With temperatures soaring outside this summer, it's important to think about more than ourselves when we want to beat the heat. Plants, animals and humans can be overwhelmed by excessive heat. We spend a lot of time around the Pierce Ponderosa trying to find ways to cool off, especially the animals and the plants in the garden.
We have a lot of dogs, some are short hair Chihuahuas, and we have our Great Pyrenees that are covered in a thick fur with an under coat. It is important that there is fresh water for all animals, indoors and outdoors. I keep water bowls around for all the animals and I make sure to change the water a few times a day to ensure it's clean and fresh. A great tip for an animals water is to freeze water in small water bottles. Drop the frozen bottle into the animals water bowl and it keeps the water cool. You can remove it when it's thawed out, rinse it off and freeze it again. Our chickens love a frozen bottle in the water bowl. They enjoy pecking at it for it entertainment and it keeps their water cool.
Dogs, chickens, kids and adults all like a cool mist. It's a nice treat to walk under a light mist of water to cool off. I can attest that chickens do not like to be chased around with a mist nozzle with the hose, however, they don't mind walking through a mist to get in and out of their house. It's a win-win situation when you use a stationary mister versus chasing chickens around trying to cool them off. The dogs love it too, they enjoy going through the mist and feeling that cool water landing on their coats.
Plastic swimming pools are a must have around the farm for all the animals. The dogs like to get in and splash around and cool off and so do the ducks. Our ducks will spend hours in the pool playing and bathing and splashing around. Even the chickens enjoy a small pool with a couple inches of water inside to stand in and cool off. You have to cut some of the pool edge off for chickens, so they can walk in and out. I generally will use the pools from the year before to cut for the chickens to make a standing pool.
I keep a couple of box fans in the animal house to circulate air and to give the goats, chickens and ducks a little cool air to stand or lay in front of during the day. It's important to make sure the electrical cord is secured and up and out of the way. Don't place a fan near any water sources. We attach them high on the wall and tilt them downward toward the ground for the animals. In the house, we have quite a few fans for the dogs to lay in front of. Our Great Pyrenees take turns working outside on the farm and during the day there can always be a Pyr found in front of a fan when they aren't outside.
It's important to watch for heat stress in animals on the farm. Even chickens and ducks can show signs of heat stress and can die from a heat stroke. I like to check on the birds and the goats often during the day to make sure they are doing alright and aren't in any sort of distress. If I see a chicken or duck that is showing signs of heat stress I bring them inside and place them in a sink full of cool, not freezing, water and gently bathe them until they are wet all over. I then keep them in a cool place until they show signs of cooling off. I make sure to keep electrolytes on hand that I can add to their water. I've only had to do this a couple of times and it was older chickens. We have plenty of shade here on our farm with our tree line wooded areas, so we don't normally have emergencies, but the older hens can get stressed easier. I have never had an issue with heat stroke in any of my dogs, but I do watch for the signs and make sure they are brought inside often to cool off. Of course, heat stroke can happen to us too, and it's important to be aware of symptoms of heat stress on ourselves and our children. Working outside for any length of time can cause us to get overwhelmed by heat. It's imperative that we stay hydrated and take breaks often to get out of the heat.
The plants in our gardens can get hot and will let you know they aren't doing well. They start to droop and wilt and you can see the soil around them is dry. I like to do all my watering in the evening and I soak everything thoroughly so that the ground stays wet into the next day. If I see plants drooping during the day I will generally give them a little extra water during that time. I like to use the inside of disposable diapers when I plant. I cut open a new unused diaper and remove the insides and place it inside the hole I have dug for the plant. I get it wet before placing my plant on top. This material holds water well and helps to keep a plant wet and cool, even when it's hot outside.
It's hot outside and it's getting hotter all over the place. With the heat soaring but our chores still need to be done and our animals need to be outside, it is always good to know a few ways to beat the heat on a farm. How do you deal with the heat? Do you have some tips we could all use? Share them with us.
Hi! My name is Jaymie and I'm married to my best friend and have three children. We live on our hobby farm in the north Georgia mountains and love it!
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