A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 30, 2007

The Bucket Tippers!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General — alpacalady @ 7:25 am

As we get closer to June our weather is getting warmer.  This year has so far been cooler and wetter than normal but the day time temperatures are starting to creep up and the heat of summer will soon be with us.

Recently shorn the alpacas feel more comfortable in the heat, but they still look for ways to cool off.  Enter the bucket tippers!

Most alpacas love to cool off by splashing their feet in water.    On farms that have ponds and streams owners sometimes have problems with alpacas standing in the ponds and streams so much that the fiber on their lower legs starts to rot.  Our alpacas do not have any ponds or streams going through their pastures and so some of them go for the next best thing – their water buckets.

Homer is particularly bad about putting his feet in the water buckets.  If I am filling up buckets with water he can tip them over with his feet as fast as I can fill them.  Ric has built a special wooden frame in the boys pasture in which we set the water buckets so that Homer cannot knock them over with his feet.

The other night we had a heavy rainfall that flooded part of the big boys pasture.  To allow the pasture to dry out we blocked off that part of the pasture confining the boys to the north section of their pasture which has better drainage and was dry.  The only problem with doing that is that the frame for the water buckets is in the south side of the pasture.

Without a frame to hold the buckets in place dear Homer has gone to town on sticking his feet in the water buckets.  Every time I go outside I check on the big boys pasture to make sure they still have water and every time I have checked I have ended up refilling the water buckets as they have been knocked over. 

While Homer is my main suspect in the bucket tipping, I know that Asteroid and Opie also like to dip their toes in the cool water.  I can’t say that I blame them as I am sure it feels good on a warm day, but I wish they would realize that once the bucket has tipped over their water supply has just disappeared!

We are gradually working on installing automatic waterers in the pastures which will ensure that the alpacas have access to fresh water at all times.  In the meantime though we have to get a bit more creative about outwitting the bucket tippers. 

In the past we have provided the boys with an area of damp sand to lie on which they have quite enjoyed.  We have also set out small wading pools for the alpacas to stand in.  They work really well for satisfying the alpacas desire to stand in water but if the wind starts to blow hard they disappear pretty quickly!

The biggest hit is to give the alpacas “a shower”.  We turn on the hose and the alpacas come running, vying to be first in line to have their belly and legs soaked with running water – ah alpaca heaven!

It is great fun to stand among the alpacas while they jostle for the best position in front of the hose.  Some of them will buck and spin around in the water stream which is fun for them but which makes for a messy time for us.  Still it is great fun and a cooling activity on a warm day.

Hopefully the southern end of the boys pasture will dry out shortly allowing us to open up that part of the pasture again and go back to using our bucket frame.  In the meantime the boys will continue to tip their water buckets over with their feet and I will continue to right and refill buckets while the bucket tippers reign!

Rosemary       

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