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Caring for the Farm When Air is Hazardous

Apparently our air quality right now here in the northwest corner of Washington is the worst in the entire world. It's heartbreaking to see images in the news of entire towns in states along the west coast burned down, and we've been praying for the families who have lost their homes. I can't imagine what they are going through. Here on our little farm, we've been impacted by having to limit our time outdoors, closing up all windows and keeping the doors closed, and wearing ventilators or surgical masks when we go out to try to keep the toxic dust particles out of our lungs. Even with these precautions, we've had sore throats and headaches.

Wearing smoke masks

We've been more than a little worried about our chickens and ducks living outside in the smoke. So far they seem okay, but to offer some help to them we are doing the following:

  • We enclosed their coop better to reduce the amount of smoke that can blow inside.  We added a couple of tarps and other coverings.  
  • On the day that had the worst air quality, we kept the chickens and ducks closed up in their coop all day and night. It was so dark in there with the extra coverings that I think they thought it was nighttime.  They were very quiet and subdued that day.
  • To limit how much dust is stirred up, we reduced the amount of cleaning inside the coop. Instead, I've just been putting down straw over the top of any droppings. Normally this is what we do in the winter (deep litter method), but we went ahead and started doing it now since it stirs up less dust.
  • Each day we provide them with extra fresh water.
  • Throughout the day we are keeping an eye on them for any wheezing.

Another concern has been the garden. Is it safe to harvest everything, considering the harvest has been exposed to toxic particles in the air?  I'm going to consider the rest of my chamomile flowers that needed harvesting a loss, as well as the dry coriander seed that is still outside waiting to be harvested. These herbs are not typically washed and so it's not possible to remove the toxic matter that would be on them.  For other vegetables and herbs we are gathering from the garden, we've just been washing them really well.

We would be interested to know how others are caring for their farms in this type of situation.  If you have information to share, please comment.  

Hoping you are all safe, and that if you are also impacted by the wildfires, you are finding positive ways to adjust. Blessings to you!