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, 14 December 2012

A new home for some of our girls!

Where an earth has the time gone? I have only just noticed that an age has passed since my last blog.....no excuses, just been busy!

Last month, we had a call from a lovely lady, Emma whom we had been recommended to earlier in the year. During the summer (do you remember the sun and warmth?), a tree on the edge of our lane had been in need of some tree surgery and I got chatting to one of the team tasked with the removal of the aforementioned tree. Apparently, he had mentioned our Alpaca farm to a customer of his who had expressed an interest in owning Alpacas......referral is of course the best form of marketing without question! As a result, Emma called and duly purchased three of our young girls. She had deliberately chosen a fawn, brown and white. A couple of weeks ago however, she emailed and asked for another of our girls to make up the "Full Colour Palette". Thus one of our black girls became Emma's fourth member of her herd!

 Emma welcomes Midnight Sapphire with an affectionate kiss

 
Midnight Sapphire joins the other three girls with the onlooking sheep in the background!

This year has seen some significant changes at Easter-Wood, in particular, our show circuit boys: Athos (out of EP Cambridge The Chairman) and Lawbreakers Legend (out of EP Cambridge Lawbreaker). We are delighted with the development of their fleece and confirmation and have high hopes for them in the coming year.

The weather this year has had it's effect on the farm as usual with far too much rain and thus far too much mud! The one saving grace is that since we have sold a significant number of animals this year, we do now have a lot more grazing to go around!

Sheila's garment sales have grown in strength again this year and has had to employ the services of some knitting ladies in order to provide the knitted garments in time for Christmas.

.........and finally, a glimpse back to when it was sunny and warm!!!!

Roll on the summer!!


Friday, 14 September 2012

A serious lapse...........

There is simply no excuse! I have not posted on our blog for ages and whilst the intention is there, I have always found other jobs to do! So without further ado, here is my latest news;

Despite the recession, Sheila's garment production has been growing in strength and she now has a small army of helpers providing valuable knitting expertise to assist in satisfying the orders. With Christmas only a few months away (did I really say that?), she has arranged a number of "Alpaca Parties" locally to show that Alpaca fleece can be turned into wonderful, luxury items of clothing.

We have been out and about lately and have visited both the Honiton and Romsey Shows in the last few weeks. It was good to catch up with friends and share stories and of course, muffins and coffees. We were planning to show our Lawbreaker's Legend and Athos at the Romsey Show but discovered that Juniors were not showing! Great shame as both our boys (in my opinion) are stunning! Anyway, another time as Intermediates.

We finally managed to get away for a week's break a couple of weeks ago and so, with some friends staying here on the farm, we first journeyed to Banbury to collect some yarn we had processed at Haggers Mill and stayed for a couple of nights with my son and his wife, Neil & Liz. We had a great time and enjoyed some excellent home cooking! On the Tuesday we then drove to Tavistock to stay with friends, Jane & Paul where we thoroughly enjoyed walks on Dartmoor, trips to Cornwall and as usual, good food! On the way back, we B & B'd in Romsey and took in the Romsey Show on Saturday where we caught up with friends as previously mentioned. We couldn't have picked a better week as the weather was simply fantastic!

 A view of Dartmoor

 
Sheila and friend, Jane in Tavistock Market

Turning back to Alpacas again, we previously made the decision last year to purchase the "Paca Wagon". Having had a year to use it in anger, we have now however decided to sell it as we discovered that it is not quite large enough to transport the alpacas in numbers...... sadly, two is the maximum! We will instead, purchase a stock trailer which appears to be much more versatile (and cheaper to run!). Anyway, that's all from me as there are some paddocks waiting to be cleaned.....and the sun is out again!





Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Woeful Summer weather!

Every March we are blessed with normally dry, warm and usually sunny weather! It seems that there is a pattern developing with our British weather which suggests that summer no longer starts in May/June in fact it seems that it doesn't start at all!! Here at Easter-Wood, we are constantly challenged when it comes to decisions where the weather plays a part in conducting any work that relies upon a dry day! We have actually decided that this year we will travel to France for a week's break (the first for 4 years!) later this year to stay with my sister and her husband just outside Cahor in order to enjoy some sort of summer weather!

Leading on from the weather situation, we are unsure that we will be able to source any hay this year so we grabbed at the chance to secure 60 bales of last year's hay from a local equestrian farm this week. Our Alpacas are thriving on hay currently and are reluctant to actually leave the dry conditions of the barn to venture out for some grass of which we have an abundance of!! Mind you, it could be that they seem rather relaxed with the sounds of Radio 2 gently emanating from the transistor radio in the barn which is playing all day long!

We have now employed the services of a local tradesman (Bob) to finally finish off the Log Cabin build which involves adding some decking to the rear of the Cabin along with tidying up the lower section of the main building down to ground level as can be seen in the photo below. By the way, the ramp shown is more for our aging dog and not a reflection on our physical condition!!!


Having celebrated a birthday last month, I am now the proud owner of a rather special coffee machine which Gemma and Jonathan kindly bought me. I have always enjoyed "proper" coffee and since I had been bleating on about how insipid instant coffee is, they very kindly clubbed together to buy me this great machine! I am now a happy coffee junky!!

I have just returned from our annual golfing break down in Devon and whilst the weather was appalling (as usual), we did manage to play each of the four days we were there. As usual, my golf was pretty rubbish but I enjoyed the break immensely not to mention the high quality (and quantity) of food!! Sheila stayed here of course and took care of the farm in her usual efficient manner! The picture below indicates that the weather was kind to us............... for a couple of hours!!!


Finally to finish, just before I left for Devon and during a dry spell, I managed to "top" a couple of our paddocks but as the rain had encouraged so much growth, there were some area's which could not be dealt with by our lawn tractor. Diego and Porthos however were more than happy to attempt a "trim"!


Well the skys appear to be brightening, so duty thus calls. Be back again soon.

Monday, 11 June 2012

.......and off to pastures new!

It's been a busy time here at Easter-Wood lately and today marked the beginning of a new venture for two new alpaca owners, Julie and Colin. Despite the appalling weather today, we managed to load up Julie and Colin's five alpacas (oddly enough, without any protestations) into the trailer and head off to their beautiful farm near Whitchurch in Hampshire. Three girls and two boys are now settling into well designed paddocks which have an absolute abundance of grass!

Julie and Colin with their new girls.

After unloading, we retired to their farm house kitchen to be out of the foul weather and was treated to madeira cake and coffee followed by a fair amount of alpaca chat. We welcome Julie and Colin to this wonderful world of Alpaca breeding.

This weekend also saw a significant birthday milestone (the one that the Beatles had a hit with!!) which we celebrated with a lovely lunch out along with Jonathan and Gemma who very kindly treated us! Sunday was our wedding Anniversary but business comes before pleasure so we celebrated with hosting a visitor and his son who are planning to set up an Alpaca breeding enterprise very soon. I hope that they take the plunge and were inspired by our passion for these endearing creatures!

We also hosted one of our "Alpaca Experience Days" last Thursday which will probably be our last as we are now very focused upon further developing enhanced genetics into our elite herd and in order to do this, we have decided to concentrate on a selective program of matings during the year and also concentrate on finally having the time to attend shows with some of our elites!

As I write this, the rain has been incessantly tipping down and has done all day and whilst we all yearn for quality grazing, most of us and now saying "That's enough"!!

Will be back soon.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Back to mating!!

Throughout the last two months, we have been getting concerned over the lack of "spring growth" and thus the continued reliance upon dry matter for our alpacas. Now with the abundance of rain and the rise in temperature this week, panic over! We do however have a few more alpacas than we would prefer and following the sale of some females and a couple of our young boys a couple of weeks ago, we are slowly getting the numbers down to an ideal herd size. These girls however are to leave Easter-Wood pregnant and as Easter-Wood Diego is not quite ready to service the ladies yet, we headed out to Chase End Alpacas in Essex last Sunday to see our friends Joe and Ann to collect Cambridge Ice Cool Lad, our jointly owned stud male. He is the bees knees when it comes to "getting on with it" and we have always been absolutely delighted with his progeny in all the time we have used him! It was great to see our friends again and as usual, much alpaca chatter went on but once the conversation turned to knitting, Joe and I sneaked out to take on a herd inspection! They have some lovely alpacas there and as usual, the farm looked a real treat, despite a brisk, chilly wind!

Yesterday, Cambridge Ice Cool Lad was introduced to one of the three girls who are leaving us and without any hesitation, he was performing....What a star! Mind you, he made a point of stamping his male authority over the other young males here with, what can only be described as a parade superiority or putting it another way, "showing off"!! Today is the turn of the second female!

A couple of years ago, we sold our first male, Easter-Wood Navigator as a yearling to Petlake Alpacas of The New Forest but we retained a couple of matings from him once he had reached maturity. Following a phone call to Sue Sears the owner, we arranged to use him on one of our Elite girls this summer. Navigator's genetics are exemplary with EP Cambridge Ceaser and EP Cambridge Neptune on his Sire's side and EP Cambridge Peruvian Maximus and EP Cambridge Sara on his Dam's side. We are also bringing in another superior Elite stud to enhance the Easter-Wood herd this summer and so we are really looking forward to some superb results next year!

I just looked out of the window and the sun is shining, the temperature is climbing and work beckons!! I will be back again soon.

Monday, 14 May 2012

.....and another fine day!!

Well this would appear to be somewhat of a record of late!!! Three consecutive dry and sunny days (well until today that is)!! During those brief moments of spring, we managed to run one of our Alpaca Experience Days, clean up some rather neglected paddocks and have the herd sheared! I am so pleased that the shearing is over for the year on two counts: the herd now looks really smart and secondly, the rush/panic/trauma is over for another year. No matter how familiar you become with the shearing process, it is always tinged with stress, not only for the alpacas but also for us and everyone who helps out. Anyway job done and now the fleece sorting commences. We are very pleased with a number of them this year and hope to secure some recognition of this through the various fleece shows.

A neat and tidy Philby

Today normal service has resumed, at least as far as the weather is concerned as it is again, "tipping down". 

Today sees the "Paca Wagon" gets it's MoT so I am a little nervous as it is it's first, under our ownership and as we recently made a decision to scrap my Laguna as it had had a good innings with us and completed 120,000 miles, we are now reliant upon a roadworthy van!...........................concern over as whilst writing this blog, the van has been returned having passed the MoT!

Next up today is commence some matings with three of our girls whom we have just sold and now that they have all been sheared, we should have less of a problem (famous last words!!).

Friday, 11 May 2012

Alpaca Experience Day 2012

After many days of constant rain and wind, we finally had a respite in the weather, all in preparation for our first-of-the-year Alpaca Experience Days. We awoke to glorious sunshine (not seen in many weeks!!) and after a quick check on the presentation equipment set up in the barn, we shortly received our guests with coffee/tea and biscuits and loads of chat. It was good to see the Irwin family again (Terry, John, Rachael and Dan), who interestingly enough we met a few years back when Sheila had decided that hand spinning would be a good thing to do and we found a second hand spinning wheel on eBay which Terry was selling!!! Anyway along with Elaine and Dave, a lovely couple from Swindon, we all had a great time at our farm as was evident from the following photo's.

 Two of the boys getting a great deal of attention!!
 The group down by the Kune Kune's
Terry getting up close and personal!

A final thanks to all our visitors for the kind comments they made during the day. This is just a short blog as I had been suffering from a sore throat most of the day and I have decided to get an early night for a change!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Pastures new.

I apologise for not blogging here at Easter-Wood of late. There is really no excuse and I feel quite guilty so I will just crack on with some of our news, first of which is the departure of  two of our boys to their new home in Petersfield a couple of weeks ago.

 Easter-Wood Luther and Easter-Wood Zorro in their new home

Following our shearing in early May, another five of our herd, three girls and two boys will be off to their new home near Whitchurch, Hampshire. Sheila recently went over to visit their new owners and was most impressed with their farm. I am sure that they will be very happy there.

Here at home, we have had unexpected challenges in the shape of feline issues! Following the birth of two kittens to our farm cat, we now have the challenge of weaning them off their mother in addition to keeping the male cat, responsible for all of this in the first place, away from mum! Our plan is to get her "done" as we certainly don't want an additional litter..........breeding Alpacas is what we do not cats! However, keeping a very active female cat away from the local toms is not that easy either so after a great deal of thought, Sheila came up with the ingenious plan of using the Alpaca Wagon as a quarantine room! We plan to do this for just 10 days which apparently will allow time for the milk to dry up and prevent any further accidents until we are able to get her to the vets for the op!

We have separated our elite youngsters from the recently weaned cria and they are now enjoying fresh spring grass in their new paddock. With all of this rain recently, the grass is really taking off, so to speak! Mind you, with the freshly soaked paddocks, it makes the daily "poovering" very difficult and wet poo very quickly blocks the hose!! Talking of "poovering", I wondered if any of you who own one of the Trafalger machines, experience the same "gathering" of alpacas around the poover when using it in a paddock? I have decided that it is probably the frequency of sound emitted from the motor which to an alpaca may sound like "orgling"!! Who knows?

Following our visit to the Alpaca 2012 Show in Clevedon last week and talking to a few breeders, we have now agreed on our breeding programme for this year which will have a strong focus on further enhancing our elite herd. It was good to meet up with some old friends again, all of which thought the show venue to be excellent and furthermore, was very well organised.

We are now looking forward to a rapidly approaching Spring/Summer and whilst the long range weather forecast isn't particularly dry, I can't wait for the longer days ahead...................feels like more time available to get the jobs done!

I keep threatening more photo's on my blog and I simply must try to adhere to this promise, so over the next few days, I will be out to capture some, hopefully pleasing images!

Be back soon.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Our loss tonight!

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog tonight! We lost a very handsome little white male born to our first born here at Easter-Wood. Poppy went the full term and at 4:40pm this afternoon, she delivered this little boy following a difficult and lengthy birth. Phase 1 of her labour went on for too long and so we assisted in the delivery. He was very small and he was clearly fatigued from his ordeal. Anyway, we kept him warm and fitted a cria coat, gave him a feed which he seemed to readily accept and placed him alongside mum in the barn. At 8pm this evening, we planned to give him a further feed but it became evident that he was slowly slipping away and sadly died at 8:20 this evening. Poor Poppy cannot understand what has happened and I can't tell you how much it has effected all of us however, someone once said that when one keeps livestock, one should be prepared to accept dead stock! Difficult though, as I am sure that everyone who has experienced this will know!

Will sign off for now.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

British Alpaca Futurity

With the securing of our permanent planning consent (as notified by Sue Wilson at Valley Alpacas) last  Wednesday, we are now busy booking our events and shows for the remainder of this year. Whilst we had decided not to show at the British Alpaca Futurity, we did attend today's session and met up with many of our friends and fellow breeders along with meeting new ones. These events are invaluable for us, least of which is to gain knowledge on the competition but also to acknowledge the level of professionalism demonstrated at these sort of events in the Alpaca calender. As you can guess, we are poised to take our first steps onto the show circuit and whilst we have been otherwise engaged over the last three and half years in establishing and developing our business, we are now enthusiastically shaping our long term strategy and plans so that we too, will be regular attendees at the various shows planned. Our visit to The British Alpaca Futurity today was as always, inspiring and we also identified some awesome Studs which we are keen to use on our girls later this year.

Despite the promise of Spring just around the corner, Sheila is still having success in selling many of her Winter garments that she has knitted during the last few months. I keep meaning to photograph and insert them onto our on-line shop but no sooner that I arrange for our daughter, Gemma to model the Snoods, Hats, Scarfs and Gloves, the garments disappear out the door! Still, can't complain really.

Getting back to the start of this blog, we are really pleased and excited at the outcome of our planning application and for those of you who are currently waiting for the outcome of their application, don't lose sight of the passion and determination that took you there in the first place. Common sense usually prevails!

On that note, I will close but will be back soon.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A Change is as good as a rest!!

In the corporate world from whence I come from, I always subscribed to changes in business practices in terms of process, sales and marketing and thus I believe it is true for our world too. However, I also believe that managing change is the key to success and as a result of a great deal of planning, we have now decided to sell Cambridge Ice Cool Lad. He will be much missed as he has produced some exemplary off spring for us but it is important for us to inject fresh genetics into our herd. In fairness, we started this process last year when we were fortunate enough to have Eringa Park Lawbreaker of Cambridge and Cambridge The Chairman of ACC's genetics through matings with a three of our elite girls. As a result we now have another two very promising boys as future herd sires in Easter-Wood Lawbreaker's Legend and Easter-Wood Athos. The third cria, a beautiful girl (Easter-Wood Adelle) went to our friends in Cumbria, Beck Brow Alpacas. In the meantime, we have however been looking forward to getting Easter-Wood Diego (a beautiful Cambridge Samson boy) ready for "service" which will take place this summer. He is a stunning boy exhibiting dense, highly crimped fleece with fabulous brightness and we are excited about his potential.

Easter-Wood Diego in "deep thought"
A young Easter-Wood Diego

This week saw the weaning of 9 of our youngsters which, as ever is a tough call and despite the strengthening of fences, we still had a couple of escapees. Their pitiful "bleeting" always tugs at my heart but of course it has to be done! I didn't mention this in my last blog but we also had a couple of births at Easter-Wood last week......two kittens! Mum, is our farm cat whom we purchased as a ginger Tom some two years ago!! Anyway they are all doing well and whilst I haven't managed to get a good picture of them yet, I can show you a pretty poor phone camera image of one of them at a day old.

No name yet, not even sure of it's sex!

We have some visitors coming this morning, (potential breeders, we hope) so will now sign off but will be back soon.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Is it March already??


So much has happened since the last time I blogged (got to be 2 months or more – shameful!). As ever, we have been busy getting the farm into shape after a winter which, to be fair, hasn’t been that bad but we have been trying to retain as much of our pasture as possible and for some reason this year, we haven’t been able to hold onto much of it. Our Elite cria are all developing nicely and we will certainly be present at some of the later shows this year. Sales of the garments Sheila has been busy producing have taken off really well and continues to be a regular source of interest/income from our clients.

As readers of our blog will recall, part of our “Alpaca Experience Days” offer the chance for our visitors to also “Experience” our Kune Kune pigs. Well, they are no longer tiny, sweet little piglets they were last year! They have grown significantly over the last couple of months and whilst they are never going to reach massive proportions, they are now quite a handful at meal times!!

Another event that I am pleased to report and one that is only due to the lack of light pollution here, is the passing directly overhead of the ISS (International Space Station) last month. Fortunately it was a cloudless night and not only did we get a great view of Venus, Jupiter and a new moon all in line, but the ISS suddenly came into view to round off the spectacle! As you may have guessed, I am hooked on astronomy and it has been one of my passions since childhood some 10 years ago!!!!

We have also been actively marketing the business here at Easter-Wood and another opportunity to compliment my previous radio interview experience with a local radio station last year, was to host BBC Radio Berkshire this morning. Nikki Whiteman was our guest and she fronted the interview for the Andrew Peach show. Both Sheila and I thoroughly enjoyed the session even though we had to endure a heavy mist all morning. Anyway, Nikki will be returning during the summer months along with her family this time.

 Sheila & Radio Berkshire presenter, Nikki Whiteman

Signing off for now but will return soon.