Winter Prep in the barns / new waterers
While alpacas are from the Cooolddd high altitude of the Andes and should be able to handle the weather in Illinois, there is much work that goes into preparing the farm for the long dreaded winter.
During the warm weather, we send some of the boys to “summer camp” in a pasture far from the main barns. They frolic there on good grass and work in public relations as people drive down the more traveled road in our “middle of nowhere” location. For the summer they have a shed to get out of the weather and are brought fresh water and feed every day (boy can they run to the gate when they hear the Gator coming)! When the leaves start falling, the boys move back to closer digs where their water won’t freeze. That means several other groups of animal need to be moved to accommodate them. This fall we extended our automatic water system to reach all of the pens near the barns. A common question with water systems is whether to put them in the barn, or out in the pasture. We generally put them about 15 feet outside the barn doors to encourage the animals to go outside for a drink and maybe even do some other business outside to make barn cleanup a bit easier. While most of the animals have access to the automatic system, we still need to prepare heaters for other waterers. We also use “curtains” in the main barn to block wind and keep the core of the barn warmer for the animals. This fall we also added some “wind stops” to the eaves between the old barn and the lean too’s. We’re hoping they also double as “bird stops” in the summer.
With the barns prepared and the animals moved… bring it on Mother Nature!! Well maybe not too much!