Grit Blogs > Back to the Land

Trying to Beat the Heat

A photo of MalisaThe middle of the country has been dealing with a heat wave and drought for a month now. While it was nice to be dry after 2 years olf flooding, it is getting old. It seems like we have not had a day under 100 degree in years (its been several weeks) and haven't had more than a trace of rain in 5 weeks. The weather conditions have led to some intereresting times on the farm. A couple weeks ago I told my daughters that we would have a dance of thanksgiving outside in the rain when it rained. Last week it started to rain one morning, my 6 yr old Bethany and I danced and it quit raining. I have since been banded from dancing in the rain by some of our community members. They dont want me to scare it off.

The animals have been a challenge.  I do chores 3 times a day to make sure all animals have water and shade. The 5 goats are out to pasture. They have shade and I make sure their water tank stays full. They still grumble. I dont know if its due to the heat or they dont like being out to pasture. They like being closer to people. I had to add another level to the electric fence since I had one that would get out and call to the others to follow; of course right into my sweet corn. The electric fence has 4 strands of wire.

 The calf (Cheeseburger) is fairing well and growing. He is weaned and only eats creep and pasture grasses. I am slowly expanding his pasture. He keeps pulling the clips off the electric fence. The calf doesnt get out, just de-electricifies the fence.

 The 7 pigglets are weaned. Mom pig (Miss Piggy) had an infection so we separated her (it was time for the pigs to be weaned anyway) and treated her for 3 days with penicillin. She bounced back, and is getting very demanding of treats. I sold 2 barrows (casturated male piglets) on Craigslist. A barrow and a gilt (young female pig that have never given birth) are being held for my self sufficiency friend. We are going to keep 2 gilts for our own breeding program and a barrow to fatten for next spring. We will butcher the sow (mom pig) this fall. She was an awesome mom and have us 7 healthy piglets but we are worried about how scarred up she might be from her problems in delivery and how the infection may have affected her. The pigs have done well in the heat as long as they have shade, water and of course plenty of mud.

The chickens seemed to be a never ending cycle. I still have 51 broilers to butcher in a couple weeks. They are driving me crazy. Next year, I am going to put the broilers in the chicken tractors and the layers will be free range. We (along with friends) have processed over 100 birds so far (83 of mine and 21 of theirs). I have noticed the birds are very lazy in the heat, but then again so am I. Their growth has slowed but they are slowly getting bigger. The layers have really slowed down in production in the heat, but we are still getting enough for our family.

The heat has been the hardest on the rabbits. We have lost 4, all of the same breed. New Zealands must have a low heat tolerance. We check water constantly, have fans going and have put ice cubes in their dishes. I have heard about putting frozen water bottles in the cages and plan on trying this out.

The well pump has been running constantly in the AMs and late PMs to try to keep the garden and trees alive. I send thanks to the Lord for a plentify well of great quality. Without it we would have lost everything. I had mulched the tomatoes with straw so they are fairing the heat well. Peas, spinach and lettuce are toast. The heat has affected the sweet corn and our field corn for the animals. It tasseled out at chest high. However, my Indian corn is huge and beautiful. I am growing it to make corn meal. I am going to do some research to see if we can grow Indian corn instead of field corn for the livestock, if the prduction would be close.

I am picking cucumbers. Strangely, I didn't plant cucumbers. They are mixed up among the corn as well as watermelons and pumpkins (again, didnt plant), which is all over where the pig pen was last year. I guess last years pig was a gardener.

I am starting to work on my presentation for the SD State Fair on Friday of Labor Day weekend. My friend Cheryl and I are doing a presentation of extending the growing season in South Dakota. I hope to have my cold frame done in the next week (obviously dont want to use it right now, well maybe for dehydrating food) to use as an example, and other little experiments that I have done. Make plans to attend:)