Sun Tea And Shade Cloth

Sun_TeaWe’re in the midst of a heat wave here, and that means sunny days, perfect for making sun tea. Why not harness the sun’s energy (if only a tiny bit) to make what will become refreshing iced tea? Plus, sun tea jars look cool.

Last year, our first year with chickens, the weather was so hot (with high humidity) that we had to cool them off by dipping them into a bucket of water. Not their favorite event – or ours – but it helped keep them from becoming fatally heat stressed. We put ice in their watering bucket during the night so they could get a cold drink. We also cut many openings for vents into the coop, more than we’d ever imagined would be needed.
The coop is situated near a very tall, stately silver maple tree. The maple casts shade on the coop in the afternoon to evening, but the building just bakes in the heat during the morning and early afternoon. Shade_Cloth_CoopTo create some shade, we acquired shade cloth and affixed it so that it creates an awning-like effect on the sides of the coop where the windows are located. The cloth is 90% light blocking, but has a permeable weave so that moisture and wind can easily pass through. It has made a big difference in the temperature of the coop’s interior, and creates extra shade for the animals on the sides of the coop. We also greatly increased ventilation and air flow by adding an inner “screen” door made of 1″ x 1″, 14 gauge rabbit wire; now, we can leave the inner door open at night to let cooling air in and still know the chickens are secure.
Shade_Cloth_DucksWe used similar 90% light blocking shade cloth, in white,
over the ducks’ enclosures. The youngest group of ducklings stays in the covered enclosure except at night (they go into the brooder) and when we’re out during the day and can supervise their adventures. The shade cloth reflects the light and creates a shady area for the ducklings to nap (and they do a lot of that on hot days).
Shade_Cloth_TractorThe same white shade cloth was also used on the tractor that’s housing the roosters. The breathable fabric eliminates the risk of lift, unlike the tarp cover. It also allows in some light, creating a pleasantly shady environment.

We sat under the shade cloth this afternoon while the youngest ducklings were exploring under the coop, and it made a big difference in how comfortable we felt. It allowed the breezes through, but spared us from the intense rays of the sun. Overall, we give the shade cloth two thumbs up.

Now, if only we could rig up something to shade the front of the house to prevent it from baking in the late afternoon…