June 27 2017 10:00 AM

Don’t forget to take care of yourself as temperatures rise.

The official first week of summer brought hot summer temperatures to the Northwest. We don’t see major heat waves like many other parts of the country, but it definitely gets our attention when temperatures rise.

I think as dairy farmers we are great at attending to the cows’ needs when these heat waves arrive. Fans, misters, all the cool water they can drink, and well-ventilated barns are just a few of the things we know are necessities to help them keep their cool.

But also as dairy farmers we are good at attending to the cows needs and forgetting our own. Hot temperatures play just as much havoc on our bodies, and we often neglect the necessities for ourselves to keep going through a heat wave.

Hydrate! I know that sounds so simple, but I know many of us are used to running on caffeine from sunup to sundown. That means not taking in the water we need each day, especially as our bodies work harder in hot weather. I’ve found having a designated barn water bottle helps me stay hydrated. Or next time you find yourself reaching for another cup of coffee or soda, grab a sports drink instead.

If getting enough water isn’t hard enough, it also seems the same for food. The appetite for big meals is suppressed as temperatures rise, and at the end of the day, you can be left feeling very hungry. We try snacking throughout those hot days with items that deliver enough nutrition to keep us going. Yogurt is one of my favorite hot weather snacks. Nice and cool with a protein boost to keep me moving.

On those hot days I wouldn’t mind just hanging out with the cows in the cool barn. But it seems work is always in the sun, and so is our skin. Don’t forget your sunscreen! I know we all have a farmer’s tan and seldom use sunscreen. But getting a sunburn only wears down your body more as it works to heal your skin.

I know those three items are very, very basic, but let's be honest, I know we all are guilty of forgetting the basics. Hot temperatures seem to always arrive when the to-do list is the longest, and it is easy to push past the point to exhaustion. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, as well as the cows, when the next heat wave arrives.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and is in the process of transitioning to a robotic milking system.