It's hot!

We have hot summers here. And they tend to last for years, or at least it feels like it. This summer we had an unusually cool and wet spring so the heat of the “real” summer has felt all the worse. Last summer we had a horrible drought and went several months without rain so I spent a lot of time watering the small trees in the front yard. We have been much more fortunate this year and have had more rain, but we have also had higher temperatures. There’s just not much nice you can say about 98 degrees except, perhaps, that it isn’t 104.

The goats don’t seem too bothered by the heat even with their long curly coats. They lounge in the shade during the heat of the day and make the rounds of the pastures during the early morning and in the evening. I worry about the llamas and alpacas, however. Historically they come from the Andes Mountains in South America where it’s generally dry and cool and gets really cold in the winter. With their fluffy thick coats, they are well protected from the cold. All of my animals were born here in central Texas or in the Midwest and have been at least partially acclimated to our heat and humidity. The llamas and alpacas also lounge in the shade during the day and are much more active at dawn and dusk. However, they are much more susceptible to heat stroke than the other animals so keeping them as cool as possible is a good thing.  Here are the new guys, Smoky, Shiraz and Stash lounging under the trees...

Last summer I put sprinklers out under the trees so there would be a cool wet place for them to cush during the heat of the day. The problem with regular sprinklers is they need to be turned on and off appropriately and then tend to put out a lot of water. We don’t have a lot of trees in the pastures and I didn’t want to kill any of them with too much water. And I do tend to turn the water on and forget about it.   I can’t count the number of times I’ve flooded the pastures by leaving the hoses on to fill the water troughs or created small lakes when I was watering the big trees. It’s a waste of water. We have our own well so we pay only for the electricity it takes to run the well but water is a precious commodity and none of us need to be wasting it.

When I went to see my new potential llamas at Figment Ranch, I was fascinated by what they do to keep all their animals cool in the summer. They have lots of trees and each one has a mister under it. The misters are made of long plastic pipe with mister nozzles and hang horizontally or vertically under the trees. They are attached to hoses and put out a fine watery mist constantly. It’s a great way to cool under the trees and doesn’t put out enough water to damage the trees. Unfortunately, the constant breeze at my place would just blow the mist away. My solution was to put in four automatic sprinkler heads controled by a timer. Each sprinkler head is set at the drip line of a large tree so when it sprays it wets down the entire area under the tree. They are set to spray for 30 minutes four times per day. It’s worked out great and because they are installed in the ground, there are no mowing hazards – don’t ask how many hoses I’ve destroyed by mowing over them. These spray heads create a wet cool place under the trees for the animals to lie in but don’t endanger the trees with too much water.

The llamas always get up and move out of the way when the sprinklers come on, then move back into the wet spots as soon as the sprinklers stop. The alpacas always come running to stand in the spray. They love the water hitting their legs and underbellies. Here are Rascal...

and Scamp playing in the sprinklers.

They are so funny to watch!