I'm on day 11 of the Blog Your Brand Challenge. Like last time, I'm amazed I've come this far. I love telling stories and giving glimpses into who I am, plus behind the scenes of our company, Blossom's Barn and our homestead.
Summer has it's own challenges for livestock. While in the throes of winter, we long for those lazy hazy days of summer. I think many of us get lost in thoughts of when we were kids and time stood still for a bit. Swimming, playing and enjoying our friends pretty much summed up our lives. But on a homestead, we find many new challenges to deal with that we don’t have in winter.
First, let's face it: It gets hot!
What do we want to do when it gets hot? I think many of us are wimps and run for the air conditioned areas (I raise my own hand for that one). I also enjoy cooling off in our pool. But what do animals do?
Summertime is actually more dangerous for most livestock than winter. It's easier to warm up than to cool off. Animals will huddle together to keep warm and they usually have shelters, as well. In the summer, unless there is a watering hole available, they are out of luck. I have been known to hose our cattle down on the really hot days. Initially, they are afraid, but when relief is realized, they love it. My goats and chickens, not so much. My goats will just lay in their barn stall in the heat of the day and the chickens will find a shady dirt hole to lay in, much like the dogs do.
Water is essential. Always, fresh water is supplied. At least that is easier to come by than in the winter when things tend to freeze up. Then it becomes challenging. In the summer, they drink lots of water, so it's crucial to make sure the animals have ample supply.
The chickens tend to molt, which means egg production is going to take a nose-dive. Dogs and goats blow their coats. Many animals also pant to release their heat. Have you ever seen a chicken pant? It's kind of weird — so is seeing goats and cattle panting. You just don't think of them doing that, but they do. My daughter use to show rabbits and it was a must to provide frozen water bottles to keep in their cages for them to lay on to keep cool. Yes, rabbits pant, as well.
Living on a homestead definitely teaches how reliant the animals are on you to take care of them. Even though we raise them as "naturally" as possible, they still do not have access to what would be instinctive for them to cool off, such as shade trees, bushes, water holes, etc.
Just remember, animals rely on your care of them. Summer is no different. Summer can mean death if they are not tended to. If you're hot, they're hot. And don't forget: They can get grumpy, too.