How to Beat the Heat (Advice for Humans AND Animals)

It’s been a scorcher this summer.

That’s the hard part about being a gardener. There is a non-stop list of work to do, so being able to take time off during the peak heat is pretty-much a non-starter. With little rain, extreme heat and the hottest month ahead of us, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit a post we did a few years back that shows what our gardeners do to stay cool during the hot months.

Cover Your Skin

You can see Rochester wearing a wide-brim hat to keep the sun off his neck.

Wearing shirts and long pants that cover your skin is one method they recommend. In the times with high heat, the clothes (if lighter, like white or sky blue) will repel the heat. Cotton is the best fabric to use as it allows perspiration to occur. If you can avoid jeans, you’ll be better off, as well.

Also, if you can cover your face with a sun hat or even a baseball cap, your skin will appreciate it. Since your head is the first thing to receive the suns rays, it will be taking the brunt of the heat. Simply using a hat will minimize your exposure to the heat, allowing you to stay cooler for longer.

Work Earlier in the Day

The crew works early in the morning before the day starts to warm up. As it’s usually cooler earlier in the day, it’s a perfect time to get exerting projects done.

It’s not a particularly unique idea, but working when it’s cooler out is a no-brainer. In fact, I just read that trash collectors in Washington DC are expected to start working during the early morning in this summer to get most of their routes done before it gets too hot.

In the same vein, they take the time to take breaks. Our garden crew takes a few minutes every hour to come inside, have a drink of water, and relax. Staying out of the heat seems like a simple solution, but it works!

Drink Something With Electrolytes

Hay Time Switchel is a drink long used by farmers and harvesters.

If you can’t get out of the heat, then it’s important to combat the effects of the heat. Working in the sun causes your body to sweat. (No kidding!) Sweating is important to stay cool, but the salt (electrolytes) lost in the process is necessary for proper function.

Drinking water is great, but you still need to replenish the lost salt in your system. That’s why “Gatorade” has such a following. But, you don’t need to go out and buy a sports drink. You can make your own. We’ve got a recipe for Hay Time Switchel that will get you back on your feet.

Hay Time Switchel

  • 1 Cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup light molasses
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 quart cold water

Combine all ingredients and stir well.  Makes 6 seven ounce glasses.  This can be refrigerated, but old timers made it with cold spring water and said nothing quenched a thirst or cooled a dusty throat in haying time as this drink.

Keeping Your Animals Cool

I had a chat with a coworker who fosters lost and injured wild animals, along with normal pets. She’s got a lot of experience involved with the caretaking of animals and she says that animals don’t really need much help from humans.

“They’re smarter than us,” she joked. She says they’ll find a way to cool off, whether that’s removing themselves from the sun, rolling in mud (if they’re pigs), and dunking under water. She even described how squirrels will lay on their belly with their arms and legs stretched out and “heat dump” on the ground.

Squirrels will “heat dump” to cool off during the summer.

But, the one thing she says we can do is just keep their coping mechanisms in mind. If they like shade and water, keep it around for them to decided when to use it. Keeping clean water sources such as shallow bird baths for your feathered friends and even deeper dishes for larger wildlife are accepted and used when needed.

Do you have any ways to keep your pets and animals cool during the hot stretches? Let us hear ’em in the comments below.

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