How do you stay cool? I get my chores done very early while it’s still reasonably cool. In fact, morning is my favorite time, with a cool breeze, the sun not yet shining down mercilessly, the mockingbird singing in the winged ash trees. I can see the horses grazing down the hill while granddaughter and I feed the goat kids and give Felicity her bottle. It isn’t long before the heat drives us indoors to the comfort of the air conditioning.
If you must be outside, the usual advice applies: drink lots of water, wear light clothing and a hat, and stay in the shade as much as you can. If you’re indoors without air conditioning (or even with!) you can put a big bowl of ice in front of a fan, so that the air blows over the ice and cools down.
I had a dead hen this morning. The little drop-down chicken-sized door from the coop to the chicken yard had fallen closed during the night or this morning, trapping all but one of the birds inside the coop, and I think it got too hot. I keep the little door open all summer, and a screen door on the big coop door too so that they have as much ventilation as I can provide for them.
Last summer I put the bottom tray from a rabbit cage in the chicken yard, and I fill it with water daily so that they have a wading pool of sorts. They enjoy standing in it.
In my opinion, there really isn't much to be done for a pastured horse to help it stay cool, other than providing shade, ventilation and plenty of water. As long as the basics are provided, a horse will go where it is most comfortable. (I don't think there's anything more peaceful-looking than a pair of horses standing together under a shade tree, side by side with one facing this way and the other facing that way, so that there is a tail to swish flies off the other one's head and neck. It defines "cooperation". I wish I had a photo of that to show you, but I don't.) Mine prefer to stand in the barn during the heat of the day, and graze overnight when it’s cooler.
This is how my horse Ella likes to cool off.
Dakota wears a fly mask every day to keep the skin around his eyes from sunburning. Preventing sunburn isn't usually the function of a fly mask, but it works. The rest of our fly masks were lost in the fire - I need to replace them - so Dakota is the only one with a mask for now.
There isn’t much I can do for the goats either, other than providing plenty of shade and full buckets of water, checked often during the day to make sure they haven’t spilled it or fouled it. I can tell the air temperature just by looking out the dining room window at the goat kids’ pen: if they are sleeping together it’s comfortable outside. If they are lying in the four corners of their pen, not touching each other at all, it’s really hot.
The outside cats find the coolest spots to while away the hottest part of the day. Several of them move from the back of the house to the front as the sun moves across the sky and changes the shadow patterns. I have bowls of water in several shady places in the yard for the kittens. I don’t want them climbing a bucket to get water and possibly falling in and drowning.
How do you and your animals keep cool in this heat?
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