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.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A period of absence explained

My blog has, I'm afraid been somewhat in-active during the last couple of months and for this I can only apologize. Plenty has been going on here at Easter-Wood and what with winter preparation, Christmas plans and garment production, I just simply ran out of time! For those of you who are well disciplined in regularly blogging, I can only take my hat of to you in admiration. I wish I had that kind of well organized approach.

Woke up to a crisp, cold morning today and what a welcome this is from the ever present "mud" we have endured over the last couple of weeks! Taking a leaf out of other breeders blogs, I have decided to ensure that all photos of our alpacas are limited to head and shoulder shots in future however, this approach will commence with the next blog as I haven't yet captured any worthwhile pictures.

In a way to reduce the effect of the mud on our alpacas, we have now re-organized our paddocks access so that most of them are now able to wander in and out of the barn thus reducing the "poaching" effect on the fields and giving them a warmer, drier place to sleep/eat. We also find it far more practical when administering their injections and routine husbandry. I have to say that this design was in part due to some outright plagiarism (thanks Barbara & Paul)!!

On the subject of husbandry, we had an excellent day at our local vets earlier this month. They put on a husbandry class for alpacas which covered just about as much as one can fit into a day's session. It was, to say the least, exemplary and we both came away feeling that we had learnt so much in such a short space of time. Anyway, well done Larkmead Veterinary Group.

Whilst paddock cleaning is such a back breaking exercise when the weather is so wet ( on the basis that it's impossible to get the "poover" out), I am now so much happier that the cold weather has hardened up everything such that alpaca poo can now easily be removed using a simple rake and scoop! On that note, I will take my leave of you and promise to return soon (with photo's)!

Monday, 24 October 2011

A weekend away

Saturday was the day that we moved Easter-Wood Metisha and Easter-Wood Adelle to their new home in Cumbria. An early morning start was the order of the day as we were faced with a 300 mile trip and to make matters worse, I had come down with the dreaded "man-flu" and as we all know, this is indeed a serious illness for us men folk!

However, all went well with the move. Metisha wasn't too keen to make her way into the van even though I carried Adelle in first but once in, they seem to settle down nicely. This was the first trip in the van for us and we were pleased with the ride, etc. The on-board CCTV camera to view the animals was a real bonus and we could at least check on mum and cria at regular intervals during the journey.

We were pleased that the weather was good and upon arriving in Cumbria, we were soon greeted with a magnificant sight of the hills/mountains which heralded our introduction to the Lake District. After a slight hicup with the Sat Nav, we soon arrived at Beck Brow Alpacas of Cumbria. What a wonderful, idylic place that Barbara and Paul have. This farm, at the heart of which is a charming old farm house simply oozed character and of course fields full of alpacas graced the scene.

Obviously the first thing for us to do was to unload Metisha and Adelle who were led into a unique, well planned series of pens all of which was covered and enabled the alpacas to be seperated into their various groups. Both Sheila and I were well impressed with this arrangement and I hope that we may be forgiven for a bit of plagiarism in the future!

We were made to feel most welcome and following a lovely meal at their local Fox & Pheasant, we stayed overnight and despite my cold getting worse, I managed to get a reasonable nights sleep. Problem was, I ran out of tissues so Barbara, very kindly sent me on my way the following morning with a couple of loo rolls but not until we had had a good look at their alpacas. Barbara and Paul have some very special animals there and with their attention to detail, we came away with the knowledge that both Metisha and Adelle will be well cared for! During our stay however, Sheila was particularly taken with Velvet, one of their little dogs and as can be seen from the photo, she has a tight hold on her (several attempts at sneaking her into the van was made of course)!

Sheila is determined to smuggle Velvet away!!

We eventually arrived back home at 8:30pm last night and pleased to say, without a hitch. Thanks to both of you for a most enjoyable but brief weekend.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

This and That!

In some respects, I feel that a blog without photo's is a bit like Fish without Chips! I had planned to take advantage of the wonderful weather over the last week and take some photo's of our latest cria but like most plans, it didn't happen so here is a brief update, without the Chips!!

Subsequent to one of our Alpaca Experience Days back in August, I was invited by Christina, one of our visitors to a radio interview on a local radio station to talk about Alpaca Breeding yesterday. What a great experience that was and I was most impressed with their sophisticated and professional studio. Christina and Joanne made me feel most welcome so a big thank you to Marlow FM for a most enjoyable morning.

Now that we have completed our birthing for this year, we have our vet coming in tomorrow for ear tagging and microchipping which, given the numbers, will be a fairly lengthy session.

We have had a fair amount of interest from our local Agricultural College this year again with a number of students requesting work experience. We acknowledge that spending time on an Alpaca farm is good experience for the students and therefore, we have a couple commencing their time with us at the beginning of November with further students arranged for early next year.

The bad news is Summer is officially over! Can't complain however as we have had a better than average growth of grass here this year, we have a good stock of haylage and there is plenty of wood for the wood burning stove!

I hope to be able to include some photo's in my next blog, so apologies for the lack of them this time!

Back soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A correction and another delivery!

Following on from my blog yesterday, announcing the arrival of Easter-Wood Dante, we reminded ourselves that we had set out to follow the Three Musketeers theme for our elite boys and clearly "Dante" doesn't fit....doesn't even come close to D'Artagnan so we have re-named him Easter-Wood Athos!!

A slightly "cleaner" version of Athos

With this correction suitably addressed, we now come to the naming of our elite male delivered this morning! Easter-Wood Porthos came into this world at 9:45 am weighing in at a healthy 9.59 kgs. His Dam is Yuralee Daisy of Cambridge and his Sire is EP Cambridge Strike Gold with genetics as follows; EP Cambridge Valour, EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus, EP Cambridge Equinox.

Porthos - at 6 hours old.

Porthos completes our 2011 birthing and so we are now planning for next year's show circuit and as we have recently purchased a suitable "Paca Wagon", we are looking forward to hitting the road, so to speak!

Will be back again soon.

Friday, 23 September 2011

A bright start to the day!

An early rise to this view above our farm was recorded this morning and my thoughts turned (for some inexplicable reason) to an event in British history which happened way before I was born ... the Battle of Britain!!

Anyway turning to modern history, I am proud to announce the arrival of a very healthy male cria born this morning to Eringa Park Artistry of EPC and was sired by Cambridge The Chairman of ACC. We have named him Easter-Wood Dante. Sadly, mum decided to deliver him directly on a patch of very dusty earth which has given him a distinctly filthy look!!

Easter-Wood Dante

A "sooty" looking Easter-Wood Dante seeking the milk bar!

His genetics are as follows; Jolimont Commisario, Cambridge Show Stopper, NWA Ltd Ruffo, Jolimont Encantador.

Following this mornings excitement, we then got on with other jobs around the farm, one of which is my routine "clearing up" of the spillage from the hay feeders......Whilst these feeders are meant to keep the hay/haylage within the feeder itself, our alpacas seem to be able to spread hay/haylage over an extremely wide area around the feeder! I must have cleared at least four barrow loads from the proximity of two individual feeders! Messy lot!!

Will be back again soon.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Something is in the air!

Just a short blog tonight......As Lawbreaker's Legend and Adelle are rapidly developing, they are now inseperable and whilst all cria's are gorgeous, I can't help spending so much time just simply watching these two play together....you know what I mean...... the evening pronking and the playful tag games....it's all so spellbinding. I guess I have to admit to being a bit of a softy really! Anyway, here are a few photo's of the aforementioned pair:

Lawbreaker's Legend and Adelle's first attempt at a kiss!

Mirror image as their attention is grabbed by chickens on the other side of the fence.

Lawbreaker's Legend wants to play rather than graze!

Adelle chases away a playful Lawbreaker's Legend

If you enlarge this photo, you can see the reflection of Sheila in Lawbreaker's Legend's eye!

The weather hasn't been to kindly today but at least we managed to clear two paddocks of alpaca poo....a job which is always quite demanding however, Sheila drove the mini tractor whilst I "poovered" this time which made for any easier and quicker task.

Signing off for tonight but will be back soon.

Monday, 12 September 2011

What a night!!

Our poor little Lawbreaker's Legend went through the mill yesterday/early this morning!!

Yesterday morning, it was evident that he had been rolling around in the mud a lot and his demeanor, to say the least was listless. During the course of the day, he would kush then roll over and kick his legs out. This he did frequently. He would then get up and walk a bit and then drop down again onto his side and again, roll. He did not take any feed from mum whatsoever during the whole day, so it was down to bottle feeding him with some of mum's milk that we had expressed. Took his temperature........that was fine but nonetheless fitted him out with his cria coat. Called the vet and went through all the likely possibilities. Took instruction all to no avail. Decided to bring him into the barn with mum and continued the bottle feeding. This carried on until late last night when we decided that we were none the wiser as to the cause of his problems and we called the vet out on an emergency!

She arrived in the early hours of this morning....checked temperature, listened to his pulse rate, checked abdomen, weighed him, took blood samples and then as we had not seen him poo yet, she administered a liquid paraffin enema! Well that certainly did the trick in quite a spectacular way!! No sooner than he had ejected the retained meconium, all of his troubles were over and within 20 minutes, he was up and feeding from mum. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief but it taught us a very important lesson.......................if you are unsure about the ailment of your alpacas, do not hesitate to call the vet!!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Two Special Arrivals!

We are very excited about our latest cria who was born today exactly as predicted (according to our "Alpaca Manager" software). Our Cambridge Sara is always consistant not only with her gestation dates but the sex of her cria. She delivered a beautiful, healthy male cria today out of  Eringa Park Lawbreaker, this years National Supreme Champion. This is her 3rd male cria since we purchased her some 3 years ago. We have called him Easter-Wood Lawbreaker's Legend and he came into this world at noon today weighing in at 8.4 kgs. He adds to the latest foundation of our elite breeding programme for the Easter-Wood herd and we are so delighted with the genetics he brings into our herd namely; Jolimont Warrior, Jolimont Conquistador, Eringa Park Showtime, NWA Ltd Ruffo, EP Cambridge Peruvian Maximus.

 Within 20 minutes, he is getting some of mum's colostrum

Adelle looks on as Lawbreakers Legend struggles to find his feet!

Still struggling to stay upright!!

The second arrival announcement comes in the form of alpaca transportation! We have been seeking high and low for the right kind of vehicle to transport our alpacas around and until 2 days ago, we had drawn a blank. Either the vehicle was too small, too large, not enough power, wrong colour....you get the picture? Anyway, we spotted what appeared to be the perfect solution..............a horsebox! It made no sense to us to purchase the van and then spend a fortune in modifying it, so Sheila came up with the solution....a horsebox.

The aforementioned vehicle however was found in Hexham, Northumberland so yesterday, I took a plane out of Heathrow and flew to Newcastle where I was greeted by a lovely couple, Sarah and Jools who very kindly picked me up from the airport. The van is great and after a chat about all sorts, including alpacas of course, I set off back home in the newly acquired "alpacamobile".......8 hours later, I arrived back totally wiped out but satisfied that it was a good buy! We will of course be applying some signage on the bodywork but in the meantime, here is a picture of the vehicle:

Once we have new signage on it, this will be the Easter-Wood Alpaca wagon!

Will be back soon.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The next chapter for Easter-Wood Metisha

Our lovely Easter-Wood Metisha and cria are on their way north!

Sheila and I had spent some time deciding that Metisha should be sold but we were always concerned that she was our only EP Cambridge Neptune progeny currently left in our herd after Easter-Wood Navigator was sold late last year. Her pedigree was always precious to us however, but once we had commited to sell her that was that;..... or so we thought. Readers of this blog will have read that she gave birth last week to Easter-Wood Adelle, a beautiful female out of Cambridge The Chairman of ACC and we then started to have doubts about selling her and her cria once more!! From the genetics point of view, Easter-Wood Adelle has a stunning pedigree with Jolimont Commisario, Cambridge Show Stopper, NWA Ltd Ruffo and Cambridge Neptune all in her blood line! However, Barbara from Beck Brow Alpacas came to the rescue and made up our minds once and for all as she had earlier expressed an interest and since we are due another The Chairman cria from another of our elite girls, we happily agreed the sale and so both Mum and Daughter will be heading off to their new home in Cumbria some time in the future. We are actually delighted as Barbara and Paul at Beck Brow Alpacas of Cumbria are a very professional team and we know that the girls will be given the recognition and care that they deserve.

This past week has also given us a fair old challenge on the weather front too with intensely strong sunlight and very heavy (torrential) showers which severley tested my previously erected gazebo to act as a sun shade for a few of our pregnant females. This sun shade was in the form of a tarpaulin hung from the side of one of our field shelters and tethered to some Alpaca hurdles some 12 feet away. Anyway, I didn't reckon on 1) the vast quantities of water falling incessantly from the sky and 2) unexpected and intermittent violent gusts of wind which finally did untold damage to my "construction"! Two tarpaulins later, I have now admited defeat and will either purchase another field shelter or hope that our English summer is finally over!! (I can't believe I actually said that!!).

Whilst the grass is still growing (what with the rain etc) it simply doesn't have the quality that the spring growth brings and as a result, our alpacas are really demolishing our haylage stocks. Mind you, I can understand how they feel as whenever I am loading the haylage into the various feed bags, I am overpowered by the wonderful aroma of it! Fortunately, we had the foresight to order more than we were expecting to use!

I will sign out now but will be back soon.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Chairman girl!

Welcome to our latest cria;...... A beautiful female cria out of Cambridge The Chairman of ACC whom we have named Easter-Wood Adelle:

Easter-Wood Adelle finding Metisha's "milk bar"

She was  born on Saturday morning and since Metisha was a maiden, it was not an easy delivery. She was clearly struggling during her labour and in the end, she simply gave up trying, finally deciding to lie down at which point we helped her deliver. We sprayed her navel and checked her weight and all this time Metisha just lay there trying to figure out what was happening. I then carried her cria and placed her in front of Metisha's nose. She seemed a littled startled by the fact that this little pure white bundle was doing her best to get to her feet. After a while, she realised that she should be doing her bit and so up she got and within 20 minutes, both mum and baby were bonding well and subsequently, she found the milk bar. Adelle came into this world at 8kgs and although we are a tad biased, we are very pleased with her along with her excellent pedigree.

Easter-Wood Adelle
Just showing off now!!

Today, our two new elite crias have been introduced and they have spent the best part of this morning running around together. Both Adelle and Aramis, who is now 2 months old and an Accoyo Remarque boy, seem to be enjoying each others company. Here they are together:

Adelle and Aramis

Will be back soon.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Two more births and an Alpaca Experience Day

We have had an interesting few days just lately with two boys arriving in fairly quick succession. The first was a lovely light brown boy with a beautiful phenotype and weighing in at a healthy 8.9kgs. His mum is Blackie who is quite frankly, getting on in years but she certainly knows how to produce wonderful cria and this year decided to pop him out at 7:20am!! Her cria last year was a beautiful girl Truffle, whom we sold just a few months ago. Whilst her cria this year has yet to be named, we are in no doubt that he will soon attract interest.

Our unamed boy

Last Friday, at 1.00 pm, Marmite delivered a medium brown boy with very interesting white markings. This is the first time we have had one of Ice Cool Lad's cria producing a non-solid colour however the markings are quite distinctive and as can be seen in the picture, his name of Zorro is probably quite appropriate!

Zorro weighs in at 8.1kgs

Today was this months Alpaca Experience Day for us which has so far proved to be very popular. We had a smaller turnout than usual however as we had two postponements but it was, nonetheless a most enjoyable day and we were blessed with good weather. Here are a couple pics from the day:

Will be back soon.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

And along comes the seventh!

An absence from blogging during the last few weeks is down to a rather pressing care issue with my father whom I mentioned in my last blog, as he had undergone some major heart surgery followed by a lengthy stay in hospital. This was, I am afraid to say compounded by the intervention of well-meaning "friends" and it was necessary for both my sister and I to put a care package in place for him...........it's a long drawn out story which I won't go into as this is as far away from alpacas as you can get!!

Anyway, back at Easter-Wood, we have now had our seventh cria all within a 3 week period....here are some of them:
Arabella and Philby, who is on the right

This is Boniface

Chester with mum, Lai Lai

This pictures shows Layla with her mum, Torn Ear and Boniface on the right

This is Arabella having a snooze with mum, Fedora

Our swallows this year have taken to nesting in the same spot as last year, namely the rafters within the stable block and the other morning I had a need to go into one of the stables which is no longer in use, and there upon the ground was a young swallow. He couldn't yet fly but had managed to climb out of his nest and had dropped rather ungainly to the floor. Poor little blighter was clearly distressed, so I scooped him up and placed him back in the nest along with his brothers and sisters. Two days later however, they were all gone so I guess they were due to fly the nest anyway.

We had a visit from a lovely couple from Holland last week who are over here on holiday and following a call from my son's in laws who know them from their camping connections, they came to look at our alpaca farm and went away with a bag of fleece from one of our boys. It was a nice afternoon and it was great to see their delight when showing them our most friendly girls who insisted on nibbling their clothing. 

Will be back again soon.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

More arrivals coming thick and fast!

Following on from the announcement in our previous blog that we would be pretty busy this week, we have had three more of Cambridge Ice Cool Lad's cria born during the last two days. One fawn male whom we have named Easter-Wood Philby and one light fawn female whom we have called Easter-Wood Alice both appeared on Tuesday of this week within an hour of each other! This morning saw the arrival of a light fawn female who we have named Easter-Wood Boniface. Thankfully, all cria are healthy and full of energy. We are now awaiting the arrival of three more of Cambridge Ice Cool Lad's progeny over the next two weeks, during which time we are also expecting Easter-Wood Metisha to give birth to a Cambridge The Chairman of ACC's cria. The following months, up to September will also be busy with the remainder of the elite herd giving birth.

Easter-Wood Philby at 3 hours old

Getting to know you!

Easter-Wood Alice trying to bond with mum!

Less than 1 hour old!

Yesterday saw me heading off to the south coast whilst Sheila was on farm watch. Sadly, my father is somewhat unwell at the moment having just undergone major heart surgery so both my sister and I visited him in hospital, hopefully to give him some cheer! He will take a while to recover of course but he certainly looked pretty good considering what he has been through!!

Will close for now but will be back soon.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A new arrival!

With our birthing now in full swing, we had another new cria today at 3:40 pm weighing in at 8.86kgs. She is a beautiful, solid mid brown female out of Alonso Fedora. Fedora always seems to deliver early and is not only a text book mum, she also always has a text book delivery! From the  moment she went into labour she appeared to be very relaxed and after about 30 minutes, her cria (we have named her Easter-Wood Arabella) was delivered without any hitches. She was up and on the milk bar within 15 minutes as is evident from the pictures below.

With the fast approaching rain again tonight, we have now put both Fedora and Arabella in the barn so that at least both mum and baby can bond in the warmth/dry.

Will be back again soon with no doubt the announcements of further births!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Fleece delivered for the GWR show!

Whilst I got on with the daily farm duties, Sheila, along with Gemma (our Daughter) had arranged to drop off our fleece entries for the forthcoming GWR show to Rosemary at Westhill Alpacas today. After an uneventful drive to Blandford and by way of a reminder of directions via a brief telephone call to Rosemary, Sheila was, as usual, warmly welcomed by Rosemary and Sam. After some Alpaca/Yarn banter accompanied with coffee and biscuits, Sheila set off once again for the return journey, arriving home armed with a Take Away Chinese! Its amazing what you can pick up on the way from Dorset!!

Our latest cria, Aramis is showing us how fast he can run with spontaneous sprints across the paddock causing his mum to panic as he temporarily disappears out of sight only to appear again heading back at breakneck speed! At only four days old........It never ceases to make us smile when they get up to these antics particularly during the early evening just when the sun dips out of view. Next one is due soon so the birthing box is always ready!

This is only a short blog tonight but I feel guilty that my blogging is a little infrequent!! I will be back soon.

Monday, 11 July 2011

New arrival, visit to the mill and a weekend off!!

As everybody knows, it is a real delight when the first cria of the year arrives and as always, we were excited at the arrival of our first for this year........ a healthy, 10.24kg boy from Memory of ACC out of Accoyo Remarque. We have named him Easter-Wood Aramis following on from our latest theme out of Alexandre Dumas's book, The Three Musketeers.

It wasn't a straight forward birth as we would hope and so we assisted Memory with her ordeal. As soon as the cria's head and part of his feet were presented, it was obvious that one foot was slightly back and to make matters worse, both of his feet were alongside his head and not above it! Once the feet had been manipulated into the correct position however, everything went to plan and she delivered without any further complications! Since Gemma, a new Alpaca Breeder and latest client of ours, was here at the farm, she was able to witness her first birth! We are expecting a significant number of cria this month so our lives are going to be pretty hectic during the next few weeks!

Having collected 25Kg of solid white fleece from this years shearing back in June, we took a trip up to Banbury a couple of weeks ago to deliver our fleece to Haggers Mill. Whilst there, Richard Hagger gave us a quick guided tour around the mill and I have to admit that whilst I have an engineering background, I was in total awe of the complex machinery that surrounded us! Anyway, we are looking forward to receiving the finished product from them.

At the beginning of this month, I went off to play a bit of golf in Devon. Along with my son Neil, my brother-in-law and another friend, we headed off to a long weekend of Golf, eating good food and enjoying the sunshine. I have to say that my golf wasn't up to much but the break, the food and the banter was much appreciated!! Whilst this was my second year at Ashbury (near Oakhampton), my son had not been before and upon arriving, he acknowledged that this was indeed a wonderful golfing mecca but observed that 98% of the guests were men! We have therefore nick-named it "Blokeland"!!

"A blokes weekend"!!

We have now taken delivery of another 40 large bales of  haylege for this year and it seems that not only is it most prefered by our Alpacas, it is cheaper than hay so it's a no brainer really...... ! We are also trying a new (to us) Alpaca/Llama mix from our local stockist. It appears to be somewhat similar to goat mix but certainly seems to be a favourite of the "pacas"!

Will return again soon.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Shearing day!

With a later date this year, we finally had our shearer arrive yesterday. The alpacas were certainly long overdue and despite having a number of shearing days under our belts now, it is still an amazing shock to see the transformation..................all of which creates a total confusion as to which alpaca is which!! It was, as ever a full on event but surprisingly over in a relatively short while. Three hours later, all 33 alpacas were sheared (or is it shorn?), toenails trimmed and the odd one having their teeth trimmed. Along with Mike Banks and his team from Shearco, we were ably assisted by Gemma and Andrew who recently purchased their herd from us and my sister-in-law. Thanks to all of you. No sooner had the shearing been completed, the rain descended again so not only was our timing good, it was satisfying to see the paddocks getting a further dose of the wet stuff!

Seems like a different herd!!
Who are you now??
Our next job for this week is to sort and skirt the fleeces which, whilst being labour intensive, there is a significant satisfaction in performing this task and we are looking forward to having a really good look at all of the fleeces.

Once the routine feeding jobs have been done, we have decided to have a relatively easy day today although I am probably tempted to have a quick clean-up of a couple of paddocks which were used as a holding bay for the groups of Alpacas during the shearing!

Will be back again soon.

Monday, 6 June 2011

At last.....Rain!!

It has got to be the best part of 3 months since we had any (decent) rain but all that has now changed following a good drenching most of yesterday. We were getting quite concerned as no rain meant no grass and our birthing this year has not yet started................the first is due in early July but before that, we have our shearer due to arrive on Friday this week. He is later this year but despite our request for May shearing, he was held up in Australia for some reason! Anyway, now that the weather has finally broken, we are praying that Thursday/Friday is dry!!

We had an interesting incident the other day which involved both the horses and our Alpacas............We always keep Sheila's two horses quite seperate from the Alpacas in that they each have there own paddocks. The horses's paddock is not stock fenced, only post and railed but on this particular evening we decided to give the horses a treat by opening up a smaller paddock which is usually only occupied by the Alpacas. Access to the other paddocks which the Alpacas were in was by a small gate which can only be opened inwards. It appears that the youngest of the horses "sussed" out how to open the gate which then led to four paddocks being shared by both horses and twenty Alpacas!! No real damage done of course but since the horses paddock is only post and railed, any of the Alpacas could have quite easily slipped through the fencing!! Another lesson learnt.........don't underestimate the animals intelligence!!

We also have a very good reason to celebrate this week as the lovely couple (Gemma and Andrew) who recently purchased five of our Alpacas have been successful in securing a very nice piece of real estate for their farm. Congratulations to the both of you!

Signing off now but will be back soon.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A satisfying day!

Yesterday was a very satisfying day! All of the paddocks effectively "Poovered" and even the erradication of some persistent weeds in the form of Ragwort. It is truly remarkable that despite the intensly dry spell we are experiencing, those weeds continue to thrive. We are now so desperate for rain however and by my reckonings, we have only had a couple of "showers" in the last 11 weeks!! Carefully managed paddock rotation is the order of the day for the Alpacas as they would simply not get the grazing they require otherwise but we are still giving them ample helpings of haylage which appears to be well received!

Since building some raised beds around the farm and stocking them with a mixture of flowers and vegetables (they certainly smarten up the place), the chickens have taken a great fondness for scratching around these beds and effectively destroying these vulnerable plants so drastic action was taken in the form of converting a mating pen into a chicken run and restricting their roamings! All seem to go well until I noticed that one of the chickens, closely followed by the other began frantically pacing backwards and forwards along the fence line, seemingly looking to get out. I thought nothing of this as I had made sure that there would be no escape............................famous last words, first one of them was spotted in the paddock where their coop is, closely followed by the second! They had made their escape simply to gain access to their coop in order to lay their eggs!! Once this was done, I delivered them back to the converted mating pen and further escapes were never then attempted. So now we lock them in their coop at night and transfer them to the "mating pen" in the morning after they have layed their eggs! Who said that chickens have no brain!!

We had another group of visitors to Easter-Wood over the weekend and despite our preference to keep the visits to a strict timetable, we always over-run. Much interest is expressed with all of the animals we have and whilst the Alpacas remain the focus, many visitors are also drawn to Sheila's horses as well, not surprising though as they are both magnificant looking creatures.

After 12 years ownership of my Renault Laguna, it is now beginning to cost me more and more in repairs and so we will soon be seeking a replacement vehicle. Having seen Beck Brow Alpaca's and Wellground Alpaca's magnificant vans on their blogs, we acknowledge that a company van will be the answer for us to, so the search is on.

Today, we plan to take a trip to another local breeder as we haven't seen them for a while now. It will be good to catch-up and talk alpaca and have a fleece rummage so we are looking forward to this.

According to the weather forecast, it looks as though we are not expecting any rain what-so-ever over the next 5 days but I wouldn't mind betting that when it does finally arrive, it will be for a very extended period!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Some interesting thoughts and observations!

Isn't it funny when, whilst immersed in routine jobs, your mind generally wanders off into the distance and you start thinking of all and sundry?? Yesterday's "poovering" job was a case in point and I started thinking of our birthing which has not yet commenced this year but my mind was focused in particular upon the new genetics that we are eagerly expecting later this summer. When we started the business, we had always planned to have a strong "elite" element within our herd and this year we will have, for the first time, a much higher percentage of  first class alpacas at Easter-Wood. We are of course excited about the forthcoming births particularly now that they have all been scanned pregnant but waiting is not one of my stronger traits!!

I have always wondered about the truth of "old wives tales" but the following photo's may have convinced me that the old saying; Red sky at night, shepherds delight may well be true!!

Previous night - Red Sky at Night, Shepherds Delight

Following morning......wall to wall blue sky!!

Today, is another day of paddock maintenance with further doc weeds and thistles to remove and thanks to a tip from Denise, the docs will be getting a dose of Grazon later!

Signing off for now but will be back again soon.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ice Cool Lad returns to Essex!

Having completed his "duties" here at Easter-Wood, Cambridge Ice Cool Lad was readied for his return to www.chase-end-alpacas.co.uk yesterday where he has a number of "appointments" with some of Joe and Ann's females. Joe arrived with us on Sunday and so we spent a lovely two days with him (sadly, Ann couldn't join us as she was keeping watch over an expectant mum). Shortly after he arrived, somewhat pertubed that his Sat Nav had led him in the wrong direction, we served up the tea and coffee and caught up with news from our friends in Essex. In the evening, after booking Joe into a local hotel where Gemma, our daughter works, we went and had a lovely meal at our local pub and chatted well into the night. The following morning, we conducted the Easter-Wood tour, taking in some "fleece rummaging" which was followed by some brunch before Joe hit the road again with Cambridge Ice Cool Lad. It was so nice to enjoy a relaxing weekend in such good company.

Sheila & Joe in the "boys" paddock

Today will be spent on ridding ourselves of some persistant weeds that the recent rain has encouraged and in particular, within the paddock that Cambridge Ice Cool Lad has just vacated! These weeds (not sure what they are actually called but they have doc leaves) have the longest "tap root" that I have ever seen and are very difficult to erradicate, so this will be a job for the garden spade....failing that, a mini digger!

Will be back soon.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Wildlife identification!

I thought I would post a short blog for this weekend....Like many of you right now, we are also "enjoying" some much-missed rain and I was calculating that it must have been at least 6 weeks since we had our last shower!! Before the weather broke however, we had some interesting visitors recently.....the first of which posed a bit of a challenge in identification but I am sure that some of you may be able to come up with the answer..............

The following "visitor" is even more of a challenge and I look forward to hearing from those of you who recognise this little creature...........................

Armed with my camera the other day, I also caught up with some of the Easter-Wood herd in their paddocks before the rain came................
One of my favourite's...Easter-Wood Diego, from EP Cambridge Samson who is owned by Wellground Alpaca Stud!

Easter-Wood Latte and Easter-Wood Diego busy doing what they do best...eating!!

This is Fedora who is a charming, experienced mum who has given us 4 lovely females to date!

Be back again soon.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

An active weekend, but still no rain!!

Whilst the sunshine continues to parch our paddocks, it has given us a fabulous two weeks of wall-to-wall  blue sky which was a great backdrop to a  number of farm visits here at Easter-Wood in the guise of "Experience Days" which we hosted and both Sheila and I were delighted in the numbers of interested parties and their kind words which they left in our visitor's book. We do enjoy showing people around the farm and love to hear their endearing comments about the alpacas and of course, the recently acquired Kune Kune pigs! This weekend's visit was a particularly busy one and we felt that it was very rewarding since many of the questions were focused upon all aspects of alpaca breeding culminating in the subsequent garment production. We are now preparing for next months "Experience Days" and hope that these will also be as successful.

The woodland path to our Kune Kune pig enclosure

They seem to love having their tummies tickled!

What's going on then?

 An inquisitive and "bearded" Ice Cool Lad

Will be back again soon.