By CHRIS FASOLINO Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Cows feel the heat, too.
“Make sure they have water,” 11-year-old Dolan Gilmore said, ticking off the measures he takes with the seven bovines he and his family brought to the Clinton County Fair this week. “And make sure they have fans.
“And in the heat, you might want to spray them off during the day.”
The fair kicked off Sunday, heat and humidity coming right along with it. That day’s high was 85; Monday’s climbed to 92.
Tuesday hit 87, and Wednesday hovered around 90, with a warning from the National Weather Service about the possibility of severe thunderstorms.
Meteorologist Andrew Loconto said from Burlington that the hot and humid air mass will be sticking around for a while.
Heat-index values, which combine air temperatures and humidity to tell about how hot it feels to the human body have been in the upper 90s, he said.
On the fairgrounds, big fans blow air through some of the barns. A common sight outside is cows and horses cooling off under the spray of hoses wielded by attentive caretakers — who don’t exactly mind getting soaked themselves.
Gilmore, who lives in Ellenburg Center, is part of the Northern Adirondack Central School FFA contingent showing livestock at the fair.
“It’s fun to work with the cows and all the animals,” he said.
He is learning about farming from his family — “especially my older brother, Dalton,” who is 13.
The heat is tough for those showing their animals, for the requisite clothing and gear, for example long pants, riding helmets and boots, aren’t exactly cool.
On Wednesday, members of the Feathers and Fur 4-H Club took their turn staffing the 4-H Dairy bar, and it was very hot work, said Monika Chambers of West Chazy, whose daughter, Clarissa, 13, pitched in for the almost-four-hour shift.
“There’s no air conditioning,” she said, but scooping ice cream “brought momentary relief because your head is partially in the cooler.”
The fair experience furthers the positive benefits of 4-H, she said, as the kids learn teamwork and responsibility — regardless of the discomfort of hot weather, they still have to do their part.
Of course, they get a free scoop of ice cream in exchange for Dairy Bar staffing, and in light of yesterday’s heat, Mrs. Chambers said, “I made the scoops a little bit larger.”
None of the club members, she added, complained about the heat — I think it was a lot of fun for them.”
Afterwards, however, she took her daughter and a 4-H friend to the movies, where the cool interior was very welcome.
Many who have animals at the fair live right on the grounds the whole week, some overnighting in the barns, others camping on the grounds.
A break is reviving in an air-conditioned camper or car — or even a movie theater.
The livestock don’t have that luxury, but cows and horses are, after all, animals.
“At home, beef cows are kept outside,” said Penny Pombrio of Altona, who brought American British White Parks to show this week.
So for them, enduring the heat is just a matter of “cool water and shade,” she said.
Air circulation provided by fans in the barns is really important, Pombrio noted.
“And a lot of fresh water — that’s really it,” she said. “We just try to keep them as cool as we can.”
‘START WITH LEGS’
Rene Hugus of Cadyville, a 4-H leader with the Hold Your Horses 4-H Club, is at the fair with her daughter, Sidonna Dewyea, and her affectionate horse, Hazel.
In the blistering heat, Hugus said, horses need “lots of water and shade.”
She also said to make sure to hose them down with cool water after they have been working, “starting with their legs, so you don’t shock their system.”
Elizabeth Nichols, 11, of Churubusco brought another kind of animal to the fair: a chinchilla rabbit.
A member of 4-H and FFA, she makes sure 8-year-old Hopper has plenty of fresh water.
She also noted another key to keep her bunny comfortable in the summer weather: “Keep him out of the sun so he’s not too hot.”
— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.