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 December 2010

Wishing all a Happy and Prosperous New Year

We would like to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous 2011.

Looking back at 2010, we have had a fascinating year with it's challenges but in the main, an extremely positive one. Our breeding programme this year has been a great success with 13 healthy cria born and we are looking forward to an exciting 2011. We would like to thank all of those that have encouraged us and given sound practical advice during the year......no matter how much experience one achieves, there is a fountain of knowledge out there amongst breeders who are only too willing to share this and for that, we are eternally grateful.

Finally, I would like to close this short blog with a few memorable photo's captured during this past year.

Ice Diamond - born in October 2010

Navigator's first fleece award from the GWR show before we sold him!

.....and we finally secured the "Go ahead" for our Canadian Log Cabin!

This is Latte....his fleece is exemplary.. a testament to genetic improvement by mating quality with a mid range female!

Have a fabulous 2011!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Cold, Cold and even Colder!!

The last couple of weeks has certainly been challenging on the weather front and whilst we all conviced of our Alpaca's resilience to extreme weather conditions, one can't help wondering how they can cope! We have, like so many other breeders, felt the need to give them extra comfort in the form of a warm (ish) barn to spend the cold nights in but we are always surprised to note that they are so eager to get out the following morning. We are still experiencing seriously cold nights at the moment with little let up in sight.

The ice and snow has prevented us delivering Easter-Wood Navigator and Easter-Wood Polaris to their new home in the New Forest last weekend so we will have to review the road conditions again mid-week. We are very sad to see them go but we know that the new owners, Brian and Sue are very keen to welcome them to their new farm.

We had a visit from a family in France who are keen to set up an Alpaca breeding enterprise earlier this month. We had a long conversation about husbandry and welfare, etc over coffee and then took a tour around the farm, introducing them to both weanlings and adults, all of which generated much interest. It is so nice to see the excitement and passion of breeding Alpacas that we experienced in others.

We also had another student contact us recently with a view to gain work experience with Alpacas and so we welcomed her along with her father last weekend. This visit also coincided with our routine AD&E injections for our weanlings and therefore her help during this procedure was most welcomed. She is studying Zoology and has agreed to work along side of us, gaining experience of general husbandry skills, etc. for the next few weeks.

What, No Alpacas!

 It is currently -11 degrees C but the Alpacas will need to be let out so I will be back again soon.

Monday, 6 December 2010

In the Bleak mid-Winter!

Having survived last weeks bitter weather and fairly light snow, we had a brief respite this weekend only to be hit with freezing fog and heavy frosts again. It seems however that northern counties have fared so much worse than we have so I guess we should be thankful for that but our thoughts go out for our northerly (and easterly) colleagues!

All of our pacas have been coming into the barn at night now and until the weather improves, we shall continue to spoil them despite the mammoth task of cleaning out the barn each morning! Here is a sample of pics I have taken over the last few days:

First snow of the year for us!

 Where is the grass?!!

 Crowding out the hay feeder!

 In the bleak mid-winter!!

The freezing fog is slowly lifting.

 The boys are not enjoying this!

 The boys look fawn in contrast with the snow!

I am off now to break the ice (again) on the troughs and replenish the water in the portable buckets in each of the paddocks. I will return soon.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A bit of this and a bit of that!

Couldn't believe that it is almost a month since my last blog!.....A colleague of mine called me yesterday and mentioned this and as he gains much pleasure over reading it (sad or what Dave!), I have put together a very short blog as there is not too much to report on at the moment.

We have now had those good people from Redmire finally fix the barn which required that all of the support beams/trusses should be reinforced and bolted together and despite anxious moments when the mini acro's were removed, all stayed in place....thank goodness!!

The weather has not been too brilliant over the last week or two so the Elite girls and boys have been pampered and brought into the barn each night. This has the double benefit of keeping their fleeces a little bit cleaner and saving the paddocks from being over-grazed. What with the wet weather and the constant "poaching" of the ground, it makes sense to protect the paddocks as much as possible with the onset of winter. One of the major tasks that I have on my list this week is clearing the leaves from the peripheral paddocks which are rapidly becoming a thick carpet of yellow, reds and browns. Pretty as it seems, the oak leaves are not a good diet for the pacas!

You may have noticed that we now have an on-line shop attached to our web site and whilst this is still being constantly updated, we decided to "go live" in time for Christmas. Despite spending most of my career working within the IT sector, I still find such tasks as web development somewhat confusing so I thought it best left to the professionals!

Will be back soon.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Some Alpaca pictures

Since our recent new arrival here at Easter-Wood, I have not managed to capture any "decent" images of Easter-Wood Ice Diamond so here goes...............

She is now exactly one day old and at least cleaner than yesterday!

Be back soon.

Friday, 29 October 2010

New blood and Old blood!!

We knew that EP Cambridge Sunrise was due to give birth this week and at 8:50 am precisely, she did just that. No complications, a short labour and the only downside was that she delivered the pretty pure white female cria directly onto the only piece of wet mud in the paddock!! To add insult to injury, whilst conducting the routine inspection of the new born, I had crouched low over the cria and suddenly, mum came in, gave her new cria a quick check herself and then immediately raised her head which made direct contact with my nose! Ouch!! ......The next minute, blood was flowing out of my nostrils with no indication of ever stopping!!

Anyway, despite her rather muddy appearence (and occasional blood specks), we noticed that her fleece is extremely bright and so have named her Easter-Wood Ice Diamond. We are delighted that yet again, Cambridge Ice Cool Lad has performed well. We decided to try ICL with our elite girl as the former mating didn't take and we were eager to get her pregnant....and deliver before it became too late in the year. Fortunately the weather is not too bad today and so the new arrival had a fairly warm (and dry) welcome to the Easter-Wood scene.

Here is a rather muddy Easter-Wood Ice Diamond at the ripe old age of 1 hour!

The continuing saga of the barn repairs brought about a visit from the engineers on Wednesday who managed to raise the sagging roof by 10" and at least it is now level again. The supporting walls have straightened out but the guys who came to administer the aforesaid repairs, did not have the materials needed to permenantly support the roof trusses! They are due to return on 8th November to finish this work. The surprise was that apparently, the roof itself weighs 4 tons!! With a good dosing of snowfall that we had at the beginning of this year, it was even more surprising that the building didn't actually collapse!

Well that's me done for the day so better get off to bathe my nose again!!

Monday, 25 October 2010

A visit from our friends at Westhill.

Woke up this morning with a bout of man flu which had been threatening for about a week now however, work through it I kept telling myself, work through it!! Since Rosemary and Carl from Westhill Alpacas were due to arrive later today, I just had to finish all of the routine paca chores before they arrived! :o)

We've been spoiling our elite herd just lately......bringing them into the barn at night as the temperature has been pretty damn cold here in Berkshire just lately. Anyway, we are trying to create a "clean" white alpaca again and I have to say that I am not succeeding. The problem here at Easter-Wood is that our land is primarily clay-based with a high population of worms which create masses of worm castes on the surface all of which creates the perfect mud bath for our pacas!!

With the feeding, watering and cleaning completed for the morning session, we soon welcomed the arrival of Rosemary and Carl from Westhill Alpacas whom we hadn't seen since the GWR Fleece Show. We had arranged for them to visit us a while ago but circumstances prevented that happening until today. It was really great to see them again and as ever, both bring such a wonderful sense of humour with them irrespective of any issues that they may encounter! We spent most of the afternoon talking and looking at the alpacas of course, interspersed with a huge helping of good humour!!

After a stroll around the different paddocks whilst having a close look at the various fleeces, we headed back to the cabin for coffee and cake (as you do!) whereupon, Rosemary and Sheila became grossly engaged in the knitting scene. Feeling somewhat confused by the knitting formulae/jargon, Carl and I decided to chat about such things as motorbikes (Ariels I seem to recall) and tractors (you know......man stuff!!).

Sadly, their visit seemed to end so quickly and we soon bid our farewells. It was a lovely day and we look forward to our return trip to Westhill Alpacas in the not-to-distant future.

I am starting to burn the late night oil now and my eyes are beginning to seem very heavy (don't forget I'm still suffering from the man-flu you know!!) so I will close for now and will be back soon.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Routine husbandry

I can't believe that over a week has gone by since my last blog so without further ado, here is this weeks activities....

Whilst the weather deteriorates even further with the temperature dropping rapidly over the last few days, we have increased the haylage feeding for the pacas and even though we are still blessed with plenty of grass, they still love their haylage!

We have also been busy recently with the routine husbandry duties, ably assisted by a lovely couple who are planning to embark upon Alpaca breeding themselves. They had heard from our son about our Alpaca farm and armed with an abundance of enthusiasm, came to see what is involved last Sunday. It was a full-on day but we got a lot done!

Our new cria (Chestnut), continues to gain weight and is looking very strong (I suspect it is Ice Cool Lad's genetics in there).

The on-line shop is taking shape nicely now and we are hoping to have this in place in a weeks time providing I am able to fully master the technicalities! Actually, it gave me a good excuse to dig out and test my lighting equipment for the camera. I used to use a combination of flash heads and slave units during another life when I was very much into portrait photography so given that the equipment should provide "professional" lighting effects, I hope to be able to capture some good images of the garments that will be up for sale (given that my camera skills are not too rusty)!

Going back to an earlier comment about the weather getting a colder, we have had our wood burning stove on a couple of times now and have to say that it doesn't take long for it to heat the whole of the cabin! We are well pleased with the insulation properties of the cabin and couldn't believe how warm it stays during cold spells. Bring on the snow!!! :o)

Will be back again soon.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A New Arrival

The first of our last three crias due this month made it's entrance onto the Easter-Wood farm today. She is a beautiful light brown female out of the liason between Cambridge Ice Cool Lad and Longfield Black Magic. She has an attractive brown coloured fleece and a delightful phenotype with a strong similarity to her Dam's confirmation. We have not yet decided on a name for her yet but will reflect on this over the next few days!

First attempt at getting up!

A brief introduction.....

Hello world!!
Another two are due this month and so we have placed the three girls into the "birthing" paddock so that we can keep a watchful eye on them.

This is only a short blog to announce the new arrival but will be back shortly.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

On-Line shop

The next stage of our development at Easter-Wood is now imminent as over the next few days, we are adding a further page on our web site which will be our on-line shop. It has been a long time coming as we didn't want to add this in until we had products to sell. Without this however, Sheila has still managed to sell the finished garments she has been so busy making and now that we have a partnership going at a local knitting club, we are eager to get things moving on the "product" front.

Now that the fleece on our alpacas has a good 5 months growth, we are delighted at the developing quality from the elite herd. We are hoping that next year's fleeces match this years in terms of fineness, crimp and staple definition.

Last week, I completed the work on the CCTV installation so that we now have a camera at each end of the cabin. To many, this would seem like an over-kill but it gives us peace of mind and in today's uncertain society, we feel that good security is a sound investment.

We are now experiencing another bout of warm weather and following on from a rather damp couple of weeks, we have a great deal of grass growth again. This is obviously good but we have noticed that along with the grass, the weather has encouraged the weeds as well, particularly Ragwort which poses a real challenge. Each day, we are digging up at least 20 roots from all of the paddocks.......must get a proper Ragwort tool! Whilst we have plenty of grass, we decided to supplement this with haylage and have now started to feed this to the pacas which they are enjoying immensely but they certainly get through it rapidly!

Last week, we gave the crias born this year their first dose of  vitamin AD&E which we enjoy doing as it gives us a chance to inspect their fleeces in detail. This coming week is a busy one as the half yearly Lambivac and Dectomax sessions are now due.

That's all to report at the moment as the sun is now out and the grass around the cabin needs a bit of a tidy up! Be back soon.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A slight panic!!

Whilst I was conducting my daily feeding regime along with the routine herd inspection last night, I noticed that we had two seperate groups of our Aussies, each appearing to cast a cautious eye on one another! I found this behaviour somewhat baffling, so with the evening light beginning to rapidly fade, I approached the group who were particularly busy feeding from the new hay feeder we purchased the other week. I then saw what the alpacas were alarmed at..................one of the girls had an adorment around her neck which was not initially visible in the twilight....................a bucket was hanging around Memory's neck like an over-sized medallion!

I had been using water buckets, hanging from fence posts which had always been a convenient means of providing water as we do not currently have it piped for some of the paddocks! Anyway, we quickly rounded them up onto the adjacent track and managed to remove the offending item from the poor girl's neck.The next trip to our farm supplier will mean purchasing some additional water troughs! It just goes to show how important it is to always observe your Alpacas on a regular basis as I shudder to think what damage it could have done if I hadn't spotted the problem!!

Sheila has been busy labouring over the production of garments each day and with the sound of clicking needles ringing throughout the Easter household, I have found solace in immersing myself in designing and installing our modified CCTV security system! It works a treat even though it intitially had a habit of recording every movement from a busy spider creating it's web across the field of view!!!

This past week has seen a lot of husbandry work including vitamins ADE injections for the crias, toenail cutting, spit offs and three matings. The collapsing barn solution has commenced with the delivery and installation of accro props which will be followed up with the replacement of trusses and supporting timbers during October. At least with the accro's in place, we will not have to fear the roof falling in!!

With the recent Autumnal weather decending on Berkshire, we have had a fair bit of rain of late which always brings up the worm casts on our fields; the result of which is a bunch of very muddy Alpacas who seem to delight in covering themselves in this unsightly mess!! I am in awe of all those breeders who manage to have only "clean" Alpacas. How do you do it??

Sheila will be making her way to the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall on Friday to deliver some fleeces for processing and as the garment production line is in full swing here at Easter-Wood, she is rapidly running out of yarn! This trip actually coincides with a visit to her mother who lives in Tavistock so it is a fairly short hop to Launceston.

Well, the rain is upon us again today and I have just discovered that The Ryder Cup is only shown on Sky Sports channel, which we don't have so that makes me a very unhappy chappy!!!  :0((

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Highs and Lows

Its been an extraordinary week with some highs and lows but most importantly, finishing on Saturday with a particular "high" in the shape of the successful GWR fleece and Fibre show held in Frome, Somerset. As it has been covered by so many other breeders, I will not go into any detail suffice as to say that it was a "smash" hit and a memorable day out for Sheila and I! We met a number of our friends and managed to catch up with all things Alpaca.

A particular "low" we experienced came early in the week with our barn which had taken on a very noticeable dip in the roof line and somewhat "bow-shaped" supporting walls! Upon inspection, it appeared that the roof trusses are not up to the job of supporting the roof!! A series of calls to the manufacturer revealed that the company had been acquired by another supplier of barns and stables which obviously sounded warning bells to us. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the new company came out subsequent to me taking a series of photos of the "structure" and they have promised to rectify the problem albeit at our expense as the guarantee is no longer valid! Ah well, it could have been worse.

Today has been a busy husbandry day with toe nail cutting and injecting Lambivac. Tomorrow, I have promised myself to get on top of the "Poovering" and despite having a bad case of "Man-Flu", it just has to be done!!

Whilst I did say that the GWR Fleece show had been well covered by other breeders who attended and thus, didn't need to go into any detail, I cannot sign off without showing our modest success on Saturday:......................
A rosette, (our first) for Easter-Wood Navigator's fleece!

Be back soon.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A vet visit, A new purchase and more DIY.

I am sad!! Easter-Wood Polaris will not succeed as one of our herd sires. Despite having a terrific phenotype, fineness of fleece and a great Sire, the crimping is simply not good enough to pass on to his progeny so we have decided to give him the proverbial chop! This decision was based purely on our breeding programme and the ability to produce exemplary, elite cria. Our focus is to create the best that we can and whilst it seems a rash decision, his cria would not be up there with the best!

Whilst our vet was here, we asked him to do the honours with the ear tagging and microchipping on our 2010 crias as well. I did attempt to do the microchipping myself last year but frankly struggled with the size of the needle so as the vet was here....!!

Of late, we have had a fair amount of success in using eBay and since we were in need of another mobile Hay Feeder, we conducted a search and found one that appeared to be fairly new in Sussex. It is always an entertaining exercise with these auctions and managed to secure this feeder at a very competitive price. This week, we hitched up the trailer and took a ride out to Heathfield in Sussex to collect it. It is now sitting proudly in our Elite Australian's paddock!

For some reason, we are prone to a few power interruptions/surges here at Easter-Wood and every time this happens, the RCD's in the power distribution panel trips off and subsequently seems to damage the individual power circuits for the CCTV camera's. This happened again last week and the net result is a need to purchase another power supply!! So annoying (and costly)!! I am re-positioning the cameras along with their controls this week so I am hoping that this will make a difference!

We also finally managed to fit the guttering onto the cabin last week. The amount of rain water that had been cascading off the roof was amazing and presented us with a constant challenge having to face a "curtain" of water when trying to get in or out of the cabin. So, the guttering couldn't be put off any longer and I owe Barry, my brother-in-law a big thank you for helping me out (in fairness, he did most of it!). Anyway, allowing the rain water to drain off the roof was only the first part of the solution, the next was; where to pipe it? We decided that as there is a water ditch around our farm, the most sensible solution was to direct the rain water into the ditch. The problem with this however is that between the cabin and the ditch, there is a steep mound which would require a substantial amount of digging.......hand tools were certainly out of the question! We hired a man and a digger for this exercise and once we had accurately calculated the "fall" of the drainage pipe and excavated the trench, we laid the pipe and back-filled it.......Great job. The following day, it bucketed down and hey presto, it worked!!

We are looking forward to a fun day out at next weeks GWR fleece show. It will be good to meet up with old friends again and no doubt, catch up with news, etc. Sheila has spent the last few months really focusing on garment production and so plans to have many "knitting-related" conversations with a few of our friends.

Off to feed the pacas now, so will be back.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

D I Y work

Since I have taken a few weeks off from finishing some of the outstanding jobs around the cabin, Sheila felt that I had had too much of a rest and so "suggested" that I should get cracking on finishing these jobs before the winter gets here! I agreed that other work around the farm had taken much of my time so with no further ado, I set to work on the floor tiling, ably assisted by my brother-in-law. It is still on-going and whilst we managed to lay down a lot more tiles, I still have many more to do.....This weekend, I also managed to get some of the window frames stained and even avoided some of the rain showers.

This evening, we wandered down amongst some of our Alpacas to give them their daily routine inspection and once again, became smitten by the antics of the youngsters as they "pronked" around their paddocks. A fleece inspection confirmed that a few of them are showing excellent crimp developing, a legacy of  their Sire, Cambridge Ice Cool Lad.

Having used all of our hay from last years cut, we will be starting to use the haylage we bought in some time this week. This is earlier than we normally start but what with the lack of rain during this summer, we have now used all of the hay.

Will be back soon.

Monday, 23 August 2010

New Forest visits Easter-Wood

Following a visit from Sue and Brian last week, they returned to Easter-Wood yesterday to select their future Herd Sire. It was good to see them again and we had a wander through the "coloured" paddock to view some of our females which they had an interest in adding to their new herd back in the New Forest. I remember only too well how difficult it is in choosing a core herd and both Sue and Brian exhibited the exact same emotions as we did when first deciding upon the Alpacas we should begin with! We wish them all the very best and look forward to visiting their farm very shortly.

Today will be somewhat of a busy one as we have to Lambivac our Elite herd which have been kept in from the rain last night. We also have to complete the routine "poovering". The rain, which literally "hammered" down last night, may prevent me being that successful with the "poover" however it's got to be done as there are a few days of manure out there in the paddocks!

Finally, this picture did make me laugh as these two youngsters were engaged in (fore)play at a few weeks old however, the one on the back of the other is a female and the "recipient" is a male......think there is a gender issue here!!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Familiar faces

Now with Summer slowly slipping by (that sounds terribly depressing!), we will soon be saying farewell and bon voyage to our family of swallows who annually nest in our stables. The parents have, I believe had two sets of youngsters this year and the current occupants of their nest are well and truly on their way to making that momentous journey south................see pictures below;

Another non-alpaca story is that since we have had our chickens decimated by that scoundral of a fox, we have been constantly keeping a watchful eye on the remaining two chickens which are permitted to roam, free around the farm only during daylight hours. The other day, I was surprised to see that one of them had bagged itself a very large frog!! There it was, trying its best to swallow the poor creature with, not surprisingly, little success! The very next day however, the same chicken had taken a fancy to a sloworm which it had disturbed from the undergrowth. I made an attempt at rescuing the aforementioned reptile but this time, the chicken made off at full gallop running away from me with the sloworm wrapped around it's neck like a college scarf. I did however manage to catch up and am pleased to say that the creature was relatively unharmed apart from a shortened tail! I guess if I had not rescued the poor chap, we would have had to put up with slow-boiled eggs for a while!! :o)

We had a visit from a lovely couple from the New Forest last week who are investigating the possibility of setting up their own Alpaca business. They are due back again this Friday to have further discussions so we are looking forward to meeting them again and having more "Alpaca chat", along with the customary coffee and cake of course!

Since we now have Cambridge Ice Cool Lad back at Easter-Wood, he has been busy mating our girls for next years stock and to date, he has had 4 "interviews" with another 11 to go including the 3 girls we sold recently as they are on agistment with us.

Our farm is adjacent to a public footpath and as I was closing the entrance gate the day before yesterday, I was approached by three walkers/ramblers who commented that they could not see our Alpacas and so I duly invited them in to take a look at our new crias. After the regulation footbath, we walked across the paddock to introduce them to the youngsters. If they could, I am certain that they would have secreted a couple of the cria in their rucksacks as much "oohing and ahhing" took place with some of the youngsters even bold enough to allow the occassional stroke!! How can anyone not fall for these adorable animals?

As it is harvesting time, I managed to spend half an hour today picking blackberries. We have an abundance of these growing all around the perimeter fences so it would be a waste not to collect them. Looking forward to a nice Blackberry pie Sheila!! Yet again, we also have had a bumper harvest of mushrooms this year so what with fresh eggs and mushrooms, we have been spoilt for hearty breakfasts!!

Finally, whilst out with the camera today, I took a few pictures of our girls and boys.......

This one of our "mature" ladies; Torn Ear

Easter-Wood Leia out of Wellground Close Encounter

Here we have (from left to right) Easter-Wood Leia from Wellground Close Encounter, Easter-Wood Diego from Cambridge Samson and Easter-Wood Metisha from Cambridge Neptune

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A mixed bag of news!

This week saw the return of Cambridge Ice Cool Lad from his co-owner, Joe and Ann at Chase End Alpacas and we set him to work almost immediately. He was due for an "interview" with one of our coloured girls and no sooner had he been introduced to her, half a dozen of the other girls all sat down as though they were in a doctors waiting room!! They also will be "serviced" during this coming week. One surprise came about on this occassion when one of the girls, who is due in October, kushed down and refused to budge!! It looks as though, despite her bulging tummy, that she has not held!!

My grandaughter, Emma also came to stay again with us and it was a joy to have her here at Easter-Wood. She was very enthusiastic about feeding the Alpacas and cleaning up the barn and she would regularly ask "What else can we do Grandad?" She kept enquiring about Cambridge Ice Cool Lad's forthcoming mating and wished to observe but on the day, she decided that the book she was reading was of far more interest.......bless! Anyway, it was lovely to spend some time with her.

We also administered Dectomax injections for 9 of our cria and conducted the customary toenail inspections on the whole herd this week. Surprisingly, some of them displayed extremely rapid growth and so a quick snip with the clippers was the course of action.

Yesterday, we took delivery of 35 bales of haylage from our regular supplier, Phil who is a great bloke (literally) unloaded them and stored them at the back of our barn. He always arrives here with an exceptionally large John Deere tractor towing a 30 foot trailer and just manages to squeeze it through our gates. He seems to be able to manouvre this monster rig with uncanny precision!!

With the dry weather we have been having of late, it is likely that we will have to break into the haylage pretty soon. Another load of haylage, hay and straw is due for delivery later this month.....it's going to be an expensive month!!

Well, I am off to pick up some new glasses now but will be back soon.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Fox Attack!!

Back again and the bad news is that we lost another chicken..................that damn fox!! The real culprit however was me.............We had put a number of our Alpacas in the same paddock as the chicken coup, knowing that the fox would never dare to venture into the paddock when the Alpacas were present. We had however decided to move the herd around, thus resting this particular paddock and I had totally forgot the chickens.....That same night, the fox despatched another one!! I will have to be more vigilant in future.

Yesterday, we welcomed a visit from Jo and Anne Hempsey of Chase End Alpacas. It was really good to see them again and we were treated to some very fine home cooking in the shape of a Quiche and a delicious Coffee cake that Anne had baked! After having a coffee and exchanging some Alpaca chat, we headed off for a trip around our farm showing them some of our new crias from Cambridge Ice Cool Lad. He has produced, yet again, some astounding youngsters and we are particularly pleased with the results on some of the coloured Alpacas.

Afterwards, we headed back and had another coffee and sampled that delicious Coffee cake!! We had a very pleasant day with Jo and Anne and look forward to returning a visit to Chase End Alpacas later this year.

With the dry weather, we are like most, suffering from a shortage of grass this year but despite this, we have had significant growth in one of the paddocks which has remained untouched by any grazing for the last 4 months! It just goes to show how resilient grass is!!

Cambridge Ice Cool Lad is to be put to work again today, so I will close but will be back later.

Friday, 30 July 2010

A visit to Westhill Alpacas

After many attempts at meeting up with Rosemary, Carl and Sam at Westhill Alpacas, we finally made it! Following a somewhat lengthy drive (exacerbated by far too much traffic!!), we arrived at Ibberton Hill in Blandford despite some dodgy instructions from the Sat Nav!! What greeted us (apart from Sam standing in the road to ensure that we didn't drive past) was a view from Westhill Alpacas across to Ibberton which can only be descibed as "stupendous"!

Rosemary and Carl made us feel very welcomed and before we had a walk around their farm, we sat down for a general chat around Alpacas accompanied by coffee, biscuits and cake. We then had a wonderful tour around their Alpaca farm and both Sheila and I were so impressed with the layout and the work that had clearly gone into it! (great fencing Carl!). This was followed by introductions to the Alpacas and what struck us was that they were so friendly!!

Afterwards, we sat down for another coffee and biscuits and Sheila and Rosemary had a chat about Alpaca fibre and knitting garments. Sadly, our visit came to an end and we were soon back on the road to Easter-Wood. Thank you again Rosemary, Carl and Sam for a lovely afternoon.

 The WestHill and Easter-Wood teams

This weekend, we have a busy schedule of Dectomax injections for the youngsters. As they are much easier to handle than their adult counterparts, we should be able to complete this job fairly quickly (famous last words I hear you say!!).

Next week, we are looking forward to having my Grandaughter, Emma over for a few days. Last time Emma was here she was at the birth of Easter-Wood Moon Dance whom she subsequently named and we are looking forward to showing her how she has grown!

I had better close now as I have just remembered that I haven't given some of our Alpacas their daily ration of hay and I had better do this before it gets too dark!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Catch up time at Wellground

With a hasty clean up of the barn and a check of our Alpacas this morning, we set off for a visit to the Wellground Stud to catch up with Rob and Les. With their (relatively) recent purchase of a wood burning stove, we had promised them some kindling wood left over from our Cabin build so armed with a couple of sacks, we duly delivered the aforementioned items!

It was great to catch up with Rob & Les again and no sooner had we arrived, the traditional "kenco" had been offered and greatfully accepted. Following a general chat about all things Alpaca, we set off for a good "fleece rummage". All I can say is.......Fantastic quality!! But how do you keep the Alpacas so clean Rob??

To cap off a thoroughly enjoyable visit, Rob & Les then provided us with a "home made" pizza and chips.....we were so spoilt.

First thing tomorrow, I will have to get the shampoo out to give our herd the "Wellground look".

See you again soon.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Fleece test results

Just a short blog tonight as I am cooking dinner!............ We finally received our test results back from Yocom McColl and are delighted with the figures. We sent off samples from the first cut of our Elite yearlings in May and we are really pleased that we had two at 15 micron and two at 17 micron.

Since the weather had improved drastically today, my first priority was to do a major poo-picking exercise on all of the paddocks but before I started, I went out early this morning with the camera to capture a few more images of the youngsters so here are a few, which I hope you will enjoy:

This is Pandora, a female from Cambridge Ice Cool Lad

This is Champagne Charlie on the left (a light fawn) and Cadbury on the right, both from Cambridge Ice Cool Lad

 This is another of Leia at 7 weeks from Wellground Close Encounter

 This is Diego at 2 months from EP Cambridge Samson

Be back soon.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The latest at Easter-Wood...

Over the last two weeks, a lot has happened and here's a summary:
  • We've had five new cria
  • Dismantled and re-assembled our shed
  • Had a golfing break.
  • Employed the last of our agricultural students for a two week work experience
  • Entertained half a dozen visitors
  • Managed to remove a vast amount of Ragwort
  • Reluctantly removed our beloved shipping container
Cambridge Ice Cool Lad continues to produce great quality cria and we have now had another 5 of his progeny of which a couple are shown below:
This is Caspar, a solid white male at 70 minutes old! 

A new-born, light brown female called Cadbury with mum, Sheila and our work experience student looking on

Both of these cria were born within 45 minutes of each other giving Sheila and Kym (our work experience student) a real treat.

Neil, my son came down last week to help me dismantle a storage shed which for some reason was not approved by the local council when we applied for planning! Anyway it was a job that had been delayed because of the time it has taken to finish the log cabin and now that is out of the way, it is another job that I can tick off my ever-growing list of priorities!

Last weekend, I had a break from the building project that has been going on since early March and went off to Devon with a few colleagues to indulge in golf! It was great to get back to playing again after a break of nearly two years bringing about a real mix of good and bad golf. We had a fabulous time with pretty good weather except Sunday afternoon when it "lashed down (see picture!!)
Yours truly in the middle and despite the weather, we don't look too unhappy!

The local Agricultural College asked us earlier this year if we could provide work experience for some of their students during the summer and as a result, we have had two very helpful girls working with us throughout June and July. I've got to say that help with poo picking is really useful!!

Running our Alpaca farm here in Wokingham has generated much interest and as a result, we have entertained a number of visitors during the last couple of months. It is always a delight to see the effect that Alpacas have on people who have never seen them up close! What with the number of youngsters we have had this year, it is no surprise that people fall in love with them.

It never ceases to amaze me why Ragwort appears to grow overnight!! No sooner than I have cleared a paddock of this weed, that it appears the following day!! Anyway, armed with my weed-removing tool, I had a "blitz" on all of the paddocks last week. As the weather has been very dry for some time now (except today however!!) it remains to be seen if this was effective or not!

Yesterday saw our beloved shipping container leaving us. As a result of the local council's demands (again), we have had it shipped off our farm. It was housing much of our furniture, so now we have now finally moved into the cabin, it had to go!
I will post some pictures of our recent "batch" of cria on the next blog in the meantime, bye for now.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

And the weather continues to be warm......................

With the weather unfolding in a way which leads you to believe it is is summer at last, we have had another Ice Cool Lad cria last Saturday making his total to date of five for us so far. The latest is a boy with a lovely Dark Fawn fleece. This is our third cria with almost identical colouring despite the fact that each of the mums are different colours! Ice Cool Lad has now given us two girls and three boys this year with another seven to go!

At 30 minutes old, we haven't decided what to call him yet!

Last week saw the end of the first of our BCA students on work experience with us and this week, we have another young lady who, I am sure will have a satisfactory 2 week stay with us working with and learning about Alpacas. Fortunately for them, the weather has been kind, making such duties as feeding and poo picking a much more pleasant task!

Well, I am off to do some of these duties myself now but will be back soon.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Time slips by!!

I can't believe it has been over a week since my last blog!! There is so much happening here that time has simply slipped away!

We have had the company of Scarlett, a work-experience student from Berkshire College of Agriculture since the beginning of last week and she has settled in well to the day to day duties of Alpaca farming. It has been a good experience for her as during this time, we have had three cria born in her first week here. We have now seperated our 5 most pregnant girls into the front paddock so as to keep a closer eye on them as all are due during the next three weeks with the earliest being today! They are all humming constantly so I wouldn't be surprised if all of them decided to give birth this week!!

Our farm cat has, yet again taken to catching rabbits and last week she caught a second baby rabbit who, like the earlier one, escaped from her clutches and took refuge in an adjacent field! I feel that she really couldn't be bothered to chase after it again!

We are slowly getting rid of the waste/rubbish from the cabin build and it is begining to look less like a builders yard now. The decking is now complete and although having moved in some three weeks ago, I am still frantically trying to complete the floor tiling along with staining the window surrounds.

Gemma, our daughter in front of the cabin

Since the weatehr is superb currently, I will be out this afternoon with my camera to update some of the early cria photo's. Will be back soon.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Ice Cool Lad's hat trick!!

Yesterday saw the arrival of another of Ice Cool Lad's mating result! This time to a medium brown female called Miracle. She produced this lovely coloured female whom we have named "Biscuit" . This seemed appropriate as she has the hue of a digestive!!

 Mother and cria doing well 
Biscuit at 50 minutes old
Yesterday's husbandry duties also included treating the herd to their 6 monthly Dectomax injections which for some reason appeared to be less stressful than before. It could be the fact that we have improved the routine or that we are getting used to it.............who knows! One thing is clear however and that is the boys are much happier about being caught than the girls!!
Anyway, I thought I would post this short blog before we got too busy with today's duties. Will be back soon.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Another arrival!

We have now had another Cambridge Ice Cool Lad cria. We decided to call her "Truffle" as she has the most beautiful caramel-coloured fleece. I guess that this is the White on Black mating!

At 10:00 am yesterday, "Truffle" was born and within 15 minutes was standing and a further 10 minutes later, saw her feeding on the milk bar, much to our relief! She has inherited the most striking facial characteristics of Ice Cool Lad as has the previous cria born to Marmite two weeks ago. She is an absolute stunner and Sheila and I are very pleased that Ice Cool Lad has been successful in producing excellent progeny for us so far.

Truffle's first "go" at the milk bar!

Being "sussed" out 

The colouring of her fleece in sharp contrast to a Medium Brown!

The youngsters have now all experienced their first rain last night and whilst the Sun has disappeared for a while, we certainly need the water for the grass.

I will finish on a rather bizarre note...................our farm cat, who is probably the size of a young rabbit, decided to switch from hunting mice to rabbit and was caught sight running off to the barn with a young rabbit in her jaws. Before she could reach it however, the rabbit put in a final desperate attempt at escape and managed to get away and promptly ran into the nearest paddock, only to be chased by about 10 Alpacas!!.... It survived and I extracted it out of some thick grass and let her go in an adjacent field.

Be back soon

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Getting there..........

Following the "build completion" of the cabin, it was time to rid ourselves of the wood waste that had accumulated since the start and so with a focused determination, we eagerly loaded up our trailer with wood off-cuts and unwanted pallets and ferried them down to the bottom paddock where we had a bonfire to rival the largest built on Novembver 5th! It was most rewarding and thoroughly cleaned up the appearence around the cabin.

Looks so much tidier!

Whilst out with the camera, I thought I would take a couple more pictures of the youngsters.
 Here is one of Leia who is from Wellground Close Encounter

Leia looking particularly "cute"

Here is a full face shot of Samson's Diego from EP Cambridge Samson

We are currently still awaiting a cria from Blackie who is now a week overdue and every day seems to add a further pound or two from her appearence and during the month of June, we are expecting another 5! With the fine weather we are experiencing though, the Alpacas are really enjoying both the lush grass and the abundance of vitamin D!

Will be back soon.