Monday, August 2, 2010

"Good weather for the lake" means tough work for a livestock farmer. It is easier to keep animals comfortable in the cold of winter than in the heat of summer. This past July was a hot month, but more importantly, it was humid. When you get that combination you hope it is also cloudy and windy. Hogs and cattle have different requirements in regard to heat and humidity. Cattle are a grassland animal and are pretty comfortable in the sun if there is a bit of breeze and plenty of fresh water. They cool themselves by drinking, and will drink about twice the water on a hot day as they ordinarily do. When it is still and hot, cattle can benefit from shade.

Hogs, on the other hand, are a woodland animal by ancestry. They cannot cool by drinking and have no sweat glands. They cannot tolerate the summer sun and must have shade. For hogs the ticket is fresh water to drink, a good breeze, plenty of shade and water with which to make the mud they need to cool their skin.

In times like we experienced last July, we try to get everything done that needs doing in the morning, so we can rest in the afternoon and then work into the evening. Sometimes it doesn't work, and something the animals have caused to happen means we have to work in the humidity and heat of the afternoon sun setting things right for them. It is not easy. Sometimes it is dangerous. But it is part of what we take on when we decide to make our living with livestock. And in August of any hot summer, the days start to get shorter and we can look forward to fall.