Keep up to date with the latest alpaca news from Yew Tree Alpacas.
Each year we open for one week in early December for our alpaca Christmas Shop. This year our plans were no different but it was touch and go whether Covid would allow us to open! This is the only time in the year when visitors can turn up without a booking, any time during our opening hours and there is no age limit.
A big thank you to all who supported our Early Bird Christmas shop on 31st October. The weather was awful, it rained most of the morning and some of the afternoon but this didn’t deter the Yew Tree customers you still came out. In fact it was our best single day for shop sales ever at Yew Tree! A VERY BIG THANK YOU.
Since our last blog post we now have six further cria to give a total of seven new herd members for this year. Zebedee, Archie, Bertie, Carlos, Sapphire, Tia. All are doing really well but there was another difficult birth which hubby Stephen turned what could have been disaster into a success and live cria Archie emerged unscathed.
After the high of being able to start our walks again we were brought back down to earth by the loss of our oldest girl Jessica who had been one of our original alpacas purchased when we started out on our alpaca journey. As this was the first birth of 2020 it was a real shock.
The Winter season is now completed and we have a 2 month break in Feb and Mar with no alpaca walking until April.
Our last event in the Winter calendar was a group visit with a group of friends getting together for walking and cream tea. Heres a few photos from our last event.
This time of year our alpacas are extra cuddly as their fleece is now 9 months old and has been growing since May. Meet two of our alpacas who grow a lot of fleece and really do look like teddy boys – Rafa and Nico. Each of them will yield between 4 and 5 kilos of lovely soft alpaca fleece when they are sheared in May this year.
For the first time ever we were at the Country Living Christmas Fair this year, which was held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. It was a massive event, so we were rather excited (and also a little nervous) to be there showing off our alpaca goodies, knitwear and yarns.
We're excited to announce that earlier in November we pregnancy tested our yew tree girls. Eight (from 3 to 13 years) were positive, three of whom will be new mums! All being well the baby cria are due from the end of June 2020, so anyone signing up for Alpaca walks or activities in the Summer will be able to see our mums and cuddly baby crias.
Take a look at new baby cria Annie and Queena. Annie was born early July and was over 9kg at birth – we didn’t guess she would emerge as a fawn – her mother Enya is grey and father Boris white!
Queena is more typical of her parents Minnie and Felix, colours dark brown and brown so no surprises there.
We were thrilled to welcome visitors from our local Buntingford care home Layston Grove and also Jubilee House in Welwyn (supports people with learning difficulties). All enjoyed learning a little about alpacas and seeing the Yew Tree alpaca fleeces and yarns. The visit also included feeding our girls carrots and seeing the new baby cria Annie.
Approaching the Fifa Womens world cup we were delighted to have a visit from the US women’s team. Twenty seven of the 60 man squad visited Yew Tree Alpacas for an alpaca walk and cakes prior to travelling to France for the World Cup. They are spending one week in Britain training before the big event and Yew Tree Alpaca were their chosen leisure visit to help throw off jet lag.
Our first visit to a local care home came in April when residents and staff from Trembaths residential and dementia care home in Letchworth Garden City enjoyed meeting Yew Tree Alpacas Isaac and Scrunchy. Trembaths’ excellent facilities allowed our alpacas to be out in an enclosed garden initially and then go into their large activities room which had easy access from a patio. Isaac took chance to relieve himself during the visit to everyone’s amusement. We thank Tracey the activity coordinator for their summary of the visit.
We had some fantastic results at the Eastern Alpaca Group Halter Show in October, held at Beechwood Equestrian Centre near Chelmsford. Our team of five girls and two boys came home with two colour championships, three red (1st) and three blue (2nd) rosettes plus one yellow (3rd). We were truly delighted that Yew Tree Polly won Champion Fawn Female and Yew Tree Tempest won Champion White Male. 😍 Poor Tempest had a bit of a temper tantrum when in the ring as his head collar was too big!
There was lots of activity over new year at Yew Tree with two alpaca events - alpaca walking in the morning followed by an alpaca adventure in the afternoon. Although the Adventure is a regular feature of our programme, the alpaca walk is newer, with only one previous outing in July last year.
Six of our alpaca boys were each paired up with two visitors on our walk in the East Hertfordshire countryside.
Unusually for January the sun shone for our walk in sharp contrast to the day before when it rained continuously all day.
Our Summer group visit with Balsham WI proved a hit with Alpacas and visitors alike. Getting up close and friendly was the order of the day as you can see in our photos below. The sun shone as the group were able to lead our alpacas, feed and feel their lovely soft fleece. One of the girls, Minnie, was especially keen to eat the plentiful carrots being offered.
We are thrilled to anounce Yew Tree's first arrival of 2016, lovely Leo, has been born to first time mother Audrey. There was great excitement on Tuesday June 21st when our first home-bred black alpaca arrived. Leo weighed in at 8.1kgs, a healthy weight for a new born cria.
Last week it was time for our weanlings to take a leap into adulthood as they joined the big boys in their batchelor pad-dock! As you can see from the photo's they are all getting on very well indeed. Out of our 8 crias born in 2015, seven of them were boys. This meant that after they had spent some time together without their mums it was time for them to join the rest of the adult boys this April, which has has certainly increased the testosterone levels!
Whilst many of us were devouring chocolate eggs and seeing family and friends over the Easter weekend we were also battling the stormy British weather. Unfortunately our March Alpaca Adventure which was due to take place on the 28th March had to be postponed due to the heavy rainfall and high winds which left our paddocks waterlogged. We are pleased to announce that the next Alpaca Adventure will take place on Sunday 24th April and there are still spaces left!
A couple of weeks ago Yew Tree said farewell to three of our beautfiful boys Caeser, Tor and Jazz who have been given a loving home with new alpaca owners Henry and Emma. We met the couple during one of our Christmas Fairs where they were not only interested in our alpaca products but they also were very keen to learn more about the possibilities of keeping alpacas. Henry and Emma attended our Intro to Alpacas course earlier on in the year which enabled them to learn all about the breed, the fleece and learn first hand how to look after alpacas.
As many of us may be enjoying afternoon teas, relaxing at spas and spending some quality time with Mothers, Grandmothers and special people in our lives for Mothers Day, this Sunday four of our alpaca mum’s will be enjoying some peace and quiet with their friends as we have just weaned our last four crias.
Whilst we are still in the midst of winter our alpacas are very much enjoying their thick fleeces as you can see from the photo's it certainly comes in handy when eating hay on a frosty morning. As many of us still have the heating cranked up, our log fires lit and are wearing our winter warmers we are not the only ones who are wanting to stay cosy at this time of year. There are some little garden visitors that can always do with an extra helping hand in order to build secure and snug nests.
The Hungarian illusionist Harry Houdini wowed crowds with his clever trickery and sensational showmanship back in the 1900's, Houdini managed to slide his way out of handcuffs, ropes and survive underwater tanks making him the most notorious escape artist of all time. It seems Houdini's legacy has lived on in the form of an alapca.... and his name is Joseph!
Last weekend we welcomed potential alpaca owners Henry and Emma to Yew Tree's 'Intro to Alpacas' winter workshop, to learn about all things alpaca! Starting with a presentation on key management requirements and tasks, it included grazing & shelters, feeding, general welfare and the many benefits to keeping alpacas.
As we battle the winter weather with gale force winds we are also still recovering from the extensive rainfall which has fallen in the last couple of months. With December 2015 being one of the wettest months on record since 1910 it is no wonder our alpacas are looking slightly muddy!
We kicked off the New Year by welcoming 14 new visitors on the 2nd January for our first Alpaca Adventure of 2016. The day was a breath of fresh air after lots of Christmas and New Year celebrations, the group started the day with a presentation enabling them to learn about the origins of alpacas, the history of our herd and have the chance to feel a selection of fleeces and yarn. The group then ventured out to meet the herd.
Twas the night before Christmas and our herd are already dreaming of stockings stuffed full of carrots and hay. As turkeys are being prepped, the last Xmas presents being wrapped and the Quality Street tin of chocolates has been opened it can only mean one thing....1 more sleep till Santa!
Inbetween preparing for our Christmas Shops it was also time for the eldest of our 8 crias Elgar to be weaned from his mum Minnie. Normally we would wean him with atleast one other cria however, due to Elgar being rather frisky with the ladies we had no choice but to wean him on his own.
Our boys certainly know how to throw a welcome home party, as you can see from the photo's they were delighted to welcome Dexter back from his Showtime experience last weekend. They were so pleased to see our Alpaca Showtime entrants Dexter, Boris and Tor arrive home after a very busy weekend of competing and as you can see Dexter very much loved being reunited back with the herd.
Yew Tree's Christmas fair season started last week with a first outing at Haileybury Autumn fair near Hertford. It was the first outing for our new calendar and knitting kits which attracted plenty of interest alongside our full range of yarns and knitted accessories.
On the 5th September we welcomed 6 alpaca enthusiasts to Yew Tree for our second Alpaca Adventure of the year. The day kicked off with a presentation jam packed full of fun alpaca facts and information about the history of our herd. The group also got the chance to touch and feel some unspun alpaca wool, different yarns and a variety of products all made from our own alapca fleeces.
On the 1st September we welcomed the ladies of Westwick Womens Institute to meet the Yew Tree herd and for a spot of afternoon tea. WI Groups are always eager to take part in new activities within the community and the Westwick ladies fully embraced learning about all things alpaca!
Yew Tree Alpacas have just hosted their first ever Hen Party. We were really excited when Sarah booked her Hen Party with us, prior to her big day at the end of May. Sarah and her 8 hens arrived excitedly for their Saturday afternoon alpaca adventure followed by a luxury homemade afternoon tea on 2nd May. This time of year is up and down weather wise so we were relieved that the rain stayed away although it wasn't the hottest day of the year!
Congratulations to our alpaca Sydney who has surprised us by coming 2nd at the Alpaca Futurity in Coventry. She did amazingly well to come 2nd in a class of 10 other alpacas against some of the best herds in the country. What's more she remembered her lead training and walked smoothly around the ring! (See previous blog) The Alpaca futurity is an alpaca show with a difference.
The alpaca show season is upon us! This is when we find out which of our alpacas are top of the tree (or near the top of the tree!) when it comes to fleece quality and conformation. An essential part of showing is walking around the show ring on a head collar and lead.
Early March is the time for weaning, when our baby alpacas from last year - born Summer 2014 - have to leave their mums. This year we had 6 young cria to wean - 1 girl and 5 boys. Cria are normally weaned at about 6 months of age, but it's most practical to wean them all together so this year they varied in age from 6 months (Dexter) to 8 months (Alfie).
Last Saturday we travelled to Warwickshire to fetch little Columbia, a young alpaca we purchased from Limestone Alpacas in October last year. Columbia was born in June 2014 and was still suckling her mother when we bought her, so we waited until she was weaned 4 weeks ago before bringing her to Yew Tree.
Nine of our girls have moved to their Summer grazing this weekend (17th/18th Jan). A bit early you say, yes indeed! As this grazing is 2 miles away from our base the field is normally for Summer only but due to the continuous rain in the last 2 months our fields are reduced to a sea of mud.
Want to see our alpacas? There's a chance this weekend when we open our first Christmas shop for Sat Dec 6th & Sat Dec 13th only. Come along to Yew Tree Alpacas tomorrow or next Saturday (13th) and you will see our alpacas grazing peacefully in the field and get a chance to Christmas shop for alpaca goodies.
We would like to introduce Carla, Audrey and Rita, our latest additions to the Yew Tree alpaca herd! The three arrived from Warwickshire two weeks ago and are settling in at Yew Tree very nicely. They were named by their original owners after characters in Coronation Street and we have decided to retain their names – we’re sure all the Corrie fans out there will be delighted!
Great News a new baby alpaca was born at Yew Tree yesterday - Yew Tree Tor - born on the day the Tour France came through our area on its 3rd day in the UK, such a special day we thought we'd name Tor to remember it! We're spelling it Tor rather than Tour as Tor is actually a Swedish boy's name and sounds the same as tour so it fits in nicely.
Yew Tree Alpacas, Jazz, Bruno and Jimmy had a great day out at Anstey Fair yesterday, July 13th. Visitors enjoyed the 'Guess the age of the Alpaca' game, guessing Jimmy's and Bruno's age from 12 different possible answers - Jimmy 1¾ yrs and Bruno ¾yr very few guessed correctly.
Our new website has now gone live! Take a look around and give us some feedback. We realise there may be a few glitches over the next few weeks, we need to know about them, so any problems please do let us know. We will be continuing to add to the site over the next few weeks so it's completely up to date and has our full product range on show. Please bear with us.....we are website novices!