Meg has allergies. Three years ago, we had a horribly long hot humid spell. The actual temperature was around 100 degrees, and the heat indexes were around 110 degrees. I was carrying fresh buckets of water several times a day and running fans. Most of the girls were taking it pretty well. Mabel is black and I couldn’t convince her to wait until evening to go out to pasture. She would come up panting, but she would quickly cool down.
Meg, on the other hand, began to sound like an asthmatic. One evening, she didn’t come up from pasture. I heard her kid (she had twins that were just about six weeks old) yelling. For the only time in his life on my farm, he got his head stuck. At first, I thought she was being a good mom (don’t know what I was thinking), but it became obvious that she just couldn’t walk that far. She was wheezing and panting. Finally I led her a couple steps at a time and then resting a minute until we got back to the barnyard. I used cool damp cloths to cool her down.
After that, she got to come spend the hottest part of the day in the kitchen. Almost as soon as she came into the air conditioning, her breathing would calm down. Because it was so hard on her to walk into the pasture, we would put hay in the bathtub for her to munch. Even though I had a small bucket of water there for her, she would drain the toilet in one long draught. Since it was August, it was peak canning season. She especially enjoyed the day I was trying to can vegetable soup: celery, tomatoes, carrots, beans. She thought it was a wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet set out just for her. In the evening, I’d lead her out of the house and back to the barnyard. One day, she very emphatically put her little cloven hooves down and would not budge. She finally turned and went back to the door. We went in and waited another hour for it to cool off some more.
It was so hard on her to try and raise kids and take care of herself in the summer heat that I now try to make sure she has spring break babies. That worked well. The only kink in that plan last year was people burning the pasture across the road when there was a strong wind to fill my whole farm with smoke. That left her very sick and needing antibiotics and an anti-imflamatory. We’ve had some warm humid weather this spring with lots of flowering trees and spring pollens. That means she is starting to be bothered by allergies again. After the other girls go out to pasture, I’ll sneak her some hay. If it gets bad enough, I’ll give her the medicine to help calm down her lungs. As bad as I feel with my allergies some days, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be allergic to your own food. You can see, she looks tired. Luckily, her girls will be weaned before the worst of our hot Iowa summer gets here.