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The heat of summer is upon us! It’s the time of year when many people retreat into their air conditioned homes to keep cool and comfortable. But what would you do if you didn’t have air conditioning?
When we lived in Colorado, we did not have air conditioning. Sure, it got hot during the day, but the nights were always cool and there was no humidity. Our house was also positioned in a way that the afternoon sun didn’t shine into our house during the summer. We were quite comfortable and didn’t even think about needing air conditioning.
Fast forward to the beautiful Ozarks. We are currently living in a trailer house until we finish building our house. Trailer houses are poorly insulated and tend to act like an oven in the summer heat. And the humidity! Everything melts in the humidity, people included. We soon found ways to not only survive an Ozark summer, but to enjoy it without central air.
Window Air Conditioner
The first summer we were here, we endured the heat without an air conditioner and we did quite well by spending as little time as possible inside the house. Last year as the temperatures rose, we caved and bought a small window air conditioner and put it in the kitchen window. It doesn’t keep it cool in here, the temperatures still rise into the 90’s in the afternoon. It definitely isn’t central air, but it does lower the humidity in the house significantly, which seems to make all the difference. Is having a window air conditioner cheating? Maybe, but we’re comfortable in the house now and we’re really appreciating it.
As odd as it may sound, I’m actually quite happy that our house is not at a cool 70 degrees during the summer. Anytime we have been in air conditioning during the day, at church or out shopping, the heat and humidity seems ten times worse when we get back home! It takes us about a day to readjust to the heat, then we’re fine again. I can only imagine how much worse working outside would feel if our bodies had to constantly adjust from air conditioning to hot and humid.
Oscillating fans are an absolute must when trying to stay cool. We have fans all over our house, especially in the bedrooms where it tends to be warm and stuffy. Having a fan definitely helps us all sleep better at night.
Grilling and summer time go hand in hand. We decided to go a little farther than just grilling outside, and do all of the cooking outside. A couple of years ago we found a 3 burner propane camp stove which has become my summer kitchen. I tend to make simple meals in the summer, so carting pans and what not out to the deck isn’t a big deal. Once our house is built, we plan to build an outdoor kitchen between the house and garage with an outdoor sitting area. A solar oven, solar dehydrator and cob oven are on my wish list as well. Until then, my little 3 burner camp stove does the trick and keeps the heat out of the house!
Last year, I did all of my canning outside on the camp stove. Why did I never think of canning outside before? Canning is a hot job no matter how you look at it. Being outside in the shade of a tent canopy with an occasional breeze and the steam going into the air instead of heating up the kitchen is great! Rinsing everything off with the hose before bringing it inside for a proper scrubbing makes clean up easier as well. I highly recommend canning outside.
Chores in early morning and evening
A lot of our chores, such as milking and feeding animals are a twice a day job. A morning and evening chore schedule works well. We also practice rotational grazing with our animals. The animals don’t want to move much in the heat of the day, so we move them in the cooler times in the morning or evening. Everyone is happier that way.
Avoid working outside in the heat of the day
It’s best to avoid working outside in the hottest part of the day. However, when you have a napping toddler and your prime gardening time happens to be during the hottest time of the day, you work outside. My toddler does play in the garden while I work in the mornings, which is great. But I don’t get as much done when I have to keep an eye on her and work at the same time. It’s nice to be able to focus on those weeds, mulch, or whatever without interruptions, which means during naptime. If you do work out in the heat, be sure to drink plenty of water and to take a break if you’re starting to feel overheated. It isn’t worth picking one more row of beans if you end up getting heat stroke.
It is essential to drink a lot of liquids, especially when it’s hot outside. Keeping a steady supply of cold drinks on hand is important. Not sugary drinks; they won’t help to quench your thirst and we try to avoid the unnecessary sugar. One of our favorite drinks is unsweetened iced tea. We easily go through 2 to 3 gallons of iced tea in a day. Coffee is no exception, it turns into iced coffee in the summer around here. It’s a delicious, cool way to start the day.
It has become a summertime tradition to have a fruit smoothie in the late afternoon or evening. The kids make sure that we don’t forget, they love smoothies! We keep a variety of frozen fruits and berries on hand to make smoothies. Pick whatever fruit combination sounds good, add a banana for sweetening, ice, kefir and you have a great smoothie. One of our favorite combinations is pineapple, mango and banana. There’s nothing like a cold drink to help you cool off!
Everyone enjoys a cool dip in the pool on a hot day. We have a nice swimming pool in our little town that’s only a few miles away. But we decided to splurge and get an above ground pool for the kids to swim and cool off. We plan to build a natural swimming pool in our backyard once our house construction is complete.
The locals head to swimming holes in the creeks when it gets hot. The creeks around here are clear, cold and refreshing! The kids love splashing around in the creek. An added bonus are the crawdads, frogs and fish that you can try to catch. The kids love every minute of cooling off in the creek that goes through our property. They head down to the creek a couple of times a week to splash around.