How do you stay cool?
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Today is supposed to reach record high temperatures for the Shenandoah Valley. Yesterday, the thermometer sat right at and a little above 100 degrees (F) all day. I know that those of you in Texas and other southern states reading this are chuckling right now.

It’s hot for here. 🙂

picture by Rachel Salatin

No one on the farm has AC so we have to find other ways to cool down. I start by closing my windows up first thing in the morning and hanging sheets and towels over them all (I don’t have full curtain on all my windows) to block out the sun.

We finished up all hay making last evening. Hurray!!

Yesterday, Daniel put ice cubes under his wide brim hat and let them gradually melt over his head, he has put them in the pockets of his light-weight long sleeved shirt. He said that it worked pretty well.

Of course, all of the cows get moved to shade and pigs are sprayed down with water. The field shelters are propped up in the back to allow for more ventilation and we remove all of the metal around the sides. Seems to really help them. Much of the day during extreme heat is spent checking on the animals and keeping them supplied with fresh water and shade.

So I’m curious, those of you who don’t have air conditioning, what do you do to keep cool during the extreme summer heat?

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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28 Responses to How do you stay cool?

  1. Dak says:

    Swim, Swim, Swim.

  2. Galen says:

    Here in Louisiana, I let the float valve for the hens run during the day. The evaporation cools the area down and let’s the have cold water All day! Us humanoids work from 4-1 then 5-dark. We are heat pros down here!

  3. Robert Wren says:

    I was hoping to get a reply to two questions that has been nagging me for several weeks…..#1 what would you do if you were aware several of your hens had been eating eggs? So far I separated them from the pack that lives together in the run and coop. #2 has your production dropped off a bit this summer from the spring? Perhaps part of the answer lies in question # 1 but I don’t think so. Thanks so much and keep up the great blogging!

    • TL Pope says:

      The heat will lighten egg production. It’s just too hot for the hens to bother.

      • Robert Wren says:

        thanks…the spring was so productive but since June….down oh 20% minimum.

        • HillBilly Acres Farm says:

          our egg production always falls off in the summer. One of the things that we have been doing to help combat that problem is to put “ice blocks” in the water tanks. Our ice blocks are recycled coke/water bottles that we fill with tap water and freeze. It is an inexpensive and simple way to keep the hens cool.

    • A great cure for egg eaters is to put golf balls in the nest boxes. We do two per box. And collect the eggs often, every hour or two. The hens will try to eat the golf balls and then “give up” because they can’t break them open. It worked in just a day with our hens!

  4. We will be 103′ next week here in Pale Cedro CA. Yes it is all about ice, early mornings and late nights.

  5. TL Pope says:

    We run fans. Also, 6 yrs ago blew extra, extra insulation in attic & then covered w/ a thick foil barrier. It really helps. For the animals (chickens & ducks, only) lots of shade, lots of fresh cool water thruout the day and all the veggie/fruit scraps they can eat. So far, no losses. PS – in GA.

  6. When I lived with family in the state of Iowa every summer in the late 60s early 70s and it was hot and sticky out, all they had were fans and that sure wasn’t good enough. All it did was spread the miserable hhot sticky air around. Then I got the crazy idea to put one of the large industrial fans we had down in the cellar pointing up the stairs with the cellar door opened and turn it on full blast. I’d stand at the top of those stairs and boy it felt heavenly so to speak. But it actually did do a bit of cooling down of the upstairs as well.

  7. ken anastasi says:

    we put frozen 2 liter water bottles in the rabbits cages and a fan on them. bird pens are pulled under a tree. i just jump in the swimming pool or work in the basement. stay cool tomorrow is going to be hotter! (smile)

  8. Surface water in the pond was 85-90 degrees a couple of days ago. No relief there.

    Layers are under the dense shade of maple trees, broilers are in the freezer, pullets are seeking shade in the empty hoop chicken tractors, cows are chewing cud in the shade, pigs are muddy, goats don’t seem to care.

    It’s good weather to catch up on reading.

  9. My first solution is to live in the PNW :). No, seriously, even we occasionally get a heat wave, and most of us don’t have a/c. Like you, I start by shutting windows in the morning, closing curtains, and opening all those at night when the air cools down outside. We spray down the chicken house, provide shade and extra water. If we have broilers out, we do the same as you with the pen. Keep everyone hydrated. For us, days in the 3o C or 100 F range really don’t come often, and don’t stay for long when they do. Thank goodness.

  10. Naomi Wilson says:

    Hello there! I’m glad to have finally connected with this blog. My husband and I have pastured 300 broilers each summer on our three acres near Fredericksburg ever since visiting Polyface about six years ago. We also have goats, and hopefully will have guinea hogs before the summer is over. We have a four year old son and a two year old daughter. No AC here either. It’s nice to fill the baby pool with cold well water, put it under our best shade tree, pull up a chair and stick our feet in while reading a book. Hosing down the older broilers during the hottest part of the day seems to help them quite a bit, and we staple scraps of tarp that can be easily rolled up or down onto the south and west sides of the shelters. I look forward to more henhouse blog entries. Sometimes I really wish for the company of other young moms who farm.

    • Hi Naomi! I’m in North Dakota but blog about farm, food and family as well. Come check us out, I’d love to connect with another young mom!

  11. Melinda D. says:

    I’m from one of those very hot states chuckling right now 😉 We live in southern Kansas and we’ve had 105 and above for over 3 weeks now. Last year we broke a record with 56 100+ degree days. We’ve also only had 1 1/2in of rain since April 1. So, our yards are brown, but the animals seem to be pretty ok with it all. The hogs have giant wallows that we keep filled with water and the broilers get checked on often. Thankfully, we’re *suppose* to experience of a cool down on Sunday with a high of only 95! We’re all eagerly awaiting this 🙂 Southern Kansas typically has pretty hot summers, so everyone has AC, although we don’t have ours set very cold because we’re constantly outside checking on animals!

  12. We also don’t have AC and we had temps in the upper 90’s for a week. We also close up the house early and retreat to the basement to cool down. I spent the worst afternoon shelling peas in the cool of the basement! The kids had some galvanized tubs filled with water that they could splash in with their swimsuits on and we took them to the lake one evening. We spend their nap time checking and watering livestock (1-3pm) and then come in and drink plenty of fluids ourselves. We did lose one pig that hadn’t been well before the heat.

    We had a glorious rain last night and it’s much cooler today…and the farmers rejoice!

  13. EllaJac says:

    One of my favorite ways to keep myself cool, indoors or out, is to dip a bandana (or even a floursack dishtowel) into cool water, wring it out (or not) and tie it around my neck. The evaporative cooling does a GREAT job of keeping me from overheating while I work. Refresh as necessary. 🙂

  14. JOE BERGFELD says:

    If you take ice cubes and rub them on the back of your wrists and neck you will be amazed at how much it cools your body. It is 107 degrees here today. This is the 9th straight day of 100+ temps. The first 4 days we had dry air so it wasn’t too bad. However, the humidity has creeped in and it is miserable. I got another idea from a fan Grainger was promoting about 15 years ago. So I built my own.. not perfect but does the job.

    It’s basically a box style fan with radiator coils on the backside mounted to a boxed resevoir. It has a pump on it that pulls the water up and lets it trickle down the coils. When the fan is running it pulls the air across the water creating cool air. To ramp it up you can put ice cubes in the resevoir to chill the water. In the southwest they use this technology to cool their homes -Swamp Coolers. However, if you have decent cross ventilation this fan will do wonders to cool things down.

    Something else that I just bought is an outdoor mister. For $7 at Home Depot it’s basically a coiled PVC tubing with 2 nozzles at the end to create a mist. You hook it to a garden hose. It’s heavenly outdoor AC.

    Stay cool my friends.

    Joe B.

  15. Andi says:

    We are a little more used to the brutal heat out here in SW Kansas but even the 105+ temps get to you. We are very thankful for our AC that runs 3-4 months a year. However, when we are out in the heat which happens a bunch between farming and summer ball games, here are a few things that help. Spray bottles!! We always have at least a breeze and low humidity so we take the spray bottles and mist ourselves – kind of like a ramped up cooling system. The cool towel on your neck also helps a bunch! Drink lots and lots of water!

  16. Leilani says:

    Checking in from north Florida, we would be laughing but we have deep personal knowledge of how bloody hot it is. When you add in the humidity and the bugs, the arctic circle starts looking good.

    Though we do have air (window not central) I steadfastly refuse to turn it on until the heat and humidity are too miserable to stand. We made it until mid June this year. I am a fan of cool showers and cold bandanas ( wet a bandana and then place in freezer). They make the ones with little freeze packs sewed into them too. Sticking your head under a hose really helps but then you have to apply more bug stuff before they are onto you. We live close to the Suwannee River so afternoon swims are great when its not flooding and full of junk like it is right now. Lots of water and gatorade and stay away from soda. BTW, anyone have a recipe for a natural gatorade replacer. I would love to get away from gatorade but have not found any comparable recipes.

    As for livestock; we have painted all of the chicken tractors and hare pens with white heat reflecting/nonabsorbing roofing paint. We do not use tin on our mobile cage roofs, we use solid white plastic greenhouse type roofing. It is lighter and doesn’t absorb the heat like aluminum. The plastic roofing is also cheaper than tin (yes, I know it probably will not last as long). We check waters regularly and keep the lids on all the 5 gallon auto waterers to keep them cooler (white is our preferred color there too). Just put a fan in the rabbitry (must try the frozen water bottle idea too). We have salt/mineral blocks in the pasture for the horses and calf. You can see the salt stains on them from all the salt etc they are sweating out.

    Beyond the above we try to do inside chores during the worst part of the day.

    • David & Tina says:

      Instead of gatorade, we make what we call Wheylade. After making cheese, save the whey and refrigerate (it lasts a very long time that way…unless it’s hot and you make wheylade with it….then it’s usually gone in no time!). Just add lemon or lime juice and honey to your liking. I’ll often make it with 2 parts whey and 1 part water to stretch the whey and also not make it quite as (for lack of a better word) ‘rich’ since it’s nice to just guzzle a lot of thin fluid when your hot. Very delicious, too! Of course, it doesn’t taste 100% like gatorade with the honey in it but who wouldn’t want the health benefits of whey and honey instead of harmful sugars, colors, and unnatural ‘natural flavorings’. 🙂

      • Leilani says:

        Oh… good idea! We are not looking for something to replace the taste of gatorade but the hydrating and replenishing aspects.

  17. Scott says:

    I built a misting station for my chicken tractor: http://youtu.be/_ne8tjVE3tM

  18. Anita Nelson says:

    Here in PA, my chicken coop is under tall oak and maple trees which provide shade for chickens and guineas. Horses and cow are brought in during midday and outside at night to graze. My house is shaded by trees as well and by closing the sun facing windows’ bamboo blinds or throwing a sheet over them it keeps the house comfortable. Mint tea from the herb beds is great for guzzling and my favorite is cold, raw milk. I don’t care to eat as much when it’s hot and cold, raw milk gives me calories and is cooling for me. Work outside early and later in the day. Do inside chores midday.

  19. audio design says:

    This is very necessary to stay cool in the summer time. I like to stay in the garden the whole day to avoid the hot sun shine.