The intense heat that we all experienced in July caused us some major problems on the farm.
Meme the sheep suffered from heat stroke, despite her summer shearing. She was not eating (extremely rare for Meme) and she was just stood facing the wall and wouldn’t drink. We tried wetting her down but she was obviously unhappy. We decided to bring her down to the house so that we could keep an eye on her and bottle fed her with water and Aquarius juice. She soon showed signs of improvement but she stayed down at the house with us for a few days. In the heat of the afternoon she took to laying down with dogs in the living room, which is the coolest part of the house. All in all she was as good as gold and when, after three days, she wandered down into the garden and ate the geraniums we decided that she was well enough to rejoin the other animals.
Our two baby goats, who were born in June are doing very well, but unfortunately their mother, Lolly, suffered a heart attack and died, when they were just three weeks old. It was a very sad day for us. We bought Lolly when she was 4 weeks old and she was a beautiful, friendly goat and showed all the signs of being a great mum to her babies.
The pigs proved particularly difficult to keep cool as the temperatures soared into the mid forties. Pigs don’t have sweat glands and so the only way that they can cool down is with a mud bath. If they don’t have a muddy patch to roll in they will tip over their water bowls, which of course means that they have no drinking water.
We needed to make sure that they had both a large mud patch and plenty of drinking water. The problem was that the heat coincided with a period of extremely erratic water supply. The water pressure was so low that it stopped all together at the farm and was a dribble down at the house. It was taking almost ten minutes to fill an eight litre bottle. The bottles then had to be carried up to the farm and distributed where it was needed. This became almost a full time job.
I am glad to say that the pigs survived wonderfully and our water supply is now back to normal, the temperature has dropped to a more pleasant level, so life has become much easier over the last few weeks.
We used ice packs in the water bowls for all the animals to try and keep the drinking water cool and this worked quite well. The chickens even took turns standing in their bowls to cool their feet.
The ducks and geese of course were in and out of their swimming pond and so caused us the fewest problems.
The heat also took a toll on the vegetables but intense irrigation meant that most of it survived. We picked over 14 kilos of tomatoes last night, together with a couple of nice melons, some carrots and half a dozen onions. The pumpkins and courgettes are looking good and we are about to start planting our winter vegetables, which will include peas, beans, cauliflowers, cabbage, sprouts and more carrots and onions.