Hot, hotter, hottest
Fair exhibitors are up to the challenge of keeping their animals cool
POCAHONTAS — The swine, cattle, goats, rabbits and sheep were being pretty quiet Friday inside the animal barns at the Pocahontas County Fair.
It was still a difficult place to carry on a conversation though as the din, hum, buzz and roar of dozens of fans worked overtime to try to keep every critter and every person somewhat cool in the heat and humidity that combined to create a heat index in excess of 110 degrees.
Some of those animals got a bit of help beyond fans.
Emma Swanson, 16, of Plover, a member of the Pilot Creek FFA Chapter, provided cold water bottles and cold treats for her duck, turkeys and chickens.
“Right now,” she said while replacing a warm bottle with a cold one, “They’re hot. They’ll snuggle up to it and sit on it.”
Then there’s her berry delight, frozen fruit in a small plastic food container.
“They’re berries from my garden,” she said. “They’ll peck at it, they love it.”
She said that poultry can actually stand a lot of heat. She keeps a close eye on her birds though and watches for any signs of heat stress.
At home, they figure it out on their own.
“On the hotter days,” she said. “They just stay inside. They’re pretty smart.”
Brady Janssen, 17, of Pocahontas, a member of the Guys and Gals of Grant 4-H Club, rigged up a water mister to help keep his steer cool. Several of the clever devices were in use throughout the cattle barn.
“It used to be a fogger,” he said. “We bolted it to a cooler and connected a tube, the water goes up into it.”
He keeps the water iced and the fan inside the fogger, blows it on the steer. It cools by evaporation and by creating a stream of cool air.
Keeping himself chilled involves two things that proved popular at the fair.
“I go into the Expo Building to cool off and drink a lot of water,” he said.
In spite of Friday’s heat, William Heck, 12, of Manson, a member of the Manson Crater 4-H Club and Tristan Ahlrichs, 14, of Pomeroy, a member of the Guys and Gals of Grant 4-H Club, ordered a piping hot pizza and enjoyed it while resting in chairs in an empty pen.
Both are showing swine at the fair and neither minded enjoying pepperoni in front of the nearby snoozing hogs.
Keeping swine cool is a challenge.
“They only sweat through their nose,” Heck said. “We have a sprayer for them.”
Ahlrichs employs an additional method.
“I take them out and hose them off,” he said.
Heck, besides drinking water and visiting the Expo Center, had another method for keeping cool.
“I go into my camper,” he said.
Paige Roberts, 16, of Albert City, is a member of the 4-H State Committee. She was visiting the fair as an ambassador.
Her secret to staying cool was much like everyone else.
“Drink water, stay in the shade and go into the Expo Building because it’s air conditioned,” she said.
She was a little jealous of some friends she was going to visit in Kentucky. She said the weather there was cooler.
“It’s cold in Kentucky now,” she said. “It’s like in the 60s. They’re all wearing jackets.”
Dianne Zeller, of Bancroft, was helping judge exhibits inside the much desired Expo Building destination on Friday.
She’s pretty tough.
“It isn’t really bad in the shade,” she said. “I work in a store with no air conditioning. I don’t even have AC at home.”
That last one, no air conditioning at home, is a temporary condition. Her home suffered an invasion from a squirrel and the utilities had to be shut off till the squirrel could be, well, made less alive.
“Hopefully,” she said, “when I get home, I’ll have it.”