Wednesday, 15 January 2014


I've been looking forward to sitting here and writing about a special harvest from last week. (More to come on this soon) However, here I sit finally and all I can think about is heat.  It has been all-consuming.  Yesterday was 42c (107.6 f), today will be 43c (109.4f) and I'm dreading it!!  This heat wave is expected to continue for another three days.

The sun is rising again right now.
On a hot day, I'm up early.  I need to let out all the poultry, make sure they have water and access to lots of shade.  I like to give them as much space as possible in hot weather so that they can find the coolest possible spot.  If they are confined, they are unable to help themselves.
We thought we were organised with ice blocks yesterday but still we managed to run out.  The chooks were suffering.  They would pant and stand with their wings out to try and cool themselves down.  Twice during the day I put ice in the water in both pens but it didn't seem enough.  Last night we froze two or three times the amount of ice.  Hopefully that will see us through today.  I also water down a spot for them occasionally.  It brings the temperature down a little.
Then I check that the orchard, veggie garden and pot plants will make it through the day.  This means plenty of watering.
I hang out a load of washing before it becomes unbearable to stand at the clothes line.  It takes a couple of hours to achieve all of this.  Luckily the children are in holiday mode and have been getting up later and later, because I can get my work done by eight before I help them with breakfast.

As for keeping ourselves cool, our air-conditioner is broken and we don't want to get it fixed.  I don't like the idea of buying another one when we would like to use less, not more energy.  Our house was very hot and stifling yesterday so I hung some wet sheets and towels at the doors and windows.  It gave us some relief but not much.  We have plenty of cold water in the fridge but the fridge is taking a beating.  Not only does it have work harder to maintain it's temperature, we are using it more than we normally would.  The side of the fridge was very hot to the touch last night!  We're also using a squirty bottle of water to spray ourselves with constantly.
We've been sleeping in the tent so that we can take advantage of every breeze.  The tent has large windows and allows the air in (not that it feels like it at the moment).  We draped ourselves in wet towels to get enough relief to fall asleep last night.
And as if we weren't uncomfortable enough....  we have flies!  Hundreds of annoying little land-on-you flies.

Yesterday morning the kids found this little guy in a cup outside.
They released him into the garden.  Later in the day he reappeared in the house.  This time he didn't look well and died before we could pop him back outside.  The little pads on his feet were all shrivelled.  He must have had such a bad day, poor thing!

I have a very real dilemma with all this heat.  We have done a lot of research into the dangers of fire.  We live in a known fire-risk area.  Our plan used to be that we would leave on a bad day.  We could go to my parents.  Their house doesn't get as hot as ours, it's large and they have evaporative cooling.  It would be much more comfortable than here.  It's also in a town and surrounded by farmland, not bush so it would be much safer than here.

I have prepared for fire to a small degree.  Our car is packed with appropriate clothing and some woollen blankets.  We have water in the car.  I should have taken all our important photos and paperwork to Mum and Dad's but I haven't got around to it yet.  I allowed Christmas and holidays to take precedence.

When it comes to a choice between the chooks and my kids, it's obvious.  I need to keep the children safe.  But what do I do?!  Chances are there won't be a fire today.  If I leave now, will my chooks die a horrible death with no one to cool them down?  I can't very well pack up the geese, ducks and hens and take them with me.  This type of weather will become more prevalent as the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make themselves felt.  I can't spend entire summers away from home!  I used to have such a clear plan but not anymore.  So I sit here.  Hot.  And I dither as the wind picks up......

Do you have a sensible plan?  Maybe you can see the answers more clearly than I can.


Nicole said...

Hi Linda,
We were uncomfortably close to the big fires here in WA on the weekend, not so close that we had to evacuate, but as it ripped through the towns towards us and was only about 15min drive from us, we had to think about what our fire plans would be. That day (Sunday) it was 47 degrees here and a dry, hot wind was ripping through. Later that same day, a firebug lit a fire not 500m from our place. We have decided to go, and go early. We will load the goats into the trailer and take our important stuff and go. The chooks play on my mind too, we have nearly 20 of them and couldn't possibly catch them in a hurry, nor would we have anywhere to put them. However, the kids come first.
Good luck for this fire season, it's one of the less pleasant parts of a rural life!

Lynda D said...

Thanks for your post Linda. I have been wondering how you and others were faring. Its hot in the city as well and ive sent our staff home at 1 for the last 3 days. Not very productive. The factory is a big metal box with sheetmetal and powdercoating ovens inside.

At home im afraid its air cons on. Aspies do not like to suffer and i would rather this than them having "meltdowns" of a different kind.

Many of the ideas you are using are the same that we used on the farm growing up many moons ago. I just called my 84 year old mum and she is sitting in front of a fan with a towel on her head.

Keep Cool, thinking of all our country friends, especially in the bush fire area.

Farmer Liz said...

We suffered through 2 weeks of heat over Christmas, also with broken aircons, so I feel for you and your chooks. We are a lower fire risk, but completely unprepared. I don't know how I could leave the cows, so I can't even think about it. We should then be prepared to stay I suppose and keep everyone safe somehow. I hope you get some releif soon.

purplepear said...

Yes just so hot and when you have the responsibility of animals you just can't take off whenever you feel like it. So the days that I'd really love to spend at the beach are the days that I really must stay home and make sure the livestock is OK.I wrap a wet towel around my neck when I have to go out and that helps a lot. We set up a fire plan when there were a lot of fires up here last Oct.It means herding all the animals towards the road and letting them go. Better than letting them burn to death.Take care xxx

Roots and Seeds said...

I put ice in the water bowls for my chooks etc, and I have hessian sacking which I wet to help keep them cool.

The only thing I have come up with in regards to animals and fires is to round them all up into the front yard and put around more water. We keep the paddocks around the house slashed and beyond that is bush. We would take the dog and cats but have lots of poultry and a couple of large animals.

Facing fire and having to decide what to leave or take is a horrible position to be in, isn't it?

Suzie Simplelife said...

Hi Linda I live in the dandenong ranges and also worry about how prepared I am for bushfire. All anyone can do is leave as soon as you hear any risk is involved. I would also hate to leave my chickens, but wouldn't have the time to round them up..hopefully I will never have to face that. stay cool

Linda said...

Nicole, how scary! You just described the weather that we had on Black Saturday. So glad you're ok. The cfa say that we should have a written plan and I feel a bit guilty because although we've discussed our plan as a family, we've never written it down.

Lynda, it must be so awful to work in a factory atm. No wonder you and your boys need the relief of the air con. I caved this morning and put ours on for an hour. Couldn't stand it any more! Bet your mother has some tips. I'd love to hear them!

Liz, if you ARE going to stay please do get prepared! It's sooo important! You never know when a bad fire will come and it's too late to get organised at the last minute! I know the Country Fire Authority have heaps of online info on preparation. Maybe check them out?

Yes Kate, we are finding that with Christmas Hols. Hubby is home then and we usually go away but it's too hard these days! The kids were devastated to miss a camping trip but we'll try for a holiday during the year.

Roots and seeds, I like the hessian idea! Our animal situation is the same as yours. We can take the cat and dogs but they rest need to stay. We clear around the house, yard and near paddocks but the rest is bush! Yeah, it's tough.

Suzie, the ranges would be scary in summer. I know you had a bad year last year or the year before. You kind of need to be prepared in case you have a fire start so close that you can't leave. We have three plans. One if a fire starts far away, one if a fire starts nearby and we can't leave and one for Catastrophic Days when you won't see us for dust!!

Stay safe everyone!!!

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

I am just catching up on all of your news and I have been thinking about you down there in VIC with all the fires and heat. It has been hot here too and we only have air con in the office as I work from home and it becomes very hard to think once it gets really hot. Normally I can hold out till it gets to about 34. I think you are right about having a good plan and you are right it would be really hard to leave animals. I have thought in the past that I should go and get some of those cardboard pet carriers to keep on hand in case I needed to evacuate the chickens. Lets hope we are never put in that position

Linda said...

Hi Fiona, yes depending how many chooks, dogs, cats etc. that you had, the carriers are a great idea! Let's just hope we all stay safe from fire.

rabidlittlehippy said...

We lost a chook the week you wrote this post. To the heat. It was insane. :( We're in a little gully in town so the temps stayed 3-4 degrees cooler but in a house with no air con and pathetic insulative properties the temperatures were warmer in than out. We started the Monday off at 10C and by early afternoon it was up around the 40C mark. It didn't cool down inside until the Sunday or something. It's not cooled down appreciatively since really, not during the day though. I had a look at the forecast for next week and I've got 2 days pinged for needing flanny jarmies, woollen jumpers and possibly even for lighting the fire. Yep, a top of 17! Means about 15 in our little valley. :(
As for keeping cool, we too have no air conditioner but over the course of the year we will be getting our walls, roof and under th floor heavily insulated, the burgundy roof will be getting painted light grey (dark colours absorb more heat) and planting several vining plants to grow up along our north faing back deck. We're also considering a whirlybird to help suck out the heat although I have research to do on them yet. Hopefully we will then be a little better prepared for the hot days. The last of the flyscreens will be being installed this Monday and already having the windows done has made a hge difference in letting the cool back inside.
We are in a very low fire danger area thankfully but as you say, leaving to spend time at my Mums in air conditioning isn't an option due to 2 sheep, 2 goats and the ducks and chooks too.

Duane Simpson said...

I feel your suffering! It can really be tiring to work when the heat is intense, knowing you could just be at the beach, lazing under the sun. Glad that you at least have a plan in case of fire. I hope you didn’t have to use them, as that would have been really terrible. I’m sorry about your air conditioner, too. It could have made the heat much more bearable.

Duane Simpson