Thursday, August 30, 2012

How We Prepare Old Brodbeck Farm for a Storm

100 year old pecan tree. My Dad is 6 feet tall.
       When a hurricane threatens in the Gulf, folks around here start thinking "how many days off of work will I get?" The next thought is "Will it be bad enough to worry about, or is it time for a hurricane party?" Then, all sorts of crazy things start happening. I liken it to an expectant Mom that is in the nesting stage. The gas stations begin to have long lines of people filling up with enough gas to power themselves to the moon and back. Pretty soon, the gas stations are empty. Then everyone descends upon the grocery stores. Men strut around puffed out like tom turkeys while they load their cart with beer and give guffaws and grins to the guys around them. In the meantime, their wives are on the bread aisle, grabbing every loaf within a 50 mile radius. You don't like pumpernickel? Doesn't matter. When there is a hurricane, you will grab 10 loaves just in case your tastebuds have changed. You will only watch The Weather Channel to see where Jim Cantore is located. If you see him in your city, you will pack up the kids and scramble like crazy to evacuate. Which brings me to my next topic.... evacuees. Every city has them. They are the folks that heed the repetitive warnings to "Get Out Now!" Once they are on the road, they quickly realize that they should have just stayed in their house. The traffic is usually bumper to bumper. The fear of running out of gas only to find that every gas station is empty is a real and valid fear. Of course, all of the above humor is just that: humor. Although any actual real threat to humans is fairly slim for a category 1 and 2 storm (unless you live in a flood zone), any type of storm can bring a very real danger to the animals in its path. So, I thought I'd write a quick post about our farm's storm preparedness.

        My major concern is our horses. I have a sweet paint horse named Shug (pronounced like the first part of "Sugar") and my Mom has a spotted saddle horse named Dolly. When a storm is imminent, there are a few things we do to try and keep them safe. First, we double check all of our fences to make sure that they are strong and nothing is loose. We then pick up any limbs or any other debris in the field that may blow around in the wind. When horses are turned out in a field, it is advised to never leave a halter on them. They can get them caught on all sorts of things. This is also true in a storm. In order to place our information on them, we braid dog ID tags in their mane and double band them. Livestock marker paint can also be used to spray paint your number on them. Fingernail polish on their hooves can be used the same way. Some folks even shave their phone number into their coat. They need identification on them in case part of the fence gets knocked down and they are on the loose. We have also trained them to come to a whistle. We do not stall our horses during storms. Horses are intelligent. They know nature better than I do. They have access to their stall at all times during a storm and can come and go as they please. Large limbs falling are the main threat and horses can become trapped, crushed or scared enough to harm themselves if a limb crushes through the barn. Also, the roofing can be ripped off and blown around inside the barn. A fire could also erupt as the result of injured electric lines and they would be trapped. So, our horses are tagged and allowed to come and go as they please in and out of their turn-out barn.
"Are you closing me in yet?"

     The chickens, however, do get cooped up. I'll be the first to admit that my chickens are really not smart enough to get out of the rain. They would be pressed against the wire of their run from the wind hurling them about. I coop them up and give them enough food and water to last 5 days. It seems like overkill, but when I am in the house thinking about them, I will know that they have been taken care of. I have a large feeder that can hold 50 pounds. I also put out additional feeders and water throughout the coop so that there will not be as much competition for one feeder.

     The goats have their own little turn-out sheds that are anchored down. It would take a mighty, mighty storm to knock them down. Goats do NOT like getting wet, so they stay out of the wind and rain just fine. There is no door on their shed which makes it possible for them to leave for safety reasons (or if they just can't take the smell of Otis the buck goat anymore).

      These are a few of our animal preparations for a hurricane. I have no knowledge of what to do for blizzards or anything relating to snow. I have only seen snow in our area three times in the past 30 years, so I am of no help to anyone in that department. So, my question is, are preparations the same for those of you folks with snow? Leave me a comment please. I'd love to know :o)

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This is Shug.


  1. I had been keeping my folks and friends back in east Tennessee up to date on the situation down here. It's very much like when we would get snow "warnings" everybody run out to the store to get milk and bread, call schools off, etc. And then sit back and watch it sputter out a few flakes. Fortunately our chickens stayed in their coup, although normally they do hang outside in the rain. Maybe sometime I can come check out your farm. I'd love to see your goat barn and take any advice you may be able to give.

  2. Wow! Great advice about braiding an ID tag into your horse's mane! I am ordering some tags now for our two horses...just in case.

    Snow is pretty much the same as hurricane preparedness except no flood worries, but more worried about a coop being buried or not being able to get out your back door!

    Preparedness is so important because as you mention, stores run out of stuff - so both human and pet food needs to be on hand. Great post!

  3. Get ideas-Living in tornado alley-makes this though provoking. We also have pigs and cows(all prue bloodlines/registered). A cow you wouldn't want to halter for the same reason as a horse. A brand? Most brands aren't registered anymore. Our rabbitts have ear tattoos. Pigs have ear notches and tags, but new tags are needed each year. When our heifers were babies and a part of a bigger herd the had double ear tags. Should the pigs and cows be turned out as the horses, or hunker down as the goats? But they have been removed becuase we can tell them apart. Lots to think about....we have always been prepared for us....