Like a Thousand Julys

Chicken3 Only not in a good way. While friends from other parts of the country complain of unseasonably cold and wet weather, we are having a record-setting hot summer in the Seattle area. Usually we don’t see consistent good weather until after the Fourth of July. But this year, it’s been hot since early May. This week they had warnings of heat like we’ve never seen- over 100 degrees. For us, even 80 seems hot, so this was a bit worrisome.

Indeed, yesterday was absolutely miserable outdoors. And midday, our power went out, with a concerning report from the power company that three substations had gone down and 14,000 customers were without power. Fortunately they got it back up within an hour or two.

We have been holing up in our travel trailer out in the driveway in the evenings, enjoying its air conditioning. Thank goodness for that, as our house would be unbearable to sleep in.

SheepTentThe biggest I concern I had was for the sheep. Though Katahdins are very hardy, and I’m sure they thrive in much hotter climates than ours, our sheep aren’t acclimated to such hot weather. I’ve been pondering some dilemmas with the rotational grazing program too- how to feasibly provide water and shelter that’s adequate, but also moveable.

For now, I’ve erected a small shade tent using a hog panel covered by a tarp. That seemed to get them through the worst of the week, and should be reasonably easy to move. But it’s not wind-proof, so it needs to come down as soon as poorer weather threatens. The sheep seemed to use it midday, but were out grazing by evening.

The sheep have their own 50 gallon water tank, and I also gave Bronte one, in hopes that she could learn to take a dip in it. The Border Collies all know how to jump into water tanks and submerge themselves to cool down. Bronte was a bit more reluctant; I mechanically placed her front feet in the pool, and she took a few sips before getting back out. She has some shade shelters in the pasture, but she seems to prefer to dig herself a tunnel in the reed canary grass and snooze out the heat waves.


The chickens do venture out into the sun, with their wings held out for air flow, and panting. Though they usually despise getting wet, they embraced the garden sprinkler this week. The ducks hang out in the shade by a cool stream.

News is that the heat wave is over. Glad we all made it through OK.

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