These days the first question I get when people see me is “how are the animals doing in this heat?” Not, “how are you getting all the farm chores done in this heat?”, or “are you still sleeping with 3 dogs in that tiny, unairconditioned room?”, or “is that sweat I see dripping off your ear?”
No, it’s all about the animals. And gee, whiz, I guess that’s as it should be.
The truth is that this global warming thing looks to be a pretty bad thing for animals. They’re all covered in a fine sheen of sweat from 6 am till dark; I have to check and change water 3-4 times a day (it’s so hot that after a few hours you could boil an egg in their troughs); and the sheep line up panting and heaving against the sides of the barn stall trying to get a good angle on the fans. The most affected, however, are the birds.
Of course, birds cannot sweat and so they open their mouths and pant when they overheat. Those turkeys will stand out in the middle of the sun, mouths gaping open, eyes wide and glaring at me, brains completely addled by the high temperatures. Truthfully, they’re somewhat addled in cooler temperatures, too, but that fact notwithstanding, I’ve found that the heat tends to have a stir-fry effect on most of our brains. So anyhow, two to three times a day I have to herd Herman and Mr. Bill over (herding is very amusing to watch and very perilous to the herder – although turkey wing whip cars make terrific cocktail hour conversation) to the wading pool and persuade (this is emphatically a euphemism) them to step into the cool water. Their panting stops within about 60 seconds, their eyes undilate, and they begin once again to think about food, upon which they reach for some part of my anatomy with their sharp beaks.
No one asked, but I’m completely sweat-drenched during this entire procedure.
But this foot bath thing works, and not just for turkeys – if you arrive at your office overheated, just pop your feet under the cold water tap and you’ll be instantly relieved. I sometimes stand around with the hose in my hand waiting for an animal to walk by so I can spray his or her feet – they claim to hate it, but it does help reduce overall body temperature. My farm helper did this to me the other day. I hated it, but it helped.
Now, I know you’re all wondering about Mr. Newman Goat. Mr. Newman is, as we know, a cool dude. Mr. Newman is SO cool that he doesn’t sweat. In fact, he is so cool, so buff, so je-ne-sais-quoi, that he takes sunbaths in the middle of the day. I am not making this up.
Mr. Newman has built up quite a fan club during his tenure at this farm. During the Farm Tour last week, women arrived asking, “where is Mr. Newman? We need to see Mr. Newman”. Children dragged their hapless parents to the sales tent begging them to buy them an “I Love Mr. Newman Goat T-shirt”.
Meanwhile, Newman spent at least part of the day trying to break down the one remaining barn door he had not yet busted. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know his secret. He destroys everything that annoys him, he pushes through to the front of the chow line and steals the best eats, and today he ate 3/4 of my beautiful elderberry tree (silent scream of exasperation)… yet everyone loves him. I even love him. I love him so much I shared part of my ice cold coke with him today – he likes sodas (nothing diet), but prefers Corona beer when it’s in season.
Of course, he didn’t need the cold soda, being that he hadn’t even broken a sweat watching me shovel manure for the past hour, but hey- like I said, it’s all about the animals, and that’s as it should be.
Till next time, and anyone with extra air conditioners or kidnapped ice truck delivery men, please send them our way,
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats