FINLAYSON, Minn. - The sheep lazed in the cooling shade of a birch stand on Hannah Bernhardt's farm, like seals lounging on seaside rocks.

It was only 10 a.m. in Pine County. But the orange sun rising over the pines signaled the high could spike to 90 degrees, maybe higher.

"This [shade] is perfect for them," Bernhardt said.

Days earlier, she'd moved the flock to the paddock in the woods in preparation for the scorching weather.

"I was supposed to be on that hillside," she said, wiping her brow. "But I brought them here instead."

Across Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday, the mercury flirted with 100 degrees — as 30% of the state faces severe drought. The European Union's climate monitor has declared July on pace to be the warmest month in human history. In farm country, caretakers are working to keep the cows, pigs and even sheep, if not cool, at least comfortable in the midsummer heatwave.

Earlier this year, the rapid transition from snow in late April to a heatwave in May found Bernhardt dunking newborn lambs into water to keep them cool.

"When they're young, they've got trouble regulating temperature," she said.

Some scientists have suggested the hotter spells in summer can be tied to warming of the planet due to human activity. Agriculture, along with transportation, has found itself at the center of this conversation.

Leif Fixen, a soil health manager at the Nature Conservancy, said he recently attended an agricultural convention and spotted vendors discussing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Five years ago, you wouldn't hardly mention that word," Fixen said. "The culture is shifting."

Bernhardt grew up on a row-crop farm in southern Minnesota. So she empathizes with the farmers who — pinched between markets and rising costs — work to hew corn and soybean fields every year. She also grew up in the 1980s, during the farm crisis, and swore she'd only go back into agriculture on her own terms.

She's found it on Medicine Creek Farm. Since 2016, she runs a rotational grazing operation with some pigs, cows and 100 sheep, which she sells for meat at year's end. Her land management practice keeps carbon stored in the ground and even, if perfected, conserves water during hot times.

"Think of bison on the tall-grass prairie," she said. "We're mimicking that natural process."

Along the pasture's perimeter, her large dogs bark. They're guardian dogs, meant to protect the herd from wolves.

"And bears," Hannah's 6-year-old son, Harvey, reminds her.

"Yes," she said. "And the bears."

Heatwaves certainly hit Minnesota in late July. But farmers are contending with a full plate this summer. There have been low prices on pork and beef. And then there was the onslaught of hazy days from Canadian wildfires. Add to all that the inflationary rise on diesel prices — a cost borne by farmers driving tractors or hauling vegetables to a market.

Harvey grabbed a hose to fill water tanks. In the distance, a dog barked, and the hooves of the sheep — ready for a hot midday lunch — pitter-pattered over the pasture, briefly surrendering the shade for sun.