June 6, 2011

Photo by Sue Weaver
Ursula says lambing in the heat is no fun—even with a fan.

Summer arrived in the Ozarks practically overnight. It’s hot—really hot—and Ursula’s going to have her lamb next week. She’s fat and grouchy and thinks she should have a fan right now. That’s one of the ways we stay cool.

I’ve already blogged about keeping animals and humans cool. Last year, when Sam the Lamb’s mom died, I wrote about preventing heat stroke. I hope you will read those entries again because they’re important: Heat can kill. We animals depend on you to keep us safe, and we want you to stay safe, too!

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One of the best ways to help us cool off in the heat is to make sure we have plenty of cool water to drink. If water is yucky, with dead bugs and algae or droppings in it, we drink only enough to survive. That isn’t sufficient when it’s sizzling hot, so please keep our water clean.

In the summertime, it helps to use a lot of smaller tubs rather than one big one, that way they’re easier to dump and scrub. Mom uses the empty plastic tubs our mineral licks come in as water tubs—they’re the perfect size for sheep and goats. Bigger mineral tubs work for horses and cows. If you don’t have any, join your local Freecycle list and ask for unwanted tubs. Farmers are glad to give them to people who can use them.  

Then put water tubs in shaded places close to where we hang out, so we’re likely to drink more water. Add electrolytes to some but not all of the tubs. Most of us like the taste of electrolytes, but if we don’t, there should be plain water available, too. 

If you have a livestock guardian dog, like our friend Feyza, or a llama that guards your livestock, give it a plastic wading pool to cool off in. Otherwise, the guardian dog or llama may try to lie down in our water tubs, dirtying the water so we won’t drink it.

Also, try not to overtax us in hot, sultry weather. Don’t ride your horse during the heat of the day or catch chickens or trim sheep’s feet. If something is invigorating or stressful, do it early in the morning or at sundown when it‘s not so hot.

And, Ursula says, don’t breed a ewe so her lambing date is June 10, even if you give her a fan! She and Mom are marking off the days. Because Ursula is usually punctual about lambing, maybe next week I can show you her lambs!

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