Update: Thankfully for us, this storm was a bust. However, it is never to early to have a plan for storms. This post explains what you need to think about so you know how to prepare for storms when you have a farm or homestead.
Hurricane Florence is barreling down on us. Forecasters are talking like it might be the worst hurricane to ever hit the North Carolina coast. While we don’t live near the coast, the effects of the storm are supposed to reach far inland. Lots of wind and rain are expected up and down the east coast states and it’s likely that many will be without electricity for days.
As we were making storm preparations around our farm, I thought I would share some tips on how to prepare for storms when you have a homestead and livestock. (Please note that these tips are for sheltering in place. These are not meant to replace any evacuation orders. If you are ordered to evacuate, please do so!)
Tips for Protecting Your Animals
If you have animals, you will need to be sure they are adequately cared for in the event of a storm.
Food, water, and shelter
First and foremost, your animals will need water. This is vital to their survival. You can fill any troughs or old buckets you have around the house. We also fill our bath tubs up before a major storm. We can use that water to flush our toilets or to give to our chickens. Pitchers and stock pots can be filled with water to avoid having to buy bottled water for yourself.
Second, be sure you have enough food for your animals. A 3 day supply is a minimum, more if you live in more remote areas. Be sure that the feed is in a waterproof container so that it doesn’t get wet and mold. The lids on the containers should be tight fitting or use bungee cords to ensure they stay on.
Since it usually isn’t possible to bring most livestock like chickens and cows indoors, they need to have access to an outdoor shelter like a barn or coop where they can stay dry. Some animals will prefer to ride out the storm outdoors, but it is best if they have a way to get out of the wind and rain if they choose.
Other preparations for animals
Another, often overlooked task, is to check to be sure nothing will blow around inside your barns and chicken coops. Be sure all doors and windows are secure and don’t rattle. Put away anything that could become a projectile in strong winds. Something as simple as a plastic bag can really scare your animals if it is blowing around.
Ensure you have plenty of fencing supplies to repair any damaged fence. It is also necessary to be sure you have a way to contain your animals that doesn’t require electricity. Power can sometimes be out for days, especially in rural areas, and you don’t want to have to rely on it to keep your animals safe and secure. Predators won’t take the day off just because of a storm. They may actually be more prevalent as bad weather can drive them out of their normal habitats and they will be hungry.
Prepare for Storms Around the Garden and Homestead
There are many other things that should be done around your yard and garden when preparing for storms.
Secure all garden tools and equipment. You don’t want them flying through the air during a storm. Something as simple as a garden trowel can be quite dangerous if it gets tossed around during strong winds. Reinforce any plant cages with stakes if they seem flimsy or tear them down completely and store them in a barn if they are no longer needed. If the growing season is over, go ahead and do a fall cleanup of your garden. Put away all hoses and anything not securely tied down.
It is also a good idea to walk around your homestead and check for trees with dead limbs or branches that could fall on your house or barns. If possible, remove them in advance so they don’t fall on buildings or fences.
Check Your Emergency Equipment
I also recommend filling any gas tanks and gas cans. If you have a generator, test it to be sure it works properly. It won’t do you any good to have it if it doesn’t run like it should.
Be sure your chainsaw is in working order and that you have plenty of gas for it as well as bar oil. You may need that chainsaw to cut trees off fences or to clear away limbs from around barn doors after the storm is over.
After the Storm
As soon as it is safe to do so after the storm, check on your homestead to assess any damage. Check on animals first to be sure they have food and water and that fences are not down. Repair any fencing as soon as possible to ensure your animals don’t escape.
If you live in a rural area, it tends to take longer to get the electricity back on, since crews concentrate on the most populated areas first. Try to use your supplies sparingly and conserve water as much as possible.
As you start the clean up process, keep notes of things you wish you had done differently. This way you will be more prepared next time.
How Do You Prepare For Storms?
I also recommend making sure you have flashlights and plenty of batteries on hand as well as a charged cell phone. Canned goods that can be eaten without heating are also good to keep on hand to prepare for a storm.
How do you prepare for storms? Do you have anything you would add to this list? I would love to update this post with your ideas. For more information on hurricane preparedness, check out the NOAA National Hurricane Center.