Monday, October 26, 2009

Tools of the Trade

We're coming up on our one year anniversary of having the alpacas come to live with us, so I thought I'd do a series of posts on different pieces of "equipment" we have come to rely upon.
Alpacas are generally "easy-keepers". They don't require very much in the way of gear. What we have found is that the gear you need to keep your farm tidy is mostly in the way of self protection and preservation (which at my age becomes more and more important), and cleaning implements you may already have.
This is the Walmart $3.99 Shrub Rake. My husband got 2 of these for Christmas last year from me. Some men get sweaters and neckties, Len gets Shrub Rakes or Poop Rakes as they're known by alpaca owners. These things do the job. They are as close to perfect as you can get to accomplish the daily manure removal.
The Poop Scoop...this is an item I've not been able to find except at Alpaca Shows. It is a plastic dust bin that sells for under $20. The combination of the Walmart Shrub Rake and one of these bad boys makes the scooping quick, convenient and effective. In the background is a wheelbarrow that we already had that has a persistent tire leak.
PVC Pipe...A miraculous invention. Cut it in half lengthwise and you get a feeding trough...or dig a ditch in front of the barn, stick it in the ground and you have a gutter to redirect rain runoff.
Gloves...Do not skimp here. These gloves came from Tractor Supply. They were around $23 dollars. I have never in my life paid $23 for a pair of work gloves. It felt insane at the time. Here's the hitch...I have never regretted paying the $23 for the gloves. They fit and they feel good. You'll thank yourself if you buy a good pair of work gloves.
Gates...Someone told us early on that you never have enough gates. They were right. We put in two more gates than we thought we needed. I wish I had put in an additional two mid-span between the pastures.
A good travel mug...Thanks to one of our TV commercial clients, Dr. Borja at the Spine & Wellness Center ( ),I've been using this coffee mug for years. Do I take it to the barn to feed and scoop poop? Yup. Isn't that unsanitary? Yup.
Barn Coat...Some women get jewelry. Alpaca women crave barn coats. This one came from Cabelas; a surprise Christmas gift from Len. Waterproof shell with a sweatshirt hoodie thing lining. Knit wrist cuffs. One great coat.
Boots....Don't skimp on gloves and don't skimp on boots. These are "Muck" brand boots. I think they are the "Garden" model. These came from Weavers Store in Fivepointville (truly a shopping Mecca ). They cost in the neighborhood of $60...yikes. When you're tromping around in the snow and mud, you'll be glad to have nice dry feet. A tip: buy a size larger than you need. That way, you can practically "jump" into them, and removal is so much easier.
That's it for now. I will try to be a little more consistent in posting our alpaca adventures.