, we managed to vaccinate our elite herd with Dectomax and release them from their 3 day break in the comfort of the barn. We did however conduct a couple of spit-offs first. Olympus has had some trouble in getting pregnant and we mated her again with Cambridge Ice Cool Lad and gave her a dose of Receptal this time which we hope will get her "going".

Once the elite alpacas had left the comfort of the barn, we then moved the rest of the herd, minus the weanlings into the barn for their relief from the foul weather. They too will receive their Dectomax jabs this coming week and then it is the turn of the weanlings.

Yesterday morning, we met up with our builder who will be responsible for the internal fitting out of the Cabin build and chatted about the various options open to us. As we have seen the strengthening of the Euro against the pound over the last 18 months, we have been forced to work with a Canadian Log Cabin company now who will build our log cabin to the same spec as the other company. We are so looking forward to work commencing within the next couple of months.

Well it is almost time to brave the weather once more and feed the alpacas so I bid you farewell and will return soon.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Getting closer to our Log Cabin build!

Having had what we thought was a fairly reasonable weather forecast on Countryfile last Sunday, we have had nothing but wet and windy weather so far this week however, our spirits are somewhat lifted by the thought of our approaching log cabin build date. We will be meeting with our supplier tomorrow to finalise the details and agree a delivery and construction date. Frankly, we can't wait as it seems years since we have had the comfort of a "proper" home!

One of the jobs that we have to get on with very soon is the clearing of the leaves from a couple of the paddocks. As I use a blower to do this. it is always difficult when they are wet but it has to be done. All of the alpacas are also now due for their Dectomax shots and this is scheduled for this week but with the wet weather, we will bring them into the barn the previous night so they can dry out first.

We are still conducting spit-offs and whilst it looks as though most of the herd has held their pregnancies, we are not taking any chances and if this means winter cria, then we have to accept this. At least, this year we now have the barn!

My interest in the use of alpaca poo briquettes for fuel has been rekindled (like the pun?) following Rosemary and Carl's experimentations published recently on their blog www.westhillalpacas.co.uk. Although we have plenty of wood for our stove which will be installed in the cabin, it makes so much sense in being able use "natural waste" to use as a heating source. Will let you know the outcome.

Signing off now and will be back soon.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A visit to Willowbank Alpacas

Good morning folks. Today is a continuation of the appalling weather we are currently experiencing and our poor Alpacas are looking decidedly bedraggled! Added to the fact that the youngsters have now been seperated from their mums for a week now, doesn't help their case!! Right now, the wind is howling and the rain is really lashing down in torrents. I hope our ditches hold up OK. However, it is nothing compared to what the folk are putting up with in the Lake District.

Yesterday however, we had a real treat as we finally managed to get up to Leicester and visit our friends, Karl and Lisa at Willowbank Alpacas. What a lovely place they have and before I knew what was happening, Karl suggested I assist him with ear tagging some of his sheep. I noted a little hint of a wry smile on his lips and a few moments later, I knew why...............catching hold of one of these creatures is a bit like stopping a runaway truck!! Not only did they move very nimbly but they were also prepared to take the arial route to avoid their capture! After we managed to ear tag them, Lisa got on with the toenail trimming. Their toes are so different from Alpacas being hard and more hoof-like.

We then had a walk around their lovely farm, stopping occasionaly to discuss the location of the new paddocks which will be going in at some point in the near future. Heading back for a quick bite to eat, both Sheila and I remarked upon how well positioned the farm is. After a lovely snack that Karl produced, washed down with a coffee, we headed back south having had a most enjoyable day, albeit very brief. Thanks for your hospitality Karl & Lisa. We look forward to reciprocating in the near future.

Be back soon folks.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Weaning day has arrived

Hi Folks. Following our decision to provide a respite from the weather for our Elite Australians on Saturday, we gave them all their dose of vitamins AD&E before seperating the cria's from their mothers today. It is always a heart-wrenching sight to see the utter despair of the youngsters when their mothers are put into a different paddock. Poor little "Polaris" decided to attempt a break out and got himself well and truly stuck when trying to squeeze through a gap between the top rail and the stock fencing! Fortunately, we spotted his attempt and rescued him before he damaged himself. We then decided that the only way to prevent any potential accidents was to move the crias into a paddock which is completely fenced using "equifence". We did this but only after some considerable time as a couple of the youngsters were not about to be moved too far from their mums and in the end, I had to resort to catching them and literally carrying them into their new "safe" paddock. I was surprised how heavy they were!!

Having completed this task, it was the turn of the other herd to enjoy a spell in the barn for a couple of days before they too would be receiving their AD&E jabs.

With the barn being occupied by the kitten we bought in auction the other week, it is an entertaining sight as the alpacas are so intrigued by the kittens presence. They are not exactly sure what she is and they tend to follow her around as she prances across the floor and up and down the hay bales which are stacked in a corner of the barn.

The weather has been quite benign today and looking at the forecast, we could be in for a couple of days dry weather before it tips down again during the latter part of the week. If this is the case then we will be able to conduct a few more "spit-offs" with Cambridge Ice Cool Lad.

Signing off now and will be back soon.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Back to "Business as Usual"

Hi Folks. It is now business as usual after the elation of winning our Public Inquiry case and yesterday, we put Cambridge Ice Cool Lad back into action, mating with Yuralee Sunrise of EPC. Sadly her previous mating didn't take and despite the resultant winter cria, we have to get on with our breeding programme. Today, despite the torrential rain and gale force winds, we had a brief respite which was enough to put Cambridge Ice Cool Lad to work on EP Cambridge Olympus again. Whilst we have had a few problems in getting Olympus pregnant, we are determined to keep trying as she has the most awesome genetics and both Sheila and I are excited at the prospect of a cria from her.

The weather continues to be atrocious today and so we herded our Elite Australians into the barn for a spell so that their fleece and more importantly, their feet are allowed to dry out. Last winter, we didn't have the luxury of a barn and all of their feet suffered. (a bit like the way our fingers react after a long soak in the bath!). On Monday, the rest of the herd will have their dry "break".

Our chickens are now laying at a rate of 8 eggs per day with no sign of easing up during the shorter days of autumn! We shall not complain at all of course as the benefit of "free" food is always most welcomed. On this note, I have harvested a huge amount of field mushrooms during the last 5 weeks and whilst I adore mushroom omlettes, I am now looking forward to a change of menu!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

At Long Last!!

Well folks, THE major news for us has just been delivered by our planner, Marc Willis..............our long awaited application decision from the inspectorate has just arrived and is ALLOWED!!

Both Sheila and I are overjoyed and after a period of some 15 months, we are now free to get on with our alpaca breeding without any restrictions even though the news hasn't really sunk in yet. I am sure that many of you have also experienced the same anxiety and stress that we have endured. As a result of our local planning office, the local councillor and the local residents adding so much uneccessary and inaccurate "contributions" to what is a simple and genuine Alpaca Breeding business, our whole family has had to suffer the pettiness and ill-informed objections from such people. Anyway, we can rise above this and will do so in the manner that our business will be a resounding success!

Many, many thanks to all of you who have supported us over the last 15 months by way of emails, blog entries and personal visits. It is such a comfort to know that there are so many of you who genuinely care.

Back to earth now.............Despite the heavy rain right now, I have to give the Alpacas their daily hay. See you soon.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Man Flu!

Well today I woke up with the dreaded "man flu" and as us chaps know, it is so difficult to get on with our lives having to suffer so much! I will probably take it easy today just in case it develops into something even more sinister!

Yesterday, we conducted some spit offs and sadly we had some disappointments in that a couple of our elite Australians were found to have not held their pregnancies so we will have to re-mate them even though this will mean winter cria's. We just cannot afford to have them "empty" until spring next year.

With the Autumnal season upon us, I am delighted to report that we have a plethora of field mushrooms growing. Because of a late planting of tomato plants this year, we ended up with a considerable number of green fruit so I decided to make some green tomato chutney. I am pleased to announce that this particular culinery exercise turned out to be a great success, adding to our self sufficiency quest!

I am signing off now as I am feeling a little "crock" and need to dose myself up with Lemsip!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Winter preparations

Just returned from our vets in Alton today with our vaccination and needles in preparation for this weeks husbandry work. Actually, I am surprised I even got there as since I had not done the trip before, I relied upon my (usually trusty) sat nav however, it decided to tell me that I had reached my destination at least a mile from the actual vets!! I checked that I had put in the correct address but it still insisted that I was there when I knew darn well that I wasn't so I resorted to telephoning them and asking for directions (technology huh!).

Ice Cool Lad is now back with us again and indeed looking in fine fettle! He generated quite an interest with the girls as we put him back in his paddock!

Our hens are still laying (we are now up to 6 eggs a day) despite the drop in temperature and the shorter days.

As we are having to spend another winter in our static caravan, we have come up with what we think is a bit of a brain wave to keep the water pipes free from freezing........ Alpaca manure! We are bagging it up and surrounding all of the exposed pipework under the static with the filled bags. We haven't tested it yet but our belief is that the manure will compost/ferment and produce heat within the bag which in turn should generate enough warmth to remove the possibility of the pipes from freezing. Will let you know if it works or not!!

One final note; the male kitten we bought from the farm auction the other day turns out to be female! So we have to now rename her as Simba is not quite girly enough!