Thursday 1 June 2017

A better penning solution!

After a long "family illness" and a subsequent reduction of our herd, I am back to report a more recent enhancement to Easter-Wood. One of the problems we frequently encounter is the need for an effective and reliable penning facility and whilst the hurdles have given us a flexible solution in the past, it was felt that a more permanent solution was required so following many phone calls to various companies, we managed to contact a brilliant company called "Cheval Liberte (UK) Ltd. Their professionalism, work ethic and attention to detail is exemplary and worthy of a "plug". With these stables in place, we have  an ideal method of containing the alpacas during shearing, birthing and isolation during illness, etc.

With respect to our alpacas, we are still awaiting our first cria birth this year particularly with one of our girls, who seems to be hanging on, despite looking like a blimp at the moment! She was mated with Lawbreakers Legend last year and we are hoping for a rather attractive light brown cria!

Will be back soon.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Our first Cria of the year!

I don't know why it takes me so long to post blogs these days however today's blog is an easy one!! Our first Cria this year........our first Lawbreakers Legend progeny. Mum is Easter-Wood Arabella and as a maiden, she has produced a beautiful, white (could be light fawn however!!) female.
But Arabella + Cria will soon be on their way to their new owners. Their new home is a short way from Easter-Wood and the new owners are about to embark upon their new venture in which Sheila and I wish them every success!

Since we have been "off air" so to speak, we have reduced our herd size through a number of  small sales and as a result are now operating a smaller, compact business which enables us to focus upon a better managed breeding programme. Our next expected "Cria event" should be during the next two weeks now and Lawbreakers Legend is set to produce his second offspring for this year!

Will report back with photo's when our next youngster arrives.

Sunday 29 March 2015

The Futurity Show

Both Sheila and I had our eyes well and truly opened with our trip to the British Futurity 2015 and what a great show it was. Well organised, well presented and full of passionate breeders who are only too willing to offer advice to other breeders. Since we have been off the circuit for some time due to personal circumstances, we both looked forward to an exciting show and of course, we weren't disappointed. We met up with some of our old friends again and also met a number of new ones.
Whilst it wasn't our finest hour with our entry, the extraordinary level of quality in the alpacas was exemplary and this in itself fuelled our determination for greater success next time.

Now that the Easter-Wood herd has been enhanced with our programme of matings last year with both "The Chairman" and "Lawbreaker" genetics, we are hoping to see a crop of fine, high quality cria this summer. Anyway, we can't wait for the milder, sunnier weather and the healthy pastures which it brings.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

At last - a proper tractor!

I've got to say that this summer has been pretty damn good weather wise, and as a result, we have an abundance of grass in our fields which has contributed to a very healthy looking Easter-Wood herd! One of the concerns we have always had is the ability of our little sit-on tractor to cope with long grass so we took the decision to invest in a compact tractor along with harrow and topper. Strange that we couldn't source one locally and so eventually we found one in Somerset! I've been educating myself on the mechanics of driving this beast and so it was no surprise then that I ran out of diesel in the middle of one of our fields! Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the process of bleeding air out of the system, etc in order to get it going again but after a lengthy phone call to the company who supplied the aforesaid tractor, I finally managed to fix it and finished the topping. All was not going to plan however as I managed to break the shear bolt on the PTO coupling by simply climbing back in the drivers seat and knocking the PTO lever into gear whilst the engine was running!! Oh well, you live and learn!

Sheila tests new tractor

Having previously suffered from excessive mud in our gateways, last week we ordered a couple of loads of road planings to fill the subsequent dips in front of our field shelters and gateways. Hopefully we should see less of our alpacas taking frequent mud baths this winter!

Lawbreakers Legend and Athos have now been put to work for the first time this summer and Sheila and I are very excited about the prospect of having further genetics from The Chairman and Lawbreaker next summer!

Signing off for now.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

A return with renewed vigour!

Having read many blogs recently, it is apparent that absence from the blogging world is usually related to problems and Mark's blog (Patou Alpacas) reflects this hypothesis so accurately! It is with this in mind that our return is also based. Our problems however were, amongst others, family related and without going into detail, kept us out of the alpaca world for too long.

Trying to catch up on lost time (in terms of news) is going to be a challenge but suffice to say, our breeding programme is now back on track commencing with today's matings using our two stud boys; Easter-Wood Lawbreakers Legend, sired by Eringa Park Lawbreaker of EPC and Easter-Wood Athos, sired by Cambridge The Chairman of ACC. 2015 is now earmarked for our return to the show ring and a long awaited catch up with our friends and colleagues as the social element plays such a large part of our enjoyment on the show circuit!

Whilst we had to put our alpaca business on the back burner for a while, we haven't been totally idle and  have managed to sell on a large number of our animals to a variety of customers and as a result, we now have a tightly-controlled herd of 13, down from 48. This has made the task of alpaca and farm management much more focused and both Sheila and I relish the development of our business on a better prepared footing in the future.

Signing off for now but will return soon.

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 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!