Cattle-Panel-and-Tarp Shelters
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Lay out one post, pole, or pair of posts about where you want one edge of the shelter and with the holes you drilled parallel to the ground.  Place one end of each cattle panel on the posts, overlapping the panels about one "square" each.  When you are satisfied with the panels' alignment, attach them to the post(s) or pole with the fencing staples.

Place the other post(s) under the opposite ends of the panels (holes parallel to the ground!), align, and attach.

Temporarily drive two pieces of rebar on the outside edge of where you want the shelter wall (if you're putting one side of the shelter against a fence, you can skip this part).  Go to the opposite end of the assembly and push the other post(s) so the cattle panels arc.  When you are happy with the width and height of your future shelter frame, drive pieces of rebar into the ground through the holes you drilled until they are flush with the wood.

Drive the remaining pieces of rebar into the holes in the other post(s).

Starting on the side of the shelter that will get the least wind, tie one tarp edge to the bottom of the structure, running the baling twine under the wood so there is a tight fit.  Drape the tarp over the structure.  Weave baling twine in and out of the cattle panel so the tarp is stretched snugly.

Attach the other tarp at the bottom of the other side in the same manner.  Drape it over the structure so it overlaps the first tarp.  Tie the tarp down by its rivets to the post at the bottom with baling twine (run the baling twine underneath the post to the inside).

Finally, fold the edges of the tarps inward and secure them with more baling twine, or use ball bungees at each grommet if you prefer.  Your finished shelter will look something like Figure 3.



Finishing Touches

If you've had to place the shelter on a slope, finish up by trenching around the high side of the shelter to encourage water to go elsewhere.  Filling the trench with gravel or rock will usually go a long way towards maintaining drainage.

We have tied a Rubbermaid container to the side of a single-llama shelter to keep hay dry when the wind shifts and also to discourage waste.  A mineral block in a pan also fits in the two-panel shelter, completing the accommodations.

Safety Concerns

This shelter, like many man-made objects (and a number of natural ones) is potentially dangerous for llamas that are not compatible or just plain careless.  For starters, flying feet can be caught in baling twine or in the openings in the cattle panels.  Only you can determine whether your llamas might be too rowdy for their own safety in such a structure.

Easy to Reuse

You could actually use these simple shelters indefinitely by re-tarping them whenever the need arises.  The shelters can be moved relatively easily for a short distance by two to four people, and they can be broken down and reassembled elsewhere with minimal effort.  And if you replace your temporary shelter with a permanent one, all the parts can be used for other things.  If you're like me, you may wonder how you ever got along without cattle panels before!

Gwen Ingram is on the Backcountry Llama staff.  She and Ranger Dusty have been packing together since 1988.  Dusty has tested the shelter shown in Figure 3 for the past year and gives it his approval.

This article was reproduced here at from the Fall 2000 edition of Backcountry Llama.  Please visit them for other interesting articles and subscribe to their newsletter.  You will not be disappointed.

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