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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Adaptation


That heat was brutal. We aren’t complaining, however. We do not want that particular observation registered as a complaint. If that were to happen, we would be no doubt setting ourselves up for one heck of a winter. We aren’t complaining. We are only doing commentary.

But I repeat: that heat was brutal. I was on a shuttle bus from Ottawa to Kemptville that had faulty air conditioning and windows that didn’t open. It was 54 degrees inside when the driver started it up. The temperature had dropped to 41 by the time they got to my new office downtown. I think it was 34 by the time we reached Kemptville. During the bus ride I developed a headache that lasted for the next two days.

After that stifling ride I went home and jumped in the pool. It felt like bath water. I checked the thermometer: 89 degrees. Well, that’s ridiculous. That isn’t even refreshing. I thought about our baby chickens and turkeys in the barn. The Farmer had turned their heat lamps off a few days ago because, well, no one needs heat lamps in 30 degrees. But I worried they weren’t getting enough relief from the heat, so I pulled on my barn shoes, wrapped a towel around me and trudged over to the barn.

There were no chickens. No turkeys either. No birds whatsoever. There was, however, a new bird-shaped hole in the back of the barn. The flock of tiny birds had worked together to peck a hole in the burlap that covered the gaps in the barn board. They had escaped to fresh air. I was happy for them. I was worried, however, that they did not have access to their food. I sent for the Farmer.

While I was busy cleaning the house and getting dinner ready, my husband ran around the barnyard after the chickens. He corralled them all back into the barn where they would be save from skunks, raccoons, fishers and any other predator. Then he hauled an old fan out of the attic and plugged it in, to give the birds a bit of a breeze. The last time I saw them, they were taking turns doing their impression of Beyonce in front of the fan.

Fergus the Golden Retriever is not a fan of the heat. He went missing the other day and did not respond to my call. I happened upon him in the powder room, which is actually the coldest room in the house. The air conditioning is directly vented there. He lay down with his furry face on the cool tiles and fell asleep. I pulled the door so it was almost closed and the cats couldn’t get in to bother him.

I feel sorry for Ferg in his big fur coat but I read that I shouldn’t try to trim it away. Apparently Golden Retrievers have some sort of undercoat that keeps them insulated. If you give them a buzz cut or a fashionable lion or poodle style, it will only make things worse for them. So I bathe him often, give him a good brushing once in a while, and throw him some shade.

I am happy to see we have bumble bees around the farm again. It’s been a few years since I noticed them. I’m told they need help in the heat too, so I leave spoonfuls of sugar and water on the porch where they can easily access them.

The birds seem to be doing ok. They swoop down and drink out of our pool. There’s a mile of Kemptville Creek nearby as well, so hopefully they are keeping hydrated without pool chemicals. I feed black oiled sunflower seeds year round, and while the type of bird changes from season to season, the feeder is always a busy place.

The other day the Farmer stopped on his way out the door and said, “What’s that you planted at the back door?”

I stepped outside to see where he was pointing. A group of plants with large leaves stood in a line under the back porch. Right in the line of fire from the bird feeder.

“Oh! Those are sunflowers. The birds planted them,” I commented.
“Well aren’t they sustainable farmers,” he replied. “Soon they won’t need us at all.”
When the sunflowers grow and produce seeds, the birds can eat right from the plants.

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