A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 25, 2007

Getting Creative – Llama Pillows

The last couple of days have seen some really cold temperatures.  Our daytime highs dropped suddenly from the high 70’s to the low 30’s – brrr.  On Thanksgiving morning we were also treated to a snowfall, nothing too heavy, but snow all the same.  Following many weeks of dry conditions the moisture from the snow is very welcome.

With the cold though come some challenges, little Kanika has to wear her cria coat day and night to make sure she stays warm, and we have put straw bedding in the shelters to give the alpacas a warm surface to lie on.  One of our main challenges though is freezing water faucets.  The water hydrants we have installed are supposedly frost proof, but in certain cold conditions they still freeze and by Thanksgiving morning only one or two of the hydrants were working.

Ric got to work with a heat lamp to defrost the frozen hydrants.  Having fresh water available in cold weather is just as important as having it available in hot weather.  Even in cold weather an alpaca can become dehydrated if it does not drink enough water and that can lead to all sorts of other problems.

Having defrosted all of the hydrants and got them working we now had to figure out a way to stop them freezing again.  During the summer Ric and I had discussed the possibility of using alpaca fiber as insulating material, we had various ideas about how it could be used, but put the thought to the back of our minds.  Now was our chance to get creative.

Having sent a lot of our lesser quality fiber off to be processed into rugs, we hated to use our really fine fiber for an insulation experiment, so instead we settled on using some of the fiber shorn from our llamas for the project.

Ric took the llama fiber and stuffed it into old feed sacks making “llama pillows”.  The trick was to have enough fiber in the sack to provide good insulation while still allowing the “llama pillow” to be molded around the hydrant.  Once the sacks were taped closed they were wrapped around the hydrant and then covered with an inverted trashcan.  Voila!  One protected hydrant!

So far our llama pillows are working well, but if we were to do this on a more permanent basis then we need to adjust our prototype.  First we need to put the llama fiber into something that is breathable but yet which would prevent moisture from getting into the llama fiber, which could cause it to rot.  Then we have to establish exactly how much fiber provides good insulation and in which form would it work best.   Would alpaca or llama batting be a better option than the loose fiber?  The trashcan cover works but is a little unsightly and awkward to handle, so a different cover would be a good idea.

So there are many refinements to be made to our project but in the meantime our crude prototype is keeping our hydrants working.   Llama pillows are wonderful things!


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: