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Long hot spell not good for cows

From the Farm

July 6, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

While we are sweating our butts off up here at the cabin on Clitherall Lake, our cows and employees are sweating it out at home.

I know we have a way to get away from the heat. Our cabin at Bonnie Beach Resort is a mere 10 feet from the water. It's so great to be able to spend an entire afternoon right in and near the water.

In fact, Joey, Russell, Tyler Blackstad (Russell's friend and supposed master golfer), Steve and I spent all day Tuesday in the water. Between the five of us we managed to waste away one day with insane inner tubing, skillful water skiing, and painful-looking knee boarding. Any time we get a little bit hot, we just walk out to the lake and take a nice dip.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

It's definitely good to get away, but it's hard to not think about home when the weather is this blasted hot.

Cows do not do well in the heat. In fact, our employees probably totally hate having to come to work in this hotness.

The number one thing that affects cows when it gets hot, according to Steve, is "the heat."

(Sometimes he could be a bit serious when I ask him a question.)

They, that would be the cows, stop eating, their breathing is labored and then their tongues hang out. With all the hardship the heat puts on the cows they stop producing milk.

In an effort to provide the cows with relief, they have access to a sprinkler system. Up above where the cows stand to eat Steve and I have installed soakers. When the temperature gets above 75 degrees F, the soakers turn on and wet the cows down every 8 minutes for 30 seconds. As the temperature rises, the soakers turn on more frequently and soak the cows longer.

The cows love it. I have this vision of a cow shaking her head back and forth like a dog that has just come out of spending an afternoon in the lake.

I feel bad for them too. I know what it's like to go into the milking parlor when it's this beastly hot outside. Usually the flies are very annoying and the cows are slow and don't want to leave the parlor.

Usually when temperatures get this unbearable we try to have someone from the family help in the milking parlor just to get the cows in and out as quickly as possible. We also give the cows a good soaking with the water hose while they are standing in the milking parlor. Yes, we also give out co-workers an occasional soaking. We all appreciate that too.

Although our home activities are not far from our thoughts, we still manage to have a bit of fun while we are away.

Technology also lets me keep up to date on our other guilty pleasures.

Much to our joy, the resort owners now have Wi-Fi in all the cabins. (I am going to recommend air conditioners next year. Wink. Wink.)

I check the news on The Journal's Web page on Joey's laptop.

Every evening I take a shower, put on my light-cotton pajamas, turn on a fan so it blows directly at me and then lounge on the bed. I fire up my i-Pad and watch the episodes of Mad Men I have missed.

It makes it so much easier to type up my column and e-mail it in when I don't have to spend an afternoon in the resort office. Although, the office is air conditioned and I could appreciate that because I am sitting in a hot cabin, my arms are sticking to the table and it's not getting any cooler.

I may have to consider whether Wi-Fi at the cabin is a real benefit.

All in all we are surviving the heat and finding ways to keep cool. I can only hope the cows and employees are making it through the heat.

For questions, or comments, please e-mail me at



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